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Heart - 7. The Promise

When Vladimir sinks into another dissociative state, Tyson's concern for him leads him to made a special deal with Cynthia.

"Hello, boys!" Alice greeted them cheerfully, crossing their names off the checklist as she did her rounds.

"Still here," Tyson replied grumpily, his eyes fixed on the movie they were watching - the Sword in the Stone. It was interesting enough, but the room was noisy, and the nurses were everywhere. The repeated checks were annoying to begin with, but with this being his third week in the unit, he was quickly growing tired of them. All of the other children, save for Charlie, Tyson and Vladimir, had either been discharged or transferred somewhere else and replaced with new kids in crisis.

"It's just nice to see you," Alice always brushed off his rudeness. "Also, I have some news for you."

"Me?" Tyson looked back at her. "What? Why?"

"Cynthia's in the building, and she'll be coming to see you shortly," Alice tapped her pen against her clipboard. "Are you ready to see her?"

"Yeah," Tyson managed a weak smile. He liked Cynthia and he enjoyed their chats, but this place was wearing him down. The medication. The monotony. The rules and the schedules and being treated like he was five.

"How are you, Vlad?" Alice asked, noticing the raven-haired boy had not so much as stirred.

Vladimir said something in Russian under his breath, his eyes fixed to a specific spot on the roof. He was off with the fairies today, it seemed. Tyson could barely hold his attention for a minute before he disappeared into his head and had given up trying to keep him grounded. Whatever schizophrenia did, it was keeping Vladimir too occupied with internal stimuli for the boy to respond to much else. Tyson was too mentally fatigued to deal with his problems and Vladimir's at the same time today.

"Vlad?" Alice's knees always let out a magnificent crack when she knelt down, and she looked into Vlad's eyes. She snapped her fingers, but he didn't respond.

"She's thinking," Vladimir whispered, his eyes widening. "Lighthouse."

"Vlad? It's Alice," she continued to try and guide him back to the present moment, snapping her fingers again. "Vlad? Vlad?"

"Маяк," Vladimir whispered in Russian.

"What's a маяк?" Tyson asked both his friend and his primary nurse, curious.

"It means lighthouse. I'm just not sure what lighthouse means," Alice gently put a hand on Vladimir's shoulder. "C'mon, Vlad. Follow my voice, okay? It's Alice. Vlad. Vlad," she calmly and softly tried to get his attention in her delightful accent, but he didn't seem to be able to take the wheel. He was on autopilot. "Vladimir, do you know where you are?"

"No! I can do both!" Vladimir replied angrily, but he didn't seem to be talking to either of them. "He didn't mean it. I know he didn't!"

"Settle down, hon," Alice calmly put her fingers on his shoulder. Tyson was getting worried. When he reached for Vladimir's hand, the boy snatched it from him. "It's Alice. Do you remember me?"

When Vladimir continued to talk to himself in Russian, Alice decided it was a problem and used the phone hanging around her neck to call the nurse's station.

"Hello, Janet? Yes, Vladimir has completely dissociated, and he isn't responding to me. I think it best if he has somebody with him one on one for the time being. Bring some of his PRN medication, too," Alice said, standing up and keeping her eyes fixed on him.

Tyson was scared. Was this why Vladimir was in the HDU? Was he dangerous when he dissociated? What happened to Vladimir that caused him to end up in a place like this? Did he hurt himself? Did he hurt someone else? If he was in the HDU, then he was dangerous to himself or other people at some point. The same went for Charlie. He wished he could fix them both. He knew Cynthia could, but she was a private psychiatrist and cost a lot of money. Vladimir's parents were working class, and Charlie had no parents at all.

"Is he going to be okay?" Tyson asked feebly. Vladimir looked like he was in pain. He was cringing away from the two of them; then he shouted some words that Tyson did not understand.

"He will be fine. I think he needs some space, hon," Alice told him firmly. "Would you be a dear and get ready to see your psychiatrist?"

"I don't want to leave him," Tyson told her, his lip trembling. "He looks so scared."

"We're going to take good care of him," she promised with a smile that creased the corners of her mouth. "He will be just fine. Off you go, now."

Fuck you, Alice.

Tyson wanted to shout at her, but he chose not to. Getting angry might have made him feel better, but it would not do Vladimir any favours, particularly when he was like this. With a scowl, he leaned on his crutch to prop himself up and hopped away.

"Tyson!" Charlie passed him in the corridor, a rare smile crossing his cute face as he snuggled up to his pillow.

"Not now," Tyson growled at him, upset at the state of his friend and not ready to talk to anyone at the moment.

He only wanted to talk to Cynthia. She understood things whereas Charlie was a little boy in a twelve-year-old's body, and Tyson did not have the patience to deal with him. He was sick of this stupid place. He needed to go home, and then he wanted to sneak out in the middle of the night and find a tall building. He knew just the one — a rooftop restaurant, fourteen floors high. He could let himself fall down the stairway to the hard floor below, or he could open or break one of the windows and jump from there. If only. This fucking ankle meant he'd never make it into the city. Maybe he'd hang himself instead. He'd studied how to tie a noose.

"Knock knock!" Cynthia knocked on the open door, interrupting the boy's grisly fantasies. "How's my favourite patient today?"

"I'm great, Cynthia!" Tyson replied sarcastically, causing her to snicker on her way over to the chair she always sat in. "I've got so much going on here that it's impossible to get bored and fucking irritated."

"Whereas I relish the idea of having a few days of being waited on hand and foot in a psychiatric ward," Cynthia smiled, pulling the squeaky chair close to him. "I'd be thrilled to trade places with you."

"No, you wouldn't," Tyson pouted, folding his arms. "When can I go home?"

"Not yet, I'm afraid!" Cynthia spoke calmly, opening up Tyson's folder and looking at what's been happening since last she visited. "You know what I'm going to ask. Have you had thoughts of self-harm and suicide?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I said no," Tyson managed to grin.

"You're right. I wouldn't," Cynthia smiled up at him. "So why don't you talk to me about it? How have the last twp days been for you?"

"Mostly boring as shit," Tyson complained. "There's nothing to do. The classes are too easy, and there aren't enough books in the library. All I do is think of ways to kill myself. So don't you think keeping me here is counterproductive?

"You know what I love about you, Tyson?" Cynthia brushed her long, chestnut hair from her face and over her shoulders. "You're one of the brightest young men I've ever met. At home and school, you would be learning material that most students would not see until their VCE years of education. You learn instruments, you play sports and you read novels with the speed of a thunderbolt! I have no doubt at all that you would be climbing the walls in a place like this. So, in some ways, I agree that the AIU is counterproductive for someone so used to keeping busy. That's why we need to focus and cooperate to make this stay as short as possible."

In turn, what Tyson loved about Cynthia was that she validated his feelings. She took the time to listen to him and both sympathise and empathise with him. Edith disregarded most of Tyson's woes when he voiced them, casting them off as laziness or a bad attitude. Cynthia let him vent, she let him talk, and she allowed him to work out what was going on in his own way.

"You're right about that," Tyson even managed to laugh. "I have all the time in the world to plan my suicide while I'm in here."

"Yes, I can understand that," Cynthia replied, scribbling notes as he spoke. "It can be a challenge to keep yourself occupied. Have you been socialising with the other patients? I know you like your own company, but it could be beneficial for you. Are you still hanging out with Vladimir?"

"Well, I have, actually," Tyson blushed under his dark brown skin as he thought of the cutest boy in the world. "Hey, can you tell me about schizophrenia?"

"Oh, that's a bitch," Cynthia replied, and Tyson smiled. Cynthia occasionally dropped a swear or two in their sessions, and it helped him feel as though he were talking to a friend rather than someone paid to lecture him from a textbook about feelings and diagnosis. "Schizophrenia is difficult at any age, so I can't imagine dealing with it at the same time as puberty. How do you feel about him?"

"I... like him a lot," Tyson admitted, and Cynthia raised her eyebrows. "I don't care that he's sick. He's been kind to me and he likes me too."

"When you say you like Vladimir," Cynthia approached the question carefully. "Do you mean you want to be friends? Or do you like him more than that?"

"I like him more than that," Tyson told her, and she giggled. "What?"

"Oh, it's just written all over your face right now how much you adore this boy," Cynthia grinned, and Tyson looked away, embarrassed but smiling. "So, you made a friend! That's good."

"I made two friends, actually," Tyson remembered Charlie and the kindness the younger boy had shown him, and he immediately felt terrible about the way he snapped at him earlier as they passed. "Charlie. He's weird. Like, super weird. But he's cool."

"Two friends! That's even better!" Cynthia praised him, and Tyson glowed. Praise did not come easily to him at home. If he got an A+ on his exam, Edith would only ask why he got two of sixty questions wrong. "So, you want to know about schizophrenia, then? What do you know about it?"

"Chase always said it made people completely useless," Tyson told her, looking back at her with sad, wide brown eyes. "I don't know. Vlady goes weird, and he hears things and he doesn't know what's real sometimes."

"Delusions and hallucinations," Cynthia nodded, noting Tyson's words down on her clipboard. "How do you feel about that?"

"I don't get it," Tyson replied after a pause. "But he's my friend, so I try to understand, but I don't. I don't see how someone couldn't tell what's real or what's not."

"Have you ever thought you heard someone call your name?" Cynthia crossed her legs. She dressed in plain brown slacks coupled with a beautiful red blouse today. "Or you think you see something in the corner of your eye? A shadow that doesn't make sense? Does this ever happen to you?"

"Umm..." Tyson frowned. "Yes. Occasionally. Why?"

"That's likely a hallucination," Cynthia explained simply and shrugged. "We all do it from time to time. If you didn't sleep for a long time, you'd likely start to hallucinate. The difference is that you understand that it's just your eyes or ears playing tricks on you, right?"

"Yeah," Tyson was beginning to understand where she was coming from.

"But Vladimir might not know that what he's hearing or seeing isn't real," Cynthia continued. "That's a symptom of his condition. His brain isn't sure what to believe. It isn't his fault. The brain is a fickle bitch. For example, he might believe he is having a conversation as real as the one you and I are sharing right now."

"Okay," Tyson nodded. That made sense. Vladimir heard voices a lot, Tyson knew. Sometimes the Russian boy spoke back to them. He also saw someone scary — some monster with three heads that tormented him.

"So, Mum came in to visit you yesterday, and once again you decided not to see her," Cynthia brought up the next topic. "What happened?"

"I hung out with Vlad's family instead," Tyson replied, not wanting to talk about his family. "They're cool. I didn't need Mum telling me I'm a fucking failure."

"Well, you're free to deny visits while you're here," Cynthia replied, scratching her face. "But eventually Tyson, you will be going home to your family. We need to start the transition, and your family is going to be a part of it."

"Yeah, well," Tyson sulked. "Nothing I can do about that. Except kill myself."

"Let's disregard that as an option for now," Cynthia told him firmly. "How would you feel if you and your parents came to see me for an hour a week? I can mediate, bridge gaps and help you come up with strategies for both repairing the family dynamic and, of course, keeping you safe and comfortable."

"No," Tyson shook his head. "It's not worth it."

"What if you came in by yourself once a week as well?" Cynthia suggested, but Tyson did not see the point.

"Why bother?" He sat up on his bed and put a pillow behind his back. "I can just kill myself, and it's all over."

Cynthia took in a deep breath and exhaled, scribbling more notes down on her book. She was hard to read, but Tyson knew he was disappointing her. After two or three minutes, he had to ask what she was doing.

"What are you writing?"

"My grocery list," she replied flatly. "I'm running low on milk, and I need a new tin of meat for the cat because she's recently decided she doesn't like the brand she used to have."

"What?" Tyson frowned, outraged that she would be so unprofessional! "You're supposed to be helping me, not making a shopping list! That's not what my parents are paying for!"

"You just told me not to bother!" Cynthia raised an eyebrow at him, making him feel small and foolish. "Either you have completely given up on yourself, or you want my help, and you showed me just now that you do want help. Well, you can't have it both ways, Tyson. You can't be passive in your recovery. I can't just fix you. I can only give you the resources and support you need. Unfortunately, I'm not a magician. I'm only a psychiatrist."

"But it's not possible!" Tyson felt tears welling in his eyes. She was right. There was a part of him that wanted help. A small part, but it was there, and she was bringing his attention to it. "You know what my parents are like. I'm never going to be happy with them. You don't know them. I just want to die."

"I believe I know more than you give me credit for," Cynthia put her hand on his arm to calm him. "Do you want me to tell you what I think?"

Tyson shrugged. "May as well." He wiped his tears away with his sleeves.

"I think that your relationship with your family is damaged, we can repair it," Cynthia explained, looking through all the notes she'd written from their sessions. "I don't believe your family dynamic is one that rewards emotions, and it seems like you've tried to shut them down out of fear of repercussions. It sounds to me like an environment that values intelligence and associates it with stoic self-control. Perhaps your parents feel that your negative feelings are a sign of weakness, and their values have been projected on to you as you've grown up. I might be wrong; that's always a possibility, but I believe that's why you feel angry all the time, Tyson. You need an outlet. It's easy to be angry and lash out at others. It's not easy to express your misery, doubts and exhaustion in a place that scorns emotional vulnerability, and that's where the rage manifests. It doesn't surprise me in the least that you're desperate to escape."

Tyson's lip trembled, and he began to sob. He angrily threw one of his pillows at the wall opposite Cynthia, then he put his face into the other one and cried into it. So much suppressed misery and despair came flooding out of him as he shook and tears soaked the pillowslip. Cynthia asked if he was okay, but when he did not reply, she let him cry. She was scribbling again on her stupid clipboard. Tyson thought of his bitch mother, his dickhead father and his mole of a sister. What was the point of living, anyway? They were all he had to look forward to. But then he thought of Vladimir. That damaged, sick boy who liked him, who promised that the two would get better together and be friends when they went home. The Russian family that embraced him as one of their own because Vladimir liked him. As the light of the sun broke through the storm clouds, there was once again that ray of hope.

"How are you feeling? Are you alright?" Cynthia finally asked after what felt like a lifetime.

"Yes!" Tyson sniffed, wiping the snot and tears from his face with his sleeve. "No! I don't know."

"I don't know is a perfectly good answer," Cynthia reassured him. "But this is why I think family therapy is a good idea, Tyson. I also think one on one therapy would be beneficial. There is so much potential in a boy like you. There is no bigger tragedy than a life unlived because that person didn't believe there was any other way. I'm not going to let that happen."

"But it's all I can ever think about!" Tyson curled into a ball around the pillow he was holding, and all he could think was that he would never again judge Charlie for his infatuation with the pillow he took everywhere. It was comforting. "Dying. I'm obsessed with it."

"Let me help you," Cynthia reached out and took his hand, gently running her fingers over it. "You're a smart, motivated young man. I'm sure that if you put half as much effort into finding solutions for your problems that you do into trying to kill yourself, you'll knock them out of the park. I'm not saying it will be easy, but I am saying that nothing is impossible. Not for you. You only have to try."

"You know..." Tyson thought back to Vladimir. That beautiful smile. The way his friend had been coming to hospitals since he was six years old because his family could not afford quality treatment. "Vlady tries his hardest, but he's always coming back."

"Schizophrenia is a cruel illness, Tyson. It can be difficult to manage," Cynthia acknowledged, but her eyes narrowed in confusion.

"Can you talk to him? I mean, can you help him?" Tyson asked feebly.

"His family can't afford a good psychiatrist, and he's stuck with some public employed dickhead who barely sees him for five minutes a week and just ties him to a bed when he has bad days."

"Oh? That doesn't sound good," Cynthia's brow wrinkled in concern as she uncrossed her legs and leaning forward. "You want me to talk to Vladimir, do you?"

"Why not?" Tyson asked her. "You're awesome at this. You can make a difference for him. I know you can. You know schizophrenia, right?"

"I do, but I can't just seize patients from other doctors. I guarantee that Vladimir's psychiatrist understands schizophrenia too."

"You're wasting your time on me," Tyson began to tear up again. "I don't think I can change. I don't really want to. But, I mean, Vladimir really wants to! He has all these plans and dreams and but his doctor is a hack and he keeps having relapses and getting stuck in these places where his doctor keeps him locked in seclusion all the time. Please? You can help him more than you can help me. You can see him instead of me. Nobody needs to know."

"Tyson..." Cynthia bit her lip. She was struggling, Tyson could see. A genuinely empathetic and compassionate woman.

I'm not just a job to her, Tyson thought. She cares about me. Maybe I can get her to care about Vladimir too.

"Please? I know his family can't afford it, but maybe you could make an exception for him? Please? He wants to be friends when we get discharged, but that can't happen if he doesn't have someone like you to help him out," Tyson explained the dilemma, and Cynthia listened to him. "He's the only thing I have to look forward to."

"So you two plan to be friends when you go home. Is that right? Do you live near each other?" Cynthia asked, and Tyson nodded.

"He's in the suburb next to mine. He has high hopes for us to hang out and do outpatient shit together and... yeah," Tyson explained, and Cynthia sighed.

"Alright, I'll make a deal with you," Cynthia proposed, scribbling once more on her clipboard. "If you promise to put everything you've got into your recovery - complying with your treatment plan, cooperating with the staff on the ward and agreeing to see Mum again, then I'll pull some strings and agree to take Vladimir as a patient pro bono for the time being - if he and his family agree to it."

Tyson didn't want to agree to those terms, but what could he do? If there were a chance of giving Vladimir a real doctor, he would take it. "Deal. I'll be an angel."

"Hah, an angel? I'm optimistic. Not naive," Cynthia smiled knowingly at him. "If that's what it takes to get you to finally agree to a long-term recovery plan and commit to it, then I'll see what I can do for your friend."

Tyson almost leapt out of his bed and hugged his psychiatrist, who laughed and hugged him back. She agreed! She was gonna help!

"Okay! Yes! I'll do it!" Tyson told her, eventually letting go and sitting back on the bed. "You promise?"

"Yes. Anything for my favourite patient," Cynthia reached into her bag and pulled out a chocolate frog for him, and he beamed at her. "I think you've made a lot of progress today, Tyson, and I think this friendship with Vladimir has done you some good. You made a promise to me today, and I don't want you to forget that! Use your nursing staff and ask for medication when you think you need it, and if you ever need to speak to me between our visits, you call my office, and I'll get back to you first thing."

"Okay!" Tyson nodded solemnly. It was a promise he intended to keep. If Cynthia's expertise could help Vladimir finally get on top of his mental illness, then the two of them had something to look forward to when they were released. A friend. Maybe more than that. Hopefully more than that.

"I also brought you something else," Cynthia reached into her bag and pulled out three large novels, and Tyson's eyes lit up. The Help, Fried Green Tomatoes and The Colour Purple. There were so few good books in the library. Most of them were for young teens, but Tyson read at a Twelfth-grade level. He needed novels. He needed to exercise his brain. "I know you're - to quote yourself - bored shitless while you're here, so I thought I'd leave you with something to read. These are a few of my favourites, so please be kind to them!"

"I will! Thank you!" Tyson took them with trembling hands. He'd had so many emotions flowing through him that he felt weak and exhausted. But not angry. There was no anger in him at all right now. "For everything. I'll be good. I promise."

"Good, or you won't get any more frogs," Cynthia winked before getting up from her seat. "See you soon, Tyson. It'll get better. That's my promise to you."

Thank you to everyone who reads Heart ❤️ let me know if I made some mistakes!

Copyright © 2018 AusGlitterati; All Rights Reserved.
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Fried green tomatoes and The Help were ten times better than the movie. Ashamed to say I have neither read or watched The Color Purple. 

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A step forward for Tyson. Hopefully the first of many. As I understand it, mental illness recovery can be filled with steps backward and may not be "cured." With Tyson I am hoping for managed. Thank you. 

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Tyson has finally turned the corner! A part of his mind already wants to live for Vlady's sake. Further, he’s becoming bored, and irritated, with the psych ward, giving him motivation to leave it. He has learned a degree of control over his anger, as evident when Alice riles him:  “Fuck you, Alice, Tyson wanted to shout at her, but he chose not to.” While he continues to have suicidal thoughts, he has identified his boredom (giving him time to think), as part of the problem; and Cynthia has anticipated this issue by bringing him novels to read. With Cynthia giving him praise, and with the example of Vlady’s loving family, he's beginning to see what life could be like away from his parents’ toxic environment.  Moreover, Cynthia has a roadmap to give him such a life: “How would you feel if you and your parents came to see me for an hour a week? I can mediate, bridge gaps and help you come up with strategies for both repairing the family dynamic and, of course, keeping you safe and comfortable." The stumbling block is Tyson's perception that his parents are unchangeable, but his wish to have Cynthia help Vlady is more powerful, such that he agrees to put his best efforts into his own recovery in exchange for Cynthia's help in Vlady's recovery. The bargain gives Tyson some measure of peace:  “...He felt weak and exhausted. But not angry. There was no anger in him at all right now." His recovery has truly begun. 😊

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5 hours ago, Wesley8890 said:

Fried green tomatoes and The Help were ten times better than the movie. Ashamed to say I have neither read or watched The Color Purple. 

Oooh I agree with FGT, but I thought The Help did really well. ^_^ Have a look at The Colour Purple if you get a chance! 

 

5 hours ago, Dabeagle said:

That was beautiful. Well done.

Thank you so much ❤️

 

1 hour ago, JeffreyL said:

A step forward for Tyson. Hopefully the first of many. As I understand it, mental illness recovery can be filled with steps backward and may not be "cured." With Tyson I am hoping for managed. Thank you. 

It's more akin to navigating a maze with several wrong turns than it is a simple path. Many mental illnesses can be cured, but some can only be managed. :)
No, thank you! I appreciate it!

 

20 minutes ago, travlbug said:

Tyson has finally turned the corner!

Yes! ^_^ Cynthia bitch-slapped him with the truth and he's beginning to understand that there might be other ways.
 

31 minutes ago, travlbug said:

he has identified his boredom (giving him time to think), as part of the problem; and Cynthia has anticipated this issue by bringing him novels to read.

31 minutes ago, travlbug said:

Moreover, Cynthia has a roadmap to give him such a life

Actions speak louder than words and Cynthia proves how in tune she is with him and how well she knows him. :) 

 

35 minutes ago, travlbug said:

The stumbling block is Tyson's perception that his parents are unchangeable, but his wish to have Cynthia help Vlady is more powerful, such that he agrees to put his best efforts into his own recovery in exchange for Cynthia's help in Vlady's recovery. The bargain gives Tyson some measure of peace:  “...He felt weak and exhausted. But not angry. There was no anger in him at all right now." His recovery has truly begun. 😊

Yaaas! I felt it was time. :) But the road to recovery is a long one and full of potholes. We'll see how well he keeps his word. Thank you very much for the review!

 

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Has Cynthia managed to find a crack in Tyson's shell? It looks as if that might be the case. If so, with her pushing and Vlad pulling perhaps things may be on an upward curve.

 

Thanks for the chapter. :)

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5 minutes ago, Ivor Slipper said:

Has Cynthia managed to find a crack in Tyson's shell? It looks as if that might be the case. If so, with her pushing and Vlad pulling perhaps things may be on an upward curve.

 

Thanks for the chapter. :)

She's a smart cookie! She's picked up the ball and run with it! :) Seeing Vladimir repeatedly struggle with his illness and receiving minimal support also drives Tyson to make that bargain with Cynthia, who isn't in the business just for the money.

Thank you for the continued support and the encouragement! ❤️ It means a lot to me! 

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I keep saying it, but this story is so beautiful. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to write, but you do such a great job.

Cynthia is obviously very competent and dedicated to her job and patients, and Tyson's friendship (and potential romance) with Vlad will help him more than he knows!

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On 11/25/2018 at 3:44 AM, Wesley8890 said:

Fried green tomatoes and The Help were ten times better than the movie. Ashamed to say I have neither read or watched The Color Purple. 

You must watch the colour purple its a fantastic film.

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I know that schitzo  is difficult to cure, but it can be treated. Is it possible that by helping with Vlad's treatment,Tyson can learn to help himself? Okay, I know that the iceberg mother is a great stumbling block, but maybe Vlad and Ty can go off and live together hereby saving two souls. It would seem that Iceberg might provide some support just to prevent Ty from embarrassing her with her 'friends'. And certainly Vlad's family could provide accommodation as well, not in a material sense, but with loving support.

Nah! That is too neat and easy a solution for an author to take! 

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