[dedicated to ressa_francis for making the awesome cover!]
My name is Conscience. You may have met me before.
For some, I am the voice of reason. I tell them the right thing to do. I visit them often, and they welcome me and listen to me.
Sometimes they don’t listen. Sometimes they go their own way and hope to mend the scars later. I don’t abandon then, though. I just wait patiently for them to acknowledge me again.
There are those who have ignored me for so long that they barely know I’m there. My voice is just a whisper to them, barely audible over the din of their guilt.
My name is Conscience.
Young Lucy barely knew right from wrong. How could she, when she was only five? I hadn’t visited her yet, I was waiting for the moment when she would understand.
The lid of the cookie jar was loosened, the cookies inside freshly baked.
“Wait until I come back, Lucy,” her mother had said before she disappeared.
Lucy waited patiently, trying not to look at the cookies. Her mouth watered, and she couldn’t resist any longer. Her hand slowly reached towards the jar…
“Hello, Lucy!” I greeted her.
She gave me a suspicious look. “Who are you?”
“I am Conscience.”
“Conscience. Well, that’s an awfully funny name. Can I call you Connie for short?”
I laughed. “If you like.”
She glanced back at the cookies.
“Mummy wouldn’t know…” she said.
“Maybe she wouldn’t,” I replied, “But you would. You’d feel so bad for taking the cookie.”
Her face screwed up in concentration.
“I’m so hungry!”
“I know you are, but I’m sure she’ll let you have one, when she comes back. Trust me.”
Lucy looked from me, to the jar, and back to me again.
She sighed. “I guess so.”
It was a sigh I’d heard many times before, the sigh of someone deciding to do the right thing when it was hard. Although that was the first time Lucy had sighed like that, I knew there would be many more.
I watched Lucy until her mother came back.
“You’ve been a good girl, Lucy! Have a cookie!”
And just like that Lucy knew she’d get rewarded for doing the right thing. Maybe not always immediately, but she would.
I gave her a little wink, and I was gone.
Bianca couldn’t believe it. Valerie was pregnant? She had been told once that eavesdropping was bad, but it couldn’t be bad that she found out gossip as juicy as that!
She knew she had to text all her friends. Until I showed up.
“Not you again,” she said begrudgingly, her thumbs texting furiously.
“Why are you not pleased to see me?” I asked.
“Because you always show up and nag, nag, nag. You’re like my mother.”
“Yes, but I’m not your mother. I’m you, well, part of you anyway.”
“Well, you’re the boring part. The part that has no fun. Why don’t you just live a little?” she suggested.
“You know I have a job to do, Bianca. Besides, you’re already living enough for the both of us.”
Bianca groaned. “What do you want to say this time?”
“You may not see it now, but this decision will be bad for you in the long run.”
She snorted. “How can it, when it has nothing to do with me?”
“Just think of the consequences, Bianca. Think of how you’d feel in her shoes.”
Bianca thought for a moment, then smiled cheekily.
“I think I’ll take my chances.”
“Suit yourself, Bianca. I can’t make the decision for you.” As I spoke, my voice became a little quieter.
Marcus held the knife to her neck, so one drop of blood trickled down and rested on her pale shoulder.
“No, Marcus! No, you love me!” she screamed.
“The other’s all though I loved them too.” He laughed.
This time the screams weren’t the woman’s. They were mine, though I was screaming he could only hear a whisper.
He gave me a sideways glance, wondering why I was still with him.
“She deserves this!” he yelled.
“No, she doesn’t. She hasn’t done anything. Marcus!” I was beyond reasoning. I was pleading, pleading that somewhere deep down he could hear me.