The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides Read Online (FREE)
“It might be better not to mention me when you talk to him.”
“I see.” Diomedes smiled strangely. “Very well, I won’t.”
He pulled out a little box from his desk, sliding off the cover to reveal a row of cigars. He offered me one. I shook my head.
“You don’t smoke?” He seemed surprised. “You look like a smoker to me.”
“No, no. Only the occasional cigarette—just now and then … I’m trying to quit.”
“Good, good for you.” He opened the window. “You know that joke, about why you can’t be a therapist and smoke? Because it means you’re still fucked-up.” He laughed and popped one of the cigars into his mouth. “I think we’re all a bit crazy in this place. You know that sign they used to have in offices? ‘You don’t need to be mad to work here, but it helps’?”
Diomedes laughed again. He lit the cigar and puffed on it, blowing the smoke outside. I watched him enviously.
AFTER LUNCH I PROWLED THE CORRIDORS, looking for an exit. I was intending to sneak outside and have a cigarette, but I was discovered by Indira by the fire escape. She assumed I was lost.
“Don’t worry, Theo,” she said, taking my arm. “It took me months to get my bearings around here. Like a maze with no way out. I still get lost sometimes and I’ve been here ten years.” She laughed. Before I could object, she was guiding me upstairs for a cup of tea in the “goldfish bowl.”
“I’ll put the kettle on. Bloody miserable weather, isn’t it? I wish it would just snow and get it over with.… Snow is a very powerful imaginative symbol, don’t you think? Wipes everything clean. Have you noticed how the patients keep talking about it? Look out for it. It’s interesting.”
To my surprise, she reached into her bag and pulled out a thick slice of cake wrapped in cling film. She thrust it into my hand. “Take it. Walnut cake. I made it last night. For you.”
“Oh, thank you, I—”
“I know it’s unorthodox, but I always get better results with difficult patients if I give them a slice of cake in the session.”
I laughed. “I bet you do. Am I a difficult patient?”
Indira laughed. “No, although I find it works just as well on difficult members of staff too—which you’re not either, by the way. A little bit of sugar is a great mood enhancer. I used to make cakes for the canteen, but then Stephanie made such a fuss, all this health-and-safety nonsense about food being brought in from the outside. You’d think I was smuggling in a file. But I still bake a little on the sly. My rebellion against the dictator state. Try it.”
This was not a question but a command. I took a bite. It was good. Chewy, nutty, sweet. My mouth was full, so I covered it with my hand as I spoke.