In spite of the quivering tenseness in his arms Dick Jones lifted himself with surprising ease from the hospital bed into the shining chrome wheelchair. The incredible lightness of his body was disconcerting ... that was an aspect of being legless he had not thought of. As he slid back into the chair he noticed that his "legs" did not even reach the edge of the seat. He had not asked how long his stumps were but now he estimated them at about six inches. They were exactly equal in length and symmetrical in the blunt roundness with which they terminated.

As the handsome youth began getting into his clothing his thoughts turned strangely backward rather than ahead into the unknown future. He was struck by how lacking in the usual aspects of tragedy the whole thing had been. There had been almost no pain since he had been mercifully unconscious from the moment his sports car left the road until he had awakened in the hospital to find both his long, muscular legs gone except for short, useless half-thighs. Drugs had controlled the pain of the severed nerves, muscles and bones until the healing was well underway.

Dick was still somewhat perplexed at his reaction to the knowl­edge that he was now, and forever, legless. That he was only just 23, exceedingly good looking and classed by the society column­ists as a "wealthy playboy" should only have made him feel the loss even more; but strangely Dick felt a curious anticipation and excitement, as though the adventure that lay ahead distracted him from feeling the impact of his loss. There had been dark moments, of course, many of them. When he thought of the dancing, tennis and hiking he enjoyed so much ... when he thought of the prospects of always being physically inferior to the other fel­lows in his crowd for the first time in his life ... and particu­larly when he thought of the beautiful girls who had been so much a part of his life, Dick sank into a black numbness. But always these thoughts had been brief, the despair transitory ... the nagging awareness of the novelty of his future life made him almost anxious to leave the hospital and fact the world again, now without feet or legs, without the power to stand or walk.

The young man wondered if his curious acceptance of his new condition stemmed from the curiosity he had long felt about amputees. Many times, seeing one on the street, Dick had pondered the sensation of being an amputee ...  wondering what it was like to have a stump, a dull-ended appendage that could only paw at things clumsily or dangle uselessly from his hip. Now he was experiencing the sensation of being an amputee on a frightening scale for he had not just one, but two useless stumps. As he thrust them now into the tops of his pant legs, the feeling of the material pulling across the sensitive scarred tips was unlike anything in his experience. The empty pant legs collapsed limply against the seat of the wheelchair and dangled from the edge.

Calling a nurse Dick procured a couple of safety pins and soon the legs were folded twice, due to the shortness of his stumps, and pinned at the waist. It suddenly occurred to the youth that shoes and socks were no longer required to complete his dress.

As Dick wheeled his abbreviated body toward the door he found

himself quivering with a combination of fear, embarrassment and excitement. He was going out in the world for the first time as a legless young man.

The doorbell rang just as Dick was slipping into the lower half of a pair of black silk lounging pajamas. Leaving the long legs dangling he quickly hoisted himself into his wheelchair and rolled to the door. When he had it open he was startled to find a most attractive girl smiling down at him. He remembered her name was Marie, and he had met her at the home of a friend at a party a few days previous. He had wondered at her manner then ... Marie had not had pity in her voice but seemed strangely interested in him and had spent the bulk of the evening near him. Though she had not commented on his leglessness he caught her glance resting frequently on the short blunt remnants of his thighs. He had been embarrassed but curiously aroused by his very embarrass- ment.

Now, before he could speak, Marie stepped into the room and greeted him cheerily. "I understand you require all your visitors to remove their shoes in your apartment." It was a statement rather than a question and as she spoke she pulled the sandals from her small feet and padded on into the room ahead of him.

"Yes, I keep a Japanese style home. I'm on the floor quite a bit, so I try to keep it as clean as possible."

"I think it's a great idea ... the carpet feels wonderful." Marie stopped and wiggled her sun-tanned toes in the luxuriant deep­piled rug. "It's too bad you can't walk barefoot on it ... or does it feel as nice on your stumps?"

The girl's startling frankness stunned Dick for a second and before he could answer Marie dropped gracefully onto some cush­ions beside the low coffee table and continued, "Come on down on the floor ... I know it must be more comfortable than that wheelchair." As Dick obliged by lowering his legless torso to the floor and with a shove sending the wheelchair rolling into a corner, the girl went on, "I think your place is charming,

Dick ... in fact, you know, I came over nearly as much to see it as to see you." There was a twinkle in her eye as she spoke.

"Well, I got a little tired of always looking up at people and besides a wheelchair is a little cumbersome around the house so I had this place designed for what I call 'floor level' living. Anyone else coming here just has to adapt to it. All the ap­pliances and fixtures are low and as you can see, bookcases, such furniture as there is, everything is accessible from the floor."

"You just scoot around on your hands all the time, then?" Marie wanted to know.

"That's right. I don't have too much to lift, as you can see." Dick was surprised to find himself speaking so casually about his lack of legs to this lovely creature.

"You didn't answer my question about how it felt to drag your stumps along on this wonderful soft carpet." Marie was sitting with her knees drawn up and rubbing her feet back and forth on the pile as she spoke. Dick's empty pajama legs had been drawn back under him as he lowered himself from his chair and were drawn taut across the blunt ends of his stubs. Before he could think of an answer Marie extended one small nude foot and rested it lightly on the stump of his right leg and then rubbed it gently across the silk covering the sensitive tip of the nubbin. Dick's head swam at both the shock of this action and the strange exhilaration it gave him. He grasped the girl's foot with his

hand and said in a tight whisper, "It doesn't feel nearly as ... as nice as having them caressed."

Marie slid over beside him and putting her face close to his she whispered back, "Then you shall have them caressed all you like." Her left hand dropped to the nearest stump and began softly stroking it. "Don't feel strange with me, Dick, I want you to know that you are more attractive to me than any man with legs could ever be."

A sense of elation swept through the crippled young man. He did not ask Marie to explain her rather strange statement; he seemed to almost intuitively understand that this was no expression of pity, but rather that Marie experienced feelings akin to his own reactions to leglessness. Where he felt a tingling excitement that seemed centered in his blunt-ended stumps when they were touched physically or by the glances of others, Marie apparently enjoyed a parallel if not duplicate feeling engendered by looking at them or touching them. Dick found a stimulation and a paradox­ical sensation of pleasurable sadness linked to the limitations and frustrations arising from his lack of legs or feet and heightened by the unique posturing and motions that were a neces­sary part of his commonplace activities. Marie, he sensed, vi­cariously shared in these novel sensations. The discovery of this unexpected kinship was the pot of gold at the end of Dick's private rainbow, the triumphant climax of the half-understood longings that had been with him as long as he could remem- ber and that had become anticipations since the amputations that had deprived him of his legs.

Dick clasped the girl in his arms and kissed her with a passion he had never experienced before. In the midst of the kiss a moan welled up in his throat and his head swam as he felt Marie's hand on the bare flesh of his right stump. She had worked her arm up into the dangling pajama leg and now gently kneaded and stroked the soft flesh and traced the amputation scar with her finger. Marie freed herself from the youth's grasp and he sat tensely still as she slowly and deliberately drew back the silk material baring both the blunt stubs. His stumps quivered as the severed muscles involuntarily contracted at the girl's touch. Marie looked at the foreshortened legs for several seconds, then slip­ping one hand under each, she bent down and pressed her warm, full lips firmly against one and then the other. When she raised her lovely face it wore a tender smile. "Now are you satisfied that I like your little stumps?" she asked, with a pixie wink.

From that time on Marie would not permit Dick to cover his stumps when she was alone with him. Clever with a needle, she made several pairs of "trousers" for him which were little more than briefs, leaving the full length of his short stubbies completely bare. Dick wore them with expensively tailored sport shirts and looked "disgustingly handsome," as Marie put it, albeit a bit unusual with his abbreviated body in the abbreviated outfit.

For herself, Marie wore leotards, tight fitting jersey capris, or black opera hose with snug briefs. These costumes were designed to accentuate the long perfection of her legs in contrast with the useless, blunt fragments that were all her lover had. She would pirouette around the apartment while Dick took in every detail of the smooth rippling muscles of the suntanned limbs. Then she would drop to the floor beside him and the two would clutch at each other hungrily. Marie almost constantly fondled his stumps and pressed kisses upon them nearly as much as on his lips.

Then one day Marie swept into the apartment with a strange look

on her face. No sooner had she bent down and kissed Dick than she slipped off her skirt revealing snug shorts.

"Darling," she began seriously, "I think I understand you better as an amputee than anyone. But you know, lately I've been wanting more and more to somehow share with you the feeling of being legless ...  not able to stand up or walk or even cross your legs. So I've decided to do something about it." She reached into her bag and produced what looked like four extra heavy leather belts, backed with soft felt. She laid them out on the floor in two parallel rows of two each. Then the lovely young girl dropped to her knees on the belts and sank back on her bare heels.

"I got the idea from that little cart you strap yourself on for scooting around the kitchen when you want to carry things on your lap."

* * * * * *

In spite of the active social life that Dick pursued, largely in the company of Marie, he began to feel restless. Also he wondered if the smooth pattern of his life wasn't "spoiling" him. The specially adapted apartment, where people with legs were at a disadvantage, and the techniques he and Marie had adapted for minimizing the inconvenience of his leglessness threatened to make him incapable of coping with difficulties of being without legs in a society of two-legged people. And, Dick noted, he was also losing some of the bittersweet excitement engendered by his unique situation. Consequently, he was thrilled when Marie agreed to join him on an extended tour abroad.

On the liner steaming across a calm Pacific toward Hawaii the beautiful girl pushed her legless lover from place to place in his wheelchair, and in every other way was helpful to him. The attractive, but somewhat tragic couple, so far as other passeng­ers were concerned, was the main topic of shipboard con- versa­tion and drew many curious glances and flagrant stares, as they gaily moved about the ship, Marie striding gracefully on long, slim legs...  Dick rolling along in the metal chair that had replaced his legs. From his rather low vantage point the legless boy was very much aware of the legs that seemed to surround him. Suntanned youthful legs, sinuous and curvaceous legs, strong muscular legs ... long legs, short legs, thin and fat legs, but all serving their possessors in unconscious servitude as they carried them about the decks, raised them from chairs, moved them fluidly over the dance floor, or propelled them through the water of the pool. Dick was acutely conscious of the short, thick nubs that shifted on the seat of the wheel-chair occasionally as though reminding themselves of their own limitations.

Attired in tailored shorts and a "loud" sport shirt, the legless lad lay on a deck lounge next to the now bronze-skinned figure of his companion one day when he happened to glance down at the unused length of the lounge that would have accommodated his legs if he had had more than the short stubs whose tips protruded from his shorts. Looking across at Marie, who was also in white duck shorts and wearing a halter across her lush breasts, he was struck by the contrast. Though Marie was a short girl her per­fectly contoured legs looked incredibly long stretched out on the lounge. Dick again felt the full impact of being imprisoned in an amputated body. He quickly swung himself into the wheelchair that stood beside him and said to his companion, surprising himself as much as her, "Let's go swimming."

After changing into trunks, which exposed the blunt, cut-off ends of his stubs for the first time since starting the cruise, Dick

wheeled himself to the pool edge where Marie waited with an apprehensive look on her face. "How can you swim, Dick, with no legs to kick?"

"Well, remember," he smiled, "I don't have very much to keep afloat."

Dick locked the wheels of his chair, leaned forward til one hand rested on the concrete lip of the pool, and swung his legless torso gracefully down from the chair. Just then a small boy of about eight stepped up to him and without any hesitation asked, "Why haven't you got any legs, mister?"

Dick looked up at youngster, smiled, and then reached out and affectionately gripped one of the boy's sturdy, suntanned legs, then without a word, swung on his hands to the edge of the pool and launched himself into the water.

* * * * * *#

It was only two days after arriving in Hawaii that Dick looked up from the broiled lobster he and Marie were enjoying in the hotel dining room to see a lovely, dark haired Polynesian girl ap­proaching their table. The girl, about 16, Dick thought, would have attracted attention anywhere for her exotic beauty, which already had the ripeness of womanhood, but what caused the diners to stare sadly rather than admiringly at her was the fact that she was on crutches, her full skirt swirling with each step about a single slim leg. The legless boy envied the young girl the grace she displayed, for even on crutches she seemed to float across the floor, the rhythm of her swinging gait a sort of macabre mockery of island gracefulness. Her one tiny foot seemed to come to rest so lightly it was almost a surprise to see that the deep pile of the carpet was depressed.

Dick and Marie exchanged a puzzled glance when they realized the one-legged girl was coming to their table. They smiled and said hello when she stopped and looked shyly from one to the other. Her voice was as sweet and lovely as her dark beauty when she introduced herself as Leah Martin.

"Mr. Jones, I wonder if you would permit me to visit you

later ...  I would like to ask your advice on some things."

Noting the girl's nervousness Dick pressed for no details, though he did wonder what a one-legged girl could expect to learn from a legless man whose life, in probably every respect, was quite different. He expected she wanted to discuss generalities about the broad subject of "being handicapped" which, he felt, probably would have little value to her other than the value of a sympa­thetic ear. He told the girl he would be in his room in a half hour and she might call on him there. She murmured her thanks and pivoted on her one foot and crutched back to her table where Dick saw an older couple, obviously Leah's parents.

Later, as Dick in his wheelchair and Marie on the divan in Dick's suite, were enjoying cocktails, a light knock indicated their young visitor's arrival. Spinning about in his chair, Dick wheeled his legless torso to the door and admitted the girl on crutches. When she had lowered herself to the divan and propped her crutches beside her Dick and Marie saw from the way her skirt fell flatly to the divan on the right side that Leah's leg had been cut off very high. The soft material outlined a rounded shape that went straight down to the surface of the cushion, without the slightest hint of a protrusion in front.

The three young people chatted aimlessly for several minutes in the way people have of establishing communication lines before turning to serious business. Leah's nervousness left her very quickly but Dick noticed that her one lonely and very shapely leg waved from side to side and the foot tapped lightly on the car­pet. Catching his glance, Leah laughed and said, "Although I've been one-legged more than a year I still often feel the impulse to cross my legs. I can't, of course, since I have nothing to cross it over, so I just wiggle it like that."

"I know what you mean," Dick said. "I still try to cross my legs even though I know it can't be done since my stumps are too short to make one stay on the other."

Island music was softly issuing from the speaker on the wall, a service of the hotel, and Marie turned to Leah, saying, "I've always wanted to learn to Hula ... I bet you used to do it, didn't you, Leah?

"I still do ... would you like me to show you?" was the surpris­ing answer.

"Well ... uh ... sure!"

Reaching down and pulling off the slipper from her single tiny foot, the Hawaiian girl said, "You'll have to take off your shoes and stockings. The Hula is only danced barefoot."

Marie promptly kicked off her shoes and pulled up her skirt, displaying her two lovely long legs. Dick watched with fascina­tion as she unhooked the garters and peeled the dark, sheer nylons he liked so much down the evenly tanned legs. Leah's face wore a look of envy and one hand dropped unconsciously down to the rounded end of her empty hip. Marie stood up, Dick rolled his chair back, and Leah pushed herself erect and wavered a moment as she sought her balance on her one bare foot. Leaving her crutches behind, she hopped to the center of the room and began the lesson.

"The Hula is done mostly with the hands and the hips so two legs aren't really essential. Do it like this, Marie, and take tiny steps with your feet close together and then turn slowly. I'm sorry but I can't demonstrate that part," she grinned. Then Leah, with incredible grace, began following the music with fluid motions of her hands while her slim hips swayed rhythmically. Dick noticed that the hip motion caused the girl's skirt to swing, outlining the short nubbin of her amputated leg. Occasion­ally she took little hops to maintain her balance, but all in all it was a beautiful performance. The legless lad, imprisoned helplessly in his wheelchair, was pressing his fingers into the soft flesh of his leg stumps as he watched the two girls with their three legs, the only legs in the room, in the strangely exciting and exotic spectacle.

Soon Marie, her muscles unaccustomed to the motions required by the dance, dropped wearily onto the divan. Leah, though she had been balanced all the while on her one foot, showed no signs of fatigue but with a smile, hopped gracefully back to the couch and sat. Some of her earlier nervousness seemed to return and Dick noticed the small toes of her lonely bare foot were curling against the soft pile of the carpet. He decided it was time to learn what had brought the one-legged girl to him.

Leah anticipated him, however, and spoke quietly. "I came to see you, Mr. Jones ...  Dick...  because I thought maybe you could give me some pointers on ...  on getting along with no legs."

"Well, I'd be glad to, but ... why should you want to know, Leah?"

"Because, you see, the day after tomorrow I go into the hospital to have my leg cut off."

Marie gasped and Dick was speechless. Leah went on, "I lost my right leg about a year ago riding a motorcycle with my boyfriend. My left leg wasn't injured, as far as anyone could tell, but a few weeks ago it became very sore. My doctor x-rayed it and found a growth in my thigh--about here." She indicated a spot about halfway up her thigh. "Sure enough, it's malignant. So ...  off comes my other leg. Friday ... well, I'll be legless like you."

After Dick had recovered his composure he talked as matter-of­factly as he could about some of the "secrets" he had learned of successful living without legs. Though he seemed to succeed in some measure, to allay the girl's fears by answering her ques­tions ... questions she would have found difficulty in even voicing to anyone else, he knew that no amount of conversation could duplicate the many strange sensations that awaited her. Even though Leah had experienced the feeling of having her move­ments restricted by the absence of part of her young body; even though she knew the feeling of new physical sensation engendered by the loss of a familiar portion of her anatomy, he knew that losing the other leg would not be just a repetition of the reac­tions to the loss of the first. The shortening of total body length, the abrupt alteration in balance, the strangeness of never feeling the contact of a foot with the ground and, perhaps most important, never again standing or walking, perpetually sitting; sitting and looking up at the world.

The next day Dick and Marie shopped for a wheelchair, one like Dick's, without footrests, which neither he nor Leah could ever use, but of smaller size considering her petite figure. They delivered the shining chrome symbol of Leah's tragedy to her home and then hurried to the airport to catch the flight they had previously scheduled to Papete.

After a glorious two weeks in that "Paradise of the Pacific" they returned to Honolulu and immediately after settling in the hotel they drove out to Leah's home. Marie pushed the legless boy in his wheelchair up to the door of the low bungalow and knocked. They heard no sound of footsteps from within but the door swung open ... and Dick his glance unconsciously turned upward, dropped his gaze and looked directly into the dark eyes of the lovely Leah, who sat before him now, as she would always sit, in the wheelchair that would carry her rolling through life. She had stood erect and walked for the last time.

Dick thought there was something of paleness about her normally golden-hued skin but she wore a warm smile as she greeted the couple. Leah rolled her chair back from the door and Dick wheeled himself in. Marie felt exaggeratedly tall as she stood looking down at the two in their wheelchairs ...  and she felt strangely left out. Somehow she was now a "third party."

As Leah fired questions about their trip to Tahiti Dick adjusted himself to her altered appearance. Though he had had to accustom himself to a new body image not too long before, he still found it hard to believe that the once graceful one-legged girl who had danced a hula in his room how sat before him as a tiny legless torso. Her flowered skirt draped down over the front of her hips and lay smooth and flat over the unused front portion of the seat of the chair, and then cascaded several inches toward the floor. Leah caught his glance and stopped talking. Plucking nervously at the emptiness of her skirt below her slim hips she said quietly,

"We're a pair now, Dick."

While Marie looked on, Dick spent the afternoon showing Leah how to maneuver her wheelchair and for many days after the legless pair worked on the problems of living without legs.

When Leah's new amputation had healed completely and lost its painful sensitivity they started on the active part of the pro­gram... getting from wheelchair to floor and back, swinging along the floor on her hands, getting in and out of the bathtub, and many more things that now had to be learned or relearned. A skirt was a hindrance for many activities so when he arrived one day he suggested to Leah that she put on shorts.

From the bedroom she talked to him as she changed. "One thing I don't think I'll ever master is the problem of balance, Dick. When I lean forward a little or even if I just reach suddenly for something I start to fall over. When I got up this morning I resolved to spend the whole morning out of my wheelchair and you know, just sitting still on the floor without anything at my back I felt unsteady."

"That's strange, Leah, I have never felt that way ... I just ... well, I guess my stumps support and balance me. I never thought about it much."

Just then Leah appeared in the doorway and rolled slowly toward him. "Well, then I guess I never will get over that problem because my stumps don't give me much help."

Dick had to suppress a gasp. The shorts Leah was wearing were very short. They were cut like the bottom of a swim suit. For the first time Dick saw the tiny rounded ends that were all that remained of the slim, youthful legs the girl had once been very proud of. She had almost no stumps at all. Dick had known they had to be short but under a skirt it had not appeared as short as he now saw they were. She had really nothing more than rounded out-swellings. Dick looked down at his own short stubs and for the first time regarded them thankfully. He had often called them "useless" ...  now he realized that those remnants of thighs were a great help to him in many ways, including the simple act of sitting. He felt sad to think that Leah, for the rest of her life, would be even more handicapped than himself. She would never be able to forget the absence of her legs because the simplest acts would be complicated by the lack of them.

* * * * * *

One morning, three weeks after returning from the hospital Leah awoke, as always, to the music of the birds who gathered in the small garden outside her window. An observer would have seen a lovely sight. The sunlight danced in a dappled pattern across the bed and the tiny figure in it. He might have noticed nothing unusual at first as the lovely girl pushed herself up to a sit­ting position, causing the light cover to fall away from her body. He would have seen that she was unusually lovely, for Leah, in the tropical fashion, slept nude and the graceful lines of her body and the golden tone of her skin spoke of physical perfection.

The delicate features of her face contorted prettily in a yawn and she raised her hands and ran the slim fingers through the glossy black hair. Then she extended her arms upward in a sinuous stretch. Suddenly the girl gave a small cry and fell over back­ward on the pillow. The reason became apparent for the movement had brought her completely free of the bedclothes and it could be seen that her physical perfection ended just below her gently

curved hips.

Raising herself up again, Leah stared down at the blunt end of her body where once there had been long and lovely legs. She was reminded even this early in the day that her her empty bottom was of no help to her. She was literally a legless torso.

These thoughts brought a sudden look of alarm to her face and she abruptly turned her head to look at the spot where her chrome wheelchair normally stood glittering in the slanting rays of the sun. Yes, it was really gone. A quiver ran through the young girl as she remembered the agreement she had made with Dick. He had persuaded her that she would only acquire real mastery of her legless body if she freed herself from dependence on the conveni­ent wheelchair. So she had agreed that for one week her chair might be locked up inaccessible to her so she could not weaken in her resolve. That week began today, and she knew there was no choice but to begin her daily activities depending only on her hands and arms to lift her from place to place.

Visibly setting her jaw, Leah dropped face down on the bed and lowered her hands over the edge til they rested on the floor. "Walking" them forward she dragged her legless body off the bed till it swung downward. Keeping her shoulders hunched and the tiny empty hips slightly flexed her body hung suspended between her arms until she lowered it to the floor. Leah felt grateful for the thick shag rug that had always felt so good on her bare feet. Now that she had no feet she found it felt equally luxuri­ous to her soft, bare bottom.

By placing her hands ahead of her like a pair of crutches and swinging her legless hips through them she made her way into the adjoining bathroom and to the side of the tub. She looked up at the shower nozzle and thought again of how useless it now was to her since she could no longer stand under the spray and it would

only wet her hair if she used it in her permanent sitting position.

Reaching over the edge of the tub she started the water running for her bath, then lifted herself back to the sink. She pulled a bath stool into place and with one hand grasping the edge of the sink and the other braced on the stool she swung herself up onto the stool. She could now reach the things on top of the cabinet, including her toothbrush and the other items necessary for the beginning of her morning routine. By the time she finished with everything the tub was full. She swung down off the stool and


over to the tub, reached in and turned off the water. Facing the tub she placed her hands on the edge and with a smooth motion raised up and swung her legless torso over the edge and into the tub. Her little breasts bounced prettily as her blunt bottom came down with a splash and a thump.



from: anonimous