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Loud and Clear

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When Lance was born, he was probably the happiest child in the world. He’d laugh and smile at everyone, he loved being held and was hardly fussy. Anyone who saw him would smile, his eyes – an ocean like blue – had the power to light up a room just by his parents bringing him into it. When he was six months old he had his first seizure. He was rushed to the hospital with a 102-degree fever, parents and his many older siblings all worried about the child, as they’d never seen something like this before.

His second seizure happened three months later, symptoms much like the last one. The doctors told them that the child may have these seizures all his life. He was prone to sickness, and if his temperature were to get to high, they could trigger a seizure easily. Lance’s family was devastated. They had the hospital on speed dial, ready to arrange a room for his son any time that they needed to. He had to wear a helmet when he got sick, in case he had a seizure when nobody was looking at him, not that his parents ever took their eyes off the frail boy.

He had five more seizures before he turned two.

When he was two and a half, he had his worst episode yet. His fever was at 105, and he’d had multiple seizures in the span of one day. When he finally recovered, his parents could see that something was different. He no longer babbled in the way he used to, and he didn’t look towards his parents when they called his name. At first the doctors thought he was just in shock, not responding cause he wasn’t fully aware of what had happened yet, though as more timed passed, they realized that there was something much worse at hand.

Lance had gone deaf. His most recent fever – due to meningitis the doctors quickly realized – had damaged his inner ear, making the child go completely deaf.

His family’s life was a little bit more difficult from then on out. His parents and all of Lance’s siblings started learning sign language so they could better communicate with him, and the child himself was put into a deaf school when he was 3, starting off with baby signing and eventually moving up to the real thing. He spent his whole life surrounded by deaf children, people like him, and yet, he wasn’t really all that happy with it. On the morning of his seventh birthday, he approached his parents, who seemed eager to give him the gifts they’d gotten him.

He waved them down to get their attention, signing once they both looked at him. “I want to go to a public school,” He signed, hands moving like lightning. “I want to learn with people that aren’t deaf, with normal kids.” His parents looked at each other, not really sure what to say. They turned their backs, talking for a moment before turning around once more.

“Lance,” His mother used his name sign – two ‘L’ handshapes, tapping one pointer finger to the other thumb like the sign for run – “I just don’t know if you’re ready to go to a hearing school. Things will be much harder there for you. They won’t help you catch up, and we’d have to hire an interpreter, or you’d have to learn to read lips.” Lance visibly sighed, seeming dejected.

“I’ll learn to read lips then, it won’t take too long, I just need you to talk to me more often instead of signing. And I’ll learn to speak too. My teacher told me there are a lot of deaf people that learn to speak, so I can do that, and then I’ll be able to go to a real school.” Lance was excited, he knew that if this worked, his parents would agree to sign him up for a hearing school and he’d get to hang out with the normal kids in his neighborhood. The two turned their back again, having another talk.

“If you can learn to read lips,” His father started this time, “Then we’ll sign you up for a public school next year for your birthday.” Lance smiled wide, running forwards and flinging his arms around their legs and squeezing them tight.

And he worked hard. He’d go online and watch videos on how to read lips, studying their mouths closely so he could get the hang of it. He spent all of his free time having his siblings and parents talk to him so he could practice reading lips until they got tired of him. When nobody would practice with him, and he’d used up all of his allotted time on the computer, he’d stand in front of the bathroom mirror, doing his best to mimic the mouth shapes they made, which quickly followed by trying to recreate the sounds. Unfortunately, he couldn’t hear his own voice, so he didn’t know if anything he was saying was correct.

Ten months later and the boy could read lips almost as well as any hearing person could make the words out themselves. He went to his parents once more, asking the same question that he’d asked only a year ago. “Can you sign me up for public school?” He signed, much more simply than before, wanting to cut to the point.

His parents agreed reluctantly, worried that sending him to a public school could be overwhelming, as he’d only ever been around other deaf children, with the exception of his own siblings. They were also worried that he’d have a seizure while he was there – he’d had a few since he’d gone deaf – and that people wouldn’t know how to deal with it if it happened.

Come September, Lance had never been more excited for anything. He was practically bouncing off the walls with joy and his leg was bouncing excitedly throughout the entire car ride. His mother held his hand on the way inside, Lance’s eyes scanning every inch of the school, taking in its size in comparison to his previous one. He was tugged gently along, his mother urging him to hurry up so that he wouldn’t be late on his very first day.

She took Lance to the front office, to which he was promptly asked to sit down in a chair while the adults talked. Being the quirky boy that he was, decided that sitting in the chair wasn’t what he wanted, as he couldn’t see the lady behind the counter, and thus couldn’t read her lips. He felt completely out of the loop. Before either of the knew what was happening, Lance had hoisted himself up onto the counter, locking his elbows so he dangled precariously on the edge. He looked directly at the woman’s face, hoping that she’d think nothing of it and continue speaking. She shot him a quick glare, though forced it into a smile to keep his mother from getting angry.

“Can you go sit back ---- so I can talk ---- your mother?” She asked, Lance doing his best to catch as many of the words she said. He hopped off the counter and tugged on her mom’s jeans, getting her to look down at him.

“When I’m sitting down I can’t read her lips.” He signed, not yet good enough at speaking to risk using his voice. “I wanna know what you’re talking about.” Lance’s mother sighed, explaining the situation kindly to the woman, hoping she’d allow him to stand by her side so he could see. She agreed, though didn’t seem very happy about doing it. The two continued to talk for a few more minutes, mostly clarifying who his teacher would be and all of the medical needs that Lance needed to have cleared with the school nurse.

“I can arrange a guide, someone in his class,” the woman started, “To just show him around and spend the day with him until he gets the ropes.” His mother nodded, thinking that would be an excellent idea, and possibly a way for the boy to make friends. “He’ll be introduced to his guide during his class, which should be starting in a few minutes. Feel free to walk him there now if you’d like, I’ll go ahead and call the teacher.” Lance took his mother’s hand once more, pulling her towards the door, overly excited and anxious to get to his classroom.

His mother gave him a warm kiss on the cheek as they parted ways, signing a quick I love you and turning to leave, Lance staying at the door to the classroom. He reached up, turning the handle lightly and giving the door a tug so it would open. He stepped inside to find that nobody else was there, quickly thinking that he’d gone to the wrong room. He did a quick double take – as he’d been known to miss things after only looking one time – noticing a kind looking gentleman standing in corner, looking towards a white board and writing something down on it.

Lance walked over to him, tapping on the side, causing the man to jump, looking over with a smile on his face.

“And well who might you be?” He inquired, “I don’t think I’ve seen you here before.” It took everything Lance had not to burst out laughing. The man had a large orange mustache right above his lip, and the way he stood reminded him of a cartoon. “What’s your name son?” Lance instinctively started fingerspelling his name, only realizing that this man didn’t know sign language, causing a blush to form on his face. He gestured to the board, and the man nodded, indicating that he could write on it.

“Ah yes!” The man said with a chuckle, “Lance Mcclain,” He put his hand on the boy’s shoulder, “You’re deaf, correct?” Lance paused, taking a minute to decipher what he said and nodding his head. “Well welcome to the school my boy!” He gave Lance a pat on the back. “The other kids wait outside until the morning bell rings, if you’d like to join them now you can, though the bell should ring any minute now.” Lance shook his head, deciding to stay inside for the time being. Coran showed him around the room, showing him the desk that had his name printed nicely on a name tag at the top of it.

The bell rang soon after, a wave of students all flowing into the room after having lined up in a semi-neat line outside the door. They put their backpacks on the hooks in the back of the room, taking a seat in their desks, and looking up at the teacher, who’s name – Lance just now noticed – was written in large letters in the corner of the board, ‘Mr. Smithe.’ A young boy sat down next to Lance, flashing him a friendly smile and setting a pack of crayons down on his desk. He stuck out a hand, reaching towards Lance and beginning to ramble.

“My name is Hunk,” He started, already talking a little too fast for Lance to keep up with. “It’s your first day right? That’s cool, I’m really happy that you’re sitting next to me, it was a little lonely sitting all alone for the first couple of days of school. Why did you come to school late anyways, it started like a week ago?” Lance’s eyes widened and he waved his arms in front of him to signal that he didn’t understand what was happening. He looked around frantically for something to write with, his eyes landing on the crayons that Hunk had set down just a moment ago. He reached for it, pulling out the first crayon his hand touched and flipping over a coloring page that was set on their desks to be colored in at the beginning of the day.

He wrote as quickly as he could, Hunk cocking his head to the side in confusion and picking up one of the crayons that had spilled out of the box when Lance grabbed at them. When he finally presented the paper, it had – in almost illegible handwriting – ‘Could you please talk a little bit slower, I can’t understand what you’re saying,’ written on it. He slid the paper awkwardly over to Hunk, scratching the back of his neck while he read. When Hunk looked back up, Lance tapped his ear lightly, hoping he would understand that meant he was deaf. Hunk’s eyes went wide.

“I’m so sorry!” He said, slower this time, “I had no idea that you couldn’t hear me, and I was talking so fast that you probably had no idea what I was saying!” Lance laughed quietly, gesturing that it was okay with his hands. Hunk smiled, starting to talk again, only to be interrupted by a sharp clap coming from the teacher in the front of the room. Hunk tapped Lance on the shoulder, gesturing to the front with a smile.

“Good morning everyone!” He clapped his hands again, “I’m happy to announce that we have a new student in the class today! Lance if you could stand for me.” Lance squinted, recognizing his name and the word ‘stand’ and shooting up out of his chair. “Thank you! Now Lance is deaf everyone, and if you don’t know what that means, it means he can’t hear. So when you talk to him, you have to make sure that he’s looking at you, because he reads lips in order to understand people.” Lance blushed, sitting back down quickly and smiling at the people who looked over.

The teacher let the kids color for a while, Hunk sharing his crayons with Lance as the boy didn’t know that he’d be coloring every day, and left his own at home. Today the picture was of a lion, and although Hunk tried to keep it more traditional – coloring in yellows and browns – Lance decided that his lion would look much better in a million shades of blue. Once the children had gotten bored of coloring, Mr. Smithe clapped once more, getting everyone’s attention. Lance continued to color until Hunk tapped him on the shoulder, snapping the boy’s attention to the front of the room.

“Alright, we’re going to get started on partner reading time, so if everyone could pair up please and thank you!” He bounced happily around the front, gesturing for people to get up and find a friend. Hunk looked excitedly at Lance.

“Lance do you wanna be my partner, usually I have to read with Mr. Smithe, or by myself because everyone else already has partners, but I don’t have one! But since you’re here now I have a partner and I can finally read with someone!” He put an excited hand on Lance’s shoulder shaking him lightly. Lance agreed to be his partner, but when the two sat down in some of the bean bag chairs in the corner to read, he was suddenly nervous. He hadn’t realized that Hunk would start reading out loud and that he would stop after a paragraph and look at Lance expectantly. Lance scrambled back to his desk, grabbing another crayon and his paper and writing frantically on the back of it.

“I can’t talk out loud,” the paper said in Lance’s iconic, yet horrid handwriting. Hunk read the paper over and smiled.

“Well it doesn’t hurt to try does it?” He asked encouragingly, “You can read, right?” Lance shrugged his shoulder lightly, writing on the paper once more.

“Kind of, but I don’t know how to pronounce things very well.” Hunk laughed, patting Lance’s knee and standing.

“I’ll be right back, okay?” He walked to a row of buckets that sat on the top of a tan shelf. He stood on his toes, thumbing through the books, all of which were very thin. He pulled one out titled I Can Read! Pete the Cat and headed back over to Lance, sitting down next to him once more and presenting the book. “This is the one I used when I was learning to read, so I thought it might help you. If you have trouble, I can try and teach you if you want.” Lance’s eyes lit up and he nodded, grabbing the book and opening it to the first page. He could understand the words, but he didn’t have any idea how to even begin pronouncing them.

“Can you say the word first?” Lance wrote on the paper, looking at Hunk nervously. He nodded, reading the first word of the book a few times and asking Lance to repeat it after him. Lance studied the boy’s mouth closely, trying to copy the movements he made, hoping that it would make the same sound, but ultimately, it turned out as a very loud and overly incomprehensible. Hunk smiled softly.

“Not quite, try that one again,” Hunk tried to stay calm, despite being slightly embarrassed from disrupting the class. Lance tried again, making a slightly different – but not any closer to the word that was written – sound, this time a bit louder than the last. A couple of the kids snickered to themselves, turning away and going back to what they were doing. When Lance tried for a third time to speak, on of the kids stood up looking over at him.

“Hunk tell him to shut up! He sounds stupid and I can’t read when he makes all of those gross sounds!” He yelled with a huff. Lance had turned to see what Hunk was looking at, catching the back end of what he was saying and looking down dejectedly. Hunk placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder, getting the boy, who was now teary-eyed, to look up at him.

“Lance, don’t listen to them okay?” He said happily, keeping Lance’s attention on him, instead of on Mr. Smithe, who had gone to scold the child that teased Lance. “You just started learning to speak, so it’s okay that you’re not perfect at it!” Lance offered a sad smile, feeling slightly better after talking to Hunk.

The class eventually moved on, spending a while learning about multiplication and division, both of which Lance struggled with. Hunk did his best to help Lance out, explaining everything for him again when he didn’t catch it the first time Mr. Smithe said it. Eventually the children had all grown antsy for first recess to begin and the teacher had to take a short break from the lesson, letting the children talk amongst themselves until the recess bell rang. When the melodic tune signaling the start of recess came over the intercom, all of the kids jumped to their feet, rushing for the door.

“I usually stay inside for recess,” Hunk said, smiling, “There are lots of things to do outside too though if you want to go out there.” Lance scribbled something down on a paper, passing it to Hunk happily.

“We can do whatever you want to do,” was written on it, causing a huge smile to appear on Hunk’s face.

“If you want we could work on reading some more!” He said moving over to where the books are, “I can try and help you learn to talk!” Lance hesitated slightly, not sure if he wanted to try again after what the other kids said to him. Hunk noticed the look on his face and put a hand on his shoulder, “There’s nobody else in here, so we don’t have to worry about it!” Lance eventually agreed, going back over to where they were sitting before and pulling out another book, only to have Hunk set it down. “How about we start with your name instead of reading out of a book?”

Hunk said his name out loud three times, having Lance look at his mouth while he did it. Of course, when Lance tried to make the same sound, it came out gargled and sloppy. Hunk tried the same thing again, however after getting similar results each time, he decided to move on to a different method. He tried making each sound one at a time, starting with the letter L. He showed Lance the way your mouth was supposed to look and had him copy it. By the end of recess, he had Lance making an ‘L’ sound with almost no issue.

“So, Lance?” Hunk asked as they headed back to their seats, “Is it hard to talk to people because you have to write everything down? Like is it hard to talk to your parents?” Lance shakes his head, starting to respond on paper.

“I don’t write when I talk to my parents, I use sign language.” He passed it over to Hunk, looking at his face as he read.
“Sign Language? What’s that?”

“It’s like talking,” Lance started writing again, “But it’s with your hands.” He explained that it was used by people that couldn’t hear and those that wanted to communicate with them mostly. He told him that his parents and siblings all learned it when he went deaf so they could talk to him without him having to read lips or write things down.

“Whoa! That’s really cool!” Hunk exclaimed, looking up with curious eyes. “It’s like you can talk all the time but nobody will get mad at you for talking too much because you won’t actually be talking!” Lance grinned, grabbing his paper to write on it once more.

“I have an idea! Maybe you can teach me to talk, and I can teach you some sign language!” Hunk nodded his head, grabbing both of Lance’s hands excitedly.

“Yeah!” He shouted, “You can start teaching me tomorrow, and you can start by teaching me my name, like I’m teaching you your-” The bell rang with the same melodic tone as before, cutting Hunk off and signaling the end of recess. Kids filed back in, taking their seats once more and preparing to learn all about whatever the teacher had planned for the rest of the day.

Lance waited for him mom to pick him up right outside at the end of the day. He stood patiently, bouncing gently in his spot and scanning the cars as they drove up, and then watching them with soft eyes as they drove away with their own kids babbling in the back seats. When his mom finally did arrive, Lance shot forward, practically leaping into his chair, excited to get home and tell his parents about all of them fun things he did with Hunk that day. He wanted to talk on the ride home, but his mom couldn’t drive and focus on what he was signing at the same time.

“Mom I made a new friend today!” He signed, tugging on his mom’s pants so she’d look down at him to see what he was saying.

“That’s great baby,” She replied, unlocking the door and gesturing for Lance to walk through it, “What’s the name?” Lance smiled, spelling out ‘Hunk’ and setting his bag down next to the couch.

“He wants to learn sign language and I told him I’d start teaching him tomorrow!” The boy ran into the kitchen, looking around for a snack he wanted, pulling string cheese out of the fridge and opening it, peeling off a strand and dangling it over his mouth, lowering it slowly. “I’m gonna start by teaching him his name, and he said he’s gonna help me learn to talk!” His mom looked at him hesitantly.

“Honey I don’t want you to get your hopes up with learning to speak,” She muttered seriously, “Peaking isn’t easy when you’re deaf, and there’s a chance that you won’t be able to do it all, so even if this boy says that he’ll try and teach you, you have to make sure that you’ll be okay if you can’t do it.” Lance nodded.

“I know Mommy,” He signed excitedly, “But how will I ever be able to know if I can do it if I never even try?” His mom offered up a soft smile, agreeing with her son calmly.

“You have always been a dreamer buddy,” she reached down, ruffling his soft hair, “If there’s anyone that can do it, it’s you.” Lance wrapped his arms around his mother’s waist, burying his head in her side with a smile.

The next morning, Lance couldn’t have been more excited to go to school. He rushed to get ready, throwing on a t-shirt with a shark on it, some basketball shorts and a green jacket. He grabbed his bag and bounced next to the door, waiting for his mom to finish her cup of coffee so the two could get going. Lance tugged on her hand, barely giving her time to drop the mug in the sink and grab her keys before they were out the door and booking it for the car.

“I’m gonna teach Hunk today mom!” The boy signed, barely holding on to the backpack that was falling off one of his shoulders. “I even wrote a list of all of the things I’m gonna show him and it’s gonna be so much fun.” His signs flew by quickly, his mom’s smile growing as the boy rambled excitedly.

“Alright, alright,” she sighed, opening his door for him, “We’ll never get there if you spend so much time talking about it instead of doing it.” Lance nodded his head, clambering clumsily into his seat and buckling the belt, swinging his legs furiously until his mom climbed in after him and started the car. When she finally pulled the car into a parking spot, Lance couldn’t scramble fast enough to get out of there. “Do you need me to go with you?” She asked him, turning so he could see her from inside the car. Lance shook his head, eliciting a kind, but somewhat sad smile from his mom.

“Love you mom!” He signed cheerfully, “I’ll see you after school,” His mom nodded, signing ‘I love you’ right back to him and waving as he turned to leave. Lance sprinted off, running through the foyer and straight to the playground in the back of the school. He didn’t stop until he had Hunk in his sights, who was waiting patiently in front of the door to the classroom.

“Lance, hi!” he waved with a jovial smile. “You’re gonna teach me sign language, today right?” Lance thought for a minute, trying to make sure he understood what Hunk said before nodding quickly. “Awesome! I’m so excited!” Hunk clapped his hands quickly. “When can we start? Cause if you want to wait until first recess we can do that, or we can start at second recess if you really don’t want to do it during first,” Lance lost track of what the boy was saying, tilting his head to the side and waiting for him to finish speaking and die down.

Lance shrugged, indicating that he’d be willing to start whenever. Hunk – though not entirely sure – assumed that meant it would be okay to start that exact moment.

They knocked quietly on the door together, hoping to get let in a little bit early so they could focus on learning without the distraction of other children. Mr. Smithe opened the door just a crack, twirling his mustache jokingly.

“What are you doing here?” his voice boomed in mock anger, “This is my territory.” Lance laughed, Hunk following suit soon after, though a little more nervously. “But I suppose you can come in if you’d like to.” He changed his mood quickly, swinging the door open and smiling wide. The two raced inside, moving to sit at their desks immediately.

“Where do we start?” Hunk asked eagerly, getting out a pencil and a piece of paper so Lance could write things down. He took the items graciously and began writing down a few things.

“We start with your name,” Hunk read over Lance’s shoulder as he wrote. He reached into his own bag, pulling out the list of signs he’d come up with to teach his newfound friend. He pointed to two words, written in all caps on the sheet. ‘MY NAME’

Lance gestured for Hunk to look at him. He tapped the word ‘MY’ and then showing him what the sign looked like, gently patting his open hand on his chest. He then tapped the second word, ‘NAME’ showing Hunk how to make that sign by putting your index and middle fingers together on both hands and tapping the sides together.

Hunk repeated it, slightly sloppier, but ultimately correct. Lance did it one more time, having Hunk repeat once more, smiling wide and clapping when he got it correct. Lance then moved on to showing Hunk how to spell his name, demonstrating each letter slowly so he’d be able to keep up. Hunk caught on quickly, and by the time recess was over for the two of them, Hunk had already completely learned how to introduce himself.

The following recess was the exact opposite of the first one. This time the two sat together in the reading corner, Hunk doing his best to teach him the ‘A’ in his name that followed after the ‘L’ that he’d managed yesterday. Though it’s clear that Lance’s speaking won’t advance as quickly as Hunk would in sign language, he’d been making progress, and that’s all that mattered.

The end of his first week rolled around, and during their last recess together until the weekend, Lance had finally managed to say his entire name. It came out slightly gargled, and his deaf accent was clear, but you could understand that it was his name he was trying to say.

“Oh my gosh Lance you did it!” Hunk said, enthusiastically throwing his arms around the other with a wide smile. “That was perfect!” Lance smiled wide, flashing his teeth – the two front ones missing – and squeezing Hunk back. Pulling out a nearby piece of paper, he began frantically scribbling.

“Did I actually do it?” He showed the paper to Hunk excitedly. The boy nodded, grabbing Lance’s shoulders and shaking back and forth, laughing.

“Say it again!” He urged, letting the boy go and stepping back so he could watch.

“Lance,” he said hesitantly, not sure if he was doing it right. When he saw Hunk’s joyous reaction once more, he said the work again, this time more confidently. Lance turned to his teacher, running over to him, Hunk following in tow.

“Did you hear him Mr. Smithe?” Hunk questioned, watching the man twirl his mustache.

“I did,” he smiled kindly, “I’m sure you’ll be saying full sentences in no time my boy.” The man ruffled Lance’s soft hair, causing the boy to smile once more. Mr. Smithe glanced over at Hunk, locking eyes with him. “And you Hunk,” He started, “You have been an excellent teacher. He couldn’t have done it without you.” Hunk rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly, flashing an embarrassed smile.

“I don’t know, I think he could have done it on his own,” He began, voice shaky and unsure, “I think Lance is smart enough that he could learn to talk without my help, cause I didn’t even really do anything I just kind of –“ Mr. Smithe cut him off.

“Hunk, you need to give yourself more credit than that,” He looked over at Lance, “I’m sure Lance would agree that you were an important part in him learning how to say his name.” Lance nodded, picking up a marker and gesturing to the board, asking if he could write on it to which the teacher nodded.

“I couldn’t have done it without you.” Lance wrote, glancing over his shoulder with another toothy grin. He capped the marker, turning around and hugging his friend once more. Tears fills Hunk’s eyes, though he managed to wipe them away with a chuckle. Lance turned to the board again, “I’m happy we’re best friends.”

“We’re best friends?” Hunk asked, looking at Lance innocently, “Really? That’s amazing!” Lance nodded his head, confirming Hunk’s question and earning an almost loving look from the boy. “I’ve never had a best friend before, I’m excited!”

The two spent the rest of the day together, talking during the lesson – which they were promptly scolded for – and just generally being some of the happiest people in the room for the time being.

Lance had never been more excited to see his mother after school. He’d wanted to tell her all about what he did today, not only the things he learned with Mr. Smithe, but also that he was finally able to say his first name. He paced back and forth in front of the bus loop, scanning every passing car for his mom’s car. When thirty minutes had passed and his mom still wasn’t there, he began to get worried. He’d now taken a seat on the floor, looking down at the ground and fiddling with his hands mindlessly.

Just when tears had begun to fill his guiltless eyes, and he’d started to think that his mother may never come get him, her car pulled slowly into the parking lot. Lance stood up hastily, wiping the tears away and slinging his backpack onto his shoulder. He practically ran to the car, climbing into the backseat and looking at his mom’s face in the rear-view mirror.

“Mom, you’ll never believe what I did today!” His hands moved frantically, happy to finally get to tell him mom about his amazing day. She held up her hand so he could see it, causing the boy to pause mid-sentence.

“Not now Lance, please,” She said, making sure Lance saw her mouth in the mirror. “I’m sorry I was late to pick you up, but I’ve had a long day so please just, not now.” Lance sighed dejectedly, leaning forward and putting his forehead on the back of the driver’s seat. His mother pulled slowly into the driveway, Lance hopping out and going to his room without another word. He started on his homework, which was just some simple math, and then spent the rest of his free time practicing saying his name.

He never did get the chance to say his name to his mother that day, and by the time his dad returned from work, he’d lost all motivation to even think of showing him instead. To think, he’d worked so hard to learn to speak, and he wouldn’t even have the chance to show someone else that he could do it. That of course, would be a crucial moment in Lance’s development, because at this point, he would have to decide if learning to speak was really worth it if his family was going to show no interest in what he was doing.

Lance, however, was a determined little boy, and he wasn’t going to let the lack of enthusiasm on his parent’s side stop his from accomplishing what many deemed totally impossible.