A/N: Okay, another school project for everyone to read. This is actually the revision. I assure you that it is much, much better than the original version which will never see the light of day ever again. I did some research for this story, but it may not be perfect. Please keep in mind that this story is fictional. However, like my previous story, The Cinder RebellionLegs is also based on a fairy tale. See if you can guess which one. Also included in my story are a few pop culture references from the 1980's. A couple of them are pretty obvious. Enjoy the story and keep smiling : )! Tootles, Widow Shark

Legs

It's almost embarrassing the way my parents act around me nowadays. For instance, yesterday, when Mom and I were at the mall, she yelled at a group of my former classmates for staring at me. That's all they were doing, just staring.

"They're probably just surprised to see me, Mom," I said in their defense. As usual, she wouldn't listen to me.

I waved sheepishly as every last one of them got up and left the food court area in a swoosh of plastic shopping bags and screeching chairs.

"That'll teach them to stare at my little girl," Mom told me as she leaned over to snare me in one of her rib-crunching hugs.

"Thanks, Mom," I sighed. She really could be embarrassing at times, but I knew she meant well. And at least she didn't try to clean the edges of my mouth with her spit like she did when I was five. Yuck!

Dad meant well, too. However, sometimes I think he can be far more protective of me. I know he doesn't want me to get hurt. I understand that completely. Really I do, but going out of the way just to avoid driving past the shoe store on the way home is getting to be a bit tiresome after almost a year. And just this afternoon, I overheard him asking Mom to hold off buying her new pair of shoes (the expensive ones she's been saving up for) because he didn't want me to get upset.

I have no feet. I'm a double amputee from the knees down.

It happened at the beginning of summer last year. I was walking across the main road to meet some of my friends for ice cream to celebrate. The crosswalk said I could go, so I started to cross. The driver of the vehicle didn't stop, but I did.

I could hear my friends screaming, "Cordelia, look out!" At that point I knew it was too late.

I remember the sensation of being hit. For the two or three seconds that I was sent floating through the air, it felt as though I was under water. I was breathless when I hit the asphalt surface. And on top of that I'd been knocked several feet ahead of the vehicle that had just careened into me. The beast of a car didn't stop. So, while I lay in the middle of the road, trying to catch my breath, my legs were run over. They were instantly crushed. I could feel that my bones had been broken and that some had even pierced my skin. There was blood trickling down my calves.

I don't like blood. Not since I stepped on that shell at Virginia Beach and I had to get two stitches in my big toe. Now that was painful.

The last thing I saw before passing out was the tail end of a grayish Hummer swerving to avoid other cars as it sped off. The driver still hasn't been caught.

I woke up in the hospital four and a half days later. It was a cold room. I suspected the air conditioner was on the icebox setting instead of room temperature. Maybe it was just me. The paper thin gown I was wearing didn't help matters. I could also hear the machines that were letting the doctors and nurses know I wasn't giving up.

When I finally opened my eyes I could see that Mom, Dad, and my older sister were gathered around my bed.

Mom had been crying. I could tell. I always knew when she cried even if she were facing the other way—which she was. She was sitting on the edge of the bed, hunched over staring at the linoleum. Her hands were probably pulling at an already pulled apart tissue. Her graying, but still dark hair was frizzed and messy—a sign that she had been pulling at it too. She did things like that when she was upset or stressed.

Dad was holding my hand. His large, rough fingers were somehow tangled with my own long, thin ones. He wasn't facing me either. He was staring out the large window. He seemed kind of lost at sea. His once sandy hair now resembled salt and pepper—even more so since I last saw him on Tuesday morning when he dropped me off at school. Could someone really age that fast? I wondered.

My older sister Shady was the only one looking directly at me; her sea-green eyes meeting my own ocean-blues. Her curly, black hair, even though it was tied up in a bow, still cascaded down her shoulders. Mom always tells me I look just like her, except I think my features are slightly less delicate.

Of course, Shady's not her real name. Her real name is Sinead, but when I was little I couldn't pronounce that. So, I started calling her Shady. It's been her nickname ever since.

I was glad she was the one who saw me open my eyes first.

"Mom, Dad, look," Shady whispered excitedly. "Cordy's awake."

Mom glanced at Shady first for confirmation. Shady nodded her head.

"Oh, Cordelia," Mom sighed, sounding both relieved and concerned in just those two words. Dad gently ran his fingers through my hair.

I tried to say something, but instantly found that it would be impossible due to a tube that had been stuffed down my throat. As I later found out, one of my lungs had collapsed, probably on impact. Mom broke down and started sobbing. Dad went to the other side of the room and started rubbing her back to try and comfort her.

I tried to ask why she was crying, and in frustration only succeeded in rolling my eyes backward. Luckily for me, Shady is great at charades.

"Do you want me to go get the nurse?" Shady asked. She only had to look at my eyes to know the answer was a silent, yet resounding, "yes."

Shady returned with the nurse a few minutes later.

"What's wrong?" The nurse seemed a bit annoyed. Her bedside manner could have been improved…a lot. She looked around the room and noticed that my eyes were open. "Oh, you're awake," she said to me. "Whatcha want?"

I rolled my eyes again. Bimbo. How was I going to answer her with a tube in my throat?

Nurse Bimbo looked like she was trying to fit in with a younger crowd. Her hair was frizzy and dry-looking, proof that she'd bleached it one too many times. And her makeup was dark and whorish. She belonged in a bar, not the hospital. Then she began snapping on a piece of gum. I knew there had to be something in the nurses' handbook about not doing that.

"I think she wants the tube taken out of her mouth," Shady said.

Ever since Shady started baby-sitting me when she was fifteen, we've gotten along swimmingly. Despite the ten year age difference we understood each other perfectly.

Nurse Bimbo snapped her gum so loudly that the room echoed. She sighed heavily.

"I'll be right back with Dr. Jones," she said.

She left the room still snapping her gum. I had every intention of telling the Doc about her after he removed the tube from my esophagus, but I'd forgotten about it by the time he finally dragged himself into my room. Apparently you forget things quickly when you have a concussion.

Dr. Jones was no Harrison Ford. He wasn't even a young Sean Connery. He was young though. I could tell because he still had zits. How many doctors, besides Doogie Howser, still got zits? His auburn hair was sort of tousled, too, like he had just rolled off a gurney from taking a mid-shift nap or something. He picked up my chart.

"What seems to be the problem, Corey?"

Could this guy even read?

"Her name's Cordelia—Cordy," Mom corrected. She was very proud of my name—it means jewel of the sea. I was born on a cruise ship a month early.

"Sorry 'bout that. What seems to be the problem, Cor-Dee?"

His emphasis was so unnecessary. If I could have lifted both of my arms (one of them was broken) I would have strangled the Doc for being as stupid as Nurse Bimbo.

"Our daughter would like the breathing tube removed, Dr. Jones," Dad told him.

"Okay, not a problem. She seems to be doing a lot better."

Duh!

Dr. Jones propped me up and carefully slid the hollow plastic snake out of my mouth telling me to force myself to cough while he did so. That hurt—a lot. I had four broken ribs and a fractured collarbone.

"Thanks," I wheezed.

"Don't talk, Cordy," Mom ordered. It was amazing how fast Mom could stop the theatrics. "Thank you, Doctor."

"Page me if you need anything else," Dr. Jones said on his way out.

"Mom…"

"Don't speak, Cordy," Mom ordered again.

I ignored her. Mom was definitely back to her old self.

"My feet hurt, Mom." At least I thought they did. Everyone in the room froze.

"Cordelia, honey," Mom started, gently brushing a few strands of my dark, wavy hair out of my eyes.

Her tone changed again. And she used the word "honey." It was then that I knew something was terribly wrong.

"Dr. Jones had to amputate both your legs," Mom continued. "They got infected. You could have died."

I pulled back the sheets with my good arm. I couldn't really sit up.

"What are you doing?" Mom asked.

"I wanna see my legs."

I didn't quite believe what Mom had told me yet. I could still feel my feet. And they hurt. I later learned that it was a phenomenon called phantom limb syndrome. I guess all amputees get it.

I think I was actually surprised to find that my feet were really gone. I stared at the bandages for a while. I would have reached out and touched them if I hadn't been so sore. At least they weren't bloody like I'd expected them to be. As I said before, I don't like blood.

I had been in the hospital for a total of four weeks when Dr. Jones signed my release papers at the beginning of July. I hadn't completely healed yet, though. My arm was still in a sling. And there were bruises that refused to go away. But I was relieved to go home.

The only downfall was that no one had taught me how to use my wheelchair yet. Not that I could with my arm in a sling. I was just like a little baby. I was dependent on everyone for everything.

Mom was almost thrilled about having to do things for me. For the two weeks before beginning rehabilitation, she drove me nuts. On the third or fourth day I was home she had to run to the grocery store for something she'd forgotten. She called our neighbor to come watch me-our neighbor who can barely walk herself. Mom was only gone for fifteen minutes. I watched TV the whole time.

Dad, on the other hand, had become self-conscious that I didn't have feet. He even took my shoes out of the closet and hid them. This is also when he started mapping out routes around every shoe store in the city. It worried me that he worried so much about me. But at least he wasn't treating me like an infant.

However, my true hero that summer was my sister Shady. She took the entire summer off work to help me when I began rehab. She treated me like me. She even got Mom and Dad to back down a little, but not much.

I pretty much began rehab the second my arm came out of the sling. It was simple stuff. Just small stretches and arm circles. A few days later I finally learned how to use the wheelchair. That's about all the local hospital could do for me. While it's a fairly large hospital, not too many people in our community have amputations. I was the second of about five that were performed this past year. The other amputations were due to disease.

So, Dr. Jones recommended a rehab center downtown that specialized in helping young amputees.

"Their swim therapy program is excellent. I used to be a volunteer lifeguard there while I was in med school," Dr. Jones told me and my sister.

The first day in swim therapy was pretty much like the first day in any class when you're the new student. It was like kindergarten all over again. Except this time around, it was in a pool. And everyone was missing an arm, or a leg, or two. Well, I was the only one missing two of anything.

I sat on the edge of the pool for the first day and I could swear I saw the water ripple beneath me where my feet would be. It was weird.

For the first fifteen minutes I just sat there bored out of my mind. Then someone splashed up in the water in front of me, scaring me.

"Hi, I'm Brad Prinze," the boy said. He had almond colored hair that was long enough to hide his eyes when he came up out of the water. It was cute. He reached out his hand to shake. I took it.

"I'm Cordelia Triton," I said, my heart was still pounding.

"So, how did you lose your legs?" he asked bluntly. The question kind of caught me off guard. I didn't think you were supposed to ask those kinds of questions in a class like this. It was kind of insensitive. I stared at him blankly. "Oh, too soon, sorry. My dad, err coach, tells me not to ask questions like that. If it makes you feel any better I was surfing in Florida and a tiger shark snuck up on me and bit my right leg off."

I finally decided to just answer his question. "I was hit by a car," I said simply.

"How long ago?"

"Two, two and half months ago. What about you?"

"Almost two years ago. I was fifteen when it happened. I just got my prosthetic six months ago though. I'm desperate to get out on the waves again. I was going to be a professional."

"That's great. How much does a prosthetic cost?" I really wanted to know.

"They're expensive. Mine cost ten thousand dollars."

"That much, huh?"

"Yeah, well, it was nice meeting you, Cordelia. See you later!" he said, swimming to the other side of the pool where his coach was.

I admired his desperation to get back to surfing. But I admired his prosthetic even more. It wasn't awful being in a wheelchair now that I could power it myself. And I didn't really miss my legs anymore, but I missed walking. I missed riding my bike. I missed dancing. I missed simply being able to stand. If I had a new pair of legs I could do all those things again.

But I knew my parents couldn't afford to buy prosthetic legs for me. Especially if each one cost about ten thousand dollars. Our insurance wouldn't cover it either. It barely covered swim therapy. I promised myself that one way or another I would get a pair of prosthetic legs. I would do anything.

I was in the water every day after that. I had to wear a life jacket for the first couple days. Shady got in the pool with me for support. I had asked her to be my "coach." That's what therapy "coaches" are for. I don't think I could have done any of it if Mom or Dad had been in her place.

Shady had to hold on to me like a baby until I learned how to tread water without my legs. That took several days of class and many head dunks. Brad would help too when he wasn't busy practicing balancing on his surf board. He was almost finished with his own regiment of swim therapy.

I really liked Brad. Besides my sister, he was the only friend I had last summer.

So, you can imagine how sad I was to see Brad leave even though I'd only known him for a few weeks. He promised to e-mail me all the time. He kept it. He wrote more often then any of my old friends did. I haven't seen any of them since before the accident. I think they're afraid to come around me.

Shady went back to work at the end of summer. Swim therapy was cut down to two or three days a week. And I didn't go back to school in September. My school didn't have wheel-chair ramps yet. Instead Mom and Dad hired a tutor for me.

When she called off, which wasn't often, I would call the bus depot to send a shuttle for me and I'd go do things on my own around town. My parents would have a cow if they ever found out, but it was great being able to do things on my own. Even without my legs.

Around Thanksgiving I tried asking my parents for the prosthetic legs again. They told me the same thing.

"Prosthetic legs cost too much. We just can't do it right now. Maybe you'll get them when you're eighteen," Dad said.

That was a year and a half away. I wanted to go to college. I couldn't have both.

"Then let me get a job," I pleaded. Dad stopped to think.

"Cordelia, you're too young," Mom said, looking up from her Soap Opera Weekly magazine.

"I'm sixteen and a half, Mom," I reminded her. "All my friends have jobs. Even Brad and he's missing a leg too."

"Brad is a year older than you, Cordelia. And we're not his parents," Mom said from behind her magazine.

"But Shady had a job when she was fifteen!"

"That was babysitting and we were the ones employing her. You just can't get a job right now."

"Mom, I can do this. Please. If you can't pay for prosthetics legs, at least give me the chance to try." I had her full attention now. "Please."

"Alright, Cordelia, but only under our terms…"

I was hired at the Indoor Aquarium almost immediately. I'd be working at the ticket booth. Mom couldn't even find anything to complain about. Well, except for the smell. She hated the smell of fish.

The best part was that we got free passes to the Aquarium so we could go there anytime.

It was great not being told what I could and could not do.

The swim therapy Christmas party came up fast. Everyone was there. Even Brad came back. He'd come home from Hawaii for the holidays. And he brought the first surfing trophy he'd won since he went back to competing.

"This is your trophy?" I asked, arching an eyebrow. "In your e-mail you made it sound so much bigger," I teased.

"Oh, yeah," he retorted.

"Yeah!"

"It's good to see you, Cordy" he said as he leaned down to give me a hug. He was so tall.

"You wanna go get something to eat?" I asked.

"Sure," Brad said. He started to push me toward the snack table, and I didn't stop him. If it had been one of my parents or my sister I would have told them I could do it on my own, but I liked having Brad wheel me over there.

Shady was over by the snack table with her date. She brought Dr. Jones. I think I'm still in shock about that. He is so not her type. And yet they seem to get along just fine. And I have to admit, they are kind of cute together— Dr. Jones with his messy red hair and my sister with her long, black curls.

Brad and I met one more time before he had to go back to Hawaii. It was more like a date though. We almost kissed when he dropped me off at my house.

In January the school called to say that all the ramps had been installed and I could go back. I was ready too. I wanted to be around people my own age again, even if no one really talked to me anymore.

Everything was pretty much back to normal by the end of March. I was back in the high school routine. I even went to the Spring Fling Dance.

Brad surprised me by coming back to town for my seventeenth birthday in April. I hadn't been expecting him, so when I answered the door I almost didn't let him come in. When I finally did let him in, he handed me a small blue box with a yellow ribbon on it.

"What's this?" I asked.

"Open it and find out, silly," he told me. I did. Inside was a gold chain and attached at the end was a triangular, ebony tooth. "It's from the shark that bit my leg off," he said. I stared at him for a minute.

"Why would you keep something like this?" I asked, trying to figure him out.

"How many people can say they got attacked by a shark and lived to tell about it?" he laughed.

"Not many I suppose," I said, pulling the chain around my neck.

"It's one of many souvenirs he left me. Here, let me help you put that on," he said, clasping the shark's tooth necklace around my neck.

"Thanks, Brad," I said.

"You're welcome. Now where's that cake you told me about?"

"It's in the kitchen, follow me."

My seventeenth birthday was one of the best I'd ever had.

Since my birthday my life has been going perfectly normal, aside from not having any legs. Mom is still embarrassing me at the mall. Dad still thinks that if I see a shoe I'll fall into a depression. And I call my sister for 'rent support every night, that is, if she's not out with Kenneth (aka Doctor Jones). And best of all Brad and I have started dating. He's moving back here to go to college.

I've even managed to save up almost five hundred dollars for prosthetic legs. I know it isn't much (and I know I've spent way more than that), but you know what they say: the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.