The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides Read Online (FREE)
Sometimes I catch her looking at me strangely—and wonder what she’s thinking. Is she trying to summon up the courage to tell me about Gabriel and the affair? But she doesn’t say a word. She just sits in silence, the way Alicia used to. I wish I could help her—but I can’t seem to reach her.
That’s the terrible irony: I did all this to keep Kathy—and I’ve lost her anyway.
I perched on the armrest and watched her a moment. “A patient of mine took an overdose. She’s in a coma.” No reaction. “It looks as though another member of the staff may have administered the overdose deliberately. A colleague.” No reaction. “Are you listening to me?”
Kathy gave a brief shrug. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Some sympathy might be nice.”
“For who? For you?”
“For her. I’ve been seeing her for a while, in individual therapy. Her name is Alicia Berenson.” I glanced at Kathy as I said this.
She didn’t react. Not even a flicker of emotion.
“She’s famous, or infamous. Everyone was talking about her a few years ago. She killed her husband … remember?”
“No, not really.” Kathy shrugged and changed the channel.
So we continue our game of “let’s pretend.”
I seem to do a lot of pretending, these days—for a lot of people, including myself. Which is why I’m writing this, I suppose. An attempt to bypass my monstrous ego and access the truth about myself—if that’s possible.
I needed a drink. I went into the kitchen and poured myself a shot of vodka from the freezer. It burned my throat as I swallowed it. I poured another.
I wondered what Ruth would say if I went to find her again—as I did six years ago—and confessed all this to her? But I knew it was impossible. That I was altogether a different creature now, a guiltier thing, less capable of honesty. How could I sit opposite that frail old lady and look into those watery blue eyes that held me safe for so long—and gave me nothing but decency, kindness, truth—and reveal how foul I am, how cruel, how vengeful and perverse, how unworthy I am of Ruth and everything she tried to do for me? How could I tell her that I have destroyed three lives? That I have no moral code, that I’m capable of the worst kind of acts without remorse, and my only concern is for my own skin?
Even worse than the shock or repulsion, or possibly even fear, in Ruth’s eyes as I told her this would be the look of sadness, disappointment, and self-reproach. Because not only had I let her down, I know she would be thinking she had let me down—and not just me, but the talking cure itself. For no therapist ever had a better shot at it than Ruth—she had years to work with someone who was damaged, yes, but so young, just a boy, and so willing to change, to get better, to heal. Yet, despite hundreds of hours of psychotherapy, talking and listening and analyzing, she was unable to save his soul.