Our headlights pick up Eva a little way ahead, this side of the fence, leaning against the Samaritans board that says You are not alone.
I dim the headlights to avoid dazzling her, and come to a stop a tentative vehicle’s length away. She doesn’t even look round.
The ambulance rocks from side to side, fitful little shakes in the wind, like a bored giant has a hand on the roof. Even though we’re careful when we open the doors, it takes a firm grip to stop the doors being wrenched back against their hinges.
‘Hi! Eva is it?’
Rae walks towards her; I follow on with my hands in my pockets.
‘Did you call us?’
Eva huddles up to the board more closely.
‘I want to go,’ she says. ‘I’ll do it.’
‘Why don’t you come and sit on the ambulance and talk to us there? It’s a lot warmer. We’ve got the heater on. Blankets. I could leave the door open if you’d like, so you don’t feel hemmed in.’
‘I just want to go,’ she says.
‘Come on, Eva. Yeah? It’s freezing out here. Come and have a chat and we’ll see what’s what.’
Eva stares ahead into the mauve-black horizon beyond the cliff edge.
‘I understand you might have taken some pills? Is that right? Are they your meds, or...’
‘Okay. So – shall we get on board out of the cold and talk about that? It really is horrible weather.’
‘My life’s horrible.’
‘Come on. Let’s get you in the warm.’
Eva turns and studies us. A pouchy, red-faced woman in her forties, the curls of her greying hair whip about her face. She hesitates, and for a minute I think she might take a sudden run at the fence and hurl herself into the abyss just beyond it. But instead she seems to fold into herself, pushes her hands more deeply into the pockets of her jacket, and follows us back to the ambulance.
‘Eva – because of where we are and everything, the police were also asked to attend. Shall I stand them down? I don’t think they’re really needed now, do you?’
Eva responds to everything with a tired shake of her head and a pained, squeezing shut of her eyes.
‘No. Keep them coming. I want them to come. I’ve got – plans, if they don’t.’
‘Okay. That’s fine. We’ll keep them coming, then.’
She shivers under the blankets, then plants one muddy booted foot up onto the trolley, and starts jigging her knee up and down.
‘I’m under the crisis team,’ she sighs. ‘I rang them first. It told them about the voices, what they wanted me to do. Fat lot of good it did me. Them and their strategies. Their coping mechanisms. Watch some TV they said. Play some CDs. Distract yourself. Watch some TV!’
She sneers, then gathers the blanket more tightly around herself.
‘So I drank a bottle of vodka, took all my pills and came up here instead.’
The wind is picking up. It makes an eerie whistling noise as it tears around the square corners of the truck.
Suddenly there’s a knock on the door.
‘I expect that’s the police,’ I say. ‘Shall I let them in?’
It’s like opening the door of a spaceship landed on a hostile world. The wind pushes aggressively past me into the cabin, the black night beyond whirling and frozen and flecked with snow.
Two officers, looking in.
‘Shelter from the storm!’
‘Come in! Come in!’
The ambulance tips as they climb aboard.