32 - Reunited: Day Seventeen

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"Come on, love," said Dennis. "Just try. Start with one word and you'll see that nothing is going to happen. Us lot talk all the time and nothing happens, right?"

The three of them continued to coax Melanie into speaking, asking her simple questions they knew she would be able to answer and trying to get her to identify different people in various photos. They tried asking yes or no questions and even tried to get simple vocalizations out of her, but she continued to hold out for the entire hour.

She was due for another dose of the pain medication they had been giving her to keep her headaches and the pain in her ribs at bay. As the minutes ticked on and her previous dose wore off, her headache grew progressively worse, but no one seemed to notice as she squinted and cringed against the light. She looked over at the clock by the TV and sighed, hoping someone would realize their time was up.

Lucy followed Melanie's gaze and shook her head apologetically. "I'm sorry, sweetheart. I'm afraid we're staying as long as it takes today. We can't go until we get you talking a bit."

Melanie slowly attempted to stand up, but Dennis gently placed his hand on her arm to get her to sit back down.

"We know Otis would hit you for talking," Lucy stated, looking intensely at Melanie. "But we're not going to do that and Otis is not going to do that ever again. It's okay for you to speak now, sweetheart."

Melanie bit her lip and took her mum's hand, attempting to pull her up off the couch so they could leave if they went together.

"Soon, darling," Joan said, pushing Melanie's hair behind her ears with her free hand. "Not yet, but soon."

As they neared the second hour of their sessions, snacks and drinks were delivered by room service, but Melanie refused to consume anything. The trio pressed on, trying everything they could to get her speaking, not noticing she was squirming uncomfortably due to the unbearable amount of pain in her head and ribs. Unable to take the pain any longer, Melanie broke down into fits of sobs and quickly raised her arms to cover her head to avoid being struck.

Joan gently pulled Melanie close and rocked with her, speaking softly in an attempt to make her daughter feel better. Since they'd gotten her back, Melanie hadn't once allowed herself to cry in front of her friends or family. She pulled away from Joan, curling herself into a ball and cowering away from everyone as she tried to compose herself.

"I'm so sorry," Joan apologized. "I didn't realize how hard this would be on you."

"Are you ready for us to stop?" Lucy asked softly. She looked at Melanie with sympathy as she looked up at her hopefully and nodded. "Can you tell me 'yes'?"

Melanie dropped her head and sobbed, realizing she wasn't going to be let off the hook.

"All we need is a 'yes' or 'no'," Dennis encouraged. "Nothing more than that."

"You poor thing," Joan sighed, pulling Melanie close once more. "Those men deserve to be punished for this." She kissed the top of Melanie's head and gently rocked with her until she started to calm down.

"They really did a number on you," Lucy sighed. She glanced over at the clock and smiled sadly at Melanie. "Three hours. You're one determined young lady." Melanie inhaled a shuddering breath and looked at Lucy, desperate to be dismissed.

"We'll let you go back as soon as we can prove to you that it's ok for you to speak," Lucy stated. "Can you tell me you're ready to go?"

"Yes," she barely whispered, breaking down once again and cringing. Both Joan and Dennis visibly relaxed, relieved to finally get a response from her. Joan pulled her close and hugged her.

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