I saw her as she walked out of a restaurant. She was a petite, dark haired girl with stunning blue eyes. She caught my attention not only by the fact that she was incredibly beautiful, but also by her peculiar way of walking. Two aluminum crutches were tucked under her arms, making her look vulnerable. I stopped, stared at these old fashioned devices, and wondered when I had last seen someone walking on crutches. It must have been many years ago. She looked around her, then cautiously descended the two steps to the sidewalk. She was wearing a black leather skirt and a blue blouse. Her feet were clad with black, high-heeled pumps. I was able to see the graceful curves of her calves and thighs under her patterned stockings. She cringed as a car whooshed above us, then set out on her way. I followed her at a safe distance.
She was walking swiftly, using her crutches like an expert. At first, I didn't see anything wrong with her legs. It seemed to me that she didn't need crutches at all. This impression was enhanced by the fact that she was putting weight on both her legs. Subsequently, I noticed that her left knee was a bit stiff and that she was unable to bend it enough.
She stopped abruptly, slipped her left foot out of her shoe and moved her delicate ankle around. Her rosy sole was visible through her stocking. After curling her toes a couple of times, she slipped her shoe back on and continued on her way.
Gradually, her pace became slower and slower. At first, I thought that she was tired and just wanted to relax a little. Then I noticed her limp getting worse. A minute late, she was barely able to put weight on her left leg.
She stopped, turned around with surprising gracefulness and fixed her eyes on me.
"Why are you following me?" she asked and cocked her head.
"I ... I just didn't know how to start a conversation with you."
"What do you want from me?"
"You are so beautiful!" I said boldly and tried not to blush.
Her lips twitched into a wry smile, her eyes twinkling merrily. She looked down at her feet and her expression became grave.
"I need help," she said simply.
"What can I do for you," I said and took a step toward her.
"The batteries of my neurosupporting system are almost dead. I am losing the sensitivity in my legs. Soon, I won't be able to walk."
I blinked and stared at her, feeling that I look like an idiot right not.
"Do you want me to carry you?" I asked.
"I still feel strong enough to walk on my own, but it would be nice to have someone beside me till I get home. I live two blocks away from here. "
"OK. You have to recharge your batteries, uh? "
"Yes, literally," she said and crutched toward the intersection.
"What's the purpose of this ... neurosupporting system?"
"I broke my back a few years ago. The system enables me to move my legs.
We walked in silence for some time. Her gait was getting ataxic, her face darker. She stopped to rest for moment, then continued to struggle with her dying legs.
"I will take over from now on," I said.
She nodded sadly and slipped her crutches from under her arms. I lifted her up with one arm round her back and the other under the back of her knees.
"Thank you," she said and rested her cheek on my shoulder.
I had no problems carrying her. She was petite, weighing no more than 120 pounds.
"I hate causing problems," she said.
"There is no problem."
"The next building to the right," she said and rewarded me with a broad smile.
The building was thirty storied structure with greenish windows. The old man that was standing beside the entrance held the door open for us and stared lewdly at the girl's legs.
"That poor knee of yours again, uh?" he asked.
"No, the hardware works fine," she answered as I brushed past him.
As we entered the lift, I felt something strange. She suddenly got limp, and her arms dropped. Her body started to feel heavier than before. I looked at her face anxiously. Her right eye was glazed, gazing through me at some point far away from this world. I stiffened with horror and shook her. Then I noticed that her other eye looks absolutely normal. The crutches slipped out of her fingers. I managed to grasp them before they fell.
Her words came out calm and sweet." Don't be afraid. I'm not going to die on you."
"What's the matter with you?" I asked feeling my heart speed up a bit.
"The system failed completely."
"You have to see a doctor!"
"No. I just have to recharge the batteries."
"Are you sure?"
She nodded meekly.
"Yes, I know it looks ugly. It's not functioning right now."
"Are you in pain?"
"No. PRS is still on."
"Pain reducing system."
The lift stopped and I walked out.
"237," she uttered.
The door was at the end of the corridor.
"Where are your keys?" I asked.
"You have to place my right hand on the handle. It will identify me."
I took her hand and did what she told me to do. The door whooshed open. I found her bedroom and put her on her bed. She sighed and thanked me.
"The charger is on the table. Please, place it on my stomach!"
After that, I took her pumps off and grabbed the opportunity to caress her ankles. She didn't seem to feel anything at all.
"You were very kind to me. I am much obliged to you. You can go now if you want to," she said.
"I don't want to go."
Something unreadable flickered in her left eye. Then, she just nodded.