Caroline was finally home from the hospital for her first full day being confined to a wheelchair. Her cousins Daniel and Rowena were on the Red Line bus with her to get her home from the hospital. “Please let me sleep with you two,” Caroline asked her two cousins.
“Of course you may,” Rowena said as she put her arm around her brother Daniel.
“Now I’m glad we have an elevator,” Caroline said, referring to the elevator put in so that their Aunt Jessica could get to their apartment.
Caroline wheeled into the kitchen where her two cousins followed her. She pulled out three plates and asked, “Will you get me bread and peanut butter?”
Daniel offered to get both while Caroline got a knife, jelly, and three cans of soda as she said, “I want to make lunch for the three of us.” It was clear that she just wanted to show that she could do everything still and she was very stubborn. The only thing her cousins could help with were grabbing things from shelves she was unable to reach, and even then only to lower them to her reach level.
They happily ate the lunch Caroline prepared when Rachel came downstairs. She asked her daughter, “What can we do to make things easier, both at home and at school?”
“Number one,” Caroline said stubbornly, “I am riding the regular Bluewater Transit bus. Don’t get me signed up for EasyDART, because someone else might need it more than me. Number two, Daniel and Rowena: thank you for helping me stay on top of my school assignments, because I still want to graduate on time.” In a calmer voice, she continued, “Now, about this house: could we get at least the downstairs kitchen and bathroom modified?”
Rachel replied, “I will absolutely look into it. Tomorrow, you will head back to school, on the regular bus.”
“BT bus,” Caroline said, making it clear that she did not want EasyDART paratransit especially when the local bus stop was a couple doors up from her house.
“Of course,” Rachel said, understanding her daughter’s stubborness, “A regular bus.”
“Could we get a part of the bench cut away from the shelter, so I have room to park inside the shelter,” Caroline asked.
“I think we can have the Town look into that,” Rachel said, “I’ll ask Opal who we need to talk to.”
She then turned to her cousin and said, “Daniel, I will need help with things from you as well.”
“What would you need,” He asked.
She said, “Remember how the nurses helped me… well… go?”
Rachel looked at her daughter and said, “I’m sure Nurse Sarah will not mind you two popping into the clinic and using that restroom, for your privacy. We will all have a meeting tomorrow morning to discuss modifying Bluewater High School for your needs.”
“Maybe it’s a good thing you got it renovated the other year,” Caroline said.
“Now, this apartment,” Rachel started, “Is there anything you would need?”
Caroline, “The bathroom, for starters. I was thinking: the bathroom upstairs that was modified for Aunt Jessica, could I have that down here too? For the apartment kitchen, Aunt Jessica was telling me about how her upper cabinets have a way to come down to her level.”
Rachel replied, “Yes, I’m familiar with her cabinets. And sure, we can look into modifying this downstairs bathroom.”
Later that evening, Caroline said to Rowena, “I think it’s time I had a bath.” She wheeled over to her two cousins and said, “I think it would be best if you both helped me into the tub.”
Remembering when she flashed him that night, Daniel got nervous, and Rowena immediately noticed it why he was reacting. “Emily and Jordan are gone. Besides, you did promise you would help, and there may be times when it is just you and Caroline,” She said comfortingly as she immediately pulled him into a hug. She knew that she needed to act fast before her brother slipped into an Autistic Meltdown. She knew that he would have to assist in bathing their cousin. “It’s going to be just you, me, and Caroline. I promise,” Rowena added as soothingly as she could, trying to stave off her brother slipping.
Daniel snapped back into reality and said, “You’re right. Thanks.” He then got up and followed his sister and cousin into the bathroom.
They entered the bathroom, and Caroline suggested, “I think it would be best if we were all in our birthday suits, so I don’t accidently get your clothes wet.”
“Fair enough,” Rowena replied as she started getting the tub going, while Daniel started undressing Caroline. Once the water started filling the tub, Rowena said, “We should both gently lift you into the tub.”
“Let’s try that,” Caroline said, now that the three of them were completely undressed.
Daniel lifted her legs, while Rowena lifted her from behind, and it wasn’t too difficult a process to get their cousin into the tub. “That does feel much better,” Caroline said as the water started running over her body. Rowena unhooked the showerhead and Caroline suggested, “Yeah, switch on the shower. Get me wet, rub soap over me, then rinse me.”
“I can do that. Daniel, I’ll wet her body down then I want you to soap her up,” Rowena said. She went about making sure Caroline was as wet as she could be, and said, “We’re playing Follow the Leader: Rub the soap in, everywhere after I wet them down.”
Daniel had a hesitant look on his face after soaping up his cousin’s arms, and Caroline noticed it immediately. She gently took his hand as she guided it and said, “My boobs need to be washed too. Please don’t be shy, you use them when you seek comfort.” She paused for a moment while her cousin continued to soap her up then said, “You might as well get used to touching me down there too. When it’s just you and me at school, you’re going to have to help clean me down there.” Daniel was very nervous and Caroline said, “Please touch my vagina. You’re going to have to get used to cleaning it at school, so you might as well get used to it now.” She was trying to be as soothing as possible, since she knew what was really frightning him.
Rowena stood there, knowing what it would mean for Daniel if he was able to overcome his nerves and break this one boundary that Caroline needed him to break. Rowena suggested, having a sudden burst of inspiration, “I want to be touched down there too. I also think we should all share the big bed and sleep nude tonight.”
Rowena noticed it immediately: her brother started crying, and saw heavy tears coming from his eyes. She sat him on the toilet, and knelt down in front of him while Caroline looked on helplessly from the tub. “What happened,” Caroline asked, fearing the worst.
“He is having a full blown meltdown, and he is going to need both of us,” Rowena explained, as she then turned back to look at her brother. “I promise: Ro is here. Caroline is here too. Promise,” Rowena whispered as she comforted her brother as best as she could.