[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.
“I’ve already killed so many. I’m already so damaged, when I kill her I won’t feel anything at all.”
“You may not feel anything, but what about her family? Friends? You can stop here, Marcus. IT’S NOT TOO LATE!”
“They’ll take me to prison,” he argued.
“Yes, they will. Probably a life sentence,” I replied honestly.
“Then why shouldn’t I do it?”
“Because she deserves a life. And even though you’ll be spending the rest of yours in prison, you can still mend. There’s hope for you still.”
“Hope? Ha, there is no such thing.”
“If you drop your knife right now, there will be hope for both of you.”
Marcus thought. I heard his thoughts, thoughts of hate.
“You don’t hate this woman. You hate the world. Why kill this innocent lady? You’ll just be continuing the vicious cycle of hate and, in the end, who really wins?”
It was these words that made Marcus pause. The woman shuddered deeply. Marcus dropped the knife. My voice grew louder.
“Hope,” was all I said.
The police came and took Marcus away. There was no need for a long trial, he confessed everything straight away. He was sent to prison for life, and slowly he began to mend. He knew he may never be whole again, but he felt better than he’d felt in a long time.
The woman was baffled as to why he’d spared her life.
My name is Conscience. You may have met me before.
I sometimes tell little kids right from wrong, even over sometimes as little as a cookie.
I sometimes tell teenagers not to do something because it will hurt others. They don’t always listen, but I just wait patiently for them to acknowledge me again.
Sometimes I speak to ‘lost causes’ who think there’s no hope for them anymore. And sometimes I even save lives.
I’m sure you must have met me before. My name is Conscience.