Mark has drunk so much, taken so many tablets – Tramadol, Quetiapine – it’s incredible he’s able to stay upright, let alone talk. He’s like some powerful animal that can’t be brought down no matter how many darts you fire into it. He should be flat on his back, but instead he’s sitting on the edge of the bath, wavering backwards, circling the vertical, poised on the lip of a bottomless pit; from his exhausted demeanour, I would guess that if he did start to fall, he would stretch out his arms and let himself drop forever.
‘I’ll be honest with you,’ he says, his eyes closed, his words fat and fuzzy. ‘I’ll tell you what it is. I’ve just had enough. I’ve had enough of feeling like this. I just want to be normal. I just want to live a normal life, with my wife and kids, and not keep fucking up. I don’t expect you to understand. You look around. What’s he going on about? Nice house. Beautiful wife and kids. But there’s this monster inside me and it won’t leave me alone. It comes sliming out every few weeks, and it doesn’t matter how much help I get, it doesn’t matter what anyone says or does, it gets its head right into me and I just can’t fight it off any more. I’m tired. And before you say it, no, I’m not going to hospital. I appreciate you coming out and everything. I don’t mean to be rude. I just want to be left alone to sleep.’
He sinks to his knees and rests his head against the edge of the bath.
Judith his wife is out in the hallway. It’s a new house. They’ve only just moved there and still haven’t completely unpacked. It has a warm but tentative feel, a well-lit space waiting for something to happen.
‘Mark,’ she says. ‘Please. You’ve got to go in.’
He pushes the door shut with his foot.