32 - Reunited: Day Seventeen

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Melanie was sitting alone at the kitchen table with her breakfast in front of her. Her mum and step-dad were standing at the cupboard conversing quietly and Emma, Howie, Nick, and AJ were watching MTV in the den. Melanie sat with her head resting on her palm as she stared at her fruit salad and toast. She pushed the fruit around the bowl with her fork and sighed as her stomach growled.

"Hey, you," said Mel, as she walked into the suite and sat next to Melanie, looking at her untouched plate. "Not hungry?"

Melanie shrugged and set her fork down, dropping her head to avoid having to look at Mel. She thought for a moment before pushing the bowl toward Mel. Mel looked at her curiously and shrugged before picking out a piece of pineapple and taking a bite.

"Thanks," said Mel. "You want something else instead?"

Melanie watched as Mel swallowed the fruit. She looked back at her fruit salad, stabbed a piece of apple with her fork, and took a small bite, looking back at Mel who picked a grape from the bowl and tossed it in her mouth. Mel raised one eyebrow and looked at Melanie with a smile.

"You thought someone put something in it?" Mel chuckled. "Well aren't you clever, making me try it first?" she laughed as she helped herself to another grape. "Go on then. Tuck in."

Melanie ate a piece of orange and timidly pushed her plate of toast toward Mel. Mel laughed and broke off a piece of toast to taste.

"Look at that," Dennis smirked at Joan. "Finally a bit of progress." Joan was smiling excitedly and pulled Dennis close.

Melanie's parents waited for her to finish her lunch before leading her out of the suite and down the elevator to the fourth floor where Lucy was waiting for them in the hotel room. Melanie sighed as she was pulled into the room and she sat on the couch between Joan and Dennis. Lucy greeted the trio as they entered her hotel room and she shut the door behind them to before sitting on the couch across from them.

Joan excitedly informed Lucy about the progress they'd made with Melanie during dinner the previous night and she squeezed Melanie's hand reassuringly. Dennis jumped in, telling Lucy about Melanie's supermarket excursion and how she had been willing to eat when she'd seen everyone else eating the meal.

Melanie stared out the window, ignoring the conversation going on around her. She'd gotten used to shutting down during the sessions and rarely participated in order to prove she wouldn't be broken.

"Melanie, honey," Lucy said, trying to get Melanie's attention. Melanie looked at her and sat up a little straighter, realizing she'd been caught zoning out. "I know we keep going through this, but I really want to get you talking today. I've promised your parents we'd make some progress today, so I really need you to try to participate a bit."

Melanie's sighed and nodded dutifully, but it was obvious she had no intention of breaking her silence.

"Let's start with something easy," Lucy suggested, pulling a magazine from her bag and setting it on the coffee table between herself and Melanie's family. "Can you tell me the name of this magazine?"

Melanie looked at the magazine, a copy of US Weekly with a picture of the Spice Girls on the cover. The editor had cropped her image from the group and tilted to the side with the word 'missing' written in bold, red letters. She shrugged and looked at Lucy, relaxing back between her parents to signify she wouldn't be responding.

"It's all right," Joan encouraged. "It's just two words, Melanie. You can do it." Melanie stared at the floor and chewed at her thumbnail.

"Can you tell me who this is?" Lucy asked, pointing to Emma's picture on the magazine. "Can you try signing it? Do you remember how to spell the letters with your fingers?" Melanie shrugged and looked back at the magazine.

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