It is like a chunky digital watch fastened around his ankle. It isn’t too tight. He rolls down the leg of his tracksuit bottoms and stands up, walks up and down the front room. It feels strange but not uncomfortable and there is no discernible bulge. You could look and don’t even know it was there. They connect the box up to the phone line and set the parameters around the house, twenty-five feet from the front door and the same for the back. They explain that he is able to leave his home after 06.45 am and that he must be back within range of the box by 18.45 pm. He tells them that he knows all the terms and conditions, that they’ve been explained to him several times over the past week or so. We are legally obliged to make all of this clear to you, they tell him. He signs the papers that confirm he understands and then they wish him all the best and they leave.
He makes himself a brew and then sits at the kitchen table and rolls a smoke. He looks outside, at the back garden and the fence and the garages and houses beyond. The sky above the rooftops is dishwater grey with the promise of rain.
He looks at the clock on the wall above the oven. It is twenty-seven minutes past two. Four hours and eighteen minutes to go. This time yesterday, that seemed like a lifetime.
Today it is nowhere near enough.