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Story by Michelle Elvy (Read author interview) April 3, 2015

Art by Allan Gorman

The man finds the boy in a drainpipe and when he asks him what are you doing in there? the boy looks at him as if he should already know and says I’m looking for Antarctica. Later at home, the man’s wife catches him staring at the tiny specks of dust spiralling in the late-afternoon sun and when she asks What are you thinking? for about the millionth time he hates her but he also knows he’d hate it even more if she stopped asking so he shrugs and says I’m thinking about Antarctica.

He goes back the next day and the boy is gone. He waits for him because he knows there’s something they needed to say but forgot. The sky is heavy metallic: the hour before snowfall. He pulls his collar tight and heads home and when he gets there his 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 and they can’t get warm, no matter how hard they make love. Later he’s staring again and his wife says Antarctica? but how could she know he’s more than a million miles away with the boy in the drainpipe.

He returns to the drainpipe and crouches down on his hands and knees. His shoulders barely fit but he wedges himself in. He is about to turn and crawl down the pipe, all the way to a new continent, when a stranger walks by and sees him and when he asks what are you doing in there? the man looks at the stranger as if he should already know.

About the Author

Michelle Elvy is a writer, editor and manuscript assessor, originally from the Chesapeake, based in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands and currently living aboard her sailboat in SE Asia. She has not been to Antarctica—not yet. She edits at Flash Frontier and Blue Five Notebook, and is an associate editor for the forthcoming Flash Fiction International (W.W. Norton, 2015).

About the Artist

Allan Gorman’s realistic oil paintings explore the hidden abstract patterns and aesthetic tensions found within the confines of industrial structures and objects. Gorman is a fellowship recipient from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, winner of the John Collins Award from the American Artists’ Professional League, a resident fellow of the Vermont Studio Center. His work has been exhibited extensively in galleries, art fairs, museum exhibits and private collections; and has been profiled in dozens of print and electronic publications, including America Art Collector, Poets & Artists, The Huffington Post, about.com, and an upcoming feature story in Motorcycle Magazine. He currently resides and works in West Orange, NJ.

This story appeared in Issue Forty-Seven of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Seven

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