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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Heard

Atheist Life Hacks: How To Back Away Slowly

This past weekend, my son went camping without me. It was the first time he’d gone away without me anywhere so, naturally, I spent the weekend lamenting the passage of time with my good friend Sleeman’s. Before I spent hours staring listlessly at the wall chewing my nails, though, I had to drop him off in the wilderness.

We drove for about an hour, up winding roads, through the Okanagan backcountry as my body filled with dread. I kept thinking up reasons to turn back or schemes that would allow me to stay in camp with my little dude. Of course, all of them were unreasonable and I kept them in my head. As we approached the Scouts Canada campground, I knew I was going to have to be a big girl and hug my son and say goodbye.

When we pulled up, though, there were no other kids there. Just a couple scout leaders and an empty campsite. My tiny person looked up at me and asked me to stay until some kids arrived. I kneeled down, looked him in the eye and said, “Of course.”

So, we let the puppy out of the car and wandered around the massive acreage up in the hills above Okanagan valley. We walked past the potato launcher and the zip line, past the slackline and the water balloons. With every step, I felt better and better about leaving him here, out in the middle of nowhere. He was clearly going to have the time of his life… as long as some other kids showed up.

As we rounded the bend back to his camp to see if anyone else had arrived, we recognized a leader we knew. We made small talk and she mentioned that a couple of kids from my son’s pack were down in the lower camp, if we wanted to take my little man down there.

“Just don’t bring the dog. We have kids who are afraid of dogs down there.” She added.

I kneeled down again, hugged my son, told him I loved him and let his daddy take him down to the lower camp while I waited with my four-legged baby girl.

“She’s so cute! What kind of dog is she?” The scout leader asked me. I told her that my Lucy was a boxer/lab or mabe a pittie/lab or possibly a ridgeback/lab, we weren’t sure. I told her about adopting her from Texas, about picking her up from the airport and driving her home that first day.

“Good for you! We only adopt rescues, too.” She praised me after I’d finished gushing about my Texan pup. I asked her what sort of dog she had. Another mystery mix she explained, and followed it up with,

“My miracle dog.”

I’m pretty sure Lucy and I cocked our heads to the side in unison. ‘Miracle dog?”

“Yes! As you know there aren’t many dogs here in BC in rescues up for adoption, so we went to Winnipeg. I stayed with my cousin while I looked for a dog online to adopt.”

“Ahh, good strategy. How did you find him?” I asked, my curiosity still fired up wanting to know what was so miraculous about this spaniel mix dog she adopted.

“I was looking on Kijiji one morning, actually. I saw his picture and I fell in love, so I left a message for his owner who was having to give him up and waited to hear back from her. I wasn’t going to leave it up to fate, though.”

What did she mean? I thought. Did she dognap this dog?

“I called my cousins and my aunt into the living room and we made our energy balls and sent them out into the quantum field.”

Boy howdy, get me out of here now, I panicked inside my head as goosebumps raised on every inch of my body. Outwardly, I tried to keep my composure. “Energy balls?”

“Yeah, like this.” She held her hands in front of her forehead and formed her fingers in a sort of ball shape. One grunt and she appeared to be convulsing and humming and twisting her hands. In one swift movement, she acted as though she threw something as hard as she could, though there was nothing in her hand.

Parts of my psyche were crumbling with each new word she uttered, each new movement she showed me. I might die here, today, I told myself. I looked at Lucy who could sense I was uncomfortable. Her big, brown, puppy eyes looking back up at me as if to say, “You’re not alone, mom. I’m scared, too.”

I was planning my exit strategy when the woman interrupted my thoughts, “We changed the molecular structure of our lives and within minutes the dog’s previous owner called me.”

“Uh…huh. That’s awesome.” Terror. Sheer terror from my toes to my forehead.

“Oh, and his name is Brandon and I’m from Brandon. Totally quantum.”

I don’t think I had ever been so happy to see my husband as I was when I spotted him at that moment. I was saved. I could leave now. We could get away from this sorceress and her energy balls.

My profound discomfort didn’t subside until we were halfway home when it suddenly dawned on me: I’d left my son with Miss Energy Balls for the weekend. But, you’ll be happy to know, he came home happy, healthy and woo-free.

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