CHAPTER 23 | the speech

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📎A/N.  It's only 2 sleeps to Christmas! (for some of you it's 3).  Panic reigns supreme in my house at the moment as last minute shopping, baking and getting ready for the holidays descends on me. 

Merry Christmas and thanks for all your support this year!

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Sydney leaned back in her chair, lifted her arms over her head and stretched. It had been a long day. Truth be told, it had been a long week. She cricked her neck and sat forward again. "Nearly," she said with a smile, "how about we try it again?"

Walter frowned, pursed his lips in a lopsided fashion, and shook his head. He found the exercise difficult and didn't want to continue.

"Come on Walter, just one more time and we'll call it a day," she cajoled. "How about it? I'll bring some more of my homemade cookies that you like so much if you do."

At hearing this, Walter's eyes narrowed and he regarded Sydney suspiciously. "P-p-prom-promise?"

Sydney looked earnestly at him and made an x mark on her chest. "Cross my heart."

She smiled when Walter nodded his head up and down to confirm he would try. "How about this time I do it with you?" she suggested.

Sydney puffed her cheeks up with air. Walter mimicked her actions. After five seconds, she tapped her right cheek with her index finger while continuing to hold her breath. However, the moment Walter touched his finger to his face he was unable to hold the air in and his cheeks deflated.

"That was much better than last time," she said, seeing his demeanour had deflated with his cheeks. "You're able to control your mouth a lot better that time."

Walter made a hrump sound. A noise she recognised he used when he wasn't happy.

August had given way to September and the last of the summer warmth was holding fast, an indication fall might be late this year. Despite the fact Walter had been aware Sydney's working with him and Tamsin was only temporary, he hadn't taken too well to the news she was reducing it to Tuesday mornings and Friday afternoons.

After Bernie had informed his charge that it was that or nothing, Walter came around faster than a speeding bullet, and they had fallen into an easy pattern with their new routine. With each session, his therapists always had something prepared for her to concentrate on. His speech therapist currently had her working with him on facial muscle control.

Sydney glanced at her watch. "It's getting late. How about I give you a game of Little Big Planet before I go?"

Walter readily agreed and, after checking in with Therese, Walter's speech therapist, she wheeled him back to his room.

She was powering up the game as Walter wheeled himself to the set of draws beside his bed. Sydney hid a smile as she noticed what he was up to. The entire top draw was now designated as his Butterfingers stash.

"Uh-oh!"

Sydney stopped what she was doing and swung her head towards Walter. "What's wrong?"

"N-n-no no no!" chanted Walter with a look of horror.

Dropping the remote, Sydney rushed to Walter's side. Her heart thumped in her chest as the possible reasons for his sudden distress. "Is everything okay, do you need me to call someone?"

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