August 10, 2008
I think I tied him to my ankles around the age of six, I don't exactly remember why. That was the first time I met him, laying there in a half-blur on my floor. I tried to pick him up, but every time I tried he would just whisper.

"Don't worry. I'll follow you."

And it wasn’t a lie. He did. With every step I took, there he was; his dark, stretched foot holding to the exact same ground that I was. Sometimes I liked to trick him, put my legs together and hop around the concrete till I was out of breath. I bet he was too.

But he never let go.

He held on tight, his body as casual or as panicked as mine, but never far from me. I sometimes wished he would go away, he didn’t need to do things that I wanted to do. Did I mention his hands sometimes did the same thing I do? Once I stole something, and right when I did it I swear he started crying. From that day on I named him Conscience.

Because he made me put the candy back.

Conscience and I talk a lot. About everything. About how the sun makes him spin around and about how everyone seems so sad all the time. He thinks it’s because nobody pays attention to the Consciences they have. I think it’s because they all don’t have an imaginary friends, like I do. Conscience didn’t like that idea.

He said he would never be imaginary.

I introduced him to my parents, so that they could know he was my best friend. They laughed and I think they’re Consciences talked to my Conscience but I never heard about it. I asked him, I asked Conscience why he can’t talk to all the other people that look like him. He said he can.

It’s just they don’t want to listen.

Sometimes Conscience disappears, like at nighttime or when there’s a lot of clouds. I always have a flashlight, but even then I can only see his hand. We can still talk though. And that’s what confuses me. Even if I can’t see him, he can still talk to me. He told me it’s because he’s not just the guy on the ground.

He’s a part of me.

I’m 12 now. Which means that I’ve had Conscience for about six years. He said even if I lived to a billion years old he’ll still be with me, every step of the way. He said he’d make sure I’d always know what to do, and I said I already knew. I said he should just be my friend, and that he shouldn’t tell me the right thing to do or not do.

He said that’s sometimes what friends do.

A billion years is long time, and I looked it up in Guinness Book of Records and it said that the longest a person has ever lived is 120. That means Conscious will be with me for my whole life, because I don’t think I can beat the record. I like conscious, I really do.

But not in a forever kind of way.

I’ve thought about ways to catch him so that he doesn’t bug me for the rest of my life. I thought about going into a big box then running out so fast I have time to shut the door before he gets out. I thought about not talking to him so that he just goes and finds somebody else to bother. I actually tried telling him to leave, but all he said was

"Don't worry. I'll follow you."

I stole that candy I put back. He cried, and I knew he would, and I thought it might help him want to leave. I stole an apple too, but he had finished crying from the candy and he didn’t start back up. I felt bad, because I don’t like hurting people, but sometimes you have to.

Do friends do that sometimes too?

He doesn’t talk to me as much anymore. I stole a lot more stuff, and now instead of crying I hear just a faint whimper every minute or two. I look down at him, by my side every single step I take and still the same size. Just a lot quieter.

Now he doesn’t have anybody that hears him.

This morning I got in big trouble. My parents found a bunch of magazines I stole and I got grounded for a month. It hurt, and I thought I could hear Conscience crying louder than he had for a long time. I think I’m starting to miss him.

Even though he was always there.

His name was on the TV today. The news man was reporting from the scene where there were three dead people and he said a “Conscious-less Killer” was to blame for the murders. I wondered if that was how I would end up, if I stopped talking to Conscience forever. I asked him if he was dead, if I killed him. He said

“You’ll never, ever, kill me.”

So I decided I was going to keep talking to Conscience, about why people like red cars and about why people like to hurt other people. He doesn’t cry anymore, and I make sure to always have my flashlight so he doesn’t get lost, even though he never does. He still follows my footsteps, and he still dances when I dance and he still laughs when I laugh.

And he still says, “Don't worry. I'll follow you."

And I always say the same back.

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