"It can't be," Nicky said. "We saw you trying to catch your book. You moved like a cat. You don't even walk with a limp."
"I know. And yet it's true."
Daniel smiled at the two of them shyly, as if expecting them to walk away any moment. For a few seconds they stood petrified.
Finally, Chris cleared his throat and asked, "And why... I mean... er... How did it....?"
"How I lost my leg?"
"It was a car accident. My parents were only slightly hurt but my leg got jammed between the front and the back seats and was cut by metal parts from the floor. By the time they'd freed me, it was beyond being saved." He shrugged and sat on the bench.
Nicky sat down beside him.
"Is it painful?" she asked.
"No, not at all. Well, it used to hurt at the beginning, of course, but not anymore. Sometimes I have a phantom pain. It feels as if something heavy were standing on my foot, although this must sound crazy. It doesn't last very long, usually. And sometimes in summer I itch. It's ok, really. I don't feel handicapped. I can do virtually everything."
"Except for riding a normal bike." Chris came closer.
"Oh, my bike is a normal one. I only need a special pedal. Then I put a kind of clasp on my foot which I can fasten it to the pedal with. Without that, I'd slip constantly."
"What is it made of?" Nicky asked.
"And how's it fastened to your body?"
"I slip a leather sleeve over my knee, which is fortunately still there, and then fasten with laces."
Chris edged still a little closer. "Can I touch it?" he asked.
(To be continued)
Lighthouse in St. Martin's