The silent patient by alex michaelides

Christian stared at me for a few seconds. I’d forgotten his habit of pausing, often lengthily, making you wait while he considered his response. It irritated me here just as much as it had done at Broadmoor. 

“You’re joining the team at rather an unfortunate moment,” he said eventually. “The sword of Damocles is hanging over the Grove.” 

“You think it’s as bad as that?” 

“It’s only a matter of time. The Trust is bound to shut us down sooner or later. So the question is, what are you doing here?” 

“What do you mean?” 

“Well, rats desert a sinking ship. They don’t clamber on board.” 

I was startled by Christian’s undisguised aggression. I decided not to rise to the bait. I shrugged. “Possibly. But I’m not a rat.” 

Before Christian could reply, a massive thud made us jump. Elif was on the other side of the glass, hammering at it with her fists. Her face was pressed up against it, squashing her nose, distorting her features, making her almost monstrous. 

“I won’t take this shit no more. I hate this—these fucking pills, man—” 

Christian opened a small hatch in the glass and spoke through it. “Now is not the time to discuss this, Elif.” 

“I’m telling you, I’m not taking them no more, they make me fucking sick—”

“I’m not having this conversation now. Make an appointment to see me. Step away, please.” 

Elif scowled, deliberating for a moment. Then she turned and lumbered off, leaving a faint circle of condensation where her nose had been pressed against the glass. 

“Quite a character,” I said. 

Christian grunted. “Difficult.” 

Indira nodded. “Poor Elif.” 

“What’s she in for?” 

“Double murder,” Christian said. “Killed her mother and her sister. Suffocated them while they slept.” 

I peered through the glass. Elif joined the other patients. She towered over them. One of them slipped some money into her hand, which she pocketed. 

Then I noticed Alicia at the far end of the room, sitting by herself, by the window, looking out. I watched her for a moment. 

Christian followed my gaze and said, “By the way, I’ve been talking to Professor Diomedes about Alicia. I want to see how she does on a lower dose of risperidone. I’ve brought her down to five milligrams.” 

“I see.” 

“I thought you might want to know—since I heard you saw her for a session.” 

“Yes.” 

“We’ll have to monitor her closely to see how she reacts to the change. And, by the way, next time you have a problem with how I medicate my patients, come to me directly. Don’t sneak off to Diomedes behind my back.” Christian glared at me.

I smiled back at him. “I didn’t sneak anywhere. I have no problem talking to you directly, Christian.” 

There was an uncomfortable pause. Christian nodded to himself, as if he’d made his mind up about something. “You do realize Alicia is borderline? She won’t respond to therapy. You’re wasting your time.” 

“How do you know she’s borderline if she can’t talk?” “Won’t talk.” 

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