Wednesday, June 19, 2013


We come here to discover our origins. Outside, snow glitters to the end of the world. We join Xavier and Lucien in the concrete pod perched on the South Pole. Two years to melt and analyze ice, breathe recycled air, eat dried fish and tinned vegetables. Never going outside. I am not sure I can do this. But our grant ran out. And I love you.

Years of study in musty stacks bound us together, years of long nights in the laboratory posing hypotheses that disintegrated to dust. Love for truth turned into love for each other.
Today you sketched me a rose.

We perfect the mechanical thaw.

We analyze the first melted ice core. One litre of potential life. We scan the water millimeter by millimeter, seeking life invisible at 10,000X.

You sight it first, the fragile twisting helix. Xavier takes over, you withdraw in a sulk. We melt ice, faster.

The fever melts Xavier’s eyes. We slide him out the door and onto the ice.

Lucien succumbs. We keep melting ice, catalogueing nothing. The air hangs heavy.

Tonight you shake me awake. “Amalie, come,” you say, your eyes like embers. You pull me to the microscope. “See?”  

The field glares white.

“Yes,” and I cry.

I find you slumped over your papers, laptop humming. I remove your watch, the amber bead hanging around your neck. I pocket your wedding band.

I can see the white mound of you.

Without you, without the others, there is more room to breathe. I power down the microscope, the freezer, remove my jacket and boots. Later, I will open the chute. The air will liven me: ice crystals will embroider my eyelashes. I will walk into the desert, breathing at last.

My contribution to FLASHMOB2013, the international flash fiction blog carnival and contest extraordinaire. A non-competing entry, as I am one of the organizers, along with the brilliant Michelle Elvy and equally genius Christopher Allen. Over 100 authors from around the world. Check it out. Winners announced June 22. Peace...


  1. Wow. Powerful and beautiful.

    Just the same it reinforces my belief we should leave Antarctica alone. In its own power and beauty.

  2. This is brilliant! Marking it on my list of ones to read again later.

  3. Gosh, Linda, you've done it again! Such powerful writing, and such an imaginative piece. I will remember this line: "ice crystals will embroider my eyelashes." Gorgeous. Big mob love!

  4. Love this. "Mob love" as Michelle says. Excellent piece, clever and moving.

  5. Oh Linda, I've missed you. I haven't been around much but I've missed the way you write, so deft and vivid.

    The sense of isolation, and discovery, and beauty, and futility really hit me with this one. I could feel the chill and at the same time the acceptance.


  6. Coming from the north, the expression you used to describe ice crystals on eyelashes is exactly what they look like when it is really, really cold out. This is a wonderful piece and I enjoyed it immensely.