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Hidden Or Revealed?

by Peter

In OverGround, there is a steady flow of articles about sightings - both early childhood, and more recent ones. I wonder whether one of the things about devoteeism is that sightings, on their own, are one of the most erotic aspects of devoteeism. There is a tension for the devotee, between wanting always to have the object of desire hidden, and yet all the time wanting to see it. But once revealed, the object can never have the same attraction as when it was hidden. So a sighting has a special excitement. It does seem quite wrong, nonetheless, to focus on an 'object' of desire, when so much that is personal is involved, but yet the unique factor for the devotee is the thing that is different - whether the attraction is the missing-ness of a limb, or whether it is the truncated arm or leg itself.

Over a long period I was going out with F. and that experience has left me in the dilemma outlined above. It was a dilemma from the very first time I saw her. The limb fitting centre was crowded. I was in the general waiting area, having gone there as a driver for someone, who had come in for a repair and would be busy for some time. Then in came F. - dark haired, rimless spectacles, and wearing a salmon coloured autumn coat. She moved in slowly on elbow crutches, making her way to a spare seat, and I saw for the first time her single stockinged leg with a flat shoe. I had not been struck by anyone in quite the same way before, but I said to myself, quite unexpectedly, 'ideal'. Here was someone my age, attractive, by herself, and one-legged. Was it the missing limb that I found ideal, or the thought of what was beneath her coat, or was it the combination of all things - the person, the missing limb and the thought of the stump itself? A spare seat was by me, and F. made her way towards it through the crowd, confidently but slowly, sometimes edging her way, and sometimes taking a firm step. I could not tell through her coat where her right leg was missing. She balanced steadily as she put the crutches together before sitting down and placing them alongside the chair. We spoke briefly, just by way of politeness. She had a mid-European accent but spoke correct English. I offered to get the two of us cups of coffee and when I had returned with them we chatted as strangers do. She said she had come from a communist country to have a new leg, but we did not discuss things anymore. I had to go, but I asked her if we might meet sometime. She gave me the phone number of the place where she was staying and we parted. I had learnt nothing about her really, or about her leg or about the circumstances of her losing it, but I was strangely excited - more than ever I had been before when meeting other amputees. Perhaps it was the thought that this time, I would get to see the amputated limb, since with all my other meetings, things never progressed beyond a conversation.

It transpired that she was staying at a small hotel near the limb fitting centre, which was used for people from abroad or a distance away, who had a series of fittings to be done. When I rang, F. asked me if I would like to visit her there late one afternoon, and we fixed a day. At the hotel I was shown into one of the lounges, and F. arrived shortly after, wearing a white blouse and a full blue skirt, again on elbow crutches. We spoke a bit embarrassingly before F. put her crutches together, put her free hand behind her skirt on her stump side, and sat down. Again I could not tell where her leg ended, and after she had laid the crutches aside, she put her hands together across her knees, almost as one might when one has crossed ones legs. Apart from the fact that only one stockinged leg was to be seen, there was nothing else to suggest she was an amputee.

We had coffee and F. explained a bit about herself. She had come to this country to have a new leg. She had had her leg removed when she was 15 because of a suspected knee tumour, but as she continued to grow the stump was painful and so she elected for a second amputation. This was high up so the stump was only 13 cms long and the type of artificial limb needed was only available in this country. We did not discuss how she felt, and in fact, over the months that we went out together we never talked about her one-leggedness - it was something that was there and we just accepted it. When we were out, with F. on her crutches, she was not apparently self-conscious about it. If we were waiting for example for the Tube, she would rest her stump on the handle of her crutches to leave one hand free, and that was extremely erotic for me, but was just the way she stood as far as F. was concerned. All the while I longed to see the stump; what was a stump like to see, to feel, to caress even?

Most of our time together was spent in the normal way of friends. She spent a lot of the time at the limb fitting centre. We went out in the evenings or the afternoons; she always went on crutches as the new leg took a long time to fit; her stump was very short and it seemed difficult to get the fitting right. We never got too close; it was ages before we kissed briefly, and we never seriously caressed. Once at the theatre, after she had put her crutches under the seats, I laid my hand on her thigh, daring to explore the outline of her stump, but F. firmly but gently moved my hand to one side. She made no comment, either then or later, but I understood the message.

All the while the tension was there. I could never make up my mind whether to retain the mystery and not try to see or feel her stump, or whether to ask her to reveal it all. One evening, for the first time since we had met, F. was wearing slacks, with the loose leg folded up outwards and tucked into the waistband. As she walked with the crutches, the stump moved slightly with each step, even though it was very short, and it excited me no end. I nearly reached down and held it when we were saying goodnight, but I let the moment go.

On another occasion we went to Kew gardens on a warm Spring day. We went away from the crowded parts, into the open grass where F. took off her shoe and gave it to me, leaving her free to crutch through the grass with her naked foot, taking in the freshness of it all. We came to a bench and F. sat down putting her crutches to one side and drawing her skirt up to let the sun get to her upper leg. I sat on the grass, believing that her stump would be visible, but F. carefully kept it covered, almost as if she knew what was in my mind. But all the time I wondered about her stump. I thought it so wrong to be having a platonic friendship, and yet at the same time, almost plotting to see and feel the stump. I contemplated telling F. how I felt, but feared all the while that she would end the friendship - so I said nothing. Later, when her leg was finished, we sometimes went about with it on, but she preferred somehow not to wear it all the while. She stayed in this country and took up a course at University, living in one of the Halls. We had supper occasionally, and once or twice she made lunch for us in her room. We were more close by this time, and spent longer embracing - though I never caressed her breasts or anything. One day she was sitting on the bed, and I was kneeling facing her. Daring all, I put my hand on her thigh under her skirt, and as she seemed not to mind, I moved my hand across to her stump side and touched it. F. recoiled slightly, but did not move away, so I caressed the stump more firmly, tracing the scar, and the puckered ends where the scar ended. 'Your leg's cold' I said; 'Yes, it does feel a bit that way, but I don't always notice' F. replied, and I knew that she had accepted my caresses without offence. I explored a bit more. She had a wide suspender loose on the stump, matching her stockinged leg on the other side.'It helps keep the leg on when I'm wearing it, that's why it's a substantial one - the flimsy ones don't work very well.' I dared not press into the stump any more, for fear F. might be offended, but I knew that I could caress the stump again without it upsetting her.

Knowing what I now know, if I had the experience over again, I would have hastened on and invited F. to consummate our friendship fully - I'm sure she would have done. But I was torn then between keeping the sight and feel of her stump secret, and having it all in the open and revealing all. Why do we keep this tantalising process going? Is it that eventually we want to see all there is to see, but want to linger over the process, revealing a bit at a time?

It had to come to a head, as F. was due to return to her own country for good, and the likelihood of my seeing her again was very low. On her last evening, I booked a hotel room, knowing that she had to be back in her own place by late evening. We had supper together and then went back to the hotel. F. was neatly dressed in a two-piece costume over a white blouse. She left her artificial leg off and went about on her crutches as usual when there was only the two of us.

In the hotel, we talked but the conversation was difficult, knowing it was our last evening together; F. took her jacket off and we caressed a bit. Still clothed I lay on top of her, and she must have known how aroused I was. Eventually I asked her to move her skirt up saying that I would like to kiss her stump. Very willingly, and unembarrassed, but very demurely, F. moved her skirt up slowly, and enough to expose almost the full length of her stump. She then raised it to meet my kiss, which was brief and gentle, and far from the raging arousal that I felt within. I held her stump gently between my hands and lightly kissed the scar from end to end, before letting it go. I did not look at it, and F. moved her stump down, as I helped her to put her skirt straight. We didn't say much, knowing that it was time to go. F. took her crutches and stood up. Before she put on her jacket, we met in a long passionate embrace. F. pressed herself into me, with stump far out to her side, and then rubbed it emotionally up and down my thigh. I should have taken that signal but I didn't and eventually we calmed down, and set off. Outside where she had to stay for the night, we shook hands, and that was it. We did not meet again.

My memory is mostly of what we nearly did, rather than what we actually did. I have no memory of the shape of her stump, or its feel, nor of what she looked like as she went on her artificial limb. I have memorable pictures in my mind of the first sighting, of the time she wore trousers with the empty leg pinned up, of her hopping gently when she was making supper once, and of the many times when we were walking together - she with her crutches and the sight of her one-leggedness.

But what of it all? F. had lost her leg, but she had retained her virginity. However, somewhere something must have happened to her, during our friendship. What about her innocence? All the while I was viewing her from the perspective of a devotee, I was stealing something from her. I was stealing her innocence without her knowing. Or, did she all the while know what I was thinking and watching. She never hinted that she knew, but maybe all along she did know, and was playing the game from her own viewpoint as well. Was that why she rarely wore her artificial limb when we were together, so that the object of our relationship could remain hidden? Did she like being the object of a devotee and did not want to break the magic of the adoration, in the same way as I did not want to destroy the object that I had become passionately engaged with. I shall never know.

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