Atlas – Matt Hsu

‘Now if you go down the high street you’ll come to the town’s main attraction,’ the information lady was saying. Incidentally she was also the post office lady and the green grocer. James was already regretting coming to this industrial town, it was small, ugly and boring.

‘What is it?’ he asks.

‘Genie from number 42,’ she responds as if this makes everything clearer. ‘You can’t miss her.’

Minutes later James grumbles down the high street. He spots who can only be Genie. 70 years old, her grey hair falls like a curtain to the ground, her skin sags south too, giving her a bizarre distorted expression as she stands on her head.

A sign besides her reads ‘I am the woman who’s been holding up the earth all these years.’

James laughed. ‘Like atlas eh?’

‘What’s atlas?’ Genie replies. Even her voice sounds frail though she continues to stand on her head, obviously very practiced. ‘Anyway love, you’ll have to come back later to watch me in action, I’ve got a lunch break,’ she continues.

James snorts, ‘But the earth’ll fall down?’

But just as he says this a young miner walks up.

‘Morning Genie,’ he says smiling.

The two smoothly swap places.

‘A girl’s gotta eat,’ Genie says wondering off.

Perhaps this town wasn’t so boring. It was certainly mad, James thought, but it had its charm.

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