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.