FLASH MOB: Antarctica

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.


The FLASH MOB 2013 competition period is in its final hours, so I’m posting my story now. Even if it’s a non-competing entry, I’m quite glad to place it here, alongside my other post today — Sam Rasnake’s beautiful poem ‘Some Last Things‘, featured at the Tuesday Poem site.
EarthFor more about FLASH MOB 2013, please see the site. It’s a crazy and fun writing initiative including writers from all over the world. On June 20, all the mob stories will be posted at the FLASH MOB spread and we’ll all spend the next two days globe-hopping and reading each other’s work. Then on June 22 — (Inter)national Flash Fiction Day (and National Flash Fiction Day in New Zealand) — the winners of the competition will be announced and feted across oceans and time zones. 
And please feel free to comment, dear readers. I rarely post my own stuff these days, and going to Antarctica was a strange and wonderful experience for me this week — especially as I’m searching for shade in the heat of western Fiji.
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26 Responses to FLASH MOB: Antarctica

  1. That’s haunting, Michelle, and has such a suitably muffled restrictiveness.
    Love the line ‘the only colour in the room is the orange of her fingernails.’

  2. A very compelling story, Michelle (I am one of ‘those’ always on the lookout for Antarctica. . . ). Thank you – and, too, for your writerly zeal and the way you catalyse things. Tuesday Poem is richer for having you. Your many contributions are appreciated! Save travels.

  3. Love how I can feel the weight of everything in this story – great writing!

  4. Pingback: Flash Mob ’13: Lots of groovy flash (and… me) | t upchurch

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  6. What a lovely story. Surreal and yet could totally relate to it!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful! Pure delight.

  8. chris says:

    Brilliant piece! “I hate her but I also know I’d hate it even more if she stopped asking…” Funny how it works that way.

  9. sootfoot5 says:

    now I know what to say when I am sitting there with my eyes shut but I am awake. My standard response in the past has been that I’m checking my eyelids for pinholes. However, people have actually believed me on that one and I do have this thing about penguins, so the search for Antarctica begins! Thank you!

  10. Great story, especially liked how you tell the story of the relationships using Antarctica as a strange and absurd mediator.

  11. joan Bailey says:

    That was a fantastic ride!

  12. Anonymous says:

    A story that goes full circle and take the reader for a very interesting ride. I’ll be checking those drainpipes more often now. Lovely story and the visual of the fingernails was exquisite! Thanks for this read!
    -taree Belardes

  13. Brilliant piece of flash fiction, Michelle! Really enjoyed reading it! 🙂

  14. Pingback: Heads up on flash fiction | T Upchurch

  15. Pingback: Flash Mob ’13: Lots of groovy flash (and… me) | T Upchurch

  16. Pingback: Heads up on flash fiction – TM Upchurch

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