Jonathan Blaze, Jon to his friends, was about to leave his home for the first time in nearly four years.
Am I really about to do this, he asked himself. Yes, you are, came the reply from deep inside his troubled mind.
Somewhere along the line he had developed a remarkably effective inner saint - inner demon relationship. The two would encourage, criticise, ridicule and ultimately define him during his solitude. Crucially though they would motivate him in to the most rudimentary of actions and crush him for the slightest fault.
Jon reached for his coat. It had hung there for nearly four years. It still fit. Just. In four years he'd gained a few pounds but not enough to warrant a new wardrobe. Not quite.
The handful of grocery drivers that pitched up every week had commented in passing that he was looking well. This was enough to convince him that he was doing alright. There was only the one mirror in the house and that was the shaving mirror in the bathroom.
The light of the morning sun shone through the colours in the door's window. It was bright for six in the morning. Perhaps too bright. Jon stepped up to the door and straightened his back. His feet together and his arms pressed firmly in to his side he raised his chin and took a deep breath.
"You're not capable," the inner demon muttered. "You're a sorry excuse for a man and you will fail."
That last word echoed. The word fail had haunted him for years. It defined him. I am a failure, he thought. That is why I'm here and in this situation.
Four years ago he'd been a success. A good father to his children, a good husband and a pretty damn good salesman. Sure his work had seen him stay away from home a little more than he'd liked - certainly a good deal more than Susy had liked - but he was good at it and it brought in good money. Very good money.
The family would holiday twice a year. Once in England for a week at August half term and two weeks abroad during the summer.
The year it happened they'd gone to Egypt. The best family holiday ever, officially. They'd not made it to August's half term.
The pain stabbed him straight between the eyes. The vision of the car in flames. The struggle. His inability to move. The blue lights...
I am a failure. Dammit, why must I torment myself like this. I'm not ready.
He was half way to removing his coat when a familiar voice chimed from beyond the front door. The sound of laughter. A child's laughter. The kind you just can't get enough of.
He continued to take his coat off and place it on the hook.
Pausing for a moment Jonathan Blaze shut his eyes and envisaged the demon sat atop his stoney perch. Laughing, chuckling. That awful titter that had kept him awake night after night. The demon was fading. As it faded so came the screams. The awful screams from another realm. The sounds of hell. That awful dull echo of hell's minions. The demon was visible but only just. It's arms waving, clawing at the air.
In a snap he opened his eyes and reached for the door handle. I will do this.
As the door creaked and the fresh morning air caught his face he squinted hard. The light was brighter than he'd expected. There were no children playing. There were no sounds of laughter. In fact there were no sounds at all save for the birds that lined the trees in his neighbour's garden.
That first step came very easily. The second even easier. Within a few short strides he was stood in his front porch. A smile drew itself across his face. His tired expression that had been etched in to his skin was slowly replaced. He took another step. And another.
For nearly four of his forty four years Jonathan Blaze had turned his back on the world. But not any more. Today all that changed. The inner saint was applauding him, loudly.
He allowed the early morning sun of Spring to warm his face. He hoped it would cement the smile. It felt good.
Pulling the door to behind him he stepped out in to the world again.
Thank you, he thought. Thank you.