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The Chair Part 2

Rating:; Genre=Fiction; Pages=6; Characters=11,108;
The Chair 2: Braces

By Catherine A.

It all started so innocently. Cindy found the aluminum forearm crutches and AFO braces at a yard sale, of all places. She was running a finger down the smooth aluminum when the old woman running the sale said to her, 'Go ahead, take them.' She left with the crutches and braces under her arm, and she couldn't wait to get to her house and try them out.

Cindy had always been interested in crutches, ever since she was a little girl. Sprained ankles, casts, anything like that. She thought it was fun, a cool game, and now, at 22, she still enjoyed wrapping an ankle up and crutching to the mall, going to work on crutches for a week, etc... When she saw the braces and forearm crutches, which had always been her favorite style, she had to have them, so she took them home. She had never been in braces before, and didn't know what to expect, so she couldn't wait to find out.

She got her new toys home and looked at them. The crutches were almost new, aluminum, and obviously high quality. She looked at the braces. They were interesting, rigid plastic molds which came up to her knees, with wide elastic and velcro bands at the top to hold them firmly. They looked about the right size for her feet, and she wondered what they would feel like while she was wearing them.

She quickly undressed, deciding that jeans and a T-shirt was not the way to start her game, and put on nylons, a knee-length skirt, and a white short-sleeved blouse. she sat on her bed, leaning the crutches beside her, and put on the braces. First, she lifted her right leg into her lap and placed the plastic brace against it. It was like a perfect fit! She tightly fastened the strap, which came up to just below her knee, and then reached for her shoe. She decided to wear low heeled shoes which laced tightly, to make sure her leg was braced firmly. It felt very strange, not really like a cast, which is what she half-expected. She quickly put the other brace on, fastening her other shoe tightly, and stood up.

Her legs felt strange in the braces, awkward and even clumsy. She tried to take a step without the crutches and almost fell. She couldn't even wiggle her toes properly, which she thought was very odd, because she always could in this pair of shoes before. Her ankles were also totally immobile in the stiff braces, which she enjoyed. She looked down and saw her feet pointed toes-in, pigeon toed, which looked very strange to her. She reached and grabbed her crutches, putting her arms through the cuffs, gripping the handgrips, and began crutching around her apartment. It was fun, being on the crutches, swinging her legs through the aluminum posts. She cooked dinner on her crutches, cleaned the kitchen, all sorts of things, and being on the crutches was very entertaining. At last, she sat down to watch TV and took off her shoes and the braces, and was shocked by what she saw!

Her feet were crooked, warped, she didn't know how to explain or describe it, but she couldn't move them either. They were both palsied, toes curled, ankles bent oddly. She tried to stand and fell forward, her legs wouldn't support her right. She put her braces back on and got to her feet by using the couch and her crutches for support. As she was wondering what to do. She was nervous and afraid, her legs didn't work anymore, her feet were crippled, and she had no idea how or why. As she was crutching to the kitchen again to fix herself a drink, the phone rang.

"How are the crutches now, Cindy?" a strange voice asked.

"Who are you, what have you done to my legs??" Cindy asked angrily.

"What you wanted, you need crutches now, don't you?" the voice asked.

"I hate you, give me my legs back!" Cindy yelled into the phone.

"That is easily done." the voice continued, calmly. "You will remain crippled until you go to bed. Upon waking, all you must do is stand, forsake the braces and crutches, stand and the spell will be broken. But be warned, there are conseqe-"

"That's all I needed to know, lady, later" blurted Cindy, and crashed the receiver down. She crutched back into the living room, relieved that her condition was not permanent, and raised her legs up onto the couch. She looked at her legs in the braces. They didn't look so bad, just different. It was an interesting experience, to be crippled like this, but she definitely didn't want it to be permanent. She watched TV for a few hours then got ready for bed.

In bed, she first took off her shoes and braces, and her palsied, crippled feet hung there. She hated it, and hurriedly stripped off her stockings and skirt, then her blouse, and got under the covers, falling right to sleep.

Cindy woke with her alarm to see her legs and feet back to normal. She jumped out of bed and practically ran to the bathroom. She was fine, she could almost convince herself it was all a bad dream, except for the braces and crutches now laying on her bedroom floor. She kicked them under the bed and showered and dressed, ready to face the day.

Two Weeks Later

"It's a rare neuromuscular disorder, Cindy. I'm afraid it's not reversible, although I've never seen it attack a person so quickly." Doctor Solomon said. I can't even recommend a course of treatment, I'm afraid. The damage will be permanent, and may even worsen, I'm afraid."

Cindy was in tears. She had come into the hospital four days ago, complaining about numbness and soreness in her legs, and here she was today, after a battery of tests... She looked at her legs, her ankles turned in, her feet palsied. Her legs weren't working at all, partially numb, totally useless. She sat in a wheelchair, wondering if she would be confined to it forever. What was it the voice on the phone had said about consequences?

"Doctor" Cindy asked, "Honestly, will I ever walk again?"

"No, Cindy, you wont, at least not on your own." Dr. Solomon replied. "I can have one of our orthopedic specialists fit you for a set of legbraces, and you should be able to lead a fairly normal, active life."

"As a cripple." Cindy wept. She wheeled herself back to her hospital room and tried to get herself back into bed, but without the use of her legs it was hopeless. With tears in her eyes she rang the call button.

"Is everything OK Cindy" The nurse asked as she entered the room. Cindy was crying in her wheelchair, her legs hanging awkwardly in her chair.

"My legs..." was all she could cry. The nurse lifted Cindy into her bed, lifting her legs up for her and putting them under the covers. The nurse held Cindy and rocked her, trying to comfort this poor girl who had suddenly lost so much.

After three weeks the therapist decided it was hopeless. Cindy's legs were bad and slowly getting worse, and even in the full length legbraces she had it was just too difficult for her to move around. They really hurt more than they helped, especially with the extent of muscular damage to her lower legs and ankles. Cindy was sitting in her new wheelchair, her legs still encased in the braces she tried so hard to walk on, she had wanted so badly to walk again, even on the braces, with crutches or a walker, but now she was told it was hopeless, that she, at 22 years old, she was a cripple, her legs useless, confined totally to her wheelchair. She allowed herself to be pushed back to her room, and her attendant lifted her into her bed and began to remove her braces. She watched her legs as they were unwrapped from their metal casings, so pale and thin now, her feet looking so terrible, toes curled and ankles turned in. She tried to move them, even wiggle her toes, but she couldn't even do that anymore. Her legs just lay there, crippled and lifeless. She looked at her wheelchair, now realizing it was HER wheelchair, that her life now revolved around it. She had always liked to be the girl on crutches, and now she'd never be able to walk on crutches, or anything, ever again. She lay down and cried herself to sleep once again.

Cindy had been in the wheelchair for several months. She pulled into the handicapped spot in front of the mall and opened the car door. She did her usual routine, pulling her wheelchair from out of the back seat, setting it up, boosting herself into it from the drivers' seat of her hand-controlled car. She lifted one leg, then the other into the legrests of the wheelchair. She still hadn't gotten used to her legs. The disease had now robbed them of all muscle control, some feeling too. As she lifted them, she watched her foot hang limp and twisted by the disease which had put her in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She locked the car door and wheeled into the mall.

Cindy was sitting in the food court when she noticed the little girl walking by on crutches. The girl was on aluminum forearm crutches, with AFO braces on her legs, her legs swinging between the crutches, bringing Cindy memories of that day after the yard sale. The little girl looked at Cindy, and for some reason, Cindy felt some connection, but instead of smiling back at the girl Cindy sneered, angry more at her condition than anything else, and the girl noticed, turning away quickly and obviously hurt. Cindy blew it off and wheeled her way into the bookstore, picking out some reading material for later on.

It had been a year since the disease had confined Cindy to a wheelchair when she noticed the discoloration on her foot. It was a week later, after asking her doctor about it, that she woke up, groggy and confused, from the anesthetic. She sat halfway up and could see, under the sheets and bandages, where her legs had been amputated midway between her knees and her crotch. The disease had apparently caused a loss of circulation in her legs, and they had to be amputated, to save her life.

Cindy pulled up into the handicapped parking space in front of the mall and pulled her wheelchair out from the back seat, setting it up and sliding into it, fixing her skirt around her nylon-clad stumps. Of course, as she had suspected since they amputated her legs, she couldn't use prosthetics because of the muscular damage still in what was left of her legs, so she was still wheelchair bound. Being legless was so strange to her, but it was at least a little easier than dragging her legs around with her, even though she now lost balance pretty easy. Shoes were not a problem anymore, of course, and she always wore skirts and knee-hi stockings, which to her were thigh-hi's so she thought she looked better now, at least a little. As she wheeled into the mall, she noticed a little girl on crutches, with AFO braces, who looked at her and smiled strangely. Cindy smiled back, not sure why, and wheeled herself into the bookstore to buy some reading material. She saw another girl in the bookstore, also in a wheelchair, obviously paralyzed by the look of her legs, ringing up a couple of books at the register. The girl looked at Cindy, then glanced down at her stumps, looking a bit sad.

"Should have listened to the phone call" She said cryptically.

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