Rachel’s First Band Camp

Morning rolled around and Rachel woke up with a start. The alarm clock across the room was blaring to let us know that it was time to get ready for another year of another marching season. Rachel was very excited to finally accompany me, especially since our parents were still bickering and arguing. It was my job as big brother to shelter her from the brunt of the arguments as we both started getting dressed. I will pack us lunches if you make breakfast, I said.

I wish you had a car and could take us to band camp yourself, Rachel whimpered, not wanting to be around any parents.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to get my license. I just get so nervous at the thought of having to make decisions on the road in a split second, I said as we made our way downstairs, In the meantime, want to ride our bikes?

Detail! Atten-Hut! Mr. Panoff cried, and we all snapped into the ready position, screaming Hut in response. We all heard the bickering and arguing coming from the back of the practice field, and were trying to figure out what was going on.

I recognized the voices after a moment. Our parents were fighting and arguing, and disrupting our marching band practice, and my heart sank. When Mr. Panoff gave us permission to rest while he went to deal with the situation, I pulled my sister into a hug and said, I promise I will not leave your side. I’m your big brother and it is my job to protect you. Rachel took one look over her shoulder, and absolutely lost it. I took her into my arms as she started crying her eyes out, and did my best to shield her from what was going on.

Is she all right, One of the other pit girls asked.

No, I whimpered as tears came down the face of both my sister and I, Our parents are fighting. That’s them in the back. Rachel was unable to function, as the fighting that I shielded her from in the past finally spilled its ugly head into the open.

When I overheard mom complain how dad wasn’t excited about Jessica’s first swim, my heart sank even further than I thought possible. I remembered that moment: my freshman year during the spring band trip, I took my big sister swimming in Atlanta for the first time since she was confined to a wheelchair. My sunken heart fully broke in two, as that felt like the beginning of the end of my childhood, and I was seeing it finally come to the destruction of my family as a unit. Rachel, I promise to protect you with every fiber of my body, I whispered in tears, still holding her as tightly as I could. I then turned to the rest of the pit and said, I’m sorry our parents are making a scene.

Ashley, our pit captain, said, Don’t apologize. You aren’t the one making a scene.

The rest of the pit gave similar messages of this was not our fault, and that we had nothing to apologize for. The truth was that I just wanted to take Rachel with me and crawl into a little hole, just to get away from everything except her — I did promise that I would protect her no matter what. I whispered, I really thought that school would be a safe place away from the parents fighting.

I thought so too, My sister sobbed, I thought being with my big brother meant that I didn’t have to hear all that nonsense.

We should probably call Jessica when we can, and I don’t care about long distance charges. They should’ve thought about that before they fought, I whispered.

Could we still room together. I’m just so scared, She asked.

Sure, I replied.

Mr. Panoff came over and spoke to Rachel and I. It was mostly adulting stuff that went completely over our head, but I did understand that he was letting us decide if we wanted to stay in his band. I think Rachel and I need to catch our breath, get a sip of water, and try our best to continue. I’ve enjoyed this too much for the past two years, and I don’t want my junior year ruined.

I want to stay with the band. I think Michael is right: we need to catch our breath and get a sip of water, Rachel said.

Kenny, would you escort Michael and Rachel back to the band room, let them clear up for a few, and bring them back when they are ready, Mr. Panoff asked our pit instructor.

Kenny took us to the band room, and I opened up a little. You remember my older sister Jessica, I asked.

I do, I’m sorry that she had that horrible accident, Kenny said.

The Atlanta trip my freshman year, her senior year, I helped her into the pool. This was her first time swimming since the accident, and she wanted dad to see her move her legs around. Dad came up with some excuse, and I think that is where everything started going down hill. A girl is supposed to look up to her daddy, and daddy didn’t seem to care that she was trying to get stronger. Once I noticed the fighting, I swore that I would shelter Rachel from everything. Today, the fighting spilled out into the open, and disrupted band practice. To tell you the truth, I do not want to go home, I said, starting to pour my heart out.

My crying got worse as I poured my guts out, and Kenny suggested that I wash up and get a drink of water. Rachel followed me, and waited outside of the restroom door, because she was very anxious and nervous. We then went down to the womens’ restroom at the other end of the hallway, which was also where the water fountain was located. I got my drink of water while my sister did her business, then she came out of the restroom and got her drink of water. I want to return to the practice field, only if the parents are not there, She said, hugging me.

I gently massaged my sister’s back as we embraced as siblings and best friends, trying to comfort each other. I released her from the hug, and she insisted on holding hands, saying, Holding hands just like Jessica would do when helping us cross the street when we were kids. I gladly held my sister’s hand as we walked back to the practice field, trying to let her hold on to one little scrap of our childhood.

I miss having Jessica walk us to the park, I said, enjoying the feeling of holding Rachel’s hand, as the memories of yesteryear came back.

We arrived at the practice field, and our parents were nowhere to be found. Good, now let’s get back to the drills, My baby sister said with a determined look on her face. We took our place with the rest of the pit, and started practicing along with everyone else, but we did have a lot on our minds.