"The Diseased, the Discarded, the Frozen" by Jessica Bergquist

I sent my heart to Antarctica in a jar.

 

When I woke up after they took it out, I didn't know where I was. The doctors kept asking if I had any family, but I couldn't make my cracked lips and scratchy tongue form the answer. Once I forced my eyes open against the white fluorescent lights, I saw my heart floating in the jar, bouncing around in the glass like it still had something to tick for. The alcohol preservative had marinated it and permeated the hunk of meat into something ugly and twisted with a sickly green tint. I didn't know what to do with my heart, but I didn't want it on a shelf just to watch over me with my new heart. It would stare at me, jealous, like an ex-girlfriend, or like the bust of a moose shot down in its prime. I didn't want that life for something that was inside me. It deserved the ultimate freedom.

 

When I took the package to the post office, I made sure it had been bubble wrapped and taped and placed in a small box with fluffy packing peanuts with the utmost care. As the postal worker examined the package, she raised a dark eyebrow at me and said, "Don't expect any reply, hun. I've never seen anything with a return address from Antarctica."

 

Perfect.

 

I always loved Antarctica for that reason, or at least I knew I would love it if I ever got the chance to visit. There was no president, or constituents really. No suburban townhouses with dirty backyards; it was all just a borderless mass of anarchy, of blood on a seal's slippery skin. Cold that bites with icy teeth. A chorus of wild birds and winds. Uninhabited white as far as you can see, compelling you to look on until the bright white leaves you with sunburned eyes. There, my heart could be the King of Antarctica. The Ruler of All that is Frozen and Dead and Melting. It was better than nothing.

 

I started to send everything there. I shipped the icy nothingness a package with one of my kidneys inside, because you don't really need two anyway. Or the appendix. Or tonsils. I only needed the essentials. I was an organ donor, but I never liked the idea of every part of me being cramped into someone else. A fleshy cubicle was only for the parts of me that were promised to someone else. I wanted all these little less inhibited pieces of me to experience the freedom and the wild without my body, like all those discarded, unnecessary reminders of my mortality never existed at all. Like they had new life. A new purpose detached from me or anyone else.

One day, I received a letter with a return address I'm now familiar with. My grip tightened as I read the scratchy handwriting. "Although they seem to come from a place of care," the letter stated, "a land mass doesn't need organs, of which we're sure you're aware. Therefore, we must assume you send us these things for your own gain, which leads us to submit to you this sentiment: Antarctica is not for your fantasies. She exists as her own entity, her own body. You may think that the cold preserves you or frees you from the social norms expected in a more forgiving climate, but it doesn't. It just freezes the packages you send, and they wind up under chunks of ice that hide you and your confusing intentions forever. With love, Protector of Her Lady Antarctica and Ruler of the Melting Ice Caps."

I didn't really get what they meant, but I'm thrilled to have accomplished what the United States Postal Service had claimed was impossible. So, when my gall bladder was taken out the next year, I sent that over too. I thought maybe the ravenous seals would enjoy it as a snack, despite what the letter said. Maybe when the sun finally kills us all the jar can float back to me. Maybe once my organs are all frozen and the jar breaks and the frozen remains spill everywhere, it would leave red stains on the ice, and I'd be pulverized as gory slush in a vast, open polar desert.