Free, No Takers

by Colette Parris

Last month, I reached into my purse for a tissue and pulled out a conscience instead. Not mine; someone else’s, who probably slipped it in while I (slack-jawed) handed over my credit card at the Whole Paycheck register. I considered my options, which were limited in light of the stern “no littering” sign and the absence of a trash can nearby, and did what seemed sensible in the moment: brought it home and offered it for free on Craigslist.  

In retrospect, this was a poor decision. Although I had no takers, countless unauthorized givers emerged. The Twitterverse unearthed my home address and perplexingly crowned me “The Conscience Keeper.” People appeared (and continue to appear) unannounced, at all hours, heaving consciences out of car windows and leaving skid marks on a previously unblemished cul-de-sac.  

My husband, my neighbors, and George (our regular UPS driver) have lost their patience. The town has repeatedly threatened legal action, recently sending a shuffling bureaucrat to my door with a warning notice in 16-point font, all caps.  “How is this fair?” I yelled, outraged. “Not my problem,” he replied, after carefully stowing his conscience under my deck. He then jauntily saluted and returned to his car with pep in his step.

This morning, I was finally able to answer that burning question, What’s a girl to do?  Monetize, monetize, and monetize some more.  My husband is on board. The Museum of Conscience, otherwise known as our house, will open to patrons next week. The collection will be tastefully organized in ascending heft order. We’ve settled on a $24.99 entrance fee ($14.99 for seniors). Visitors are not authorized to check their consciences at the door. However, for an extra $9.99, you can leave your conscience on the kitchen counter (near the scale) and receive a certificate within three business days listing the precise weight lifted from your shoulders.  

All are welcome. 

Colette Parris is a Caribbean-American attorney who recently returned to her literary roots. Her poetry and prose can be found in Lunch Ticket, Thin Air Magazine, Burningword Literary Journal, Streetlight Magazine, and FreezeRay. She lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband and daughter. Find her on Twitter @colettepjd.