Nate exhaled in frustration as he left Paige's room, concentrating so hard on the hospital tile beneath his feet that he bumped straight into someone. "Ms. Larson, I didn't see you there."
"That's all right," Eve smiled. "How was today's session?"
Nate bit his lip. "I did the best I could."
"The best you could," Eve repeated. "That doesn't sound like a very promising prognosis. In fact, if I didn't know any better, Mr. Bridges, I'd say that you had given up on my Paige's case before you even got going."
"Not me, I don't give up that easily. But I have to tell you, I can't make much progress with Paige unless she's willing to work with me."
"Oh, she'll be willing, don't you worry. You just show up here at the same time tomorrow."
"Good luck," shrugged Nate.
"You are going to stop using that damn whiteboard," Eve ordered as she stomped into Paige's room. "I did not raise my daughter to be a quitter! No, I will not 'shut up,' Paige!"
"What is going on in here?" Shane inquired from where he and Kimberly were now standing in the doorway. "'I hate speech therapy!'" he read. "Oh, dear."
"Hate it or not, you're going to keep it up!" Eve snapped, advancing toward the bed. "Will one of you back me up here?"
Shane put a hand on Eve's shoulder. "When's the last time you slept, sweetheart?" he asked calmly. "You look exhausted. Go on, go home and get some rest. We'll stay for a while."
"I guess I am a little tired. Fine," Eve sighed. "Fine, I'll be back later, but we are not finished with this, young lady. "
"I'll walk you out," Shane offered.
Kim let out a low whistle as the two of them left. "Mind if I sit?" When Paige shrugged, Kim climbed into the empty side of the bed, smiling when Paige leaned into her touch "Betcha can't wait to get out of here, huh? Sleep in your bed at the dorm, but it's scary too, isn't it? Starting over. I've done it a few times myself...Europe, Salem, LA. It's like that old Christmas special says, 'Put one foot in front of the other.' Try it. Just think of a simple word, and focus on stringing the sounds together."
Paige's lips thinned as she thought. "Kim," she croaked quietly.
"That's it, honey, that's wonderful!"
"Beautiful," Shane agreed as he reentered the room.
"Beautiful? Wonderful? Guys, I sound like a mutant frog! I can't stand up in court!"
"Now, you listen to me," said Shane firmly. "The only monster in this story is Weston himself. Besides, speaking will get easier when your vocal chords learn to stretch again. Uh-oh..." Shane glanced at his wife, a twinkle in his eye. "Looks like your grandmother has an idea."
"Hush," joked Kim, "I have great ideas."
"Share with the class," said Shane.
"I was just thinking I could teach you a way to communicate more complicated words."
"You could?"
"Only if you promise to keep on trying this speech therapy thing, and who knows, sign language might come in handy when you're big, fancy Dr. Larson. Ooh, it's so good to see you smile again," Kim added, accepting Paige's hug.
"We'll have her laughing before we know it," said Shane triumphantly. "Probably at me as I keep asking someone to translate. Don't worry, darling, it will all be over soon."