For those of you who visit our hub here, a few weeks ago we ran a Facts About Antarctica competition. We prized and crowned our winner, Erin McCullagh, and listed a few of our favourite submissions. Here are the final slices of nanofiction for you to enjoy over whatever you wish, wherever you are.
Thunderstorm in Antarctica – Erin McCullagh
They’re like waves, yeah. Great white waves stopped afore they can break. And when you stand there, alone, your shadow is the only black for miles. Until the clouds come over, then everythin’ turns black. You can’t use your eyes. An’ all your equipment ain’t makin’ you see either. You gotta use your ears, nose, the tips of yer fingers. It’s hot, the rain, that’s how you smell it. You remember how thunder sounds, but it might be the groanin’ of the ice. The wind whistles an’ it’s like a wolf’s howl. It’s a warm wind, yeah, but yer shiverin’. Then there’s a noise comin’ from all around. You can’t see, but yer guessin’ it’s the rain. The smell comes a right inter yer nostrils. Yer takin’ big gulps ‘cos it reminds ya of home. An’ the little noises all around ya, they ain’t little no more. They is poundin’ like footsteps on an icy doormat. “The rain’s come ta visit, ma.” There’s lightnin’ to give ya light, so yer can see the cracks in a runnin’ race at yer feet. An’ miles away a great big needle o’ ice does a dive inter tha ocean below.
ANTARCTICA – Zoe Konovalov
–Did we pack gloves, she said.
–You know it, I said.
–Do we have passports and travellers cheques, she said.
–Oh no! We’ll have to cancel the trip, I said.
She giggled. –I’m silly. It’s just I can’t wait. Tell me about the glaciers again.
I stroked her hair. –When dawn shines it’s like a million stained glass windows. And the reflections of moonlight on the ice make you forget about this world.
–I can’t wait to share it with you, she said.
–It’s only the first adventure, I said.
–How big do you think the beds are in those cabins, she said, with that smile that has always made my heart skip a beat, I swear on our Lord, even after all these years. But she was already drifting to sleep.
Her bags were by the door, and the kids would be arriving to drive us to the assisted living facility. It’s not good-bye; I can visit any time.
I sat on the edge of the bed a while. Her skin like faded parchment. She opened her eyes. –Did we pack gloves, she said.
–You know it, I said.
–Tell me about the glaciers, she said.
First and last we write – CJ Bowerbird
The car stops. She feels him unclick her belt and lean across to open the door. The pillowcase is lifted off her head.
‘Out,’ before she can blink.
‘Dad…’ she blinks. It is bright inside the car.
‘Hush. One day you’ll thank me, Scottie. Out.’
She lifts her backpack from the floor and drops to the gravel road. She swallows. The door clicks behind her and the car pulls away, dragging a ribbon of warm air behind it.
She zips her coat to her chin and bends down to her bag. She has packed only essentials: a piece of fruit, a spare pair of underwear, a bottle of water.
She is too young for a phone. She knows she is not allowed to bring a compass or a map.
She wraps a scarf from the pack around her neck and looks across the starlit field beside the road. City glow shadows a line of trees on the far side. That must be the way home.
But before she starts walking, she lifts her journal and a flashlight from the pack, and squats beside the road.
Writing first. It always helps her find the way.