Tag Archives: ladies

Atlas

1920s Dance Studio

“Ladies? Imagine you are Atlas!” cried their dance instructor. This coming just after they had arranged themselves as the Three Graces.

Millicent discarded her momentary annoyance at how Mrs. St. Ruth always shouted “Ladies” as a question. Actually it was Claire who had pointed out the quirk one day as they gossiped about their teacher. Claire found it amusing. Now Millicent noticed it every time. She could feel Claire smirking behind her.

She told herself not to think about that and instead she imagined being Atlas. As she tried to get into character, she realized that she didn’t know much about Atlas. He was probably one of those Greek gods. “I hope he’s not being punished.” thought Millicent. “Not like that one god who brought fire to man and then was bound to a rock and every day a bird came and tore his heart out and ate it.”

In her mind Millicent pictured Atlas. There was a brushed chrome statue of Atlas on each of the front corners of a new building downtown. Each stood on a stone corbel and seemed to be using his corner of the building to help him support the weight of the world, which he held over his head.

“Atlas: bare-chested, powerful, enduring.” thought Millicent. “I would be his Amazonian Queen.” Millicent imagined herself six feet tall, with a quiver of arrows strapped to her back and carrying a bow taller than a man. Her dark hair would shine in the sun as she strode barefoot, hips swaying. She would wear a jeweled girdle, and straps made from the skin of a giant snake would hold a breastplate to her bosom. The songs of her sisters would echo through the hills. She would be beautiful. Men helplessly trapped by their desire to conquer her would come from every land and she would imprison them until the day she had an army large enough to shoulder the world and free her Atlas. Only then would she let Atlas kiss her.

“Millicent? Focus!” cried Mrs. St. Ruth.

Small Dreams

“Oh dear. I tried to keep a dream journal once, but soon realized that I was a woman of small dreams. I found that I could only keep it up for a week, filling page after page with inane details. Here’s a sample. ‘…spent what seemed like hours outside a door waiting for someone to come out and ask me in. Luckily there was a chair. Also there was a cat nearby sitting on an enormous Persian rug. He knew me but was not feeling friendly.’

“Night after night of circuitous errands and vague misunderstandings with men I’ve never met before. It became too much. Oh of course every once in a while I would have a fascinating dream where I was an assassin or was eaten by a huge animal, but those were few and far in between.”

April 20, 1929

Ladies Rowing Club of 1891

Dearest L______,

In case you have never been given a copy, I have attached for your consideration a photograph of the Ladies Rowing Club of 1891. Although I daren’t say that I am any more than acquainted with any one of them, I do consider this a very fine photo. Observe how Miss Beatrice has framed her composition. I can hear her now, calling to the ladies. “Petunia! Please don’t look so glum! Winnifred! We cannot READ the 91 on your oar! Will you please turn it a bit? Yes. That is fine.” I am sure there were plenty of groans before Miss Beatrice warned them to hold still for the shutter.

Notice how well Miss Myrtle has posed on the chair. I detect a great deal of prompting from Miss Beatrice. Unfortunately, Miss Petunia still looks glum. And who can blame her? I confess to being unaware of the events which led to her departure from Whelmsley, but her departure was sudden enough that I dare say something must have been bothering her during this shoot.

Kindest regards,

D_____ S______

March 10, 1908