28. Little Sisters of the Apocalypse – Kit Reed
Imperator Merricat took her final steps into Pighalla toward the end of April. When she lives again she will be shiny and chrome; she deserves to be more shiny and more chrome than most, she was a loyal little pig – loyal to me and loyal to Peregrine, her much beleaguered cage mate. Merri was a very important pig for me and she had the unfortunate task of re-reminding me about the waiting that goes along with caring for someone with a terminal illness – something that is a major part of this very surreal adventure. Reed discusses the waiting, (and she’s got another short story, her first published in 1958 apparently, “The Wait” that does an excellent job discussing a different kind of “the waiting” – the super creepy kind – ), in a way that I have never seen before and that resonated with me very deeply.
Little Sisters of the Apocalypse covers two different kinds of waiting that I have experienced – waiting for possibly unconsciously manipulative menfolk to sort their shit out and waiting for a loved one to die because they cannot be saved, the most painful kind of waiting. The narrative dips back and forth between a fantasy mainly concerning the women of Schell Island, abandoned in a “we’re coming back, we’re just going to war…somewhere…” way by their men and the reality of “K” and her losses. Both of the main sides involve the waiting, the strain of anxiety and the unknown and on the fantasy side especially, the confusion over what way to move forward if you’re even going to. Chag, the woman in charge in the post-men landscape, talks about the kind of waiting I always dread the most and that leaves a familiar pit in my stomach. It would just be really great if at some point, dudes thought better of trying to be mysterious assholes and were just direct. Stop trying to keep every option ever created open and make choices, then stand by those choices even if they go horribly awry. It is not impressive to juggle so many social options; it is impressive to be committed and considerate. K does not discuss waiting so much as it doesn’t need to be discussed when you’re dealing with terminal illness – it’s just there, allowing you to experience agony while you still have your loved ones and even more when you don’t.
The titular characters are a group of motorcycle riding nuns, lead by Sister Trini, and they also happen to work with computers. They are summoned to Schell Island and Chag and the other left-behind women are envious of them for one excellent reason – they do not have to go through the menfolk waiting. They have no one to wait for. They are autonomous and do not have to sit there and listen to the bullshit platitudes, “I never want to lose you,” “I can’t imagine my life without you,” et. al. And that is the kind of waiting that I could really do without, considering the amount of time I’ve already spent doing both kinds. The waiting for death kind is worse, but also better. It hurts, it’s always deep, but being there for loved ones and taking that on is honorable and witnessed. And, in the Little Sisters’ lack of having to do the “please take on my emotional bullshit while I don’t feel guilty for lying about whether or not I knew what I wanted” kind of waiting, they get shit done. I thought of them immediately during Mad Max Fury Road when they went after the ladies of Imperator Furiosa’s original group and those dusty motorcycles appeared. Those are the Little Sisters of the Apocalypse in yet another kind of apocalypse, one that also involves waiting for men, but not the kind you already had an irritating attachment to, the kind that bring a Doof warrior soundtrack-car and for some reason think they’re going to win. Something is always going to be coming. They’re not waiting for anyone.