"Do you know why we decided to name you Atlas, son?"
"Because we knew you'd be strong enough to carry the weight of the world if you wanted to."
Spoken as if I was forged from the heavens of divinity itself. Obsidian welded to hold muscle, Teflon taught to embody sinew, steel hammered to be bone. Deep blue eyes primed to see the world in shades of red - I am blind to the sentimental value of a person. Weapon in hand, I am blind to talons behind a spear, blind to claws around a hatchet or good intentions behind a hand shake. I only see a heart, a pair of lungs, a brain, a throat. Puzzle pieces to human anatomy; the final picture forms points to gouge, points to stab, points to kill. I was forged by nurture to embody the strength of a career - all I do is fight, fuck, live. And I can't even do that right -
(it's supposed to be fight, fuck, die)
- but what fault can be found with me? I could bear the weight of the world on my shoulders if I wanted to.
I'm a fine ball of lost potential - a freeze frame of what should be and what could be. My mother sees the world in absolutes; riches in law abiding and rags in juvenile - if only she sees that I stand in between. Her golden boy; the oldest son who carries more than the weight of the world on his shoulders, he carries the weight of the name Lumiere. Dirty blonde curls my king's crown and the confines of my parent's manor my kingdom; blonde hair and blue eyes are my sign of royalty. I'm supposed to carry the future of canons reverberating through my skull and the ground shaking at my feet with every step - I am no giant but me and my parents like the thought of the dream.
(fi fi fo fum, Atlas Lumiere can break more than just your thumb)
My mother speaks as if I was forged from the heavens, but I ate the forbidden fruit a long time ago. Ten years of career training took its toll and created something not even these deep blue eyes will stare at for more than two minutes in the mirror. Toned, lean muscle enveloping fiber and bone - my parents made sure the dietitian came running when they called. Leg muscles not lacking, upper body calling - they say I should be proud, girls practically come crawling. I am strong in body (but I'm not too sure about my mind) and my shoulders and chest stand out proudly. You would think I'd spent years carrying the earth on my shoulders or something.
Me and my sister are both showered with the nicest clothes District One has to offer. I suppose that's the good thing about a mother who's a queen in her own right - the queen of fashion. You would think this was some kind of fairy tale, a royal family in a manor; something idealistic along those lines. Magnificence - that's always the essence of the tale is it not?
But I do not dare wear anything less than a t-shirt in front of my parents, for fear they examine this proud flesh and take in the flaws and uncover the vile truth. It would only take an instant for them to no longer see the fading Lumiere features; blue eyes, dark blonde hair (bordering a shade of brown), the dark facial hair sitting on my jaw and the pride. One peek at my red knuckles and they seem almost permanently swollen, not just from career training but from street fighting in the back alleys. One peek at the flaw in what they crafted and I'm no longer Atlas Lumiere, no, I'm just Atlas. Failed attempt.
I don't want to be kicked out for disregarding the boundaries drawn in the sand by authority.
I never bit the hollow bullet of addiction but I've taken the hit of habit. These aren't the scars of one shot too many or one accident in the career center; I carry the culmination of years of sitting with the wrong crowd. One shaking slip of the needle and -
"-fuck, fuck, fuck!"
I'm fumbling, panicking, wild desperation quickly setting in as I try to hide what I've done and why I've done it. I'm not like that, I swear. Shots from the glass, one hit from the shaking needle - one night I would rather erase. I'm smarter than this. This is far from addiction, this is peer pressure.
But how can I remain on my two feet under the weight of the world but bow under peer pressure? The logical mind says I cannot, it's impossible. In truth, it's an excuse thrown quietly into the wind; this is not peer pressure, this is my form of silent rebellion.
One, two, three, four needle marks along my arms need to remain hidden. They have to. The moment they lift the smoke and mirrors from their eyes and break through a year's worth of lies, deceits and cover-ups spun the whole world comes crashing down piece by piece. One puzzle piece to attach onto the next, spinning the board and flipping the picture that deciphers Atlas Lumiere; once everything is the right way up and the truth is unveiled - one glance and I am no longer magnificent.
Fight, fuck, dielivedielive - I can only get two of that list right. Perfection sits on the tips of my fingers; out of reach but a split inch. No hints of perfection, no flaws boiling above the surface - what am I to the rest of the world?
I've never experienced a public fall from grace - I've remained comfortable held up by an image attached to cover-ups. When faced with the outsiders I am magnificent. Loving mother and father, a sister with a heart of gold and shoulders made for bearing the weight of the earth. My mother's a queen in her own right, owning fashion and wearing it like armor and on her heart. She does not skip a beat when showering the two of us with everything we need and leaving keeping a smile on her face when she does. Cheery, talkative, happy - opportunist.
"I am so proud of my son, Atlas and I just know he will be the one to carry the Lumiere name the way I know he can."
And here I was, thinking I would only have to bear the weight of the world on my shoulders. I just want to fight, fuck, dielivedielivedielive; I don't want to play tunes of canon fire at my fingertips and create art out of corpses and red brush strokes. Blind to sentiment, I was raised to only see kill points when I hold a weapon in my hands but the responsibility of an entire family name on my shoulders makes the earth comparable to a feather. The thought of letting the keys to a kingdom bigger than my family's manor slip through my fingertips scares me.
I want to remain magnificent, even if it's only an illusion.
One look at me, and it was decided I would be Atlas - the namesake of someone magnificent. Mediocre school grades since grade one, it quickly became apparent that books were never my calling. In truth, other than bearing the weight of worlds on my shoulder, my life has always remained an incomplete puzzle piece. Lifespan unknown, gap unfilled by purpose, it was only in the career center I entered when I was eight that I began constructing the muddle. Steel clashing with steal, bloodbath simulations ticking to oblivion; perhaps a purpose was beginning to become clear through puzzle pieces that just wouldn't quite fit. Steel, swords, dummies - it seemed simple enough.
We all did it, me, my sister, my cousins. Most of us carried ourselves with a pride that could only be held by the prestige of District One. I felt myself to some kind of high honor, making friends from enemies as if it was effortless and then improving my skills. Of course, mother had to make sure I had the tools, calling on dietitians and making sure I was training at home and in the center. I suppose, it was to be expected when I turned thirteen and I shot up compared to everyone else. To this day, I stand at 6'1 and possess a weight above average, even back then I had the physical advantage. It was easy for advantage to form burning arrogance.
At fifteen I begun adding more burdens to the weight of the world; I don't even remember of the wrong crowd found me or if I wound them. Parties, late nights out, lies. I suppose Lex would've been proud - if he knew. Only my sister can see through the smoke and mirrors of magnificence - I suppose that's where the closeness comes from. She doesn't quite hold the weight of the world on her shoulders but I suppose she can relate to the burden just a little bit. Things became a blur, meeting friends, meeting people, fighting people, losing my virginity, innocence evaporating, drink, needles, fucking girls - it didn't take long for me to become a sleep-around. I've never even felt love.
Freeze, rewind, fast forward.
"Who the fuck is Asha?"
"A cousin, apparently."
"Don't worry about that for now, he's in the arena now and now we need to decide what comes next."
"What comes next?"
"Honey, we're going to have to add to your burdens."
I didn't even bother asking if she thought he would win, my mother was focused on the prospect of glory - she would rather it was claimed by me or my sister. We watched that television screen all the same. My mother and my father watched him lose digits, crush District Four's skull with his fists, be pushed to the edge of death twice, butcher District 5 in red rage. He seemed like the final piece to this puzzle of purpose, he could come home, I could meet him, talk to him, meet more family and the-
("He's on the edge of glory, look mother!"
"I know, honey."
"Aren't you happy? We could -"
"Oh Atlas, please don't try and delegate your responsibility to our family name to a madman.)
- but he had a spear through his throat the next day and became a sacrifice to a god we cannot see. I don't think I could truly feel anything for him, he was just an unknown cousin after all. Besides, I have a lot more to care about. I have magnificence to maintain - even if it's only an illusion. I lifted a shaking hand to the television screen, at the Lumiere drowning in his own blood without a voice to sound out his final death wish, and looked my mother in the eyes.
(thank ripred she didn't see what I really am. Lying, violent, sleep around, selfish, lustful-)
"Is that what you would have me become, mother?"
Fight, fuck, die - magniifence can't be defined by those three criteria anymore.
"Asha was not made to carry the weight of the world, but you are Atlas."