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Audio: Read by the author.


Last night a young man said to me, every Christian
will tell you, it isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship.
He said this twice. The young man’s wife nodded
and one of their dogs jangled over to me to rest
her head in my lap. Perhaps it could sense my pity.
This is faith, to believe that behind the animal’s
eyes is something I might recognize. I felt so tired
then. The young couple filled with zeal. I said I wanted

to be careful. People were always telling me they’d kill
themselves without the Lord. Without the Lord they’d kill
themselves. But there are so many ways to live. I unpeeled
the foil wrapping from a chocolate and considered their
replies. Sometimes I feel I have been engaged for many
years but have never met my groom. Doubting virgins
leave their lamps: how is that foolishness? The dog
lays her head on my knee. A person is not like a god.
A person is not like a dog. A person will let you down,
I thought. That’s what I like about people.


Liz Harmer, a Canadian writer living in California, is the author of the novel The Amateurs (Knopf Canada). Her stories and essays have been published widely. In 2019, she was the runner-up for the Mitchell Prize.

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