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.
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.’
Thank you, Anon. Appreciate the read and the comment!
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.
Thank you so much for the lovely comment, Claire. I love finding others who are also searching for Antarctica…
Love how I can feel the weight of everything in this story – great writing!
Thank you, Rachel!
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What a lovely story. Surreal and yet could totally relate to it!
Thank you — I so appreciate you stopping in, and I’m enjoying hopping around the mob today, too!
Wonderful! Pure delight.
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.
yes, thank you for stopping in, Chris! Great seeing you and sharing stories in the mob!
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!
There you go. Glad I could help. Keep searching!
Great story, especially liked how you tell the story of the relationships using Antarctica as a strange and absurd mediator.
That was a fantastic ride!
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!
Brilliant piece of flash fiction, Michelle! Really enjoyed reading it! 🙂
Alexandra Pereira (Guilherme)
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