The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides Read Online (FREE)
We arranged to meet early, to have a drink—his idea—and when I got there, it was still light. The sun was low in the sky, coloring the river bloodred. Jean-Felix was waiting for me outside the National. I saw him before he saw me. He was scanning the crowds, scowling. If I had any doubt I was doing the right thing, seeing his angry face dispelled it. I was filled with a horrible kind of dread—and nearly turned and bolted. But he turned and saw me before I could. He waved, and I went over to him. I pretended to smile, and so did he.
“I’m so glad you came,” Jean-Felix said. “I was worried you wouldn’t show up. Shall we go in and have a drink?”
We had a drink in the foyer. It was awkward, to say the least. Neither of us mentioned the other day. We talked a lot about nothing, or rather Jean-Felix talked and I listened. We ended up having a couple of drinks. I hadn’t eaten and I felt a bit drunk; I think that was probably Jean-Felix’s intention. He was trying his best to engage me, but the conversation was stilted—it was orchestrated, stage-managed. Everything that came out of his mouth seemed to start with “Wasn’t it fun when” or “Do you remember that time we”—as if he’d rehearsed little reminiscences in the hope that they’d weaken my resolve and remind me how much history we had, how close we were. What he doesn’t seem to realize is I’ve made my decision. And nothing he can say now will change that.
In the end, I’m glad I went. Not because I saw Jean-Felix—because I saw the play. Alcestis isn’t a tragedy I’ve heard of—I suppose it’s obscure because it’s a smaller kind of domestic story, which is why I liked it so much. It was staged in the present day, in a small suburban house in Athens. I liked the scale of it. An intimate kitchen-sink tragedy. A man is condemned to die, and his wife, Alcestis, wants to save him. The actress playing Alcestis looked like a Greek statue, she had a wonderful face—I kept thinking about painting her. I thought about getting her details and contacting her agent. I nearly mentioned it to Jean-Felix, but I stopped myself. I don’t want to involve him in my life anymore, on any level. I had tears in my eyes at the end—Alcestis dies and is reborn. She literally comes back from the dead. There’s something there that I need to think about. I’m not sure exactly what yet. Of course, Jean-Felix had all kinds of reactions to the play, but none of them resonated with me, so I tuned him out and stopped listening.
I couldn’t get Alcestis’s death and resurrection out of my mind—I kept thinking about it as we walked back across the bridge to the station. Jean-Felix asked if I wanted to have another drink, but I said I was tired. There was another awkward pause. We stood outside the entrance to the station. I thanked him for the evening and said it had been fun.