A/N: So so sorry everyone! The back-to-college stuff got the best of me and I am seriously so behind on updating. *fist shake*

Turning Tables

The Drowns Of Silence

"What are these?"

"What it says on the tin," Kathleen replied. "Prenatal vitamins."

Grace frowned. "How much were they? I'll pay you back-"

"Don't worry about it," Kathleen insisted. "I was doing the shopping yesterday and I picked those up when I picked up my multi vitamins. It's not a big deal."

"It is," Grace insisted. "They're expensive!"

Kathleen sighed and turned away from the frying pan which was hissing and popping. She absently waved a greasy spatula as she explained: "You need them, Grace, and in the grand scheme of having a baby, they're a drop in the bucket. So please, do your old mom a favor and don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

Grace sighed. "Thanks," she said earnestly, before seating herself at the kitchen table. She fought with the child proof lid for a few minutes before it finally popped off and she poured a couple of the vitamins into the lid to examine them: they were large capsules, filled with that looked like finely grained beach sand. The teenager's face soured. "Horse pills?"

Kathleen chuckled. "Pretty much! You need a lot of supplements when you're having a baby." She flipped over the egg in the pan and a couple of hot droplets of bacon grease spat out of the pan, stinging her arm. She yelped and moved to grab a napkin from the island.

"It says I'm supposed to eat them with a meal." Grace stood up and moved curiously towards the pan, staying at a far enough distance to avoid the splatter. "What's for breakfast?"

Kathleen grabbed the handle of the pan and swirled the egg around it before setting it back on the burner and then moved to the microwave and opened the door. "Good old fashion bacon and eggs," she smiled proudly. "I'm frying the eggs in the bacon grease, just the way you and Tom like them."

But as soon as the smell of bacon wafted into Grace's face from the plate in the open microwave, Grace's hand slammed against her mouth and nose and she turned on her heel, darting for the nearest bathroom. She was there for several minutes before she finally flushed the toilet and slammed the lid down.

Kathleen peeked inside. "Sweetie?"

Grace climbed onto the toilet lid and grabbed a wad of toilet paper to wipe the chunks off the corners of her wet mouth. "I hate this."

"I know." Kathleen moved to her daughter's side and stroked her fingers through Grace's hair. "You want me to brush your hair?"

"Don't you still have food on the stove?"

"I took it off. It's waiting for you, if you want it. If not, don't feel obligated. I'm sure Tom will gladly eat it if you don't."

"Tom can have it," Grace replied immediately. Then she closed her eyes, feeling bad. "Not that I don't want it, I just-"

"I know." Kathleen tapped Grace's shoulder. "I remember I used to have terrible morning sickness with you."


"It wasn't your fault. That's just pregnancy for you."

"But it gets better?"

Kathleen just smiled sympathetically. "It helped me to eat cold food."

Grace raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Why?"

"Cold food generally has less of a smell than warm food. If I could get the food past my nose and down my throat, it had a much better chance of staying down than if I tried to do battle with something aromatic."

"So I guess baking it out for the next seven months."

Kathleen squeezed Grace's shoulder. "Why don't you clean yourself up and I'll go see what I can whip up from the fridge, okay?"

"Thanks, Mom."

"You're welcome."


"Did you and Adrian get into a fight?"

Ben jumped at the sound of his father's voice. The bowl of oatmeal he was holding slipped between his fingers and landed on the floor, miraculously without shattering. The goopy contents, however, splattered everywhere as though it had hit a fan.

"I didn't mean to scare you," Leo chuckled. He moved to the counter to grab a handful of napkins while his son soaked the dish cloth at the sink. He struggled to bend down and begin wiping up the steaming, butter and brown sugar coated mess.

"Sorry, sorry," Ben groaned, dropping to the floor beside his father to help. "You don't need to worry about this, I got it."

Leo stopped wiping and gave the teenager a pointed stare. "All right." He pushed to his full height and tossed the wad of drippy napkins into the trash, but he continued to stare at Ben.

Ben tried to clean up as much as he could without looking at his dad but eventually the dish cloth got too bogged down with slimy oats to hold anything else. He swiftly turned and began to rinse and wring out the cloth in the sink. As he turned back, he found his father standing in his way. "I didn't get it all."

"I see," Leo frowned. "I can also see you're avoiding my question."

"I'm not avoiding your question," Ben replied evasively. "I'm just a little distracted."

"With what?"

"A lot of things."


"Like studying for finals. They're only three weeks away. And summer, with Adrian going off to that program in New York. And work. And my daughter."

Leo rubbed his chin as though he didn't quite believe he was getting the whole story. "So where were you all weekend? I had assumed – and before you say it, I know I shouldn't – that you had been with Adrian and Mercy. But I ran into Kathleen on Sunday and she said Adrian was at her house with Grace, but Mercy wasn't with them."

Ben shrugged. "I took her out. I needed to get a few things done."

"What things?"

"I studied, okay?" Ben finally snapped. "And I took Mercy to the park for a while for a little one-on-one time. Is that a crime?"

Leo held up his hands defensively. "Okay. I – I'm sorry, Ben. I just wanted to know. I'm your father," he reminded carefully. "I have a right to know where you are, remember?"

Ben finished cleaning up the remainder of the spill and turned to the sink, keeping his back to his father. "How could I forget?"

"Excuse me?"

Ben slapped the dish cloth against the faucet and spun back around. "Nothing." He chanced a look at the time on the microwave and skirted around Leo to the cabinet beside the toaster. He yanked a silver package of Pop-Tarts out of the box which proclaimed the flavor to be blueberry. "Briella's running late," he said, referring to the nanny. "I have to go now, so can you watch Mercy until she gets here? She said she'd only be about ten or fifteen minutes."

Leo nodded. "I'm free all morning."


Ben bolted out of the kitchen as his father said something to him that he couldn't quite make out. He thought it might have been a you're welcome or something of that nature, but he had no intention of turning back to find out for sure. He'd been too flustered and thrown off by the fact that his dad was, yet again, poking his nose into places that Ben wanted him to stay out of.


"!Joder!" Adrian threw her arms into the air as a long stream of colorful Spanish curses coursed between her glossed lips. She curled her manicured hand and thumped her fist down on something.

Cindy came running into the room two seconds later with her toothbrush in hand and her bath towel wrapped around herself, her black hair still wet and stuck to her head and shoulders. "What the hell is going on in here?" she demanded.

Adrian pointed an accusatory finger at the printer. "It hates me. And the feeling is mutual. I told you, we need a new printer. Every time I have an important assignment this thing jams up on me! Or the ink dries up. I swear we just bought new ink three weeks ago and I have barely used it since!"

Cindy narrowed her eyes. "Well if you wouldn't wait until the last minute to print out your assignments, maybe you would have the time to deal with the paper jams?"

"That's not the point. It shouldn't be jamming in the first place! It's a device for my convenience, not the other way around." The teenager angrily wedged her fingers up into the printer and wiggled them around for a few minutes before jerking and fighting against a piece of paper that finally ripped in half, leaving the other half up inside the printer where she couldn't get to it. Again, she thudded the printer in fury.

"Adrian!" Cindy scolded. "Enough!" She wiped her brow. "Look, is there any way you can print out your assignment at school? I'll –" she sighed "–I'll try to look into getting something today."

"They cost you ten cents a page to print anything in the library. And this is a ten page research paper! That's a dollar that I could be putting towards Mercy."

"Well…what about Ben? Couldn't you print it out at his house? I'm sure Leo wouldn't mind."

"It still costs me gas to get over there. Besides, I already thought of that, and he's not answering his cell phone and his dad said he already left." Adrian glared at the printer as she yanked her flash drive out of her computer, not even bothering to go through the process of the safe removal. "Never mind," she finally sighed. "I'll think of something." She dropped the flash drive into her bag, snatched up her keys from the table, and made a straight line towards the front door. "I'll see you later."

"I love you, Chica."

Adrian paused at the door and looked back at her mother. A pebble of guilt weighed in the pit of her stomach. "I love you too," she sighed.


"…and her parents have agreed to take her back in."

Ricky felt like his insides were spilling out right in front of him onto the carpet. "No!" His shoulders and neck were growing hot and he could feel the veins undulating beneath the surface of his skin like little snakes swimming beneath the ripples of a pond. "She's been on her own for almost a year! They obviously don't want her back!"

"I know," Margaret agreed, her voice grave. "I spoke with the officers who met with Heather's parents and they believe as I do: they're only agreeing to take Heather back to avoid being charged with child neglect and abandonment. They're claiming that Heather ran away and was never forced to leave the residence."

"That's bull!" Ricky slammed his hands down on the kitchen table. "You can't let them do this! They didn't want her there the first time and they're only taking her back now to cover their own asses. Imagine what they could do to her in retaliation!"

Again, Margaret nodded. Her eyes shifted to her husband.

"We have," Shakur agreed. He set his mug of hot tea down and the scent of ginger and cinnamon wafted up to tickle Ricky's nose.

"That's why we're filing an ex parte petition as before we go to work today."

"Provided," Shakur added, "that you're okay with that."

Ricky felt the swollen veins shrink ever so slightly. The heat that was fueling his rage fell a few degrees as he processed the information he'd just been fed. "An ex parte?" he repeated. "But that's – that's a petition for guardianship."

"Temporary guardianship," Shakur corrected.

A tiny smiled flickered at the corner of Margaret's lips. "Yes it is. Obviously Heather can't stay on her own any longer, yet staying with her parents is not a viable option either. However, we do have the extra room and although it would certainly require some adjustment, I think we could ultimately help Heather."

"You're sure about this?"

"I have a few contacts down at the courthouse who can put a rush on this," Margaret nodded.

"But only if this is something you want to commit to, Ricky. You're our son, first and foremost. Although we'd like to help Heather, we don't want to make you anymore uncomfortable than you have to be."

"You said it's temporary?" Ricky asked. "How temporary?"

"That depends on what the judge has to say when he reviews the situation."

Ricky closed his eyes, trying to picture Heather living just upstairs from him. It had been a couple years since there had been any other kids in the house and much longer than that since he'd had anyone close to his own age. A part of him wanted to agree, no questions asked, but the itch of his scabbing bite wound said otherwise. "Do you really want to do this or are you just doing it for me?"

"Ricky, we've been taking in foster children with backgrounds up and down the spectrum since long before you entered our lives. That was something your father and I have always been drawn to; we've always felt we could do more good by helping children who need it instead of bringing more children into the world. If we can help one more, we're more than happy to oblige."

It was only after Ricky felt himself nodding that he realized his mind had made itself up before he'd even caught on. "O – okay," he said slowly. "I guess we might as well give it a shot then. I won't jinx us by saying I don't see how it could make things any worse, but uh…you know."

Margaret rose from the table, taking hers and Shakur's empty tea mugs to the sink. "We were hoping you'd feel that way."

"Do you know where she's at right now?"

"We do," Shakur nodded. "But she can't have visitors at the moment."

"Well, do you know how long it will take before we know if they've accepted or denied the petition?"

"We'll let you know as soon as we know." Margaret grabbed Ricky's lunch box from the edge of the counter and offered it to him. "You'd better get going now though, otherwise all of us are going to be late this morning."

Ricky accepted the lunchbox, suddenly feeling like he was twelve-years-old again. It felt heavier than it should have, like it was packed full of apples and nothing else. He shook his head, knowing that his mind was playing tricks on him. "I guess I'll see you after school then?"

Shakur stood and joined Margaret by the counter. "Have a good day, son."

Ricky awkwardly turned away. It just didn't seem right to leave it at that but he couldn't figure out what else there was that needed to be done. He squeezed the handle of the lunchbox as he stopped, halfway over the threshold out of the kitchen. He turned suddenly and rushed back at his parents, engulfing both of them in a giant hug. A tiny voice inside his head reminded him just how overly sentimental he was being and scolded him for it, but this time the emotion was winning out and he simply couldn't help himself. Some days he still wondered how he could have been born to the worst parents on the planet and somehow ended up with the best.


"Thanks for letting me print this out, Mrs. Bowman." Adrian anxiously hovered around the Bowmans' printer. The first three pages were already in the tray and the fourth was about half completed.

"Not a problem," Kathleen smiled. "It maybe be a little slow, but it's reliable."

"We used to have a better one, but Tom left a pencil in the tray and it rolled down into the back and got stuck. He got it out but had to snap the pencil in half doing so and I think it shorted out the connection to the buttons because it never worked right again. It was our two-in-one printer and scanner, too," Grace said, shooting a dirty look at her brother.

Tom just smiled innocently. "I don' 'member leavin' a pencil," he shrugged. "Wasn' me."

Grace looked to her mother who said nothing and proceeded to roll her silver eyes. "It's never you," she bit back.

"Tom's not the only one who's invoked that excuse before," Kathleen reminded, shooting her youngest a stern look. "But I guess it must be our resident ghost."

Tom held up his arms and made a haunting wooo-oooo noise like a cheesy sound effect out of Zombo's House of Horror Movies.

Kathleen just shook her head and looked to Adrian. "While you're waiting, are you hungry? We have some leftover bacon and eggs."

"Thanks, but no thanks," Adrian said, shaking her head. "I had at least five cornbread muffins with butter and honey followed up with a milk chaser before I left this morning so I should be good until lunch, but I appreciate the offer."

Kathleen nodded. "Well if you change your mind, I'll be in the kitchen putting away the leftovers."

Grace waited until her mother and brother had left the room before turning a meek smile towards her friend. "My mom does make pretty mean bacon and eggs," she winked.

"Morning sickness?" Adrian asked knowingly as she slid out the first four pages of her essay, arranging them in order, and then tapped them on the counter to align the edges.

"Yeah." Grace let her head fall back on her shoulders. "Thanks for picking me up today, by the way. I'm feeling a little…I don't know, dizzy? Light headed? I can't really figure out how to describe it, but I just don't want to drive this morning."

"It worked out for both of us," Adrian said, taking the fifth tray from the page and waving it at her friend. "And light headed?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. "Don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure that's because your circulatory system isn't getting enough blood." She began to strum her nails on the top of the printer as she waited for it to spit out page six. "I'll see if I can dig out some of the first trimester pregnancy books I bought. I never gave those to Heather because, well…she was already way past that by the time we met."

"I'd appreciate that," Grace said distantly. She shifted her eyes to the floral print baby doll top that was covering her abdomen. "I uh…I have my first doctor's appointment after school today."

Adrian turned her head in surprise. "Really?"


"Is your mom going with you?"


"Well, uh –" Adrian fumbled for a response. Obviously congratulations was out of the question and anything else with a positive spin seemed wrong, yet she was keenly aware of Grace's moral views on the situation, and sarcastic or condoling comments were equally as inappropriate. "–good luck." She desperately hoped that it hadn't come out sounding like a question. "Who are you seeing? I could get you the number of –"

"I'm seeing someone Dr. Hightower recommended. Apparently she and my dad worked with her on several occasions so I trust that. They'd originally recommended her son, but…" Grace looked away. "I don't think I'd be entirely comfortable with a male OB/GYN."

"What do men know about lady parts anyway?" the Latina said, attempting to lighten the air.

Grace cracked a faint smile. "Yeah." She pushed off of her seat then and came to stand on the opposite side of the printer tray as it churned out page seven. "So," she said, her tone changing in a single snap, "have you talked to Ricky lately?"

"Ricky?" Adrian questioned, the pitch of her voice rising in surprise. "Why?"

"Because I know you know something. Did you really think the Heather-is-out-with-the-flu was going to fly forever? And you," she said, poking her friend in the arm with her index finger, "being so fervent in your attempts to keep me from going over there: 'The last thing you need to do now is catch the flu' and 'it's not pretty, Grace, you shouldn't be around that right now.' Did you really think I wouldn't notice? What's really going on with Heather?"

Adrian pressed her hand to her forehead and scratched her hairline slowly. "All right," she sighed. "But it's important that you keep this between us."

"Well we both know I can keep a secret."

Adrian winced and produced her cell phone from her bag. She located her text message exchanges with Ricky and handed the device over to the blonde.


"Ben, Ben, Ben, thank god you're here!" Amy practically bulldozed him as soon as he stepped onto the sidewalk. "Can I please borrow your homework from last night? I'm not trying to cheat and I swear I actually did the reading, I just was so tired and…I set my alarm to get up at four and fill in the study guide but I slept right through it." The band member bounced back and forth on the balls of her feet. "Please? I'll owe you!"

Ben winced at his friend's desperation. "I would," he said slowly, "but I only got half of it done myself."

Amy's face melted. "Oh."

"You can see the ones I did do," Ben said. He fumbled to wriggle out of his backpack and knelt down right there on the sidewalk beside her and began searching for his homework.

Amy rubbed her forehead as she crouched down beside him. "I guess I deserve this for waiting until the last minute.

"Funny thing is, I was going to ask you if I could borrow your guide."

Amy laughed. "So what's your excuse?"

Ben tensed his shoulders. "I was just focused on other things this weekend. I had every intention of getting it done, but you know what they say about the road to hell."

Amy accepted the study guide from Ben. Half of it was crumpled and the bottom had been ripped and poorly taped back together. She frowned. "You must have had some weekend. This is bottom-of-the-backpack treatment. That's not like you."

Ben scratched the back of his head and avoided her eyes as he zipped up his backpack and hauled it over his shoulders. "We don't have much time, but there's an empty table over there." He nodded towards an empty outdoor table in the lunch area. "Wanna see what we can get finished before the bell?"

"Two heads are better than one." Amy attempted to smooth the wrinkles in the sheet as she read his answers, glancing up over the edge of the sheet every now and then to make sure she wasn't about to walk into anyone or anything. "Hey, you don't think Henry-"


Amy blinked. Then, unable to help herself, she snorted out a laugh. "I appreciate the brevity of that answer."

Ben finally cracked a grin. "I love Henry, but if there's one thing he isn't, it's the smart kid Asian cliché. If it wasn't for Alice, I don't know how he'd get on in school."

"You mean she lets him-"

Ben quickly shook his head. "Noooo! Alice won't let him copy off her. Actually, she won't let anyone copy off her. She basically tutors him. That's how we met."

"I thought you met in third grade?"

"We did. Group work," Ben laughed. "You know how there's always that one kid in the group who does all the work so she or he doesn't get a bad grade thanks to the slacker or the kid who doesn't want to be a slacker but genuinely doesn't understand the material? Well, that should've been Alice, but she took it upon herself to bring Henry and I up to her level instead of just letting us fill in her answers. If that's not the basis for a lifelong friend, I don't know what is."

"Well if I didn't feel bad about asking you for your homework earlier, you can bet I do now."

Ben dropped his backpack onto the red honeycomb of the tabletop and plopped down on the bench style seat. "You wanna take the top, I'll take the bottom, and we'll meet in the middle?"

Amy yanked her textbook out of her bag and set it next to Ben's. "I never opposed to a little Diamond Rio in the morning."


The school day buzzed by as if someone had hit the fast forward button on her life. It was probably the fastest school day she'd ever had, half days included, and an hour after school had gotten out, Grace found herself sitting inside a doctor's office next to her mother, waiting to meet the woman who would be guiding her through the next several months.

"Do you have any questions?" Kathleen asked quietly.

Grace shook her head. "Not really."

"Are you sure?"

The teenager nodded. "I figure it can't be that much different than the first appointment I went to with Adrian."

Kathleen nodded, her face flushing a bit. "Right. I'd completely forgotten about that." She nervously looked towards the open door. "And you know that if this place or this doctor aren't to your liking, we can absolutely go somewhere else, don't you? I don't want you to feel uncomfortable, Grace."

"Anymore than I have to, you mean." Grace reached across the chairs to touch her mother's forearm. "I know," she said simply. "But Dr. Otavi comes highly recommended from Dr. Hightower and she takes our insurance, so unless she turns out to be a real nightmare, I don't think I'm going to be switching once I get started."

"But just in case-"

"I know. I always have options." The statement rang ironically in her head but she didn't have time to dwell on it because at that moment a surprisingly tall woman with a rich Italian tan made her way into the office. She had a tightly molded bun of salt-and-pepper hair; its sheer thickness made Grace suspect that, if let down, the woman's hair was probably luxuriously long. Grace noted how she seemed to move with the refinement of a satin ribbon on airless afternoon.

"I am so sorry," Dr. Ottavi said. Her words were clear but underneath the dialogue there was an unmistakable Italian accent, diluted, no doubt, from years of Americanization. "A patient cancelled, then rescheduled, and we already had you coming in so we didn't want to have to cancel." She offered her hand – long fingers with short, curved nails with nothing but a few coats of clear gloss – and introduced herself.

"Grace Bowman," Grace replied. "And it's no problem, really. I appreciate you squeezing me in at the last minute."

Dr. Ottavi seated herself behind her desk and opened the file in her hands. "And you're Kathleen?" she asked, arching a salt-and-pepper eyebrow.

"Yes, Grace's mother."

"I recognize you from the pictures Marshall used to keep in his office." She offered her hand across the desk. "It's a pleasure to meet you."

"Likewise." Kathleen glanced sideways at Grace as if to say something else, but she didn't.

"You can both say it," Grace sighed. "'If only it were under different circumstances.'"

Dr. Ottavi looked impassively at the teen. "Be that as it may, they aren't, and my job is to deal with the things that are. I hope that's not a problem for either of you."

The teenager eyed the folder, suspecting that it probably contained everything about her and how she got to be sitting in this woman's office today. It seemed wrong that all of that could be boiled down to such a thin, handheld eight by ten device. "It's not," Grace replied. "I just want someone who is going to take good care of me, not someone who's going to pity me."

"Then why don't we jump right in, shall we? Have you been reading up on your pregnancy, Grace?"

Grace bit her lip and looked down at her lap. "I haven't really had much of a chance since I got back into town. Sorry."

"We'll have to see what we can do about getting you some information then. I'm told you're roughly eleven weeks along? Any guesses what might be going on inside your womb right now?"

Grace shook her head. "Outside of morning sickness, I'm really pretty clueless."

Dr. Ottavi smiled. "Well at this stage, the baby is about the size of a fig," she said, indicating about an inch-and-a-half with her fingers. "Some of the skeleton is beginning to harden and he or she is nearly completely formed. You can't feel it yet, but the baby is already kicking and flexing."

Grace's eyes turned to her stomach. It was hard to comprehend something so small being so active and her being utterly unaware of it.

"And you said you've been having a lot of morning sickness?"

"Yeah," Grace murmured distantly.

"Well the good news is: that can indicate a healthy pregnancy. Although not conclusive, studies have found correlations between morning sickness and the lower risk of miscarriages. Typically, the morning sickness should start to be declining around this time, although I have to warn you that every woman and every pregnancy is unique, so some women suffer morning sickness throughout their entire pregnancies and others not once. From what you're telling me, you seem to be following a pretty average pattern."

Kathleen looked at her daughter expectantly. "Any questions yet?"

Grace shrugged. "Not that I can think of."

"All right," Dr. Ottavi said, rising from her chair. "Then are we ready to head back for some tests?"

"I know that this first appointment is a little late," Kathleen said as the three women headed for the door. "Will Grace-"

"Don't worry, Mrs. Bowman, we're going to get Grace all caught up on everything she needs before she leaves today, I promise you that." Dr. Ottavi led them down a hallway and opened the door two doors from the end on the left. She waved Grace and Kathleen inside and shut the door behind herself. "I see that you've already filled out our medical information forms while waiting, so I think we can start off with drawing a little blood if that's okay with you."

Grace climbed up onto the bed and laid down. She'd never been nauseated at the sight of blood before – that wouldn't make a very good doctor – but having blood drawn always did make her feel a little woozy and since she'd already experienced that earlier today she didn't want to chance fainting.

"You all right?" Kathleen asked, suddenly standing beside her daughter. She reached over to take Grace's hand.

Grace just nodded as Dr. Ottavi cleaned off the bend in her arm with a alcohol soaked cotton swab. The smell permeated her nostrils and she swallowed down a creeping feeling in the pit of her stomach.

"Just relax," Dr. Ottavi assured, massaging the skin of her arm a bit. "Now you're going to feel a little pinch…"

Grace winced as the needle pierced her skin and settled deep into her vein. She kept her eyes closed. Once the pain had subsided, she couldn't feel the blood draining away even though every time she had blood drawn she somehow expected that she would. As she kept her eyes closed, images began to impose themselves on her thoughts: flashes of blood spattered sheets, dried blood flecking away on clothes, and pink water swirling down the drain. She jerked at the images and her eyes opened in time to see the vial filling up with blood.

"Grace," Dr. Ottavi warned, "I'm going to need you to lie still."

The teenager focused her attention on the white ceiling. She couldn't look at what was happening to her and she couldn't keep her eyes closed so instead she tried to remove herself from the situation, thinking back to when she'd been at Adrian's first appointment. They'd drawn blood then too and Grace tried to mimic the cool and collected way Adrian had taken the procedure.

"Okay, we're all done with that," Dr. Ottavi announced.

But Grace continued to lay there as the doctor pressed a band-aid to her arm and moved around, doing something or other with the blood she'd drawn in Grace's peripheral view. When she tried to get up a wave of dizziness swept over her and her vision clouded with pinprick black dots her head began to feel heavy. The sounds in the room disappeared and all she could hear was her own labored breathing before that, too, gave way to silence, the type that a person experiences when the blood rushes to your ears. She suddenly felt her mother's hands on her shoulders, easing her back into a laying position, and Grace let her lids close halfway.

"She's never been good with getting her blood drawn," Kathleen explained.

Grace studied her mother's mouth, but she couldn't lip read and even if she could, she figured she would've been too out of it to do that just then anyway. She contended to stay as still as possible until the thrumming silence in her ears evaporated. All she could think about were Dr. Ottavi's words: all done.

But how much was left to come?