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Snowman – McMurdo Station, Antarctica

by Justin Herrmann

Helen had spent the day cutting blue foam into toilet seats for field camps, places she’d fly to. When she was on Station, we’d nap together during lunch on her bottom bunk, sometimes her roommate above. She’d let my hands up her shirt, but wouldn’t go further. I’d thought about her skin all morning while labor allocating in the office. Outside, snow whitened the dark volcanic landscape.

At lunch, instead of napping, we tried building a snowman, but the snow was the wrong kind. It was too dry, wouldn’t stick. My daughter would’ve liked trying, but she was years away.

Justin Herrmann is the author of the short fiction collection Highway One, Antarctica (MadHat Press 2014). He is the winner of the 2016 River Styx Micro-Fiction Contest. His stories most recently appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Meridian, The Tishman Review, and Flash Frontier.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Snowman – McMurdo Station, Antarctica “?

This past winter I built snowmen for the first time with my daughter. We had snowfall of good, wet, snowman-building snow here in Alaska. I grew up in Buffalo, New York where we also were blessed with good snow for making snowmen. I spent four austral summer seasons at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. While brutally cold, it doesn’t get much snowfall. On one occasion when snow was falling, a few of us janitors took a break from work and attempted to build a snowman. It didn’t work. It was too powdery, too dry. It wouldn’t stick. I started this story with the idea of a failed Antarctic snowman, and the goal of telling it in 100 words.

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