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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides Read Online (FREE)

I talked a lot about marijuana in therapy. I wrestled with the idea of giving it up and wondered why the prospect scared me so much. Ruth said that enforcement and constraint never produced anything good, and that, rather than force myself to live without weed, a better starting place might be to acknowledge that I was now dependent on it, and unwilling or unable to abandon it. Whatever marijuana did for me was still working, Ruth argued—until the day it would outlive its usefulness, when I would probably relinquish it with ease.

Ruth was right. When I met Kathy and fell in love, marijuana faded into the background. I was naturally high on love, with no need to artificially induce a good mood. It helped that Kathy didn’t smoke it. Stoners, in her opinion, were weak willed and lazy and lived in slow motion—you pricked them and six days later they’d say, “Ouch.” I stopped smoking weed the day Kathy moved into my flat. And—as Ruth had predicted—once I was secure and happy, the habit fell away from me quite naturally, like dry caked mud from a boot.

I might never have smoked it again if we hadn’t gone to a leaving party for Kathy’s friend Nicole, who was moving to New York. Kathy was monopolized by all her actor friends, and I found myself alone. A short, stubby man, wearing a pair of neon-pink glasses, nudged me and said, “Want some?” I was about to refuse the joint between his fingers, when something stopped me. I’m not sure what. A momentary whim? Or an unconscious attack on Kathy for forcing me to come to this horrible party and then abandoning me? I looked around, and she was nowhere to be seen. Fuck it, I thought. I brought the joint to my lips and inhaled.

Just like that, I was back where I had started, as if there had been no break. My addiction had been patiently waiting for me all this time, like a faithful dog. I didn’t tell Kathy what I had done, and I put it out of my mind. In fact I was waiting for an opportunity, and six weeks later, it presented itself. Kathy went to New York for a week, to visit Nicole. Without Kathy’s influence, lonely and bored, I gave in to temptation. I didn’t have a dealer anymore, so I did what I had done as a student—and made my way to Camden Town market.

As I left the station, I could smell marijuana in the air, mingled with the scent of incense and food stalls frying onions. I walked over to the bridge by Camden Lock. I stood there awkwardly, pushed and nudged by an endless stream of tourists and teenagers trudging back and forth across the bridge.

I scanned the crowd. There was no sign of any of the dealers who used to line the bridge, calling out to you as you passed. I spotted a couple of police officers, unmissable in their bright yellow jackets, patrolling the crowd. They walked away from the bridge, toward the station. Then I heard a low voice by my side: