by Irving Kenneth Zola

Now I was the one who was nervous. Here we were alone in her room, thousands of miles from my home.

"Well, my personal care attendant is gone, so it will all be up to you," she said sort of puckishly, "Don't look so worried! I'll tell you what to do."

This was a real turn-about. It was usually me who reassured my partner. Me who, after putting aside my cane, and removing all the clothes that masked my brace, my corset, my scars, my thinness, my body. Me who'd say, "Well, now you see 'the real me'." How often I'd said that, I thought to myself. Saying it in a way that hid my basic fear--that this real me might not be so nice to look at. . . .might not be up to 'the task' before me.

She must have seen something on my face, for she continued to reassure me. "Don't be afraid." And as she turned her wheelchair toward me, she smiled at me that smile that first hooked me a few hours before. "Well," she continued, "first we have to empty my bag." And with that brief introduction we approached the bathroom.

Anger quickly replaced fear as I realized she could get her wheelchair into the doorway but not through it.

"Okay, take one of those cans," she said pointing to an empty Sprite, "and empty my bag into it."

Though I'd done that many times before, it wasn't so easy this time. I quite simply couldn't reach her leg from a sitting position on the toilet, and she couldn't raise her foot toward me. So down to the floor I lowered myself and sat at her feet. Rolling up her trouser leg I fumbled awkwardly with the clip sealing the tube. I looked up at her and she laughed, "It won't break and neither will I."

I got it open and her urine poured into the can. Suddenly I felt a quiver in my stomach. The smell was more overpowering than I'd expected. But I was too embarrassed to say anything. Emptying the contents into the toilet I turned to her again as she backed out. " What should I do with the can?" I asked.

"Wash it out," she answered as if it were a silly question. "We try to recycle everything around here."

Proud of our first accomplishment we headed back into the room. "Now comes the fun part...getting me into the bed." For a few minutes we looked for the essential piece of equipment--the transfer board. I laughed silently to myself. I seemed to always be misplacing my cane--the constant reminder of my own physical dependency. Maybe for her it was the transfer board.

When we found it leaning against the radiator, I reached down to pick it up and almost toppled over from its weight. Hell of a way to start, I thought to myself. If I can't lift this, how am I going to deal with her? More carefully this time, I reached down and swung it on the bed.

She parallel parked her wheelchair next to the bed, grinned, and pointed to the side arm. I'd been this route before, so I leaned over and dismantled it. Then with her patient instructions I began to shift her. The board had to be placed with the wider part on the bed and the narrower section slipped under her. This would eventually allow me to slip her across. But I could do little without losing my own balance. So I lay down on the mattress and shoved the transfer board under her. Then I lifted first one foot and then her other toward me till she was at about a 45 degree angle in her wheelchair. I was huffing, but she sat in a sort of bemused silence. Then came the scary part. Planting myself as firmly as I could behind her, I leaned forward, slipped my arms under hers and around her chest and then with one heave hefted her onto the bed. She landed safely with her head on the pillow and I joined her wearily for a moment's rest. For this I should have gone into training, I thought to myself. And again, she must have understood something, as she opened her eyes even wider to look at me. What beautiful eyes she has, a brightness heightened by her very dark thick eyebrows.

"You're blushing again," she said.

"How can you tell that it's not from exhaustion?" I countered.

"By your eyes...because they're twinkling."

I leaned over and kissed her again. But more mutual appreciation would have to wait. There was still work to be done.

The immediate task was to plug her wheelchair into the portable recharger. This would have been an easy task for anyone except the technical incompetent that I am.

"Be careful," she said. "If you attach the wrong cables you might shock yourself."

I laughed. A shock from this battery would be small compared to my cumulating evening surprises.

But even this attaching was not so easy. I couldn't read the instructions clearly, so down to the floor I sank once more.

After several tentative explorations, I could see the gauge registering a positive charge. I let out a little cheer.

She turned her head toward me and looked down as I lay stretched out momentarily on the floor. "Now the really fun part," she teased. "You have to undress me."

"Ah, but for this," I said in my most rakish tones, "we'll have to get closer together." My graceful quip was, however, not matched by any graceful motion. For I had to crawl on the floor until I could find a chair onto which I could hold and push myself to a standing position.

As I finally climbed onto the bed, I said, "Is this trip really necessary?" I didn't know what I intended by that remark but we both laughed. And as we did and came closer, we kissed, first gently and then with increasing force until we said almost simultaneously, "We'd better get undressed."

"Where should I start?" I asked.

"Wherever you like," she said in what seemed like a coquettish tone.

These words were easy enough, but not so her slacks. Since she could not raise herself, I alternated between pulling, tugging, and occasionally lifting. Slowly, over her hips, I was able to slip her slacks down from her waist. By now I was sweating as much from anxiety as exertion. I was concerned I'd be too rough and maybe hurt her but, most of all, I was afraid that I might inadvertently pull out her catheter. At least in this anxiety I was not alone. But with her encouragement we again persevered. Slacks, underpants, corset all came off in not so rapid succession.

At this point a different kind of awkwardness struck me. There was something about my being fully clothed and her not that bothered me. I was her lover, not her personal care attendant. And so I asked if she minded if I took off my clothes before continuing.

I explained in a half-truth that it would make it easier for me to get around now 'without all my equipment.' "Fine with me," she answered and again we touched, kissed and lay for a moment in each other's arms.

Pushing myself to a sitting position I removed my own shirt, trousers, shoes, brace, corset, bandages, undershorts until I was comfortably nude. The comfort lasted but a moment. Now I was embarrassed. I realized that she was in a position to look upon my not so beautiful body. My usual defensive sarcasm about 'the real me' began somewhere back in my brain, but this time it never reached my lips. "Now what?" was the best I could come up with.

"Now my top...and quickly. I'm roasting in all these clothes."

I didn't know if she was serious or just kidding but quickness was not in the cards. With little room at the head of the bed, I simply could not pull them off as I had the rest of her clothes.

"Can you sit up?" I asked.

"Not without help."

"What about once you're up?"

"Not then either...not unless I lean on you."

This time I felt ingenious. I locked my legs around the corner of the bed and then grabbing both her arms I yanked her to a sitting position. She made it but I didn't. And I found her sort of on top of me, such a tangle of bodies we could only laugh. Finally I managed to push her and myself upright. I placed her arms around my neck. And then, after the usual tangles of hair, earrings and protestations that I was trying to smother her, I managed to pull both her sweater and blouse over her head. By now I was no longer being neat, and with an apology threw her garments toward the nearest chair. Naturally I missed...but neither of us seemed to care. The bra was the final piece to go, and with the last unhooking we both plopped once more to the mattress.

For a moment we just lay there, but as I reached across to touch her, she pulled her head back mockingly, "We're not through yet."

"You must be kidding!" I said, hoping that my tone was not as harsh as it sounded.

"I still need my booties and my night bag."

"What are they for?" I asked out of genuine curiosity.

"Well, my booties--those big rubber things on the table--keep my heels from rubbing and getting irritated and the night bag...well, that's so we won't have to worry about my urinating during the night."

The booties I easily affixed; the night bag was another matter. Again, it was more my awkwardness than the complexity of the task. First, I removed the day bag, now emptied, but still strapped around her leg, and replaced it with the bigger night one. Careful not to dislodge the catheter, I had to find a place lower than the bed to attach it, so gravity would do the rest. Finally the formal work was done. The words of my own thoughts bothered me, for I realized that there was part of me that feared what "work" might still be ahead.

She was not the first woman with a disability I'd ever slept with, but she was, as she had said earlier, "more physically dependent than I look." And she was. As I prepared to settle down beside her, I recalled watching her earlier in the evening over dinner. Except for the fact that she needed her steak cut and her cigarette lit, I wasn't particularly conscious of any dependence. In fact quite the contrary, for I'd been attracted in the first place to her liveliness, her movements, her way of tilting her head and raising her eyebrows. But now it was different. This long process of undressing reinforced her physical dependency.

But before I lay down again, she interrupted my associations. "You'll have to move me. I don't feel centered." And as I reached over to move her legs, I let myself fully absorb her nakedness. Lying there, she seemed somehow bigger. Maybe it was the lack of muscle-tone, if that's the word, but her body seemed somehow flattened out. Her thighs and legs and her breasts, the latter no longer firmly held by her bra, flopped to her sides. I felt guilty a moment for even letting myself feel anything. I was as anxious as hell, but with no wish to flee. I'm sure my face told it all. For with her eyes she reached out to me and with her words gently reassured me once again. "Don't be afraid."

And so as I lay beside her we began our loving. I was awkward at first. I didn't know what to do with my hands. And so I asked. In a way it was no different than with any other woman. In recent years, I often find myself asking where and how they like to be touched. To my questions she replied, "My face...especially my ears..." And as I drew close she swung her arms around my neck and clasped me in a surprisingly strong grip.

"Tighter, tighter, hold me tighter," she laughed again. "I'm not fragile... I won't break." And so I did. And as we moved, I found myself naturally touching other parts of her body. When I realized this I pulled back quickly, "I don't know what you can feel."

"Nothing really in the rest of my body."

"What about your breasts?" I asked rather uncomfortably.

"Not much...though I can feel your hands there when you press."

And so I did. And all went well until she told me to bite and squeeze harder. Then my arm began to shake. Feeling the quiver she again reassured me. So slowly and haltingly I followed where she led.

I don't know how long we continued kissing and fondling, but as I lay buried in her neck, I felt the heels of her hands digging into my back and her voice whispering, "Tell me. . . tell me."

Suddenly I got scared again. Tell her what. Do I have to say that I love her? Oh my God! And I pretended for a moment not to hear.

"Tell me...tell me," she said again as she pulled me tighter. With a deep breath, I meekly answered, "Tell you what?"

"Tell me what you're doing," she said softly, "so I can visualize it." With her reply I breathed a sigh of relief. And a narrative voyage over her body began; I kissed, fondled, caressed every part I could reach. Once I looked up and I saw her with her head relaxed, eyes closed, smiling.

It was only when we stopped that I realized I was unerect. In a way my penis was echoing my own thoughts. I had no need to thrust, to fuck, to quite simply go where I couldn't be felt.

She again intercepted my own thoughts-- " Move up, please put my hands on you," and as I did, I felt a rush through my body. She drew me toward her again until her lips were on my chest, and gently she began to suckle me as I had her a few minutes before. And so the hours passed...ears, mouths, eyes, tongues inside one another.

And every once in a while she would quiver in a way which seemed orgasmic. As I thrust my tongue deep in her ear, her head would begin to shake, her neck would stretch out and then her whole upper body would release with a sigh.

Finally, at some time well past two, she yawned. "Time for sleep, but there is one more task--an easy one. I'm cold and dry so I need some hot water."

"Hot water!" I said rather incredulously.

"Yep, I drink it straight. It's my one vice."

And as she sipped the drink through a long straw, I closed my eyes and curled myself around the pillow. My drifting off was quickly stopped as she asked rather archly, "You mean you're going to wrap yourself around that rather than me?"

I was about to explain that I rarely slept curled around anyone and certainly not vice-versa, but I thought better of it, saying only, "Well I might not be able to last this way all night."

"Neither might I," she countered. "My arm might also get tired."

We pretended to look at each other angrily but it didn't work. So we came closer again, hugged and curled up as closely as we could, with my head cradled in her arm and my leg draped across her.

And, much to my surprise, I fell quickly asleep--unafraid, unsmothered, and more importantly, rested, cared for, and loved.


copyright Irving Kenneth Zola