The silent patient by alex michaelides

“You’re being quiet,” Marianne said. “What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” 

“Let’s go home, then. I’m tired.” 

“Not yet.” I was only half listening. “Let’s have another drink.”

“I want to go now.” 

“Then go.” 

Marianne shot me a hurt look, then grabbed her jacket and walked out. I knew there’d be a row the next day, but I didn’t care. 

I made my way over to Kathy at the bar. “Is Daniel coming back?” 

“No. How about Marianne?” 

I shook my head. “No. Would you like another drink?” “Yes, I would.” 

So we ordered two more drinks. We stood at the bar, talking. We discussed my psychotherapy training, I remember. And Kathy told me about her stint at drama school—she didn’t stay long, as she signed up with an agent at the end of her first year and had been acting professionally ever since. I imagined, without knowing why, that she was probably rather a good actress. 

“Studying wasn’t for me,” she said. “I wanted to get out there and do it—you know?” 

“Do what? Act?” 

“No. Live.” Kathy tilted her head, looking out from under her dark lashes, her emerald-green eyes peering at me mischievously. “So, Theo. How do you have the patience to keep doing it—studying, I mean?” 

“Maybe I don’t want to get out there and ‘live.’ Maybe I’m a coward.” 

“No. If you were a coward, you’d have gone home with your girlfriend.” Kathy laughed, a surprisingly wicked laugh. 

I wanted to grab her and kiss her hard. I’d never experienced such overwhelming physical desire before; I wanted to pull her close, feel her lips and the heat of her body against mine.

“I’m sorry,’ she said. ‘I shouldn’t have said that. I always say whatever pops into my head. I told you, I’m a bit nuts.” 

Kathy did that a lot, protesting her insanity—“I’m crazy,” “I’m nuts,” “I’m insane”—but I never believed her. She laughed too easily and too often for me to believe she’d ever suffered the kind of darkness I had experienced. She had a spontaneity, a lightness—she took a delight in living and was endlessly amused by life. Despite her protestations, she seemed the least crazy person I’d ever known. Around her, I felt more sane. 

Kathy was American. She was born and brought up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Her English mother gave Kathy dual citizenship, but Kathy didn’t seem even remotely English. She was determinedly, distinctly un-English—not just in the way she spoke, but in the way she saw the world and how she approached it. Such confidence, such exuberance. I’d never met anyone like her. 

We left the bar, hailed a cab; I gave the address of my flat. We rode the short journey in silence. When we arrived, she gently pressed her lips to mine. I broke through my reserve and pulled her toward me. We kept kissing as I fumbled with the key to the front door. We were scarcely inside before we were undressing, stumbling into the bedroom, falling onto the bed. 

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