Word Count: 500
Holding Mankind’s Fate in his Hands
“Big A! How’s it going?”
“Can’t complain.” The sun was rounding the edge of the earth, illuminating his brow, as it did every day,
baking his skin golden, deep brown. Soon, sweat would course in rivulets down the space between his
shoulder blades. The heat and brightness had ceased to concern him eons ago. Reconciled to his fate, he
found comfort in the knowledge that he served mankind faithfully. No matter that he was holding the
weight of the world on his shoulders.
His companion observed him from a distance—bulging muscles, furrowed forehead, a contemplative look
in his eyes. Yes, indeed, enormous responsibility had been thrust upon this giant of a man. “What’s new
in the world?”
“Nothing much. You know the saying—history repeats itself. But a storm is brewing off the coast. Going
to be a hum-dinger, judging by the air pressure.” He shuffled slightly, wishing mightily that his friend
would go about his business. Sharing small-talk usually ended up with one more thing thrust upon him.
One more thing everyone seemed to think he could control or mitigate or get rid of altogether. As if
holding up one more burden wouldn’t break his back, someday.
Cupping his hand, he caught water from a stream, clean and cold, then craned his neck to drink. Yes, so
many people—animals, as well, for that matter—relied on him. Their dependence wore at him,
sometimes, prevented him from truly enjoying the bounties of this beautiful place. It was a gift from the
gods, breath-taking when the sun was travelling past the other horizon, pouring out its blood, and the
moon shone, her cool, white light bathing him, comforting him, respite from the sun’s harshness. By the
time the sun reappeared, he was ready to face another day.
He couldn’t speak of this to his visitor. Who would want to hear of his trials, his misgivings, his pain?
Sometimes, he wanted to buckle under the weight of it all. Bereft of his freedom, his choice, he saw no
end to this. Yet, he did, indeed, feel a certain pride in holding up what he saw as his special lot in life. If
only for a moment he could get out from under it all.
He must have groaned aloud.
“I wish I could do something for you, Big A.,” his friend said. “You do so much for everyone else.”
“Actually, you can. This nerve in my neck has a pinch.”
“I can massage that for you.”
“No, couldn’t ask you to do that. Perhaps you could just shift the load a little, ease the weight.”
“I’m not nearly as strong as you. Wait. Let me get my footing. Okay. Yep. You’ll need to help.” Then, he
noticed the placid green of the big man’s eyes glinted with purpose. Something had awoken inside him,
but it too late. The burden had been transferred.
“Ahh. That’s better.”
“Wait! Take it back!” As his friend staggered and bellowed beneath the world, Atlas shrugged.