“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.