Chapter no 46

The Silent Patient

The aim of therapy is not to correct the past, but to enable the patient to confront his own history, and to grieve over it.


I CLOSED ALICIA’S DIARY and placed it on my desk.

I sat there, not moving, listening to the rain pelting outside the window. I tried to make sense of what I had just read. There was obviously a great deal more to Alicia Berenson than I had supposed. She had been like a closed book to me; now that book was open and its contents had taken me altogether by surprise.

I had a lot of questions. Alicia suspected she was being watched. Did she ever discover the man’s identity? Did she tell anyone? I needed to find out. As far as I knew, she only confided in three people—Gabriel, Barbie, and this mysterious Dr. West. Did she stop there, or did she tell anyone else? Another question. Why did the diary end so abruptly? Was there more, written elsewhere? Another notebook, which she didn’t give to me? And I wondered about Alicia’s purpose in giving me the journal to read. She was communicating something, certainly—and it was a communication of almost shocking intimacy. Was it a gesture of good faith—showing how much she trusted me? Or something more sinister?

There was something else; something I needed to check. Dr. West—the doctor who had treated Alicia. An important character witness, with vital information on her state of mind at the time of the murder. Yet Dr. West hadn’t testified at Alicia’s trial. Why not? No mention was made of him at all. Until I saw his name in her diary, it was as if he didn’t exist. How much did he know? Why had he not come forward?

Dr. West.

It couldn’t be the same man. It had to be a coincidence, surely. I needed to find out.

I put the diary in my desk drawer, locking it. Then, almost immediately, I changed my mind. I unlocked the drawer and took out the diary. Better keep it on me—safer not to let it out of my sight. I slipped it into the pocket of my coat and slung it over my arm.

I left my office. I went downstairs and walked along the corridor until I reached a door at the end.

I stood there for a moment, looking at it. A name was inscribed on a small sign on the door: DR. C. WEST.

I didn’t bother to knock. I opened the door and went inside.

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