The girl still doesn’t want to talk, but she’s willing to leave her room for the first time in almost three weeks. It’s the dogs that lure her out. They are my real-life dogs but they’re so magical they can easily slide into my the world of my emotional house where the girl lives. She loves them, everyone does really. They are young and funny and affectionate, even well-behaved thanks to the consistent efforts of my husband.

The Wise Woman tells the girl that the puppies need some exercise. Will she come for a walk through the woods, across the meadow, and down to the river? Maisy loves to swim in the river if you throw sticks for her to fetch. Rosco only swims when it’s warmer out, but he loves the walk and the free, open space. Both dogs radiate with happiness to be in nature, no leash, able to explore at their pace. The girl nods and agrees to come too. She smiles sometimes, watching the dogs play. It’s a half-hearted smile, but at least it’s a smile. She gets tired at the three-mile walk, since she hasn’t had much exercise lately.

“It’s okay,” the Wise Woman tells her. “We’ll go at your pace.” So they head home for a nap.

For the last two days, the girl hasn’t done any more damage to her room.