-Legion*** Taylor ***Legion-
After dinner, I slowly and carefully made my way up the stairs. I had already decided to stay in my bedroom, and I would be using my need to climb the stairs several times a day as just another form of exercise. I got myself ready for bed, using the grippers and other tools that I had been given while in the hospital to be as independent as possible. I knew that I would need a lot of help from my dad, but I wanted to prove to myself that those bitches hadn't beaten me, that I might be slow and in pain, but I would never give up. They hadn't managed to break me over the last 18 months, and I wouldn't let them do it now.
Getting to sleep however was another matter. Without the activity of other people to distract me, without the subtle noises of the hospital, the odd sounds, sensations and images, were harder to ignore. Although images wasn't the right word, they were more like flashes of light and motion, than actual pictures. Ever since I had woken up in the hospital, I had been having these weird sensations. At first, I thought that I had gone crazy while in the locker, but one of the doctors had explained that I wasn't insane, and that it was probably a side effect of the infections I had had, and that they should fade in a couple of weeks or months. Until then, I had some sleeping pills that had been prescribed for me, but I rarely took them, since they not only made me feel groggy the next day, it felt like using them would be giving into my weakness.
When I woke up the next morning, I found that dad had laid out clean clothes for me on the foot of my bed. I had to admit that, no matter how much I wanted to prove my independence, having my clothes laid out for me, along with my OT tools, made getting started in the morning much easier. Taking my time, I dressed and used the cane, instead of my walker, to get downstairs. I might ask dad to bring the walker downstairs before he left for work, so I had it if I needed it. As I reached the bottom of the stairs, the smell alone told me that dad had already started making breakfast.
After breakfast, I helped dad make lunch ahead of time, sitting at the table, making him sandwiches and dishing up some fruit salad for him into a Tupperware container. After finishing his, I went ahead and made some up for me, and wrapped them up separately so I could just grab one for a snack if I got hungry in between meals.
As he got ready to head off to work, I picked out a couple of books to read and two empty notebooks that I figured I could use to start making some plans. Plans and lists of what I wanted and needed to continue my schooling, only without going back to that hell-hole. Dad got everything I needed and staged it in the living room on the table next to the sofa, including a blanket and pillow in case I felt like taking a nap.
I started by listing what I had to work with, as well as where I wanted to go, especially as regards my education.
Assets – pretty limited, we had hardly any money, and whatever savings we had were probably going to have to be used to pay for my hospital stay and all of the meds that I still needed to take. I couldn't even get to the library by myself to use the computers and internet or to do research. Mom and dad's college text books and references. Which covered quite a bit, although it was mostly out of date.
Goals – getting my GED. Prepping for college. Maybe taking some AP exams. Getting a job that can help pay the bills. The Dock Workers Association didn't bring in a lot of money, but I couldn't see dad working anywhere else, as bad as things were here, Brocton Bay was home. This is where he and mom met, fallen in love, gotten married, where I was born, this is where mom was buried. I don't think anything would make him want to leave. And honestly, this was my home too, as bad as it was, I still loved it.
Needs – a computer w/internet access. School books, maybe from the library? Getting strong enough to walk to the bus stop and go to the library and back on my own. Learn to drive? Job skills? I was pretty good with computers, but nowhere near good enough to properly earn a living as a programmer and there was no way I could risk anything even marginally illegal. I was a decent typist, or at least I used to be, but after everything… I really wasn't sure if I was still good enough to actually make a living. I did know some basic programming, so maybe I could get some books from the library and teach myself?
Resources – limited. Me, dad, maybe some of his friends from the DWA. Maybe the school could be shamed into providing an old pc and some text books. Probably not though, given everything they had done so far, and what dad had said about those papers they wanted me to sign, they were more likely to just continue to stonewall and ignore me. After all it's all they had done since I started there.
I stopped around 1 o'clock for some lunch but instead of starting on my lists again I just took a short nap. Which ended up lasting until dad got home around 6:30, bringing with him a couple of pizzas, breadsticks and some soda. We talked about our days and I asked him to bring me to the library tomorrow at lunch time so I could look into the homeschooling requirements for New Hampshire and Brockton Bay, and start some research on what was available to help people with severe handicaps like me. Because, God knows that those bitches had really handicapped me. Maybe I could qualify for Social Security benefits? Medicare? I didn't know, but hopefully I could find out in the library.
We quickly settled into a routine, on Mondays at lunchtime, dad would take me to the library closest to home, I would either return any books I was finished with, renew them if I needed to and then start in on my internet research. After being home for two weeks, I felt strong enough to spend the afternoon there, so Dad would drop me off with some snacks and then pick me up after work.
As I had expected, the school refused to do anything to help, not even loaning me any text books or allowing me to use the school library for research. Not that I actually wanted to go back to that school for any reason, but it was like they were bending over backwards to be non-cooperative. It didn't make any sense to me; even if we couldn't afford to sue them, I know that the BB Police Department was investigating, one of the doctor's had been talking about it outside my room. It was very strange though, no one would tell me if they were pressing charges or investigating, and truthfully I felt so bad that it was hard to force myself to care about it. I was struggling just working on daily life and my education.
Every other Thursday, dad would pack me a big lunch with several snacks and drinks, and drop me off at the Central Library where I could take advantage of the better internet access and computers. One of the research librarians apparently knew Mrs. Knott, and had actually heard about the locker incident, so she helped me fill out all of the forms that I needed, as well as organizing my medical records, to apply for Social Security benefits and Medicare, in my own name rather than dad's, because she thought that it would go through the approval process faster. She ordered different text books for me, on long term loan, so I could keep them for 3 months at a time, and prepare to take the AP exams. She also introduced me to one of the ROTC instructors from the college who proctored these special college exams, that could get me anywhere from 1 to 6 credits towards my BS. The only hold up was that I needed to complete my GED and SAT's first, and then be enrolled in an Accredited program of study.
I didn't consider that to be an issue, not since I had found that, by NOT attending Winslow, and being away from those bitches, I was learning much faster and retaining what I learned much better. The state Dept of Ed had online tests that I could take from the library computers that covered almost every High School course offered within the state, and those tests clearly showed that I was mastering the material much faster than I had been at Winslow. I guess that showed the value of the education provided by that fine institution. Note the sarcasm, please.
One Tuesday, about a month after I got out of the hospital, dad came home shortly after I had eaten lunch and brought in 4 large boxes, that turned out to be filled with a relatively new pc (only 2 years old!), a flat screen monitor and laser printer, as well as all the cables and other accessories. The last box was printer paper, toner cartridges and over 2 dozen books on computers and programming languages. College level and professional books, not high school text books.
I looked up at dad and asked, "Dad, where did you get this from? How can we afford it?"
He looked back and said, "I didn't do anything illegal to get this, this is a gift from Mrs. Knott. She said that she used some grant money she got from a foundation that helps disabled children to get all of this for you. She said that she wished she could do more but that she was legally prevented from doing or saying anything more." He shook his head and added, "She looked really pissed when she said that, like someone was putting a lot of pressure on her to force her to cooperate. And that this was the only thing she could do to try and support you."
At this I just started to cry, the very thought that someone other than dad actually cared about me, wasn't treating me like I was less than garbage was stunning; so he grabbed ahold of me and made me sit down next to him on the sofa and held me while I just cried and cried at the thought that someone really cared. After what felt like forever, but was probably only twenty minutes or so, he cleared off his desk completely, moving his files and records into a couple of boxes to take upstairs and then the two of us began putting the system together.
After we were done with that, we started putting all of the books on the shelves next to his desk, which was now my desk apparently. I also organized my text books as well, keeping all the books from the library together, as I finished that, dad started handing me the books from Mrs. Knott which included a binder filled with the installed software, all of the needed documentation, including the bills of sale. Which turned out to total more than I had realized. A lot more.
I took a few minutes to hand write a heartfelt thank you note to Mrs. Knott, although I was careful to not actually say what she had done for me, since I was afraid of getting her in trouble. I tried not to get any tears on the notepaper as I thanked her for being the only person other than my dad who seemed to even care if I was alive. I checked the phone book and found only one Knott, Gladys listed so I mailed it to her home address. I was afraid if I sent it her at Winslow, I would get her into trouble. As I stamped the envelope, I realized that I was becoming more and more paranoid as time went on, though I refused to give into it anymore than I gave into my pain and disabilities.
After a dinner of a vegetarian casserole, that I had found online while at the library, I went back to the living room to try out the new system, leaving dad to do the dishes. As I booted up the system, there was a folder in the middle of the screen labeled "Open Me First" which had a list of free or reduced cost dial-up ISP's. After checking them out, I showed them to dad and to my surprise he told me to pick whichever one of them I wanted, that as long as it cost less than $20 a month, we could afford it. Eventually, I picked out one that only cost about $16 a month, and had several local Brockton Bay access phone numbers which would keep our phone costs low and affordable. I finally forced myself to close everything down and go to bed, since both dad and I needed to get up fairly early, he to get to work, and me to do my exercises and then back to my schoolwork.