The silent patient by alex michaelides

under his breath—“fucking” this and “fucking” that. I fished for some change in my bag and gave it to him. 

Then I walked home, back up the hill, slowly, step by step. It seemed much steeper now. It took forever in the sweltering heat. For some reason I couldn’t stop thinking about the homeless man. Apart from pity, there was another feeling, unnamable somehow—a kind of fear. I pictured him as a baby in his mother’s arms. Did she ever imagine her baby would end up crazy, dirty and stinking, huddled on the pavement, muttering obscenities? 

I thought of my mother. Was she crazy? Is that why she did it? Why she strapped me into the passenger seat of her yellow mini and sped us toward that redbrick wall? I always liked that car, its cheerful canary yellow. The same yellow as in my paint box. Now I hate that color—every time I use it, I think of death. 

Why did she do it? I suppose I’ll never know. I used to think it was suicide. Now I think it was attempted murder. Because I was in the car too, wasn’t I? Sometimes I think I was the intended victim—it was me she was trying to kill, not herself. But that’s crazy. Why would she want to kill me? 

Tears collected in my eyes as I walked up the hill. I wasn’t crying for my mother—or myself—or even that poor homeless man. I was crying for all of us. There’s so much pain everywhere, and we just close our eyes to it. The truth is we’re all scared. We’re terrified of each other. I’m terrified of myself —and of my mother in me. Is her madness in my blood? Is it? Am I going to— 

No. Stop. Stop— 

I’m not writing about that. I’m not. 

JULY 20 

Last night Gabriel and I went out for dinner. We usually do on Fridays. “Date night” he calls it, in a silly American accent.

Gabriel always downplays his feelings and makes fun of anything he considers “soppy.” He likes to think of himself as cynical and unsentimental. But the truth is he’s a deeply romantic man—in his heart if not his speech. Actions speak louder than words, don’t they? And Gabriel’s actions make me feel totally loved. 

“Where do you want to go?” I asked. 

“Three guesses.” 

“Augusto’s?” 

“Got it in one.” 

Augusto’s is our local Italian restaurant, just down the road. It’s nothing special, but it’s our home from home, and we’ve spent many happy evenings there. We went around eight o’clock. The air-conditioning wasn’t working, so we sat by the open window in the hot, still, humid air and drank chilled dry white wine. I felt quite drunk by the end, and we laughed a lot, at nothing, really. We kissed outside the restaurant and had sex when we came home. 

Thankfully, Gabriel has come around to the portable fan, at least when we’re in bed. I positioned it in front of us, and we lay in the cool breeze, wrapped in each other’s arms. He stroked my hair and kissed me. “I love you,” he whispered. I didn’t say anything; I didn’t need to. He knows how I feel. 

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