(Currently in edits)

When Mark Darling was fifteen years old, he was golden boy, captain of the school football team, admired by all who knew him. Until he killed his best friend. He has been tormented by unremitting guilt from the freak accident ever since.

He spent his first decade as an adult drifting between the therapy couch and dead-end pursuits. Then along came Sadie. A mender by nature, she rescued him from the torpor, and had enough energy to carry them both through the next few years.

In order to be the man he thought Sadie deserved, Mark needed to know where he fell short. This was a service that his work colleagues and Sadie’s straight-talking family were always willing to provide: they let him know exactly how and when he didn’t make the grade.

Even Mark’s sperm had trouble doing what they were programmed to do, so he and Sadie have forked out tens of thousands of pounds on IVF, leaving them with a mountain of debt, living in an inherited, dilapidated house, but now happily pregnant.

When Mark first tried his hand at stand-up comedy, he felt the once-familiar rush of warmth towards him. He was drawn to the laughter, the applause, the love and acceptance, like nothing else. Now, he snudges through his dull day job, living for the evenings that he takes to the stage – a powerful platform where his flaws can be celebrated. It can’t undo the past, but it’s an addictive balm, a salve.

One evening, Mark bumps into his old school crush, Ruby. She’d seen the accident first hand, and has more to offer Mark than mere pain relief; she could change everything. Ruby believes that Mark was, and always has been, a winner; if he stumbles or falls, it’s only because he is trying to be what he was always destined to be: the best.

Ruby can give Mark what he needs: she can heal the twenty-year-old wound. He is pulled by a force stronger than logic: the universal need to reconcile one’s childhood wounds, but can he leave behind the woman who rescued him from the pit of despair, the wife he loves? His unborn child?

This is a story about how childhood experience can affect how we behave as adults. It’s a story about betrayal, infidelity and how we tend to blinker ourselves to see a version of the truth that is more palatable to us. It’s a story about all of us.