I stand by the fence, fingers clamped through the metal, anxious to catch a glimpse of blonde ponytail. She is the last to emerge, squinting at the bright sunlight. I smile, excited to see her after so much time has passed. She seems older; hardened from the experience. She has completed her sentence and is finally free.
The prison guard walks along side her to ensure she doesn't escape in the long walk on the green mile. She trudges along slowly. What is taking so long? It is then I notice she is shackled by a yellow slip of paper. My smile slides off my face and shatters on the chain link - NOT THE YELLOW PIECE OF PAPER.
Panic sets in. What has she done? Did she shank a fellow inmate? Plot an elaborate escape using play-doh, bubbles and a yo-yo string? After what feels like an hour she arrives. I want to hug her, smooth her hair and tell her everything is going to be ok. But a stern look from the prison guard prevents my comforting as she launches into a list of new offenses:
"Well, we had a few issues today with Lena. She was playing with her hair during circle time. It was very distracting."
Playing with her hair? This offense was worthy of a slap on the wrist. Maybe a fine. But a YELLOW PIECE OF PAPER???? This is kind of record that haunts you for the rest of your life.
"But, that's not all. Lena was throwing rocks at a tree. Which is against the rules."
The parolee can stand it no more. All these false accusations being tossed around. Her fate determined by pint-sized cohorts that can't even read, let alone scribe a confession. Although she knows she should not shout out without her lawyer present, she jumps in to defend her actions:
"Um, excuse me. It was NOT a rock. It was a dirt bomb. They exploded when they hit the tree - which was TOTALLY AWESOME. But I did not throw any rocks."
They have appointed me Lena's parole officer in charge of enforcing her house arrest. Which I will absolutely be doing. As soon as I'm done laughing.