Here’s the thing that people forgot in those first years when they were ugly-crying in their bunkers, or searching through poo-water for stockpiles of canned goods and tube socks: the apocalypse is, like, kind of awesome. For sure I was NOT feeling it at first. Like, everyone died of the superbug, and then the surviving people were all psychologically gnarly, and things got pretty rapey and pillagey…I was like, I can’t even. *Stares sadly at dead iPhone for 3 years*
But then, after falling in with this wack marauder hoodrat for a while, I met Vonda at an Electricity Meetup. I could not stop looking at her hair, which was like, pre-CDC-warnings on fleek. Turns out she’d made curlers out of squirrel bones AND she cut some bitch for a blow dryer. Haters gonna hate, but just because New York City’s a cholera-riddled ghost town and LA’s a scorpion-infested desert doesn’t mean you have to go around all a hot mess. And not to fangirl too much but Vonda, who grew up out west before it was The No Man’s Land, can hunt with a bow and arrow like one of the scarier winners of Survivor, spearing a deer without ruffling a ringlet. I mean. Scorched-earth sway, right?
So #RealTalk, here’s life now. We spend our nights in the woods, Vonda and me, one sleeping and one awake on watch, cuddled up not in like a lesbian way UNLESS there’s a cute woodsman nearby to get all hot and bothered by it. (You can stop judging me about that because if I am gonna fuck I have to do it now before my IUD rusts or whatever it’s gonna do. BTW someone better reinvent gynecology soon because now that thing is just stranded up there, like a tiny copper satellite from another civilization.)
Vonda and me, we get up early as shit, but there’s nothing to do at night so who cares. We get dressed in our camo gear for, like, safety. We blow dry our hair for, like, dignity. Then we head out with the horses we stole after fucking these Militia Men, and Vonda gets all Katniss Everdeen on some bucks. We take the meat and do whatever the hell we can remember from Little House on the Prairie, and the antlers we trade to the traveling peddlers for food and gasoline to run the generator for our blow dryer. Turns out antlers are hella great for carving into knives. In those first years, so many boujie apartments were ransacked for their ironic decorative antlers, it’s not even funny. Or maybe it’s exactly funny, IDK, we don’t really have “funny” anymore. Point is, they are valuable. And we’ve got em.
You see what I’m saying? Girls like me and Vonda – we were waitresses IRL, okay? We were just about to claw through our 30s trying to do everything we were supposed to do. We were about to settle down. Remember that? How people would talk about settling down? But now? There’s no settling down. You settle down and a pack of feral children eats your fucking face off while you sleep. Vonda and me – we’re wild and free and the hottest girls alive, and it’s miserable and it’s magical. It’s sure not how I thought things would turn out, but whatevs. So tell me – look at my eyes, they’re up here – how many antlers do you want?
AMY SHEARN is the curator/host of BOOKISH, an author interview series at the Brooklyn Public Library, and the author of two novels, The Mermaid of Brooklyn and How Far Is The Ocean From Here. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, DAME, Poets & Writers, xoJane, the Found Magazine anthology, Requiem For a Paper Bag, and elsewhere.
“2025” was a finalist for The Best Small Fictions 2016.