I shine my torch up the path to the front door and two points of light reflect back – a cat, crouching on the path. It’s a wild night for anybody to be out, let alone a cat. I bend down and make kissy noises; the cat trots over and wraps itself around my leg, but as soon as the door opens, the cat runs inside.
‘It’s all right’ says the woman standing in the doorway. ‘She live here.’
All the doors in the house are shut apart from one, up on the landing, a bedroom, where a young girl is sitting on her bed. The room is lavishly decorated, richly patterned wallpaper, an ornate bead and crystal chandelier, and a silvered chest of drawers. On the wall above the head-end of the bed is a black and white portrait of a young woman, the kind of three-quarter head shot you might see in a fashion portfolio, the frame surrounded by fairy lights.
‘Mariana took an overdose tonight,’ says the woman. ‘I’m her grandmother, Rosa.’
She kneels at Mariana’s feet and rests a hand on her foot.
‘I’m looking after her these days,’ she says. ‘That’s her mother in the photo. She died a couple of years ago and we’re still coming to terms with it. Mariana’s brother Felipe is a year older. I’m afraid Felipe’s gone off the rails, staying out, drinking, carrying on. He comes back and causes trouble. That’s why all the doors are locked.’
Mariana starts to cry.
As gently as we can, we establish what she took and when, and then encourage her to get ready to come to hospital.
The cat suddenly appears in the room. It jumps up on the bed and noses its way onto Mariana’s lap, demanding to be stroked. It flicks its head as a couple of tears land there, but purrs loudly, its little tongue poking out.
‘That was her cat,’ says Rosa.
We leave the room to give Mariana some privacy as she changes.
‘Just put your onesie on, querido,’ we hear Rosa say. ‘Don’t worry about that. It’s late. No-one will see.’
After a moment the door opens fully again and Mariana steps onto the landing.She hasn’t put the hood of her onesie up, but I can tell from the pointy ears and from the tail dragging along behind what it’s supposed to be.