Perhaps no one has ever paid more dearly or was ever pun-

ished more severely for a moment's childish disobedience, than

myself and my two younger sisters.

                My youngest sister, Lowain, now fifteen, and the next young-

est, now seventeen, that is Tanya, and myself, I am eighteen and

called Ilona, were until two years ago, three very happy normal

young girls, on an island of very happy, beautiful people. Then

one day, in a moment of adventurous misbehavior, the three of us

decided to swim out to an area that had been forbidden to us by

our father.

                In one swift moment, our merry laughter was pierced by the

horror-filled scream of my younger sister, who had fallen slight-

ly behind us. I turned in the water just in time to see her

struggling figure being pulled down followed by the huge fin of

the devil shark. Suddenly there was another fin, and another. I

cried out for my other sister, but she was not in sight. As I

started to dive in search of them, the clear blue water had

already become cloudy, and in my eagerness to find them, I had

not looked behind me, or even considered the danger to myself.

Just that suddenly, there was a biting tearing pain in my leg,

and in the instant before I passed out, I knew that one of the

giant devils had gotten me.

                When I regained full consciousness, many days later, my

mother was at my side, gently stroking my forehead. Her face was

lined with grief and worry. As I turned my head about the room

there was no sign of my sisters, and I was sure that they were

dead. My mother assured me that they were not --  but later I was

to learn that perhaps it would have been better if they were.

                I became conscious of a kind of numbness in my left arm, and

right leg, although I could feel them there, I couldn't move

them. As I turned my eyes down toward my arm, my mother swiftly

placed her hand over my eyes, and I knew in that instant that my

arm was gone. When my mother removed her hand, I could see in her

eyes more suffering than I felt for myself. She fought desperate-

ly to hold back the tears, as I pressed her hand in the only one

I had left, and assured her that it was all right.

                Again I tried to move my leg, and then realized that it was

also gone.

                The doctor had come over from the big island, and although

he and my mother both assured me that my sisters were alive,

neither of them would tell me if they had also been maimed as I

had. I only knew that Lowain had been take to the home of a

friend, and that Tanya had been taken to the big island for some

kind of special care. I was told that I would be able to see

them, as soon as I was able to get about.

                This gave me an incentive to try and get up and finally

stand on my remaining leg, as quickly as possible.

                Within a week or so, I had become somewhat accustomed to

having only one arm. I would lie for hours, staring down at the

large bandaged stump, and try to remember how it felt to move it

about. Sometimes I would forget, and try to reach for something,

for it felt for all the world as if it were still there. And so

when the day came to remove the final bandages, I was able to

accept the fact that my arm was gone-- that there only remained a

tiny stump, and that that was the way it would be for the rest of

my life. I even ventured at was, moving it about, trying it out.

                The day they removed the bandage from my leg stump, however,

had a much more serious effect. As I sat staring down at my one

full brown leg, so perfect and alive, and then looked at the

futile little stump that had once been its mate, I seemed to

realize for the first time that I was a cripple-- that I had only

one leg and one arm, that I would never again be able to run and

play and swim as everyone else on the island did, and that every-

one would always stare at me and feel sorry for me and suddenly I

felt very sorry for myself, and for the first time since it

happened, I cried my heart out.

                After that, I seemed to lose all incentive, all hope for the

future. My father had made two crutches for me, one with a strap

to go over my armless shoulder. My parents implored me at the

doctor's instructions, to try and stand, but I refused.  It was

then that the doctor decided I should see my younger sister.

                My father, as he was very clever with such things, had

fashioned a wheelchair for her. This was all I knew of her condi-

tion, the fact that she was in a chair, unable to walk. At first

they felt that the shock of seeing her might be injurious to my

recovery. Now, however, they felt, knowing how we loved each

other, that seeing her might inspire me into standing.

                My father pushed her quietly into my room, and when I turned

my head and saw her tiny figure seated in the large wheelchair,

my heart was torn apart. Both of her arms, and both of her legs

were gone, she was completely limbless. There remained only tiny

stumps for all her limbs, about the same size and not unlike


                "Please, Ilona, dear, please try to stand," she pleaded. "As

you can see, I cannot. They had to amputate both of my arms and

both legs." She went on quietly,  "It really isn't so bad, but I

will need your help now, and when she returns, for she is the--

worst-- of any of us, I think."

                "What-- what is it," I asked, thinking surely there could be

nothing worse than losing both arms and legs, and already ashamed

of myself for my actions.

                "Tanya's legs were not injured, but -- but she lost both

arms completely, right at the shoulder," Lowain went on, barely

able to control her voice. "She has no stumps at all, such as we

do, with which to do things."

                "Oh, God," I cried, "I'm so sorry. How will she be able to

stand it, she loved to weave, and use her hands so. But why isn't

she here?"

                "She's on the big island, at what they call a rehabilitation

center. They are teaching her to use her feet for hands, and also

to-- to see with them. For she also lost-- lost her sight-- when

her head struck a rock, and will never regain it. So you see how

badly we need you."


                When Tanya returned to the island, totally blind and arm-

less, she wanted desperately to see us. She gently ran her tiny

toes over our faces and hair, her blind eyes staring straight

ahead, trying to recall what we looked like. Lowain was seated on

the ground at her feet, when she slipped her tiny foot out of

their thonged sandals that she always wore, and raised it toward

Lowain's face. She gave a little cry when she felt my sister's

arm stump, and when her toes gently caressed the second one,

Lowain softly kissed her foot.


[also appears in "Fragments"]



from: anonimous