Chapter no 55

The Silent Patient


Professor Diomedes stared at me with a look of stunned amazement. We were outside, smoking. I could tell he was excited because he had dropped his cigar on the ground without even noticing. “She spoke? Alicia really spoke?”

“She did.”

“Incredible. So you were right. You were right. And I was wrong.”

“Not at all. It was wrong of me to see her without your permission, Professor. I’m sorry, I just had an instinct…”

Diomedes waved away my apology and finished my sentence for me. “You followed your gut. I would have done the same, Theo. Well done.”

I was unwilling to be too celebratory. “We mustn’t count our chickens yet. It’s a breakthrough, yes. But there’s no guarantee—she might revert or regress at any point.”

Diomedes nodded. “Quite right. We must organize a formal review and interview Alicia as soon as possible—get her in front of a panel—you and me and someone from the Trust—Julian will do, he’s harmless enough—”

“You’re going too fast. You’re not listening to me. That’s too soon.

Anything like that will scare her. We need to move slowly.” “Well, it’s important the Trust knows—”

“No, not yet. Maybe this was a one-off. Let’s wait. Let’s not make any announcements. Not just yet.”

Diomedes nodded, taking this in. His hand reached for my shoulder and gripped it. “Well done. I’m proud of you.”

I felt a small flicker of pride—a son congratulated by his father. I was conscious of my desire to please Diomedes, justify his faith in me and make

him proud. I felt a little emotional. I lit a cigarette to disguise it. “What now?”

“Now you keep going. Keep working with Alicia.” “And if Stephanie finds out?”

“Forget Stephanie—leave her to me. You focus on Alicia.” And so I did.

* * *

During our next session, Alicia and I talked nonstop. Or rather, Alicia talked and I listened. Listening to Alicia was an unfamiliar and somewhat disconcerting experience, after so much silence. She spoke hesitantly at first, tentatively—trying to walk on legs that hadn’t been used in a while. She soon found her feet, picking up speed and agility, tripping through sentences as if she had never been silent, which in a way, she hadn’t.

When the session ended, I went to my office. I sat at the desk, transcribing what had been said while it was still fresh in my mind. I wrote down everything, word for word, capturing it as precisely and accurately as possible.

As you will see, it’s an incredible story—of that there is no doubt. Whether you believe it or not is up to you.

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