‘Come here, you little scallywag’ said Mama J to Atlas with an I’m-onto-you grin. He was sneaking down the deck stairs with his iPad and it was raining!
‘Oh no you don’t ‘ said Mama J again. Atlas stopped on the first step and glanced over his shoulder at her with a flick of his eyes and a cheeky smile.
‘Bring that to me you little scallywag’.
Atlas had a habit of destroying iPad’s like they were rice crackers; protective cases would be broken and cracked, he’d touch type with his toes and crack screens but his most annoying habit of all, was getting the damn things wet!
At around $700 a pop, minimum, he went through about one (or two) a month. Not on my watch, thought Mama J. Atlas turned and came back up the step.
‘You can’t take the iPad in the rain’ she said explaining the rules. ‘What are you going to do if it gets ruined? You won’t have an iPad to play with and that means you’ll turn into a shitty, whinging, annoying little ball sack!’
Atlas giggled. He was sharper than he let on too. We could all see the cog’s of his brain working overtime planning and scheming, playing on his non-verbal affliction like Marcel Marceau.
We used to call him Houdini, still do sometimes when he’s found a way to escape. Atlas has a habit of casing the joint, any joint, working out it’s strengths and weaknesses and waiting for the opportune time to enact his plan.
He once stole a fob key and let himself out of his school! He was found in a big garbage bin full of flattened cardboard boxes. The school had to change their security policy. He was 6.
I prefer Houdini for Atlas Justice. He was a master at deception and a skilled manipulater when it came to maximising his performance too.
Atlas would make an excellent burglar, thought Mama J. He had an opportunistic streak that takes full advantage of any situation that suited him.
You couldn’t help but laugh. He was a genius really, underneath all that anger and frustration. He didn’t like being caught or told he couldn’t do or have something. He’d lash out like a Tasmanian Devil and come at you with his fingernail claws and gnashing teeth.
Mama J caught Atlas in her periphery taking another step outside, sneaking down the steps.
‘Oui! Get back up here or I’ll take it off you! Move!’
It was going to be one of those days. ‘The Dance of Alchemy’, Mama J called it. Balancing fun and happiness with a firm I’m-not-going-to-take-any-of-your-shit undertone that meant business.
Atlas moved back onto the deck and sat himself down at his table. So far, so good. He was listening today. Mama J breathed a sigh of relief, leaned back into her chair, had a sip of coffee and admired the rain nurturing her garden.
© Poetry Out West, Jodine Derena Butler. All Rights Reserved. First published on Raising Atlas Rising 2022