The silent patient by alex michaelides

Yuri shrugged. “I guess it means she’s not ready to talk. She’ll talk when she’s ready.” 

“Ready for what?” 

“Ready for the truth, my friend.” 

“And what is that?” 

Yuri cocked his head to one side slightly, studying me. The question that came out of his mouth surprised me. 

“Are you married, Theo?” 

I nodded. “I am, yes.” 

“Yeah, I thought so. I was married once too. We moved here from Latvia. But she didn’t fit in like I did. She didn’t make an effort, you know, she didn’t learn English. Anyway, it wasn’t … I wasn’t happy—but I was in denial, lying to myself.…” He drained his drink and completed his sentence. “Until I fell in love.” 

“Presumably you don’t mean with your wife?” 

Yuri laughed and shook his head. “No. A woman who lived near me. A very beautiful woman. It was love at first sight. I saw her on the street. It took me a long time to get the courage to talk her. I used to follow her.… I’d watch her sometimes, without her knowing. I’d stand outside her house

and look, hoping she would appear at the window.” He laughed. 

This story was starting to make me feel uncomfortable. I finished my beer and glanced at my watch, hoping Yuri would take the hint, but he didn’t. 

“One day I tried speaking to her. But she wasn’t interested in me. I tried a few times, but she told me to stop pestering her.” 

I didn’t blame her, I thought. I was about to make my excuses, but Yuri kept talking. 

“It was very hard to accept. I was sure we were meant to be together. She broke my heart. I got very angry with her. Very mad.” 

“And what happened?” I was curious despite myself. “Nothing.” 

“Nothing? You stayed with your wife?” 

Yuri shook his head. “No. It was over with her. But it took falling for this woman for me to admit it … to face the truth about me and my wife. Sometimes it takes courage, you know, and a long time, to be honest.” 

“I see. And you think Alicia’s not ready to face the truth about her marriage? Is that what you’re saying? You may well be right.” 

Yuri shrugged. “And now I’m engaged to a nice girl from Hungary. She works in a spa. She speaks good English. We’re a good match. We have a good time.” 

I nodded and checked my watch again. I picked up my coat. “I have to go. I’m late to meet my wife.” 

“Okay, no problem … What’s her name? Your wife?” 

For some reason, I didn’t want to tell him. I didn’t want Yuri to know anything about her. But that was stupid.

“Kathryn. Her name is Kathryn. But I call her Kathy.” 

Yuri gave me an odd smile. “Let me give you some advice. Go home to your wife. Go home to Kathy, who loves you.… And leave Alicia behind.”


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