“If heaven is full of angels like me, hell must be empty.” So begins Autant, a tale woven over the course of four days and fifty-four years, based on the relationship between bees and one Franco-Albertan family, the Garances, of Autant, Alberta. Tension emerges in the balance of power between siblings, between seen and unseen forces of good and evil, between perception and reality, between loyalty and traitors, and between what we are taught and what we actually learn.
Poised between an ever-practical God and a quixotically old Coyote, it is a tale told to explain the disappearance of bees in northern Alberta and becomes a sometimes not-so-subtle exploration of how old and young, male and female, humans and non-humans perceive love.
1. (God) “There is only love. You are made of and for love. That is what this is. There is nothing else.”
2. (Edgar) “I told her I wasn’t too sure if the bees were Catholic. She said — If they are French, they are.”
3. “Her mother leaned forward, letting the light warm the top of her head. Smoke wisped from her crown, slipped down her shoulders. She was burning out strange thoughts, the black moths called them, by facing the sun, by absorbing light.”
4. (scene in the bar)
Coyote cocks his head. “You need to remember one thing while you are there.”
“Oh? Just one?” She smiles a little crookedly. Taking the cigarette from him she draws on it and blows a perfect square.
He laughs. “Remember, the light is different down there. Your perception will be blurry at the best of times. I call it being lightheaded. Anyways, trust the bees, they know how to navigate down there. If all else fails, follow the bees.”
“Bees,” she repeats, putting the cigarette in the ashtray. She stands and pulls on her cloak, “got it.”