Band Festival Atlanta
Jessica excitedly woke up to the noise of the alarm clock. She reached over to the night stand and turned it off.
Good morning sleepyhead, She giggled, pulling me into a hug.
Today is the day that we head down to Atlanta for the Band festival!
We arrived at the hotel, and Jessica, Dad, and I were the first to be let off of the charter bus. Once Jessica wheeled off of the bus, I took the reigns of her wheelchair while Dad received a list of room assignments from Mr. Panoff.
Dad, I need to use the restroom, Jessica said,
Could you check our names off and Michael can take me to the hotel room?
Let me let Mr. Panoff know, Dad said.
Steve, my son is going to take my daughter up to the hotel room so she can use the restroom, Dad said.
Mr. Panoff thought for a moment, then said,
Right, she can’t use the bus restroom. Check your children off the list and hand them their keys.
I wheeled Jessica to the elevator and noticed that the button for the ninth and tenth floor were some sort of club. I pressed the nine button and soon, Jessica and I were upstairs in the hotel room assigned to us and our father.
Help me in the restroom please, My sister asked politely, and I wheeled her straight to the restroom after placing our gymbags on one of the beds.
Just a one, Jessica said as I positioned her wheelchair, and started h She then giggled,
I know the real reason you like helping me in the bathroom. I blushed as I got a good look at her vagina before helping her with the transfer process. She was now situated on the toilet and she whispered,
I don’t mind you looking. No touching though, when doing my business. All I ask is that you let me look too.
We finished our business, and Dad was waiting for us.
Does this room meet your accessibility needs, Dad asked Jessica.
It does. Now, I believe we had an hour until we headed out to dinner, Jessica replied.
We do. I want you downstairs sooner rather than later to get loaded onto the bus, Dad replied.
I’ll have my driver take me downstairs when it is time, Jessica giggled, giving me a wink. She then went over the list of things we would be doing. Tomorrow was the day of being a tourist, and the day after was the band festival, then we would return the next day.
I would like to try going for a swim when we get back from dinner, Jessica said.
We can absolutely try, I said, letting my sister take my hand,
We should probably hang out downstairs. This is the ninth floor, there are 200 of us band dorks, and you can’t take the stairs. Ready to head down?
Sure, we can head downstairs, Jessica replied, gathering her things that we would need for dinner, which was not much. The elevator stopped at almost every floor from 9 all the way down to the ground, and Jessica grumbled,
This is what I feared with long lines.
We made our way downstairs, and out to the lobby where there was a line of students trying to get upstairs using the hotel’s two elevators. We saw shirts of high schools other than ours as we made our way out to wait to be loaded onto the bus. We arrived at our charter bus, and the operator offered to load us now, since we needed to start leaving soon.
The alarms started going off to indicate that the wheelchair lift was being deployed, but the lift refused to deploy. Jessica and I had glum looks on our faces, as the bus operator was determined to get the lift going.
We don’t used them often enough and they get old and rusted, He said with a facial expression that said it all: he tried everything already. Our charter bus was going nowhere fast.
Jessica groaned as the wheelchair lift refused to budge no matter what the operator tried. Meanwhile, one of the other coach operators was on the phone with a supervisor trying to explain the situation. We were both getting upset, but still understood that it was no one’s fault.
Other band members starting to arrive as it was getting close to time to depart, and Brandon had an idea.
Jessica, do you think a bunch of us could try to lift you onto the bus?
We can try, She said,
I have absolutely no use of my legs.
Brandon rounded up a couple of the heavyset athletic guys and said,
The wheelchair lift is broken, and we need to lift Jessica onto the bus.
Mr. Panoff came over and asked what was going on, and Jessica filled him in, and Brandon explained what he wanted to do to get her onto the bus. The bus operator came over and said,
Before you try lifting her, let me make sure that this bus can still move.
The bus was still able to move, and Jessica was lifted into the bus, where she was seated up front. I sat next to her as always, and she whispered,
This is going to be annoying if we have to do this every time. Still, please don’t let this take away from your experience. I was grateful that Jessica still wanted to hug me.
I do miss sitting next to you, I said, happily letting my sister hug me as we got situated on the charter bus, and started heading towards our dinner stop.
Same here, Jessica replied, as I adjusted her arm to be off of my rib while still letting her hold me. The ride itself was uneventful, and we soon arrived at the place that was booked for our dinner.
Time to get me off this bus, My sister groaned.
We eventually got back to the hotel, and Jessica said,
I still want to go for a swim. It would be nice to move about outside of being in this wheelchair. We both blushed, but I was not going to turn her down. I gathered our bathing suits, wheeled her into the bathroom like she asked, and helped her take her clothes completely off. I helped Jessica into her swim suit, and got changed into mine. I put a shirt on, and grabbed a couple of towels from the bathroom, and said,
Let me wheel you downstairs. Dad, are you coming? Jessica wants you to watch her swim. Several stops on the elevator later, we arrived at the ground floor, and made our way to the Lido Deck.
How do you want to get into the pool, I asked.
Didn’t think about that actually. Jessica thought for a moment then suggested,
Get me out of this wheelchair and have me seated on the floor, then I will sit on the pool side and slide into the pool. I still have plenty use of my arms.
I gently helped Jessica slide out of her wheelchair so that she was on the edge of her chair.
Let’s do this, I whispered, helping my sister out of her wheelchair and onto the floor. She dipped her feet into the water, and I asked,
Ready to get in?
I got into the pool and Jessica reached her hands out, wanting me to pull her in. Once she was in the water, she immediately pulled me into a hug and whispered,
I miss holding you while standing. She started moving her legs in a way that she was unable to do outside of the water.
This feels so nice, She whimpered, as she started moving her legs around in a way she hasn’t been able to since Thanksgiving of last year.
Please stay by my side in case something happens, She said,
Let’s swim together.
My sister and I swam around for a little bit, and she just absolutely loved it. Drumline came to the pool, and started making their usual racket. I gave her another hug and said,
They are being too noisy for me, and we should probably head back upstairs. We have an early start tomorrow.
How would you like to get out of the pool, I asked.
Pull me up by the ladder, She suggested.
Brandon, think you could help my brother get me out of the pool and into my chair, She asked, seeing our people arriving.
Sure Jess. How do you want to do this, Brandon asked.
I’m not sure, Jessica replied. There was a loud crash, and we all looked up.
What was that, Jessica asked.
We saw some faces that we didn’t recognize who crashed through the glass window, and Brandon said,
We should probably get you out of here. They aren’t from Tallwood, and they were beating people up.
Brandon and I worked together to lift my sister into her wheelchair when we heard that unsavory crowd shout,
Look, a cripple!
Brandon started using his body as a shield for my sister and I, but before anything happened, a couple of parents intervened. One of them lashed out at one of the kids in the group, taking him to the side and smacking him as she screeched,
I did not raise you to make a fool of yourself! We did not catch the rest of what was said as we slipped safely through.
Brandon walked with us to the elevator, and I said,
Thank you for getting us out of that pickle.
The elevator bell rang, and we entered.
Six please, Brandon said,
Those kids looked like nothing but trouble. You never asked to be in a wheelchair. You are not a cripple, you are a human being who just had an unfortunate accident.
The elevator dropped Brandon off, and Jessica and I continued up to the ninth floor to our room with our father. Dad was waiting for us in the hotel room, and Jessica said,
Daddy I wish you could’ve seen my legs moving around in the pool.
Our father pointed towards the TV, and we recognized the show that was on. Jessica’s facial expression dropped.
You know dad, I told you that we were going swimming and I wanted you to join us and see me move my legs around, Jessica said with her arms crossed in a disapproving voice,
Your show comes on every week. How often do you get to see me swim? My sister then turned to me and, in a much calmer voice, said,
Thank you for taking me swimming. Now, I would like you to help me get changed into pajamas.
I dug through Jessica’s gym bag, as well as mine, and found something suitable for each of us. Our father got up and came over to assist, but Jessica angrily snapped,
You keep watching your show! Michael can help me! At least he got to see me swimming.
Jessica angrily wheeled herself into the bathroom, and allowing only me to accompany her. Once we were both inside, she shut the door and locked it. She then turned on the fan.
I turned on the fan to try to mask what we need to say. I’m sorry I yelled like that, but this wasn’t the first time that he didn’t want to see an accomplishment of mine. To tell you the truth, you were here for me a lot more during these past few months of me being in a wheelchair, and I want you to be the only one assisting me with life’s activities throughout our time here in Atlanta. No, I am not mad at you at all. You came downstairs with me to swim, and I wanted him to join us too. But no, his damn TV show — that he can watch any old Friday — was more important than watching his eldest daughter accomplish a major task. From now on, the only one allowed to assist me with getting changed or using the bathroom is you. When we get home, Rachel can join in helping us also. Jessica then looked at the towels, and asked,
Would you be willing to help me shower off?
Sure. We both probably need to get the chlorine off of our bodies, I replied.
There was a knock on the bathroom door, and Jessica snorted,
No Dad, I don’t want to talk to you right now.
I just don’t think Michael should be in there with you like that, We heard our father say.
Then mom or Rachel should’ve came with us to help me with life. In the meantime, Michael will be assisting me in and out of this wheelchair, Jessica snarled.
This was getting very overwhelming for me, and tears started to leak from my eyes. Jessica immediately turned her wheelchair to me and said in a much softer voice,
I’m so sorry that you are being caught in the crossfire. I really appreciate you helping me with life. Now, what can I do for you to calm you down?
By now, I was full on crying, and there was another knock on the door. This time, Jessica ignored it as she pulled me into a hug. There was something different this time, as it felt like a massive power surge blasted through my body, causing me to seize up, and the power failed inside of me. I went limp, and Jessica freaked out. She gently prodded me, but it was as if my body was switched off. She placed two fingers on my neck to check my pulse and whispered,
You’re still here. OK, what can I do to get you back?
Eventually, I came around, and mumbled,
Of course, My older sister whispered, offering me a hug as best as she could from her wheelchair,
I’m sorry I got ugly, but I’m just so frustrated because tonight hasn’t been my night. The wheelchair lift not working on the bus. Us almost getting beaten up in the pool. Dad not caring that I was trying to do something about my legs. Jessica sighed and continued,
You and you alone are the one thing keeping me from going to a dark place right now. This is not something a girl is supposed to be asking her little brother, but here we are. Now, if you are ready, I think we both should be getting showers to wash the chlorine off of our bodies, then we absolutely need to get some sleep. We have a big day tomorrow seeing the sights of Atlanta.
I think I am ready to help you, I said, as functionality was starting to come back to me. The process was the same, but in reverse, to get her out of her swim suit. My sister was totally naked, and I also got myself out of my swim suit.
Let’s wheel you to the shower, then get you transferred to the shower bench. This thing is nice, I said, comparing the full on chair the hotel had with the basic bench we had back home. Once Jessica was transferred to the bench, I pushed her wheelchair out of the shower and joined her inside, closing the curtains.
Jessica turned the shower on and asked,
Do you want to touch my parts?
I suppose if I am going to wash you, I whispered not catching onto what she had in mind.
Yeah, I suppose if you are going to help me shower off, Jessica replied, catching on that I was in no mood to fool around.
Well, I suppose we best show our faces. We need to sleep sometime, I said once we were both showered, dried off, and in pajamas.
We exited the bathroom, and saw that our father was crying. Actually legitimately crying. This took both of us by surprise when our father looked up and said,
I am just so sorry, to the both of you. Jessica, you are right. I should’ve come down to the pool with both of you. One of the other chaperones told me what almost happened, and now I deeply regret not being down there to protect you the way a father is supposed to protect his children. Michael, thank you for stepping up to the plate and taking care of your sister. Jessica took my hand as our father continued,
Jessica, I will ask you: when you need help, who do you want to help you?
Jessica looked at me and nodded. Not catching on, she whispered,
I want you to continue to help me. She then looked at our father and said,
We found a routine that works for us. I want Michael to help me, the way he and Rachel have both been helping me since November. Now, we really need to be going to bed.
I helped my sister transfer from her wheelchair to the bed, and I climbed into the bed with her. We left our father with things to think about as my big sister turned her attention to me.
Tomorrow, we will be tourists in Atlanta, and I can’t wait to see the different attractions. The only one I am uncomfortable with is Stone Mountain. I learned it in Mr. Fortune’s AP Government Class, and learned about how it was meant to be a monument to slavery. This makes me uncomfortable actually, Jessica said,
Everywhere else, I can’t wait to see. Just not Stone Mountain.
Jessica, I want to make things up for you. One of the things I did was talk to the hotel front desk about your transportation needs after the bus has a broken wheelchair lift, and one of the house keepers introduced me to Atlanta’s city bus. If the charter bus is still not working, it might be a way to get you around Atlanta tomorrow.
Jessica yawned and mumbled,
Let’s get some sleep and figure this out in the morning. Jessica and I crawled into bed together, and I struggled to fall asleep, as there was a lot to think about. My sister, on the other hand, fell asleep very quickly.
The alarm clock went off, and Jessica was the first to wake up.
Come on you. Breakfast time, Jessica whispered, gently prodding me awake. She kissed me on the cheek, and said,
I want to be downstairs before the crowd stuffs the elevators.