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It was my first venture out in my braces. My two pairs of old fashioned polio braces had arrived several days ago, and I had spent every moment I could strapped into them learning how to get around my townhouse on crutches with my legs locked straight.
I had practiced going up and down the steps to my bedroom for hours at a time, trying to look as crippled as I could. And I practiced sitting and getting up over and over so I would look as real as possible.
Now, as I drove to the resort, I looked down to see my tanned legs surrounded by the highly polished steel and leather of my braces. I had put them on in the ladies room of the airport. They were checked as luggage in a large suitcase along with my disassembled crutches and another pair of braces.
Inside the ladies room, I locked myself into the spacious handicapped stall, removed the crutches, put them back together, and slipped the braces on, putting my other shoes in the suitcase. I had worn a little wraparound skirt so that the switch would go smoothly and easily.
I was dreading the walk from the ladies room back to the baggage area to retrieve my other bags, while carrying that huge suitcase of braces and crutches. Luckily, I was spotted by a sympathetic skycap almost immediately, and he offered to help me.
At the Avis counter, a really cute guy took care of the rental car contract. I had reserved a car with hand controls, and he brought the car to me and loaded my bags. He began to describe the hand controls to me, but I interrupted him.
When I laughed and said, "It's okay, I have been driving since I was 14 and crippled since I was three. I know how hand controls work," he turned beet red. I had embarrassed him, and he involuntarily looked at my legs in the braces. I patted his hand and gave him a peck on the cheek.
He asked where I was headed and I told him the name of the inn where I was staying at the resort. I also told him he could call me if he wanted. He said he would.
It was a crisp fall day, but I put the top down anyway, and the wind felt good in my hair, even though I knew it was tying it in knots. I was excited over the braces and the hand controls and the cool temperatures made my nipples really hard and sensitive, and I stroked them through my silk blouse and satin bra.
I had chosen back roads to the inn, and I stopped at one of the roadside apple stands to get some cold cider. I must have passed twenty of them before I stopped.
I parked next to a pickup truck, and opened the door wide. As I lifted each of my legs out of the car, I noticed a young couple watching me. She apparently told him not to stare, because he suddenly looked away, but then he looked back almost immediately.
Since I had an audience, I decided to put on a show. I straightened and locked both of my legs, then laboriously pushed myself to a standing position, allowing my skirt to ride way up my thighs to show the straps.
I bought a bag of apples, and the teenager who appeared to be in charge, carried them to the car for me. It was becoming obvious that brace wearing was not only fun but rewarding.
I got the same treatment at the inn. From the moment I arrived, I was treated like royalty. The girl at the desk apologized at least five times that the only room they had left was on the second floor, and they didn't have an elevator. I tried to reassure her that everything was all right. The phrase had worked before, so I used a variation of it again: "Really, it's ok, I've been crippled since I was three, and climbing stairs in braces ever since." I said it with a laugh, and that was working well.
Tommy, the bellboy, a student at the local college, followed me up the stairs as I planted my crutches and lifted my stiff legs to each step. I tried to get him to go ahead, but he insisted that I go first. I had to smile, because I knew what he was watching.
After a nap, I showered, and dressed for dinner. The meals were served family style, and was I ever hungry after the day of travel. The brochure said that dresses and heels for the ladies and coats and ties for the gentlemen were expected at dinner, so I did my best to comply.
I put on my green silk dress with the low neckline that shows lots of cleavage. I had reasoned that a crippled girl would want people looking at her chest, not her legs (although I really didn't care).
I removed the little flat mary-janes from my braces, and replaced them with t- straps with two inch stacked heels (as much as I dared try to get away with). And began the long "clomp" down the stairs. My long hours of practice on my stairs at home was proving to be a good investment.
At dinner, all the guests were introduced. There were eight of us. Two married couples, and four singles, two male, two female. Everyone seemed very cordial and the food was a good at the brochure had said it would be.
After dinner, it was announced that the evening was not complete without a walk around the lake. I declined since the terrain was uneven and I was sure there were places where my crutches would sink into the sand, or worse, mud.
Cindy, the other single female, declined the lake walk also, citing her high heels as unfit for such an outing. So Cindy and I sat on the huge wrap-around porch. I lifted my legs onto the rough hewn table, and Cindy asked if I was in any pain. I laughed and told her that I was not, it was just very comfortable to put one's fee up, and that she should try it.
When she put her feet on the table, I had to remark on her shoes. It was easy to see why she had bowed out of the walk. Those shoes had spike heels that looked to be at least five inches high! "Yes," she replied. "I have a sort of shoe fetish, and most men can't take their eyes off them, so I wear them most of the time."
"But you seem to have upstaged me with those braces," she added with a wink. We both laughed.
Cindy and I drank most of a bottle of wine by the time the others returned. It occurred to me that I was a bit tipsy and that crippled girls ought not to drink too much. In fact, I said something to that effect, and Jeff, one of the single guys, picked me up in his arms and had me halfway up the stairs before I knew what was happening. Cindy followed with my crutches.
He put me down on the bed, and said he was available to escort me to breakfast in the morning, and he was gone. Cindy and I just looked at each other, then we burst into laughter.
A couple of more glasses of wine later, Cindy decided I needed to remove my braces and get into bed. I let her take my braces off me, then realized with a shock that I needed to go to the bathroom. There was only one thing to do.
I told Cindy not to worry, that I do this all the time, and I slid off the bed to the floor, and drug myself across the room with my "lifeless" legs trailing behind me. A few minutes later I returned to the bedroom the same way wearing my nightie and dragging my legs. Cindy was still there. And she was softly crying.
She said that she had been jealous of the attention I was getting, but that when she saw me drag my useless legs through the room, it hit her that I was really crippled and couldn't walk, and she felt guilty for being jealous.
I dragged myself over to her, and told her that I was not in any pain, and that my not being able to walk was no different from her not being able to drive her car without wearing her glasses. We both laughed, and realized the day was over and we were tired. We decided to meet at breakfast and decide how to spend our day.
I was dressed, but not braced, when someone knocked at my door. I hastily placed the braces next to a chair, sat down, and said the door was unlocked. It was Jeff who, true to his word, was there to take me down to breakfast. I told him that was not necessary, but he was not to be dissuaded.
He watched as I put my braces on, but didn't ask me the questions I expected about why I needed braces to walk. When I was finished, I looked up and said, "All done." He instantly had me in his arms and carried me down the stairs over my protests. He placed me in my chair at the breakfast table, and I had to remind him that I could very easily negotiate the stairs and that I had been doing it all my life. He just smiled.
Cindy bounced into the room in a cute little sundress with a big straw hat, ready for anything, I thought. Breakfast was great. At this rate, I would gain ten pounds by the end of my stay.
Cindy, Jeff and I decided we would go to an old water powered grain mill that had opened as a museum a short drive away. We decided to take my car since it was the only convertible. I was pleased to have a chance to drive with the hand controls, anyway, and it gave me a feeling that I was in control.
The mill was great, and I had fun walking around. There were some other tourists, and it was great to catch glimpses of them staring at my legs in the braces as I moved around. There were some steps in several places, and I loved pushing myself up the steps one at a time with my crutches. I was getting very good at it.
On the long walk back to the car, Jeff took my arm, even with though I was using the forearm crutches. I blushed, and it's a good thing I was wearing braces, because I really got weak in the knees.
Someone had told us about a big rock that people sat down on and let the water from the cold mountain stream carry them down the rock to a pool of water, so we decided to drive on over there.
It was great, and lots of people were there. Jeff and Cindy were wearing shorts, so they just removed their shoes and Jeff took off his shirt. Cindy tied her blouse around her waist, and they set off. This was clearly something a crippled girl could not do, so I walked over to the observation deck. I was standing at the rail when a nice middle-aged man tapped me on the shoulder and said there was room on his bench to sit. I accepted and took great pleasure in sitting down beside him. I let my leg drift toward him and knew he could feel the cold steel of the brace against his leg. I turned to ask him a question, and his face was red. He did not move away an inch, and I thought he actually pushed into me a little.
Jeff and Cindy had gone down the rock several times and were ready to go, so I thanked the guy for the seat, and pushed myself off the bench. He stood up with me, and said, "I just have to tell you before you go, that you are beautiful. I apologize for staring at you, but you are simply captivating."
Well, I was so flattered and flustered that I'm nor sure what I said. But I did put my hands on his face, with my crutches handing from my arms, and kiss him. Then I walked away, feeling his eyes on me as I went to the car.
I had to turn on the heater for my wet friends as we drove back to the inn. They had dried sufficiently when we came to a town having an old-fashioned festival. We were soon to find that it was an apple festival. So we had to stop.
Cindy and Jeff went off to ride a couple of wild rides that did not interest me in the least, and I walked through the arts and crafts section. I was admiring a painting, really studying it closely when a female voice from behind me said, "It took me a long time to get the perspective right. I thought I would never get it done."
I turned to see a beautiful young woman on aluminum crutches much like mine. I instinctively looked down to see that she wore braces, too. Our eyes met, and it was as if we were old friends meeting again.
We sat and talked and I was trying not to be too obvious as I surveyed her braces. They were older than mine, showing some wear, and she had a strap all the way around her calves that I didn't have, and ankle straps that I didn't have either. But she didn't have kneepads and I did. She asked me how long I had been in the braces, and I told her since I was three. My heart was racing, and I was hoping I could keep up this charade in front of a really crippled person.
She said that she fell from a scaffold while painting a mural several years ago, and fractured two vertebrae. After the fall, for over a year, she was in constant pain, and the surgery to help relieve the pain had left her paralyzed. We talked art for awhile, then we exchanged business cards, and I went off to find my friends, relieved that I had gotten away with it.
END OF PART ONE
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