William (age 17):
When you go there it’s nothin’ but ice ‘n’ shit. Jus’ these huge icebergs, and not like those cement slabs by the basketball court that you can jus’ climb over. They’re miles long like glaciers, and they have all these soft spots all over ‘em, all unexpected like, so if you go walkin’ over ‘em you jus’ trip ‘n’ fall in. Little soft spots ‘n’ also big crevasses. Farther down than fallin’ between the buildings there. Like say you was up on the roof ‘n’ stepped off ‘n’ hit the pavement. The only thing might save you in Antarctica is if you fall into snow, or water. But if you fall into water it’d be so cold you’d freeze up anyways. Freeze up like them homeless people who was sleepin’ in that ol’ crack house las’ winter. It got so cold, 50, 60 below, they jus’ froze up like a block a ice. Finally the police came ‘n’ wheeled ‘em out on dollies ‘cause they couldn’t stretch ‘em out in a stretcher. Bein’ in Antarctica, you’d have to take some precautions so as not to end up like them frozen homeless people. I heard they have a big dome sort of buildin’ for the scientists doin’ research. And if ya have ta go outside, you have ta spend half a hour getting’ ready so ya don’t get frostbite nowhere. You gotta put on as much clothes as a astronaut. I could probably put on all my clothes and they wouldn’t be enough for Antarctica. You could wear a ski mask without anyone gettin’ suspicious you was about to knock off a place, though. I don’t think anyone would suspect you of knocking off a place in Antarctica. ‘Cause there really ain’t no places to knock off anyways, ‘cept the dome and that’s where y’all live. And anyways they really don’t have no time to suspect each other down in Antarctica, ‘cause they need every hand they can get jus’ to survive. It’s really co-operative. I’d like to go there someday, only I know I won’t get to ‘cause I don’t know no science shit myself. I heard about this guy that went there as a janitor, though. I had a job as a janitor once. I don’t know if janitors in Antarctica do the same thing, like take out the garbage and vacuum up messes. If you throwed the garbage out in Antarctica it wouldn’t do nothin’, jus’ freeze up. It’d jus’ sit there all frozen, like the dumpsters las’ winter when it snowed real hard and the city stopped comin’ around for a week. And even when it’s summer there it’d still be frozen, and there ain’t any garbage trucks there anyways. I don’t know what a janitor would do there. I probably don’t have the skills for it, and they probably only hire white guys for Antarctica anyways. They don’t stand out in the snow so much and so the polar bears don’t eat ‘em.
“Antarctica” won a $500 2008 Short Grain prize for dramatic monologue, and originally appeared in Grain Magazine, Saskatchewan, Winter 2008/2009. grainmagazine.ca