The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides Read Online (FREE)
Stephanie gave up, and Yuri led off Barbie. I followed.
We entered the visitors’ room and waited for Alicia. The bare room had a table and two chairs, no windows, and a sickly yellow fluorescent light. I stood at the back and watched Alicia appear at the other door, accompanied by two nurses. Alicia didn’t betray any obvious reaction to seeing Barbie. She walked over to the table and sat down without looking up.
Barbie seemed much more emotional. “Alicia, darling, I’ve missed you. You’re so thin, there’s nothing left of you. I’m so jealous. How are you? That awful woman nearly didn’t let me see you. It’s been a nightmare—”
So it went, an endless stream of inane chatter from Barbie, details of her trip to San Diego to visit her mother and brother. Alicia just sat there, silent, her face a mask, betraying nothing, showing nothing. After about twenty minutes, the monologue mercifully ended. Alicia was led away by Yuri, as uninterested as she was when she had entered.
I approached Barbie as she was leaving the Grove. “Can I have a word?”
Barbie nodded, as if she had been expecting this. “You want to talk to me about Alicia? It’s about time somebody asked me some goddamn questions. The police didn’t want to hear anything—which was crazy, because Alicia confided in me all the time, you know? About everything. She told me things you wouldn’t believe.” Barbie said this with a definite emphasis and gave me a coy smile. She knew she had piqued my interest.
Barbie smiled cryptically and pulled on her fur coat. “Well, I can’t go into it here. I’m late enough as it is. Come over this evening—say six p.m.?”
I didn’t relish the prospect of visiting Barbie at her house—I sincerely hoped Diomedes wouldn’t find out. But I had no choice—I wanted to find out what she knew. I forced a smile. “What’s your address?”
BARBIE’S HOUSE WAS ONE OF SEVERAL ACROSS the road from Hampstead Heath, overlooking one of the ponds. It was large and, given its location, probably fantastically overpriced.
Barbie had lived in Hampstead for several years before Gabriel and Alicia moved in next door. Her ex-husband was an investment banker and had commuted between London and New York until they divorced. He found himself a younger, blonder version of his wife—and Barbie got the house. “So everyone was happy,” she said with a laugh. “Particularly me.”
Barbie’s house was painted pale blue, in contrast to the other houses on the street, which were white. Her front garden was decorated with little trees and potted plants.
Barbie greeted me at the door. “Hi, honey. I’m glad you’re on time. That’s a good sign. This way.”
She led me through the hallway to the living room, talking the entire time. I only partially listened and took in my surroundings. The house smelled like a greenhouse; it was full of plants and flowers—roses, lilies, orchids, everywhere you looked. Paintings, mirrors, and framed photographs were crammed together on the walls; little statues, vases, and other objets d’art competed for space on tables and dressers. All expensive items, but crammed together like this, they looked like junk. Taken as a representation of Barbie’s mind, it suggested a disordered inner world, to say the least. It made me think of chaos, clutter, greed—insatiable hunger. I wondered what her childhood had been like.