The Job

By Vicki

 

Authors note:

 

This story is based on the plot in my story “Braced for Life” except that Beth winds up wearing hooks instead of braces to secure her new job.

 

            Sue’s phone rang and she picked it up to find her old school friend Beth on the line.

            “Hi Sue, how are you doing?”   

            “Great, what’s up Beth? It’s been a while. You keeping out of trouble?”

            “Never, you know me. The reason I called is that I recently lost my job because the company was running into hard times. I was wondering if you knew of any openings in our field in your area?”

            Both Beth and Sue had degrees in advertising and both worked as ad execs.

            “As a matter of fact my firm has an opening.”

            “Really? I would be willing to move to your area if it looked promising,” Beth replied.

            “Well there’s a little hitch,” Sue explained.

            “A hitch? What kind of hitch? Is the job a good one?” Beth asked.

            “It’s a great job, but I really don’t want to go into the details over the phone. Hey, want to come for the weekend and we can talk about it and maybe look for other openings?”

            “I would love to. I have been meaning to get together for a long time,” Beth said quite excited at the possibility of a job opening.

            “Okay. Can I expect you Saturday morning?”

            “You bet. I should be there around 11.”

            Beth arrived at Sue’s on time and the two girls hugged each other and engaged in chit chat for a while before the subject of the job came up.

            “All right Sue, so what’s the catch in this job opening?” Beth asked.

            “Well first of all the job is great. It pays very well and would be a great opportunity. It is the account manager for a major account with a company that specializes in disability products. Our last exec left the company. She was really well liked by our client because she was handicapped. She was an amputee. Both of her legs were missing above her knees. She was in a wheelchair.”

            “That’s horrible,” Beth exclaimed.

            “Well anyway, my company feels they will lose the account if we don’t find someone who is handicapped to manage the account. This company is run by some handicapped people and they have a prejudice that way.”

            “But I’m not handicapped,” Beth said.

            “Yeah, that’s the problem. I was thinking that maybe you could pretend to be handicapped just for the job.”

            “You’re kidding, aren’t you?” Beth stated more than asked.

            “Well yes and no. Maybe it would work though.”

            “So you want me to sit in a wheelchair or something?”

            “I don’t know. It would have to be convincing and you would need to act really quick. They are actively looking around,” Sue explained.

            “I think this is crazy,” Beth said.

            “Yeah, probably. My boyfriend Ron might have some ideas.”

            “How so?” Beth asked.

            “Well Ron is a prosthetist. That’s someone who fits artificial arms and legs. He is coming over for dinner. Why don’t we ask him?”

            “Sure. I have nothing to lose, but this is really nuts.”

            The girls spent the rest of the day catching up on their respective lives.

Beth did not currently have a boyfriend. She recently broke up with a guy.

            Ron came over around six that night and Beth and Sue had prepared a nice dinner. Afterwards, Sue explained the whole thing to Ron.

            “Wow, this is pretty far out. I guess we could put Beth in a wheelchair or something. I have a friend who could make her leg braces.”

            “Leg braces!” Beth exclaimed.

            “Well they would be rather convincing, don’t you think?” Ron asked.

            “I guess,” Sue replied. “What about something along the lines of what you do?”

            “You mean an artificial leg or arm?”

            “Something like that,” Sue said.

            “Now wait a minute you guys. This is really far out. I couldn’t do that,” Beth said with a little concern.

            “I don’t think I could fake a leg, but maybe an arm,” Ron said.

            “An arm?” Sue asked.

            “Well I suppose I could make a socket that Beth could fit her arm in if she curled up her hand, and she could have a hook.”

            “A hook? No way.” Beth replied now completely aghast.

            “Yeah, that is a bit crazy. Besides, because of her hand, one arm would be longer than the other and that would be pretty noticeable,” Ron explained.

            Sue started to look like she was seriously considering this whole crazy idea. There was silence for a moment before Sue had an idea.

            “Not if she had two hooks. Then her arms would be the same length. Could you do that? Would the hooks actually work?”

            “Oh sure. They would be fully functional. With the proper clothing I don’t think anyone would know. Some arm amputees have their hands amputated below the wrists and they have longer than normal arms. They are called wrist disarticulations,” Ron went on.

            Meanwhile Beth was becoming very alarmed.

            “You guys are actually a little serious aren’t you?”

            “Well you want this job, don’t you?” Sue asked.

            “Well sure, but I don’t know if this would work. Even if I did it, people would see me with hands when I wasn’t at work.”

            “Not if you never went out without wearing the prosthesis,” Ron suggested.

            “You mean kind of live that way permanently?” Sue asked now quite alarmed.

            “Yeah, I guess that is really nuts,” Sue said.

            “Well why don’t you guys come to my shop tomorrow and I can show you some things. No one will be there. It’s Sunday,” Ron invited.

            “Good idea. Come on Beth. At least let’s explore this,” Sue insisted.

            “I guess so,” Beth said. “This is really too much to take in.”

            The next day Sue and Beth met Ron at his shop. The two girls went into Ron’s workshop and saw various prosthetics under construction. Ron showed the girls some artificial legs. They could see how the sockets were being molded to the castings of the amputee’s leg or legs. Next he brought over an arm with its hook at the end of the socket. Beth gave a noticeable wince as she held the arm.

            “God these things are horrible. How could anyone use these things instead of hands?” Beth said.

            “Well they are really quite functional when you learn to use them. You can pick up things quite easily and do most things a normal person can. Of course there are things you can’t do. A below the elbow amputee is much more functional since they have an elbow they can bend normally. Someone with two hooks is really pretty badly handicapped though.”

            Ron demonstrated a prosthesis for an upper arm amputee showing how the elbow joint worked. He explained how the control cables worked for both types of prosthesis.

            “I agree with Sue that if you were to do this you would really need two hooks so your arms would be balanced in length. Of course getting by with no hands would be much harder. Having one hand makes things much easier, but there are double arm amputees who are quite functional with two hooks.”

            “So how would you make hooks for Beth?” Sue asked.

            “Well I would make a sockets long enough so she could curl her hands up into a tight fist and the socket would fit over them. The rest of the prosthesis would be standard BE. DBE in her case. That’s double below the elbow.” Ron went on.

            “How long would it take you? Time is short if she wants to apply for the job. We would only have about a week overall for her to learn to use them well enough to be convincing.” Sue asked.

            “If I really pushed and worked at night I could do them in a day.”

            “That would be great. How would Beth learn to use them?” Sue asked.

            “Well I know this DBE named Karen. She trains arm amputees. She is a good friend and I bet she would train Beth if I asked.”

            “Now wait a minute,” Sue exclaimed. “You guys sound like you have made up my mind for me. Those things are gross. I don’t think I could actually wear them, no less go to work every day with them.”

            “And always wear them when you were in public too,” Sue reminded her.

            “God, what have I got myself in to,” Beth moaned.

            “Come on Beth. Try it. You might even find it fun,” Sue pleaded.

            “Oh sure. So would walking on hot coals.”

            “Please, if you can’t stand it you can give up before applying for the job. If you got the job and hated it you could just quit,” Sue said.

            “Oh, all right. This is really a wacky idea, but I am desperate for work.”

            “All right, let me make a mold of your arms and I can get to work tomorrow,” Ron said.

            It took about an hour for Ron to make a mold of Beth’s arms. The two girls went back home to make plans. Beth would go back to her place and return in a day with some clothing. She would stay for a couple of weeks while she was trained and applied for the job. If she got it she would find an apartment and move out of her current location.

            The night after Beth arrived back they once again went to Ron’s shop. Beth was very nervous as one could expect. Ron brought over Beth’s finished hooks.

            “Oh God, I am going to wear those?”

            “You’ll look great,” Sue said half joking.

            Ron showed Beth the details of her prosthesis. He showed her how the two straps that supported the arms ran from a ring that would be positioned between her shoulder blades. These straps then split into an inverted Y to attach to the two triceps cuffs that would fit over Beth’s upper arms. The triceps cuffs were attached to the upper end of Beth’s forearm sockets with rigid hinges.

            “I gave you rigid hinges at the elbows to make you a little more handicapped. This prevents you from rotating your arms below the elbow. You will have to get hook rotation at the wrist unit,” Ron said.

            “Gee thanks, how nice of you,” Beth said sarcastically.

            Ron then continued to explain how the control cables attached to her hooks and were then anchored partway up the sockets. The cables then ran behind the arm and were anchored by a special attachment at the back of the triceps cuffs. From there they attached to a strap by means of a hanger. The straps met at the same ring as the harness. The straps were adjustable in length to make the opening and closing action of the hooks occur at exactly the right amount of shoulder movement.

            “First we need to fit you with stump socks,” Ron explained. He got a pair of white stump socks of the proper length. “Okay Beth, take off your sweater.”

            Beth had on a long sleeve sweater with the longest sleeves she had. They had some extra length as she had the cuffs folded up. She felt self conscious about taking her sweater off in front of Ron when she only had on a bra underneath, but she did it. Ron slipped on the stump socks and pulled them up to her armpits as she curled up her hands into fists. Ron guided her right arm into the socket. It fit like a glove. He placed the harness over her shoulders and guided her other arm into the left socket.

            “Oh God, these are so heavy,” Beth said as she looked down at her new hooks.

            Ron spent the next few minutes adjusting the harness and made Beth open and close her hooks to make sure they were perfect. Sue then helped Beth back into her sweater. Beth took a look at herself in the mirror.

            “I look horrible. These things are so gross. People will stare at me.”

            “Yes, they will,” Ron said. “You have to get used to that just like a real amputee. You will get a lot of pity too. It comes with being handicapped, especially for amputees.”

            While Ron was explaining the basics of opening and closing her hooks to pick things up, the bell rang. Ron went to the front door and let Karen in. Karen was a striking blonde beauty in her late twenties. Her two hooks were very much in evidence. Beth was shocked to see someone who really didn’t have any arms.

            “Beth, this is Karen. She has agreed to train you.”

Without thinking Beth reached out to shake hands and realized that she was extending her hook to someone who also had a hook. The two girls laughed.            “Hi Beth. I know the whole story and I don’t have a problem with it. Before you ask, I lost my arms in an accident when I was fifteen years old, so I have been using my hooks for a long time now. They really aren’t so bad. Of course your life is quite different without hands. I am sure you will quickly realize that,” Karen explained.

            That kind of broke the ice. Karen agreed to go to Sue’s place for the rest of the evening and start Beth’s training. They all insisted that Beth wear her hooks after leaving. They all thanked Ron for his help and left. Beth felt very strange with her new hooks. She felt very helpless.

            When they got back to Sue’s place Karen started to explain some things.

            “Well Beth, the first thing you need to come to grips with is that everything is going to be difficult at first. You will feel very frustrated. As things get easier you will feel more comfortable. I won’t need to show you how to do some things, like bathe, shave your legs, and most of getting dressed, since you can do that before you put your hooks on. You can do your makeup with your hands, but I will need to show you how to touch it up, comb your hair and do the things you will have to do in public. Of course that means going to the bathroom. You should also learn how to get your top off and on since you will have to do that after you get you hooks on. You will have to make some modifications to your clothing to make it easier to go to the bathroom. Buttons are a no no.”

            “These things are so uncomfortable,” Beth said.

            “I know hon, it takes time,” Karen explained.

            For the next hour Karen had Beth pick up things. She had her try to hold a glass to experience the difficulty. She even had her try to put lipstick on. Beth almost cried when she just couldn’t manage to get the lipstick cap off and the lipstick out of the tube.

            “How can anyone live this way?” Beth , moaned.

            “I think we need to put another rubber band on each hook. You don’t seem to have enough prehension  on your hooks. I know Ron gave Sue a bag of rubber bands and the application tool. She can do this for us.”

            Karen explained how the rubber bands controlled the prehension, or pressure of the hooks. Beth’s hooks had a rubber lining to grip things better. Beth explained all the little details about how hooks worked and the way in which Beth could use her wrist flexion units to tilt and rotate her hooks to just the right position.

            “Unless you get you hooks in the right position you just can’t do things,” Karen said. “Before you do anything take the time to position your hooks.”

            Little by little Beth was able to do more and more things. By the end of the evening she could even comb her hair a little. She still had a long way to go, but she was making progress. The two girls insisted that Beth stay in her hooks until she went to bed. By that time Beth was so glad to be able to bend her fingers. Karen said she would be over the next day at eight in the morning to continue Beth’s training.

            “We have lots to do and lots of places to go,” she said.

            “You mean we are going out with me this way?” Beth asked.

            “Of course. The sooner you face the world as an arm amp the better. It takes a bit to get over the stares and the feeling of helplessness you will have.”

            The next morning Beth got up and she and Sue had some coffee and bagels. After Sue left for work Beth took a shower, shaved her legs and got into her bra and panties. She also put on a pair of jeans and a pair of tennis shoes. She left off her top waiting for Karen to help her into her prosthesis. She combed her hair and put on some makeup. A few minutes later the bell rang and she let Karen in.

            “Hi Beth. All set for you first day as an arm amp?”

            “I guess so. I am really nervous though,” Beth replied.

            “I bet you are. Just stick with me and I will coach you. First let’s get you into your hooks. I will demonstrate.”

            Karen then managed to remove her sweater using her hooks and a lot of wiggling. She then shrugged off her prosthesis onto the bed. She stood there wearing her bra and stump socks. She used her mouth to pull off her two stump socks. Beth could then see Karen’s two stumps. She had two smoothly rounded stumps that ended about four inches below her elbows. Beth was somewhat shocked at the sight. Karen was so obviously handicapped looking that way, even more so than wearing her hooks.

            Karen instructed Beth in how to put on her stump socks. It was easier for Beth since she could use her hands for the most part. Karen had to work hard to pull up her stump socks using her mouth. She wanted Beth to try it so she would know what it was like. Karen then explained how to put on her hooks by first slipping one arm into the socket and swinging the prosthesis over the shoulders and then getting the other arm into the other socket and shrugging the harness into place over the shoulders. Beth put on her prosthesis with a lot more difficulty than Karen did. Of course Karen had been doing it for years.

            “Now for the hard part, putting on your sweater. This will be your first real challenge, but you have to learn to do it. You can’t put it on first. Your hooks have to be underneath,” Karen explained.

            Karen went first. Beth could see that this was not that easy. Karen had to wiggle and shrug a lot to get the sweater over her head and into place. Beth took about fifteen minutes to accomplish the same task. Her hooks got all tangled up in the sweater and it got stuck over her head. Finally she managed to wiggle into it and pull the sleeves down. She collapsed on the bed exhausted.

            “Wow, that was hard,” Beth said.

            “Well it’s done now. You are now in your hooks till bed time tonight. You will experience your first full day without hands. You have about sixteen hours ahead of you. By tonight I bet you will not even feel like you have hands. With your sweater over your hooks they will be on for quite a while. You can’t slip out of them any old time you want.”

            Beth realized she was trapped now. Her hooks weren’t coming off for many hours. She went to get her purse and realized it wasn’t ideal for someone without hands. It was rather small with lots of compartments that would be hard to open and close and to get things.

            “First thing we do is find you a better purse. You need a bigger one that you can get you hooks into and out of easier,” Karen said.

            Beth took a few minutes to figure out how to get it over her head rather than try to carry it just over a shoulder. It kept slipping and it was hard to keep it up with her hooks.

            “There you go. You learn little by little the things you can no longer do. I always put my purse over my head so it stays in place,” Karen explained.

            The two girls headed for Karen’s car. Beth noticed how easily Karen unlocked her car with her key. She saw that Karen had a special ring mounted on her steering wheel so she could drive.

            “We will have to get you a driving ring for your car like mine so you can drive. Without it you can’t turn the wheel all the way around.”

            They drove to the local mall, a big one that had a ton of stores and even several restaurants. Beth felt very nervous as they walked to the entrance. After they went in she immediately noticed the subtle stares the two of them were getting.

            “Don’t let it bother you. Just ignore people and concentrate on learning to use your hooks.”

            The first thing they did was to look for a new purse for Beth. Karen insisted that Beth pick up some to sample and try to get her hooks in and out. She finally found a nice one that was large enough. Karen paid for it so Beth could observe how she managed her money. They also bought a small zipper bag for Beth to keep her money in rather than a wallet which was harder to manage.

            Their next stop was a drug store where Karen helped Beth pick out a more suitable hair brush, one that she could hold better with her hooks. She made Beth try them all out to see which one was the best. They had previously switched Beth’s stuff to her new purse and she was using that and carrying her old one in the bag the new one came in. This time Karen made Beth pay the clerk. Much to Beth’s embarrassment Karen explained to the clerk what was happening.

            “My friend just lost her arms recently and has just been fitted with her hooks. I am teaching her how to do things so be a little patient with her as she tries to manage her money.”

            “I am so sorry dear, take all the time you want. I know you will master it,” the clerk said. Beth was mortified. She finally managed to fumble the money out.

            “Beth, what you do is hand the bills to the clerk and ask her to put the coins in the zipper bag for you. It’s almost impossible any other way as she can’t hand you coins. Take the bills and fold them up on the counter and put them in the bag.”

            Beth did as instructed. The clerk smiled and was very patient. Lucky there was no one else in line.

            “You did really well dear,” the clerk said. “Next time I think you will be an expert.”

            “Thanks, but you can’t imagine how hard it is to use these things,” Beth couldn’t help but to say.

            For the next hour Karen showed Beth how to shop for clothing. She explained how to hold things to see if they looked good and would fit. Beth knew that if she was to pull this off she couldn’t buy clothing without using her hooks unless she drove way out of town where she wouldn’t be recognized. She knew she would probably do that if she couldn’t manage. Karen made Beth try on a skirt in the fitting room. She had to help Beth with her jeans since she hadn’t yet modified them. Karen said she should replace the buttons with snaps and place a little ring on the zipper pull to make it possible to zip and unzip. As it was, Karen even had difficulty and she would have found it very hard to do it if it was her jeans. Beth struggled with the skirt and eventually pulled it up. It had an elastic waistband and so a zipper was no problem.

Beth liked the skirt and Karen made her pay for it without coaching this time. She didn’t say anything to the clerk. Beth knew the clerk was watching her every move with her hooks. Beth wondered what was going through her mind as she stared at the two women with their hooks.

            After they paid for the skirt Beth felt the urge to pee. The two girls headed for the ladies room. This was Beth’s first time using the ladies room with her hooks. Karen unbuttoned and unzipped Beth’s jeans before she went into the stall. Beth took forever getting her panties down and then up again. She had to tilt her hooks using her flexion wrists to get closer to her body. She pulled up the jeans as best she could and left the stall. Karen buttoned and zipped the jeans once again. A couple of teen girls watched all this. Beth heard them comment as they left.

            “God, they both have no hands and use those hook things. How can anyone stand living like that.”

            “I don’t think they have much of a choice,” the other replied.

            “That wasn’t too bad was it?” Karen asked.

            “Humiliating. I had no idea it was so hard without hands. These hooks are so hard to use. I know what you mean about getting the hook into the exact position or you can’t do things. I had to play around with the articulating wrists a few times before I could get a hold of my panties. These things are so damn hard to use.”

            “As that girl said, I don’t have much choice. Neither do you right now. You can’t exactly take them off in public,” Karen said kind of enjoying Beth’s discomfort. “Give it about fifteen years and you will be able to stand it.”

            Beth realized that Karen was referring to the length of time she had to do everything with her hooks. She had a lot more appreciation for Karen just then. It was lunch time and Karen insisted they go to one of the mall’s restaurants. After they were seated the waitress came over. Karen knew her.

            “This is my friend Beth. She had her arms amputated only recently and this is her first time out wearing her new hooks. She may have a little trouble.”

            “Hi Beth. You are in good hands with Karen. She is really good with her hooks. She is a good teacher. Let me know if you need anything special. I know it’s tough to get used to not having hands. I bet you do okay though. Karen is amazing. I sometimes forget she has those hooks.”

            Beth was still very self conscious about appearing in public with hooks. She felt as if everyone was looking at her. In reality, after the first few stares, most people stopped looking.

            The first challenge to Beth was trying to handle the menu. She finally managed to grasp it with her hooks. She picked out a classic burger and fries along with a diet Coke. She had no idea how she would eat her food. A few minutes after ordering, their drinks came.

            “I just want to show you what you can be up against Beth. Open your right hook and try to get it around the glass. Don’t try to pick it up. Now very carefully try to lift it just a little. That’s it. Chances are you would drop it if you tried to actually get it up to your mouth. If you use your other hook you might be able to manage to hold it, but even I don’t trust holding a glass. Use a straw. I always carry some extra straws in my purse. You quickly make a list of the things you can’t do anymore once you lose your hands.”

            By now Beth was feeling the full impact of using hooks instead of hands. She knew it was going to be a dramatic change in so many ways. Karen showed Beth how to hold her fork by placing it between her hooks and over the small lever, or thumb. This kind of locked it in place. She even managed to hold her knife in one hook and her fork in the other. Their food came and Beth got her first taste of eating with her hooks. Incredibly, she managed to cut her burger into bite sized pieces. There was no way either girl could hold a burger without crushing it between their hooks. They had to use a knife and fork.

            Both girls wanted ketchup. There was a new bottle on the table. Karen tried to open it, but her hook kept slipping on the top. It was very tight. She knew she couldn’t get it.

            “When this happens you have to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for some help when you need it,” Karen said.

            Their waitress came over a moment later and quickly unscrewed the cap. Beth’s heart sank. It was so easy for the waitress and Beth knew she would never be able to do something this simple. However, Beth felt a sense of accomplishment in being able to eat with her hooks. She was even able to hold a coffee mug using a technique Karen explained. She did have trouble opening the little packet of Equal.

            “Forget those little tiny containers of cream,” Karen said. “I have a bitch of a time with them. I can never get the tops off without spilling them. Get some help.”

            The two girls chipped in for the check, thanked their waitress and headed back out into the mall.

            “You did great Beth. You are a natural. I am starting to forget that you aren’t a real amp. You are handling your hooks so well,” Karen complimented.

            The girls shopped some more and Karen had Beth do more and more things. She made sure that Beth was not afraid to talk to people about her hooks. They fabricated a plausible story about how Beth had only recently lost her arms and she was getting used to her hooks. Karen made sure to coach Beth in front of sales people and explain to them what Beth was doing. She wanted Beth to understand that people felt more comfortable in the presence of someone with such a serious handicap if the person wearing the hooks was not afraid to talk about them.

            On the way back to Sue’s they stopped to buy groceries. Karen made Beth empty the shopping cart and pay the checker. When they got back she and Beth made dinner. Both girls used their hooks, of course. Beth learned many techniques.

            “If you are going to need to wear your hooks whenever someone you know is in your presence, you need to learn to do everything. I am sure you will want to have friends over and you will need to cook. You can’t let anyone know you are not a real amputee.”

            “So how did it feel today to live as an armless woman?” Karen asked Beth.

            “I just can’t believe how incredibly handicapped I felt. We take having hands so much for granted. Everything was so hard using my hooks. I felt that everyone was watching me and feeling sorry for me. I just felt that my hooks changed my life so much.”

            “Well of course they do. All the things you took for granted are hard now. You use your hands for so much and now you don’t have hands. So many things become challenges. Your hooks are a always a reminder of your handicap. You can’t really forget you are wearing them. You have to accept that you are a handicapped woman and things will never be the same again.”

            “Karen, I just don’t know if I could live this way,” Beth said.

            “Well I do and it’s not so bad. You will get used to it. I bet after a few months you will get used to your hooks and they won’t be something you dwell on constantly. You will start to lead a more normal life and you will just take them for granted. They will become part of you. You will just do things with them without thinking about it.”

            “You really think I could get used to them?”

            “Sure,” Karen said.

            For the rest of the week Beth wore her hooks for every waking hour. Ron installed a driving ring on her car and she started to go out by herself. At first she was very nervous since she felt she was so badly handicapped. Eventually she gained more confidence and started to relax a bit, doing things she enjoyed. She occasionally encountered something she had trouble with, but was almost always able to figure out how to get the job done. She mentally itemized the things she knew she couldn’t do and avoided the need to do them. She still wasn’t used to the stares she got and the occasional comment or embarrassing question. She was in a drug store stocking up on feminine hygiene products when an overly inquisitive clerk questioned her. She was paying for a can of women’s shaving cream and some women’s razors along with her Stayfree pads.

            “Can you shave your legs with those hooks?” The clerk asked. “That must be pretty hard.”

            “Yes, it is very hard. If you had to spend the rest of your life with these hooks you would know what it’s like,” Beth replied with a little anger at the question.

            This silenced and embarrassed the clerk. Beth was rapidly learning to deal with such incidents. On a more pleasant note, a small child was quite interested in Beth’s hooks and why she had them. The innocence of children. Much to her mother’s embarrassment she asked Beth how they worked.

            “Well sweetie, I don’t have hands like you do. I need these special hands to do things,” Beth explained. She demonstrated how she could open and close her hooks to pick things up.

            “I am so sorry,” the mother said. “I had no idea my daughter would ask you such a question.”

            “You don’t need to apologize,” Beth replied. “I am used to people asking about my prosthetics. I am used to seeing them, but most people aren’t.”

            “I am sure my daughter has never seen someone with hooks before. You are very understanding,” the mother said. “ As a mattr of fact I have never seen someone with two. It must be very difficult.”

            “I get along,” Beth replied.

            After her first week using her hooks Beth felt she could actually apply for the job she was seeking. She knew she was not perfect yet, but she knew she would be convincing. She also started to think that maybe she could live this way for the time periods she needed to. What she was most concerned about was that she would have to wear her hooks even when she wasn’t working and that her social life would require her to appear armless to all the new friends she made. That was the hardest thing to contemplate.

            Beth drove herself to the job interview and found the office of the hiring manager. A pleasant woman was at the reception desk. Beth explained who she was going to meet and she was asked to wait a few minutes before Mr. Jenkins was free.

            “Would you like a cup of coffee while you are waiting?” the receptionist asked.

            “Yes, that would be wonderful. Just cream and some diet sweetener please.”

            “ Can you manage okay with your prosthesis?” she asked.

            “Oh yes, as long as the coffee is in a mug,” Beth replied. A couple of minutes later the lady returned and handed the mug to Beth helping her get her hook through the handle.

            “My but you do so well without your hands,” the receptionist said. “It must be terribly difficult to spend your life that way.”

            “It’s not so bad. There aren’t that many important things I can’t do with my hooks,” Beth explained. A moment later Mr. Jenkins come out of his office.

            “Hello Beth, just call me Phil,” he said holding out his hand. A moment later he realized Beth had no hands. She reached out with her right hook and he grasped it lightly. They went into his office to discuss the position.

            “Well Beth, you have excellent credentials and I know our client would love you, especially since you are handicapped. I am just concerned that you can handle the day to day stuff because of your handicap. Can you use a computer, take notes and use the phone okay?”

            “Sure. I type really fast. I just need a trackball mouse that I can use with my foot. Writing is no problem and as long as the phone has a regular handset I have no problems there either,” Beth demonstrated her skills and Mr. Jenkins was very impressed.

            “Well I can see that your prosthetics seem to be in no way a handicap to getting the job done. I want to make you an offer on the spot since you are the most qualified and unique candidate we have had. Please don’t take offense, but your prosthetic hooks are a big plus to the image you will have with our client.”

            “I fully understand and I am not the least bit self conscious. I know I am sort of special and that doesn’t bother me,” Beth assured him.

            Beth was really excited after the meeting . The salary was twice what she expected and far higher than her last job. She would start the next week. This would give her time to relocate

            Beth packed her things and left her old apartment. Sue helped her move. She rented her new apartment wearing her hooks as she did not want anyone to know she wasn’t armless. After she finally moved in she realized with a little fright that she was now committed to living every moment of her public life as an arm amputee, using prosthetic hooks for her hands. All the local merchants where she shopped regularly eventually got to know her and accepted her disability. They were all especially helpful.

            On her first day at work she was introduced to the staff and no one mentioned her handicap although she knew they all were trying to avoid staring at her hooks. She was assigned a very pleasant office and a secretary she shared with two other execs.

            “I’m Martha,” she introduced herself as. Just let me know if there is anything special you need. If you need help with something I am always here. My best friend is in a wheelchair and I know a bit about being disabled from spending time with her.”

            “Thanks Martha” Beth replied. I do pretty well with these hooks and I probably will need very little help.”

            After a couple of weeks wearing her hooks full time at work Beth got so involved in her job that she rarely even thought about the fact that she was doing everything with hooks instead of hands.

            Eventually she started to have a social life with many of the people she met through work. Of course she had to wear her hooks during her non-working hours and live her personal life that way. She did the usual things women her age did. She went out to dinner and shows, shopping with some of her new girlfriends, and had people over to her apartment for dinner and socializing. She found that using her hooks really didn’t affect her private life in a significant way. Her new friends accepted her and she realized that they hardly thought about her handicap after a while.

            One day Sue and Ron went to Beth’s for dinner. Much to their surprise Beth was wearing her hooks.

            “Beth, how come you have you prosthesis on? We know you don’t need it,” Sue asked.

            “Yeah, well, I wear my hooks for so many hours a day that they are starting to feel natural to me. For some reason I feel more normal with them on,” Beth explained.

            “You’re nuts,” Ron exclaimed.

            “Well I pretty much am wearing them from the time I get up until I go to bed. I just bathe without them. Right after my bath I get into them. I am even dressing and putting on my makeup using them. Besides, I never know when a friend is going to pop by and if I am already in my prosthesis I don’t have to panic. I also worry about forgetting I am not wearing my hooks some time. This way I know I won’t. I am so used to them I hardly give them a second thought.”

            “I suppose next you will want to become a real arm amputee,” Sue said joking.

            “As a matter of fact, yes. I find having hands is a real pain. I wish there was a way. I think I would be happier knowing I was not pretending,” Beth explained.

            “God that’s crazy,” Sue said.

            “Maybe not,” Ron said. I can see her point. She is living her life quite differently now and has learned to accept it. I have heard of some place outside the country where you can actually pay to have it done.”

            “No kidding,” Beth said. “I think I would actually do that.”

            What made up her mind was when she started dating again. She knew that if she got serious, her pretend handicap would be a problem. So far she had kept things non-sexual, except for some romantic moments. She hadn’t yet had the need to remove her hooks.

            A couple of months later Beth announced that she had made arrangements to have her amputations done. She had thought it over and decided to do it. She felt she would be much happier that way. Dating was the most significant factor. She knew anyone she got intimate with would discover her secret and she didn’t want that to happen. She made up the story that she needed some surgery on her stumps. She said she would need a recovery period before she could start to wear her prosthesis again.

            When she returned from overseas she had Sue come in to help her out while her stumps healed. She had her amputations performed about midway between her wrists and her elbows. A nice comfortable length. She was ecstatic.

            Only a couple of weeks after the surgery she went back to work on a part time basis. A co-worker gave her a ride each day. Sue stayed with her to take care of her as she was pretty helpless with just her stumps. She had no prosthesis and someone in the office had to help her out, but she got some work done. Ron fitted her with new sockets molded to her new stumps. When she finally got her hooks back on she was just about the happiest person alive. She was no longer a pretender.

            Beth married a wonderful guy who loved her very much. She could now do anything she wanted, including swimming, which she could never do before since that would reveal her secret. Beth was expert at using her hooks. She and Karen continued to be friends even though Karen thought she was insane to have had amputations when she didn’t need to.

            Beth’s new job was the best thing that ever happened to her. She knew she was meant to wear hooks and loved every moment she wore them.