He reached the heavy iron gates at the end of the walkway. With trembling hands, he pulled a folded sheet of paper from his back pocket and passed it to the guard at the gatehouse.

Leaving us today, eh?” the middle-aged warder remarked, accepting the page with a gloved hand. As he studied it, he let himself out of the cubicle. Compared to Luke, he was well-rugged up, a long woolen coat covering his short, stocky body.

Luke didn’t bother with an answer. It was a rhetorical question anyway. He’d passed through these gates many times over the past few months, travelling to and from a factory in King’s Park on a work-release program. This would be the last time the heavy iron door opened for him. Luke had no intention of returning. No matter how tough life became on the outside, no way was he going to jeopardize his parole.

Everything seems to be in order. Hope we won’t be seeing you back here,” the prison guard said in a tone implying the exact opposite. He handed the page back, and Luke pocketed it, watching the warder unlocking the gate.

While he waited, Luke turned his attention to the sky. He knew it was the same colour on the outside as the inside, but today it had to be the clearest blue he’d ever seen. He could almost smell its freshness, the freshness of freedom.

With a loud clunk, the guard rolled back the iron gate. Once the space was wide enough for a man to pass through, Luke strode towards freedom. He knew where the bus-stop was, and his long legs carried him at a brisk pace down the road.

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