The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides Read Online (FREE)
It doesn’t end there, though. There is a happy ending, of sorts, a deus ex machina. Heracles seizes Alcestis from Hades and brings her triumphantly back to the land of the living. She comes alive again. Admetus is moved to tears by the reunion with his wife. Alcestis’s emotions are harder to read—she remains silent. She doesn’t speak.
I sat up with a jolt as I read this. I couldn’t believe it.
I read the final page of the play again slowly, carefully:
Alcestis returns from death, alive again. And she remains silent—unable or unwilling to speak of her experience. Admetus appeals to Heracles in desperation:
“But why is my wife standing here, and does not speak?”
No answer is forthcoming. The tragedy ends with Alcestis being led back into the house by Admetus—in silence.
Why? Why does she not speak?
Alicia Berenson’s Diary
It’s even hotter today. It’s hotter in London than in Athens, apparently. But at least Athens has a beach.
Paul called me today from Cambridge. I was surprised to hear his voice. We’ve not spoken in months. My first thought was Auntie Lydia must be dead—I’m not ashamed to say I felt a flicker of relief.
But that’s not why Paul was calling. In fact I’m still not sure why he did call me. He was pretty evasive. I kept waiting for him to get to the point, but he didn’t. He kept asking if I was okay, if Gabriel was okay, and muttered something about Lydia being the same as always.
“I’ll come for a visit,” I said. “I haven’t been for ages, I’ve been meaning to.”
The truth is, I have many complicated feelings around going home, and being at the house, with Lydia and Paul. So I avoid going back—and I end up feeling guilty, so I can’t win either way.
“It would be nice to catch up,” I said. “I’ll come see you soon. I’m just about to go out, so—”
Then Paul spoke so quietly I couldn’t hear him.
“Sorry? Can you repeat that?”
“I said I’m in trouble, Alicia. I need your help.”
“What’s the matter?”
“I can’t talk about it on the phone. I need to see you.”
“It’s just—I’m not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.”
“I’ll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?”
Something in Paul’s voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate.
“Okay. Are you sure you can’t tell me about it now?”
“I’ll see you later.” Paul hung up.
I kept thinking about it for the rest of the morning. What could be serious enough that Paul would turn to me, of all people? Was it about Lydia? Or the house, perhaps? It didn’t make sense.
I wasn’t able to get any work done after lunch. I blamed the heat, but in truth my mind was elsewhere. I hung around in the kitchen, glancing out the windows, until I saw Paul on the street.