Sofia heard her name but let it not grab her attention.
"Sofia Morin", came the voice, louder, more authorative.
"Yes, ma'am", recited Sofia, keeping her gaze fixed at the weeds in the ditch.
"Pick up your pole"
The woman wore a khaki uniform. She looked like a state trooper save for the emblem bearing "Missouri Correctional Services." Her Auburn hair was turned tightly into a bun and she stood frozen, focusing all her attention on Sofia.
"If I see you drop your pole one more time we're going to the Warden, understand, Morin?"
Sofia looked up and glanced at the woman's chin. She knew enough not to look the woman in the eyes for fear of making the situation more uncomfortable,
"Yes ma'am", said Sofia and she began to amble along the ditch using her stick to peck pieces of paper and other litter before collecting them into an orange refuse bag.
One hour more and Sofia and the rest of the inmates would fall in line, wash up and meet in the grub hall. Then, one half hour of recreation, likely cribbage with Glendene because Glendene she learned to distrust the least.
It had been thirty long years since the day on the bus had set things in motion. Perhaps she should have never peered into his backpack. She didn't want to but the curiousity was overwhelming. His hand on hers, the rucksack being slid across the seat between them. She knew him only from the bus. They had exchanged inane pleasantries at best. Yet the grey rucksack with the blue trim had that alluring smell of newly purchased vinyl. Not sweaty like the seats on the bus.
Perhaps it wasn't the vinyl she had smelled. It was the danger. The danger that seeped through William into the rucksack climbing it's way into her hand and up her arm.
She thought about it often. When the pastor asked her if she was remorseful she always said no. How could she be? If there was one thing she was certain of, she had nothing to be sorry for,
It would be thirty long years before she could leave this place.
What she tried to forget was what kept her from sleeping. William Paterson walked free.