Antarctica by Michelle Elvy
I find the boy in a drainpipe and when I ask him what are you doing in there? he looks at me as if I should already know and says I’m looking for Antarctica.
Later at home, my wife catches me staring at the tiny specks of dust spiraling in the late-afternoon sunlight and when she asks What are you thinking? for about the millionth time I hate her but I also know I’d hate it even more if she stopped asking so I shrug and say I’m thinking about Antarctica.
I go back the next day and the boy is gone. I wait for him because I know there’s something we needed to say but forgot. The sky around me is heavy metallic: the hour before snowfall. I pull my collar tight and head home and when I get there my wife’s standing naked in the kitchen. It has started to snow and the only colour in the room is the orange of her fingernails. The snow falls hard and we can’t get warm, no matter how hard we make love. Later I’m staring again and my wife says Antarctica? but how could she know I’m more than a million miles away with the boy in the drainpipe.
I return the next day and crouch down on my hands and knees. My shoulders barely fit but I wedge myself in. I am about to turn and crawl down the pipe when a stranger walks by and sees me and when he asks what are you doing in there? I look at him as if he should already know and say I’m looking for Antarctica.