Part 1 – Be careful what you drink
1 What did I say?
Michelle and her friends were very drunk. It was the usual Friday night at a bar. Michelle was definitely the most drunk. But even she noticed when three veiled women entered the bar and sat at a table near them. What she didn’t remember next morning was the conversation that ensued, ending with her agreeing to a dare to spend the following week veiled like those women.
It was only when she woke up with a splitting headache that she began to realise what she had committed herself to. Once she got her eyes opened, at last, she screamed. There by her bed was another veiled women dressed just like those in the bar.
“Don’t panic,” said the familiar voice of Adeela, her best friend from work. “It’s only me. I agreed last night to help you with your dare, as I have the clothes for you to wear. And you have no choice, as Anna has padlocked your wardrobe and taken the key.”
Michelle tried to remember the previous evening. Eventually with some help from Adeela she remembered the dare. It was that she would wear clothes and a veil like the women in the bar for seven days. And it didn’t look as if she had much choice.
“I didn’t know you ever wore a veil,” queried Michelle to her friend.
“Not in St Albans and not for work, but always when I go home to Leicester to see my family,” explained Adeela. In this city I would feel rather conspicuous, but in Leicester there are hundreds of women dressed this way. In some parts of the city you don’t see anything else, though not all women cover their faces.”
With Adeela’s help, Michelle dressed in the clothes, a pair of trousers with elastic at the ankles and a long loose top with long sleeves and a high collar. The fabric felt great against her skin and the vivid green colour was beautifully decorated with gold thread. But then came the last item. Adeela held it up.
“This goes over your head and covers your hair, leaving just your face showing. Then this part here can be pinned across your face to cover everything below your eyes. But I think you should probably wear a scarf underneath to cover your forehead, so just your eyes are showing, as it will be less obvious that you are a blond Brit rather than a Bangladeshi. This is called a pak chador, and it is very easy to wear, as you can just unpin the veil part when you want to eat.”
Before many minutes had passed, Michelle was looking at herself in the mirror – or at least at her eyes which were the only part of her visible. She still wasn’t sure that she would pass as anyone of Adeela’s race, and expressed her worry to her friend.
“There are two things I can suggest. As it’s a sunny day you could wear dark glasses, though that will look a bit odd indoors. Or you could put a thin black scarf over your face under the scarf hiding your forehead. It will blur your vision a bit and cut some light, but you will be able to see out much more than others will be able to see in.”
“I think I’ll try the sunglasses for today,” giggled Michelle, but they might be a bit much for the office on Monday. Can you lend me a black scarf?”
“Sure, I have one in my bag,” responded Adeela. “Oh, and I forgot to give you these, You really ought to wear them in public if you want to look like the real thing.” She handed the long black gloves to Michelle who looked at them doubtfully.
“When I am at home in Bangladesh I wear gloves all the time, but here I only wear them when I am outside the house but with my family or relatives,” explained Adeela. “In Bangladesh I put on a pair of rubber gloves over them to do washing or prepare food. You don’t need to go that far but I think you should at least try wearing them if you are going to carry out the dare completely.”
Michelle took them from her friend and pulled them on. Actually they were very thin and felt nice against her skin. She decided to wear them for now, anyway. She found her darkest sunglasses, put them on and was ready to go out for the first time as a veiled woman.
To her surprise, Adeela also took some sunglasses out of her bag and put them on, even though the day wasn’t very bright.
“If we are both wearing sunglasses it won’t seem so odd,” explained Adeela, “Plenty of Bangladeshii girls do, especially if they don’t want to be recognised.”
They walked around the city for an hour or so, and Michelle gradually gained confidence, since no-one seemed to take any notice of them except a group of Bangladeshi men in the park, whose eyes definitely followed them. Michelle was glad she was completely hidden.
As they were returning to the flat, Michelle suddenly remembered that her boyfriend Matthew was due to call for her early that evening to take her to a gig. After her initial panic, she decided she would have to phone him and warn him. He might not want to go out with her while she was veiled. As soon as they got back she found her mobile and called him. Initially he was incredulous that she had agreed to the dare, but he never suggested cancelling their date, until in the end Michelle asked him if he still wanted to go.
“Of course we’ll go, and you will do as you have promised and remain veiled,” he laughed. “I’m going to enjoy this evening with you.”
Michelle ended the call, her mind in a whirl. She had expected her boyfriend to be angry and he seemed pleased. Didn’t he like her looks? Didn’t he want to be seen with her? But anyway, it looked as if the evening would be no problem unless they met any friends.
However, when he called, he quickly came into the apartment and stood looking at her.
“Wow,” was all he managed before grabbing her and kissing her through the veil.
“I hope this doesn’t mean you think I am ugly and better in a veil,” laughed Michelle.
“No, of course not,” he stammered as she poked him in the ribs, “but I have been thinking and it might be best if we didn’t go to a local cinema as people who know us would see me with a strange woman. The same film is on in Bedford, and we could go for a curry afterwards if you like.”
“Good thinking,” responded Michelle, “though I haven’t tried eating in public yet, so can we find a fairly secluded table please.”
“By the way, I love your shoes. Are they new?” asked Matthew.
“Not completely new, but I have only worn them a few times on Friday evenings when I have been out with the girls. But now they are the only ones not locked in my wardrobe so I am stuck with wearing them for a week,” responded Nichole.
“Well, that suits me fine. You look great in them,” was Matthew’s response as he grabbed her and kissed her again through her veil.
The evening went better than Michelle could ever have hoped for. Her outfit seemed to turn Matthew on. In the cinema she was very conscious of how her veil reduced her vision as the screen colour was decidedly subdued and in the dark auditorium she could not see Matthew at all. Eating was a challenge but she mastered it without giving up and uncovering her face, though again the subdued lighting in their corner of the restaurant made it impossible for her to read the menu. And wearing gloves to eat with a knife and fork was still something to be mastered completely, Matthew being much amused as she struggled to cut her food. He offered to feed her but they decided that this must be something the veil was designed to prevent.
As soon as she got home she kicked off her heels and searched the place for something else to wear but all she found was a pair of high heeled mules – but they were more comfortable than the shoes.
It was only as she was getting ready for bed that she remembered that the next day was Sunday and she always visited her parents on Sundays. A new challenge for the morning. She would have to phone first and explain.
When she woke, for a few minutes Michelle was tempted to renege on the dare, but then she opened her eyes and saw the padlock on the wardrobe. She was committed whether she liked it or not. As soon as she had eaten breakfast, for which she did not fasten the veil as she was alone, she phoned her mother. It took a while to explain about the dare, but when her mother had grasped what was going on she insisted that her daughter visit as usual.
“You got yourself into this by drinking too much. Perhaps it will teach you a lesson,” was her response to Michelle’s suggestion of calling off the visit.
When she arrived, the door was opened by her younger brother, who just stood and looked at her before calling back into the house:
“There’s a strange foreign woman here. Who wants to speak to her?”
Michelle’s mother appeared almost immediately.
“It’s your sister, Brian, so you had better let her in.”
Turning to Michelle, she whispered:
“I haven’t told the rest of the family! I thought you’d like to surprise them!”
Michelle could have hit her mother, but instead quietly entered the house and slipped off her shoes.
“You don’t have to take your shoes off here,” laughed her mother, “We’re not in Bangladesh.”
“I’d rather leave them off,” explained Michelle, “They’re the only pair not locked in my wardrobe and they are rather high. Do you have anything I could borrow?”
“Your feet are bigger than mine, but I think you left some shoes here a while ago,” responded her mother, opening the door of the cupboard under the stairs.
“Yes, here, these are yours.”
They were another pair of high heeled mules.
“Oh, well, at least I’ll get practice in high heels this week,” sighed Michelle.
“Come through to the lounge,” invited her mother, “and then you’d better tell us the story properly.”
So a very embarrassed Michelle had to explain about getting drunk, accepting the dare, waking to find that her friend Adeela was going to lend her clothes but that all her other clothes and shoes were locked in the wardrobe for the week. Then she had to parry lots of questions from the family about what it was like to be veiled. It was obvious from the number of questions her sister asked that she was fascinated by the idea, but she didn’t ask to try anything, which was just as well as Michelle would have had to renege on the dare to lend any clothes to her.
Eventually the conversation turned to other family matters, and Michelle forgot about her unusual clothes until the meal was served and she once again had to manage cutlery with gloved hands and get the food into her mouth past her veil. When the sweet course came she gratefully accepted a pear rather than anything to be eaten with a spoon, and carefully cut it up so she could put the pieces into her mouth using a fork, as she didn’t want to handle the fruit with her gloves.
Back home that night she reflected that the weekend had gone surprisingly well. Tomorrow would be work, and she would have to face the colleagues who dared her to wear these clothes.
As soon as she walked into the office she noticed that Adeela was dressed exactly the same as she was but in pink instead of green and without her eyes covered. Adeela turned and greeted her.
“Thanks for giving me the chance to dress like this for work. I’ve never had the nerve when there was no-one else. So I shall enjoy this week.”
Several of Michelle’s colleagues, both male and female, commented on her clothes, none of them adversely, and it soon became obvious that everyone in the office knew about the dare.
Then just after ten, her phone rang. It was the sales director summoning her and Adeela to his office.
“I have heard about your dare, Michelle,” he began, and it seems that you may learn a lesson from it about not drinking so much. However, what you wear in the office is of no concern to me as long as it does not affect your work. I shall be watching carefully this week, to make sure you are keeping up. I know you are a good worker, so I am not expecting any problems, but I think you may find that you have taken on rather more than you realised on Friday evening.”
“Don’t worry,” whispered Adeela as they left the office, “I can do anything veiled and with gloves that I can do without, though it will probably take you a little while to get used to typing.”
Adeela was right. For the first hour Michelle kept making mistakes. In addition, it was not until she had increased the brightness of her monitor that she could read the screen easily. But by the end of the day she had mastered the keyboard and had kept up with her work flow.
Of course, during the lunch break all her colleagues wanted to know what it was like to wear a veil. Michelle never got round to eating her food because she was always answering questions, even though Adeela often helped out.
As she left that evening, Adeela handed her a small case.
“Here are some clothes so you can change and wash the ones you are wearing. They will dry very easily, so two sets should be enough. I’ve got plenty more.“
To her surprise, Matthew phoned on Tuesday evening, just as she had got home and was rubbing her feet, and invited her out that evening. Usually, they only went out together at weekends, so she wondered what was going on as she accepted. He wouldn’t tell her where they were going, though, which left her a little apprehensive.
It was only when he called for her that he revealed that he had managed to get tickets for a concert at the O2 arena in London. Michelle was worried that someone would see them together on the train or at the station, but she saw no-one she recognised. They were soon on the train but it was not until they reached the arena that Matthew revealed that they were attending a concert by U2. When Michelle pressed him he admitted that he had worked hard for two days to get the tickets, but he flatly refused to tell her how much he had paid. After the concert they ate at a rather grand Italian restaurant in Charlotte Street, where Michelle managed the food without embarrassing herself or Matthew, but it was well past midnight when they got home.
As she got ready for bed. Michelle mused that if this was the effect of her veiling on Matthew perhaps she should keep it up.
The rest of the week soon went by, and Michelle was just thinking about the regular Friday evening gathering of the girls when her phone rang. The sales director wanted to see her and Adeela. Rather nervously, they entered his office but he was smiling broadly.
“I’ve been watching your work this week and it has been excellent, both of you. Well done. I have some news for you though. The owner of the company is so impressed that he is offering £2 each week for the Christmas party fund and the same amount for a charity of your choice for everyone on the staff who dresses like you two are now. He has just sent out a memo to all the staff, but he would like to see you two.”
Feeling dazed and not sure how she thought about the offer, Michelle headed for the top floor where the owner had his office. She had never met him and didn’t even know his name. She looked round and saw that Adeela was following her.
“Why do you think he wants to see us?” she asked.
“No idea,” responded her friend, “I don’t think we have done anything wrong. Perhaps he wants to ask us about his offer. What do you think?”
“I can’t decide,” mused Michelle half to herself, “These clothes are very comfortable and Matthew loves me in them but I am not sure about always dressing like this.”
The conversation stopped when they entered the outer office of the owner, where his secretary was sitting.
“Mr Khan is expecting you,” she said, getting up. “Follow me.”
She led them to a door and opened it, ushering them through and shutting it after them. Michelle was astounded to see a man who was obviously from India or a nearby country flanked by two women wearing veils. One was dressed like her and Adeela, but the other had a different style of veil which completely covered her face.
“I’m delighted to see you two. I’m Imran Khan. I own this company. This is my wife,” he said, pointing to the woman in the pak chador, “and this is my daughter Narida.”
His wife held out her hand so Michelle shook it.
“I’m pleased to meet you,” said Imran’s wife, “I’ve heard a lot about you and your wearing veiling. I hope you are enjoying it.”
Michelle didn’t immediately know how to answer, but when she thought about it, yes she did enjoy it.
”It’s very comfortable, and the colours are beautiful. What’s more my boyfriend loves it,” she replied.
“I had better explain that Narita is a very pious girl, so she veils much more heavily than I do. What’s more she never speaks outside the house or even when we have visitors. But for today we have told her it would be very rude to remain silent if you speak to her.”
Michelle turned to the girl and held out her hand.
“You don’t need to speak if you don’t want to. I don’t want you to break your vow. After all I’m here because of something I said I would do.”
Narita held out her hand and when Michelle took it she was surprised to find that Narita was wearing a very thick thumbless mitten but she didn’t say anything, and shook it anyway.
However, despite Michelle’s veil Imran’s wife must have noticed her surprise as she spoke again.
“Narita also believes that having the shape of her hands visible for men is wrong as it could tempt them so she always wears these mittens to make her hands shapeless.”
“Wow,” responded Michelle before she could stop herself, then realised that she had embarrassed the girl, and continued, “I wish I was that committed to anything.”
Imran immediately picked up on this.
“We hope you are. You have heard about our offer for anyone who wears a veil to the office. Well, we hope you two will be the leaders. My wife and I would really like it to succeed, though we will never penalise anyone who doesn’t want to take part. But hopefully you can encourage the others and tell them the clothes are comfortable and easy to wear.”
“Except for eating in restaurants,” thought Michelle.
“Yes, I will, anyway,” said Adeela, looking at Michelle.
“Me, too,” burst out Michelle, and then wondered if she had been wise, “at least for a week or two.”
“That’s really great,” responded Imran Khan’s wife. We are all so pleased, aren’t we, Narita?”
The girl nodded and said very quietly, “Yes, we are.”
When the two women got back to their office a debate was going on, and the raised voice was that of Anna, who was very unhappy not just about the proposal but also the fact that all the others thought it was a good idea. They arrived just in time to hear her shout:
“I’m not working for that chauvinist pig a day longer!” and storming out.
After that the conversation was more subdued. Some of the women were nervous about wearing a veil in public but Michelle and Adeela assured them that they would hardly be noticed, even in St Albans. Eventually, they all agreed to sign up. Mr Khan had said that clothes would be available for those who wanted to take part on the Monday, and they could keep them without paying if they saw the project through to Christmas. Otherwise they would have to pay the cost, which wouldn’t be that much. And as one of the women pointed out, they would no longer have to buy smart clothes for work.
6 Friday evening
That evening as they were entering the club for their regular Friday night get-together, Adeela whispered into Michelle’s ear:
“I’d much rather you didn’t drink alcohol while dressed like this. Moslems don’t drink alcohol at all, and it would look bad.”
“No chance after last week,” responded Michelle with a giggle, “I don’t want to get involved in any more adventures at the moment.”
Needless to say, most of the conversation was about veiling. Michelle and Adeela tried to answer the questions, but they came so fast they couldn’t keep up. Michelle noticed that she wasn’t the only one abstaining from alcohol, and in one of the few quiet moments asked about it.
“After your experience last week we decided that getting drunk could have unexpected consequences, and we have enough at the moment to cope with,” one of the girls explained, “And we wanted clear heads to think about Mr Khan’s offer.”
Towards the end of the evening, Michelle remembered that her dare finished the next morning, and asked if she could have the key to the padlock securing her wardrobe. There was an awkward silence.
“Is there a problem?” she asked.
“Yes,“ came the reply, “Anna has the keys and she is not here. What’s more she says she is not coming in on Monday.”
Michelle realised that apart from her shoes there was nothing in the wardrobe she wanted, so she didn’t push the matter further. She would get her boyfriend to cut the chain some time.
Anyway, by the end of the evening they had agreed that they would all wear veils for at least a month and that they would nominate Azalea, an organisation working with vulnerable women in Luton, for the company’s charity donations.
Matthew was fine with her decision. When he heard about Anna’s disappearance with the key, he insisted on taking Michelle out and buying her another pair of shoes. However, when they looked at shoes in shop windows, Michelle discovered that any shoes that Matthew liked had heels at least as high as those she was wearing. In the end they found a pair they both really liked which were as comfortable as could be expected with six inch heels. At least now she could ring the changes.
She also thought she should warn her parents that she would be veiled again next day. Her mother seemed a bit surprised, but her only request was for Michelle to bring a spare set of clothes for her sister to try.
Matthew took Michelle out again that evening, this time to a meal at an Indian restaurant she had never been to before. She wasn’t even sure where it was since Matthew insisted that even thought it was dark she wore her sunglasses in the car. But it was a great evening and Matthew was just as attentive as the previous times. Michelle decided that if this was what veiling did for their relationship she would happily keep it up.
It took some explaining next day before her parents were convinced about the story of the locked wardrobe. And they were rather shocked about Mr Khan’s proposal, but they didn’t try to dissuade their daughter. And Michelle’s sister spent the whole time veiled, apparently loving it. Her only complaint was that she didn’t have any shoes as smart as Michelle’s, to which her mother retorted that she was too young and could buy such things when she earned her own money.
Part 2 – In for the long run
7 A veiled office
So Monday morning came around. As promised, at ten the sales director came into their room and called them into his office, where there were piles of clothes for them to choose from. Michelle chose one outfit in peacock blue and a second in dark red with gold decoration. She was surprised how many of her colleagues chose black, and wondered if she should have done so. Within an hour the whole office was dressed in Pakistani style clothes and veiled. The gloves caused some discussion, and Michelle suggested that they all increase the brightness of their screens if they were going to wear a layer under their pak chador.
To their surprise, without warning Mr Khan came in just before the lunch break. Most of the staff had never met him, but he soon made them feel at ease, and invited those who didn’t have urgent business during the lunch hour to join him for sandwiches in his office. Since none of the staff had wanted to go out during their first day in their new outfits, they all accepted. Mrs Khan and Narita were there, but the girl sat in the background and didn’t eat or speak.
When they got back to the office for the afternoon, Michelle had to field lots of questions, mostly about the girl. She answered as well as she could but realised that she didn’t really know much about Narita’s lifestyle except that she was very pious and therefore covered herself much more than her mother or Adeela.
Rather to her disappointment, Michelle didn’t get invited out during the week by Matthew, and before she knew it Friday had come around and the office staff were planning their usual evening at the club. But they were rather nervous about so many of them turning up veiled, and debated whether to go somewhere out of town. In the end the deciding factor was transport, so they agreed to meet as usual. There were a few turned heads when they entered, but no-one commented on the fifteen veiled women.
On Saturday evening Matthew was most solicitous, and again insisted on taking her for a meal somewhere secret. This time they drove for over half an hour before he let her out of the car outside a pub in the middle of nowhere, but, it turned out, one with an excellent Thai restaurant attached. Michelle decided she really needed to stop him spending so much money on her, even though she really enjoyed it.
And her Sunday family visit went smoothly. Her parents seemed to accept that she would now be veiled and dressed as a Pakistani all the time, and though there had been a few questions as to whether it was really necessary, they didn’t try to dissuade her. Of course, her sister borrowed her spare set of clothes throughout the visit.
The next week seemed to fly by. They were very busy at work, and she still hadn’t got around to asking Matthew to cut the chain on her wardrobe, so Michelle had little choice about what to wear. She had washed and returned the clothes Adeela had lent her, so had a choice of green or red and two pairs of shoes, but it didn’t really matter and it certainly made it easy to choose.
8 Another meeting
Then just as she was thinking about the coming weekend and wondering what Matthew had planned her phone rang. Mr Khan wanted to see her. As soon as she arrived in the outer office she was ushered in, to see the whole family there again. Not knowing quite what to do, she held out her hand to shake the hands of the family, which seemed acceptable. Narita’s hand, when it appeared through a slit in her covering, was again encased in a thick mitten.
“Thank you for coming up,” began Mr Khan, “I would like to ask a big favour of you. My daughter Narita would like to come and work here and learn the business. I would like you to teach her. If you agree, I will pay you a bonus of £20 a week.”
Michelle thought for a few seconds, not about the money but whether she could teach the girl, and how she would cope with her strict mode of dress.
“I’d be very happy to teach Narita, even without the bonus, but what about using a keyboard and reading a screen, and what about answering the phone? I understand Narita always wears thick mittens and a thick veil, and doesn’t speak outside the house.”
“We have discussed that,” responded Mr Khan, “and Narita realises that she will have to compromise, with ordinary gloves and a thinner veil, and that she will have to speak. You’ve agreed to this, haven’t you?” he asked, turning to his daughter.
“Yes, I have. I realise what is needed but I want to work,” responded Narita quietly. “I shall struggle, but it is important to me to do this. But I do have one further request, which I know is unreasonable. Would you be willing to dress like me rather than like my mother? I have talked to father and he will provide the clothes – oh I mean my outside clothes, not what I have underneath or my mittens.”
This left Michelle both speechless and intrigued. She wasn’t sure about the clothes she could see, as they were all black and shapeless, unlike the beautiful top and trousers she was wearing, and completely covered the girl’s head, making it just a black dome. But what did the last bit mean?
Imran Khan obviously saw her uncertainty.
“If you don’t think you can cope with these clothes you don’t have to,” he said reassuringly, “or you can try them and go back to what you are wearing now if they are too hard for you to wear. We only want you to wear them for work. And we certainly don’t expect you to wear a hobble skirt like Narita insists on wearing, or have the arms of your blouses sewn to their sides. Those ideas and the mittens are purely Narita’s, and in the opinion of me and my wife are not necessary for female modesty. As I said, Narita is extremely devout and we think she takes the modesty requirements too far, but that is her choice, isn’t it?” he asked, turning to his daughter.
“Yes,” responded Narita, looking at the floor.
“OK, I’ll give it a try,” ventured Michelle, though sure in her heart that she would struggle, “But I would like a pair of mittens like Narita’s to try. I want to know what it is like to be almost helpless – and I have a feeling that my boyfriend might like me that way,” she blurted out, not having intended to reveal her thoughts.
The two senior Kahns roared with laughter. “I don‘t think that’s why Narita wears them,” responded Imran Khan. But we’ll gladly give you a pair. But perhaps you should see Narita’s properly. Narita, show us your mittens.”
Narita came towards Michelle and held out her hands through the slits in her shroud. Her father took one hand and showed Michelle that it was fastened with a strap round the girl’s wrist, so there was no way she could take it off without help.
“You obviously don’t have to have the straps done up, but once someone has done them up you are in the mittens until you are released,” explained Imran Khan. “Of course, someone has to do them up for you in the first place.”
Michelle could see definite possibilities of fun with Matthew, but didn’t say anything.
“OK then, here is one outfit to wear on Monday,“ continued Imran Khan. We’ll bring some more sets for you on Monday along with the mittens. They are yours to keep whether you continue to wear them or not, and to show our appreciation of your willingness to help Narita we‘ll up your weekly bonus to £30.”
“I’ve just had a thought,” said Michelle a little nervously. “If Narita wants others to dress like her in the office, perhaps Adeela would wear these clothes too. I think she wears similar clothes when she is back in her own country. Shall I ask her?”
“Yes please,” said Mrs Kahn, “and we’ll pay her a bonus too if she agrees, won’t we?” she asked turning to her husband.
“This is getting expensive,” he responded with a chuckle, “but yes we will. I’ll take it out of my wife’s allowance!”
“What allowance?” she replied in mock anger.
“Thank you very much for agreeing to help me,” almost whispered Narita holding out her mittened hands towards Michelle. Michelle responded by pulling her close and hugging her, then turned, said her goodbyes and left the office before she burst into tears. She didn’t know why she felt this way, and she wasn’t sure what she had let herself in for, but she was committed. There was quite a lot to tell the others this evening.
As she left work that evening her mind was full of thoughts of what Narita’s self-imposed lifestyle must be like. She regretted not asking for a hobble skirt. Matthew would have liked that. Then she realised she was passing a fabric shop, and on an impulse went in and bought enough strong black fabric to make one, plus a zip. Her dressmaking skills were not that good but she was sure she could design something which would do the job.
9 Completely covered
When she got home she tried on the new clothes, but decided to change back for the evening. They were easy enough to wear though the veil was much more opaque but in some ways easier to deal with, but the garments were all black and she liked her bright colours.
That evening at the club, the others were both horrified and intrigued. They found it hard to believe that Narita chose to wear such restrictive clothes. Michelle had already decided not to mention the hobble skirt or that the girl’s arms were restrained, but knew that they would see the mittens, so she included them though not her request for a pair of her own.
When she had a chance of a quiet word with Adeela she mentioned what she had said to the Khans. Adeela wasn’t sure, as she had never worn her most modest clothes in Britain, but agreed to give it a try if she could change when she arrived at and left work.
Next day Michelle again wore her new clothes. They were not restrictive but the outer veil certainly reduced her sight even more than her earlier style of veil. She decided against wearing these clothes for her evening with Matthew, or even mentioning them yet, and she would certainly not wear them to visit her parents.
Matthew took her out again to a restaurant, this time outside a village somewhere to the north. Michelle was wondering how many remote restaurants he knew about. Again, he was extremely attentive, and Michelle completely forgot to remind him that she wanted her wardrobe opened.
Next day she decided to wear her dark red outfit, and took the green one with her for her sister to wear, as she was sure she would want to try it again. She was careful to steer the conversation away from the subject any time her clothes seemed likely to become the topic of conversation, and it was not until her mother told her she looked good in her outfit as she was leaving that they were mentioned. This so surprised Michelle that she didn’t answer, but she pondered the statement on the way home. It seemed like a good omen.
Next morning she tossed up whether to wear her new clothes to work or to change when she got there. In the end she decided that it would be too much hassle to change. She got a few more looks than usual, but no-one seemed hostile, which was surprising as Michelle knew that there were come people in the city with strong opinions of veiling.
10 A trainee
When she walked into her office Adeela was already there, dressed very much like Michelle. But before they had time to speak her phone rang and she was summoned to the chairman’s office to collect her charge. There was no-one in the outer office so she knocked and went straight in. Narita was there with he father. The exchange was brief and soon Michelle was leading the girl towards her office. She soon realised just how slowly the girl was forced to walk, and wondered if she really would make a hobble skirt of her own.
When she entered her office, the sales director was waiting. He explained that she would be moving to a different work station so that Narita could sit beside her. She could move her things there later.
As soon as they arrived at their desks Michelle showed Narita how to switch on the computer. When it had booted up she adjusted the screen to maximum brightness, as she knew from her own experience that the girl would need all the help she could get to read the screen. Then Narita turned to face her and for the first time that day spoke.
“Can you please help me take off my mittens? I can’t do it myself,” was her request.
Michelle quickly undid the straps and helped Narita remove them, not very surprised to find that the girl was wearing thick wool gloves underneath rather than cotton ones like she and Adeela wore.
“Can you type in those gloves?” she asked.
“I hope so,” responded Narita, “because I don’t have any thinner ones, and anyway I think cotton gloves show too much of the shape of my hands. But I have been practising typing and I think I can cope.”
Michelle showed her charge the essentials of the office computer system, which was used to administer most aspects of the distribution company, both buying and selling, as well as keeping track of deliveries. She left Narita to explore on her own, cautioning her not to change any data, and collected her own things from her former work station. When she returned she showed Narita in more detail how to track deliveries to their customers, as this was her main responsibility. After a while she realised that every time Narita wanted to say anything to her she turned in her chair to face Michelle rather than just turning her head, and then turned back to face the screen. Eventually, she couldn’t contain her curiosity any more and asked Narita what was going on.
“Please don’t laugh at me or be horrified when I tell you,” began the girl, “My parents think I am mad, but I actually have to turn to face you. I can’t see at all except straight ahead. My niqab isn’t like yours. It is a hood with just two small holes for my eyes and another one a bit larger for my mouth, so I can drink. And I am also wearing a neck brace which stops me turning my head or nodding or shaking it. So I have to turn to look straight at what I want to see. It’s my choice, so I am certain to be modest.”
Michelle was so astounded she didn’t know how to reply. Eventually, after what seemed to her an age she responded that perhaps they had better get back to work, and wait until lunchtime for Narita to tell her more.
As Narita turned back to her screen Michelle noticed her feet for the first time. Her shoes had to have heels even higher than Michelle’s own. How did that square with her wish for modesty?
Narita made it plain that she wanted to stay at her desk lunchtime rather than join the others in the cafeteria, as she wouldn‘t be eating anyway. That suited Michelle who had lots of questions for the girl. As soon as Narita had taken a bottle of sports drink from her handbag, inserted a straw and secreted it under her veil, Michelle launched in.
“So what’s with the neck brace? I really don’t understand.”
“My parents don’t understand either,” returned Narita, “but it’s quite logical to me. When I was about sixteen I was in a car accident and damaged my neck. I had to wear a brace for over a year. I realised as soon as I started wearing it that as well as helping my neck it was also preventing me looking over every handsome guy that walked past. So I added the hood and kept wearing the brace after my neck was cured. I can only see straight ahead, and that stops my eyes wandering where they shouldn’t. Perhaps I should have more self control but I don’t. I think my mother sort of understands, anyway she helps me put it on and does up my hood each morning, and also does up my mittens.”
Part 3 – Narita’s modesty
“And what about your shoes. How so they fit the modest girl model?” asked Michelle.
“A good question. I could say they force me to walk with small, modest steps, but my skirt does that anyway. The truth is I was hooked on stylish shoes before I started veiling properly, and I just can’t give them up. It’s probably a sin but I haven’t found anything in the Koran yet forbidding high heels. Though that’s because they hadn’t been invented, I assume.”
Saying this she put forward her feet so Michelle could see her shoes properly.
“What do you think of these? I love them.”
“I could get jealous of you, they are beautiful,” responded Michelle, “but are they comfortable? At the moment I have only two pairs of shoes I can wear and they both have high heels. They are OK but my feet are tired when I get home.”
“So why can’t you get something more comfortable?” asked Narita.
“Because I have plenty but they are all locked away,” laughed Michelle. “I’d better tell you the whole story. You know about the dare. Well, as part of that one of my colleagues called Anna padlocked my wardrobe. But then she didn’t like your father’s request and left in a huff. And she has the keys. I bought another pair of shoes as I had only the ones I was wearing at the time, but the only other thing I have is a pair of high heeled mules. So it’s at least four inch heels at all times.”
“I haven’t worn anything less than five inches for a couple of years now,” responded the girl. “I guess my feet have just adapted. But I have lots of shoes to choose from. I seem to spend most of my spending money on shoes. If we are the same size I could lend you a pair sometimes. What do you wear?”
“A 37 most of the time,” answered Michelle.
“That‘s great, so do I. I’ll bring in a couple of pairs tomorrow for you to try. How‘s that?” came the reply.
At that point the other staff returned from their break and everyone started work again. Narita was picking up the essentials fast, and despite her gloves seemed to be coping with the keyboard well, so Michelle gave her some real work to do for the afternoon, knowing that it would be better than just running the training program. She had plenty to do, and before she knew it was time to go home.
“Can you please put on my mittens for me?” Narita asked as Michelle stood to leave.
As soon as she had fastened the straps, the two headed out. Michelle headed for the street but Narita went to the lift and Michelle realised that she must be heading for her father’s office.
That evening Michelle’s head was in a whirl. What a strange girl? But suddenly the hobble skirt seemed a minor inconvenience. She would have to make hers from the fabric she had bought and try it on for Matthew, who she was sure would love it.
Next morning when she arrived Narita was already at her desk and on Michelle’s desk was a large carrier bag.
“That’s some shoes for you to try, and also the mittens you asked to borrow,” explained Narita, and I think my mother put in one of my hoods too, though you probably don’t want it.”
“I expect you would like help with your mittens,” said Michelle while thinking not about work but about the hood, and wondering at her own thoughts.
Narita held out her hands and her mittens were soon in the desk drawer. The two spent the morning running through other aspects of the software, which Narita picked up very fast, and the other staff were leaving for lunch before Michelle realised. She quickly looked in the carrier bag. Narita had offered a couple of pairs of shoes but there seemed to be at least eight pairs, as well as the mittens and, as Narita had suggested, a black object which could only be the hood.
She decided to try some of the shoes while Narita was with her, so she could say thank you properly. The first thing she noticed was that they all had very high heels and most of them also had platforms. Looking at Narita she realised that the girl was actually quite small, a good 15 cm shorter than she was, so she would probably like the extra height. Michelle had never worn platform soles, but decided that this was the time to try. Her eyes fell on a black pair with red decoration, and they were soon on her feet. Even allowing for the 3 cm platform soles the heels were high, and Michelle felt unsteady, but decided to persevere and quickly decided that she would wear them to go out with Matthew that weekend. Looking up, she realised that Narita was watching her carefully.
“These are beautiful, but don’t you want to wear them?” Michelle asked Narita.
“They are really beautiful, but the red shows under my skirt, and that is not modest, so I have only ever worn them at home. If you like them please have them.”
They were interrupted by the return of several of the other staff, so Michelle quickly put the bag under her desk and put her own shoes in it, forgetting that she was wearing Narita’s shoes. It was only when she picked up her things to leave that she remembered, at which point she decided to wear them for the journey home. It was interesting, as she felt insecure in them but didn’t actually have any problems, but the extra height of the platforms was noticeable. She wondered if she would actually be taller than Matthew when she wore them, and what he would think.
Needless to say, by the time Friday came round she had tried all the shoes, though the mittens and hood still remained in the bag. Michelle had decided to try the mittens when she was with Matthew sometime and he could fasten them on her. She was curious to know what it would feel like not to be able to remove them or use her hands. The hood she wasn’t so sure about, though during the week she had made progress with her hobble skirt. By the following weekend it should be ready.
She had invited Narita to the Friday gathering at the club, but the girl had explained that she travelled with her father and so couldn’t stay in the city for the evening. However, that night Narita announced that she would like to come as she was staying in St Albans over the weekend. Michelle was initially pleased but then wondered if she would have to wear her work clothes for the evening. She quickly decided that she should, though she wondered how that would be received.
But she was pleasantly surprised when she realised that the welcome given to Narita had completely pushed her worries out of her mind. Narita had insisted on donning her mittens before they left the office so she didn’t drink anything, but Michelle had already worked out that the girl was used to eating and drinking only twice a day at home.
12 A shock for Matthew
Next morning when Michelle looked in the fridge she realised that she needed to do some serious shopping at the supermarket. She quickly dressed and veiled, and it was only when the door bell rang that she realised the she was wearing her work outfit. Oh, well, she would just have to face the postman or whoever as she was. But when she opened the door it was Matthew.
“What brings you here?” she stammered, so be cut off by Matthew’s “Whatever are you wearing now? It is you, Michelle, isn‘t it?”
“Perhaps you should come in,” responded Michelle, holding the door open.
Soon she was explaining about training Narita and the clothes the girl had asked her to wear for work.
“But are you going to wear them all the time?” queried Matthew.
“No, only for work, but I wasn’t thinking when I got dressed this morning,” responded Michelle, “I intend wearing what you have already seen me in the rest of the time. That’s all I need to do to satisfy Mr Kahn’s conditions for paying the bonus and charity contributions.”
“Well, I came to ask you to come out to lunch with me,” explained Matthew. “Do you want to change? I’ll go out for a few minutes if you do, but I am quite happy for you to come as you are.”
Michelle thought about her options. If she went as she was, eating would be a challenge but not impossible, and if Matthew didn’t mind it would be quicker. Then she had an idea.
“I’ll come as I am but I want to change my shoes,” she explained, reaching into the bag Narita had given her and taking out the pair she had tried on the previous day.
“Wow, have you been spending your bonus on shoes before you have it?” asked Matthew, looking a little worried.
“No, these belong to Narita. She seems to be the Emelda Marcos of Bedford. This bag is full of shoes she has lent me, look.”
Matthew took the bag and looked in.
“Wow, these look expensive,” was his immediate comment before he reached in and pulled out the mittens, “but whatever are these?”
“I haven’t told you all about Narita yet,” responded Michelle. “She always wears mittens like those when she is out of the house, so men can’t see her hands and be tempted by them. But when she is wearing them she is almost helpless, so as a special concession she allows me to remove them for her when she is at work. But as you can see once they are done up they stay on her until someone lets her out.”
“But why are they in the bag, and what’s this thing?” asked Matthew holding up the hood.
“I asked to borrow them to see what it felt like to be so helpless,” answered Michelle, “but don’t ask me about the hood. I think it is like the one Narita wears under her veiling, but I didn’t ask to borrow it.”
“I tell you what,” pondered Matthew. “What if we change our plans and go up to Dunstable Downs? It’s a beautiful day and there are good paths near the shop. I’ll get some sandwiches or something you can eat. But I want you to wear the mittens. Then you will have to depend on me for everything including your lunch. I’d love that if you can hack it.”
Michelle was surprised to feel herself getting rather warm, and didn’t take long to agree. As soon as she had put on the shoes she had taken from the bag she held out her hands so Matthew could fasten on the mittens. Some experiments quickly showed that her hands were more or less useless. She slipped her arm through the slit in her top and through Matthew’s arm and they headed for his car. Once Matthew had fixed her seat belt she was going nowhere without his say-so – and she found somewhat to her surprise that she was loving it.
She was rather worried when Matthew left her in the car in the supermarket car park, but no-one had even noticed her by the time he returned. What did surprise her was that up on the Downs there were several veiled women with their families, obviously from the Bangladeshi part of Luton, so her garb wasn’t in the least unusual.
They walked away from the car park along one of the paved paths until they reached a seat looking north over the plain of Buckingham. It was a bit back from the path, and Michelle’s heels sank into the earth a bit, but by walking as if she was on tiptoe she was able to get to the seat without incident. The two of them sat for some time just enjoying the sun and the view, though Michelle quickly realised that without the breeze she would quickly have started to cook under her black veiling. She snuggled up to Matthew, resting her head on his shoulder. Eventually, he spoke.
“I think perhaps we had better be eating lunch soon. How will you manage? I can’t feed you.”
“I certainly can’t hold a sandwich, so I’ll have to fast I think,” giggled Michelle.
“Tell you what. If you promise to keep your hand out of sight so I am not tempted I’ll let you out of one glove while you eat,” whispered Matthew.
Michelle held her hand out through one of the slits in her khimar and Matthew undid the wrist strap and held the mitten while Michelle extracted her hand. Then he put an open pack of sandwiches on her lap so she could cover it with her garments and eat under her veil. Michelle was finding the whole process a big turn-on and was hoping that Matthew was too. She suspected from his suggestion that she wear the mittens and his insistence that she mustn’t let him see her hand that he was.
Matthew also produced a can of drink and a straw, which Michelle took gratefully as she was getting hotter by the minute as the sun got stronger. She was just wondering how much longer she could continue without fainting from the heat when Matthew interrupted her semi-comatose state by telling her to give him her hand so he could put her mitten back on. It was only after he had done up the strap that she realised what had happened: once again she was virtually helpless.
“Let‘s go for a walk,” suggested Matthew, taking Michelle‘s arm and helping her to stand. She was surprised when he turned away from the well surfaced path to a track leading into the next field, but she was relieved to find that the ground was hard and with care she could walk safely, though it was very slow as she could not see her feet. But there was now no breeze and she was beginning to regret her outfit, vowing that in future she would wear it only for work.
“Did you tell me that Narita never normally speaks in public?” asked Matthew, apparently innocently.
“Hardly ever,” responded Michelle, “though at work she relaxes the rule and even uses the phone, but of course then the caller cannot see her.”
“Well, I want you to do the same for the rest of the day,” said Matthew sounding rather firm. “If you manage to keep silent until eight I’ll take you for a meal. If you speak I’ll take you home instead. And there’s no guarantee I’ll release you from your mittens when we get there.”
Michelle was completely stunned. She wasn’t enjoying being cooked under her veils or trying to walk on the rough path and now she must be silent. But Matthew sounded serious, though she couldn’t understand why. She decided to remain silent at least until she decided what to do, and not to provoke Matthew in case he had other strange ideas.
They walked on for a while and Michelle distracted herself from her worries by enjoying the view. It was rather blurred through her veil but in the bright light she could see for miles, with villages laid out below them and empty roads and green fields as far as she could see, a really idyllic landscape.
Eventually Matthew broke the silence: “I assume you have decided to do as I ask. Great. Please understand that I don’t dislike your voice, just the opposite, but when you are veiled it seems appropriate for you to behave modestly too. And I have to say I really like you veiled. And that’s not because you aren’t pretty. In fact if I didn’t know you were beautiful under your covering I wouldn’t want you to veil. It is knowing that you are beautiful but hidden. Somehow that’s very sexy. And knowing you are helpless in those mittens is even better.”
Again, Michelle was so astounded that she remained silent. But after thinking about it she decided that, if it had this effect on Matthew, being veiled and silent wasn’t so bad, though it would be much better if she wasn’t slowly being boiled. Just then a breeze came up, and decided the issue for her. If it remained cooler she was happy to please Matthew this time, but only this time.
Eventually Matthew stopped and sat down on a wall, pulling Michelle down beside him. He put his arm round her shoulder and pulled her close.
“Thanks for humouring me. I promise it’ll be a great meal tonight, but it will probably be best if we go back to your place so you can change first into your usual outfit so you can eat and drink easily. You are slim enough and don’t need to fast.”
Michelle couldn’t put her arms round Matthew but sat closer and rested her head on his shoulder. Before she knew it she was asleep. The next thing she knew was Matthew’s words: “Time to go home if you want to change before we eat.”
They wandered slowly back to the car and Matthew helped her in. Once again Michelle felt a thrill when he fastened her seatbelt.
When they got to her apartment Matthew took the spare key from inside the flowerpot next to the door and let them in.
“Give me your hands then,” he asked her and soon she was free of the mittens and heading to her bedroom to wash and change. It must have been half an hour later that she emerged wearing the outfit that Matthew was used to seeing her in, though again in her long black khimar as it was getting cooler and she felt the need for an extra layer.
“I’m really glad you are wearing that top,” commented Matthew, “because it means you can wear the mittens again.”
Michelle was about to refuse when she realised that it was not yet eight o’clock and she would forfeit the evening out if she spoke, so she meekly put her hands through the slits for Matthew for fasten them on. Helpless again! Yet she realised that she didn’t mind.
“Don’t worry. I’ll feed you!” laughed Matthew as they left.
Part 4 – Big events
13 A very special dinner
All the way to the restaurant Michelle worried about being seen being fed by Matthew, but she needn’t have worried. They arrived at yet another country restaurant that was new to her and the waiter guided them to a small private room.
“I’ve already ordered,” explained Matthew as the waiter brought two wine glasses, “and I think you can probably manage your glass on your own.”
Michelle gingerly picked up the glass between her two mittens and manoeuvred it under her veil. To her surprise it was champagne. She very nearly spoke, but it was still not eight and she was afraid that Matthew would keep his word.
“Here’s to us,” offered Matthew, drinking briefly. Putting down his glass he reached out and carefully took Michelle’s glass from her.
“Well done, and even better done for managing not to speak before eight. But I’ll let you off now as I shall soon need to hear your voice.”
Mystified, Michelle decided to remain silent for the moment. Then the waiter brought the first course, so there was no need for words for some minutes. Matthew dropped things a few times, and she was sure her veil would need washing by the end of the meal, but he was so attentive that she was finished long before he had got round to eating his own food.
It wasn’t until the waiter had taken the dishes that Matthew spoke again.
“Michelle, I love you very much. Will you marry me?”
For about the sixth time that day she was too stunned to respond.
“It’s OK, you can speak. Are you OK?” asked a worried sounding Matthew.
“Yes, I’m fine, and yes I will marry you!” shouted Michelle eventually, much to the surprise of the waiter who entered without her hearing. But a true professional, he simply put the next course in front of the two lovers and left.
Then a thought struck her.
“You are not expecting me to keep veiled all the time when we are married, are you?”
“Why not?” was not the expected reply.
But as she tried to think of an answer Michelle realised that it would not be so terrible to wear a pak chador, though she was hoping not to have to wear her work attire too often outside the office.
“But no, of course not unless you want to . . . or to keep your part of the dare,” continued Matthew, but so long after the first part of his answer that for a second Michelle didn’t connect it with her question.
“Well, I assume that the dare will end some time, perhaps after the Christmas party,” pondered Michelle, “but there is also the charity part, so I’m not sure when we shall stop. And of course while Narita is working with us I am pretty well bound to wear veiling like hers. That could be a long time. So whether you like it or not I shall be veiled for quite a while.”
“That’s fine,” smiled Matthew. “You are very beautiful under the veils, but if you only uncover in our house your beauty will be all mine. I can live with that if you can.”
“Perhaps we should eat this nice food before it is cold,” responded Michelle, partly to give herself time to think.
Once they had completed the main course and the waiter had brought desserts and coffee, they continued their conversation, now about when they might arrange the wedding, and first how to break it to their parents, when Matthew should visit Market Harbrough and Michelle should visit Matthew’s parents in Bristol. Obviously, the next day Michelle would tell her parents, and Matthew could phone his. They agreed that Michelle would arrange a date first, probably during one of her regular Sunday visits.
As they returned to her flat, Michelle pondered on the day. It had been nothing if not full. She didn’t like wearing her work clothes at other times, but if Matthew really liked them, what then? And of the offer of charity funding continued she would have to wear her salwar kameez and pak chador indefinitely. Of course that would mean she didn’t need any other clothes, which was just as well as Anna had never handed in the keys to the padlock securing her wardrobe. But what about the wedding? She couldn’t be veiled then, could she, at least not in any of the clothes she now wore.
Her thoughts turned to Narita and the restrictions she set herself. She had had several chats with the girl and now understood where she was coming from, even if she could not dream of adopting Narita’s lifestyle. But the more she thought about it the more she wondered what it would be like to try. She remembered the fabric and zip she had bought on impulse which remained where she had put it when she last did any work on the skirt. And she also had the hood. The other things were Narita’s restrained arms, which she could not think how to achieve on her own, and her neck brace, which seemed like a barbaric instrument of torture.
14 Making the skirt – and more
When Matthew dropped Michelle off it was getting late and she had a train to catch to Market Harbrough early in the morning, so she put out her clothes ready for the morning, taking care to choose the right ones, along with a spare set for her sister to wear, but she couldn’t sleep. She got out of bed and found the bag with the fabric. She would finish the skirt. It should be easy, just two pieces with a zip on one side at the hip. She didn’t really know what counted as a hobble skirt, so she switched on her computer and did a search for images, but it wasn‘t much help as there seemed to be as many definitions as images. She decided that it must be possible to walk and to go up and down steps, even if with difficulty. She guessed at about 60 cm around the hem was the minimum for this, but was not sure how to check as there were no stairs in her flat. But then she looked at her watch and realised that it was already one am. There would be no-one on the stairs outside. She found a piece of string and tied it into a loop that size, and stepped out into the lobby. Once at the foot of the stairs to the next floor she quickly slipped the loop of string round her ankles and tried walking. It was possible but slow. Now for the stairs. By standing sideways right next to the step she could just get her foot onto it, but then she had to shuffle to get to the next step to climb it. Yes, this was the absolute minimum.
Somehow, it was dawn before she knew it but in her hands was the finished hobble skirt. It fitted snugly at her waist and hips and then tapered down to 60 cm at the hem at ankle level. She tried it on and walked, or hobbled rather, round the room. She decided it must be a fair bit tighter than those Narita wore, but that didn’t matter as it was only for Matthew’s entertainment. On an impulse she looked for the bag of shoes and took out the hood. It looked as if it would be a pretty close fit. She pulled it over her head and adjusted it so she could see out with both eyes, though she noticed immediately that the eyeholes were closer together than her eyes, so she could see nothing on either side, just as Narita had told her. She looked out her working clothes and put on her veils and her gloves. Narita really must be very determined to put up with this, and Michelle was aware that she didn’t even have her arms restricted or a collar holding her head still. She felt excited and wondered what Matthew would think of her current outfit. He had obviously liked her in her work clothes. Next time he invited her out she would wear the full set and ask him to fasten her mittens for her.
And yet whatever was she thinking. Only the previous day she had worn those clothes when she went out with Matthew and it had been awful. She had vowed only a few hours before never to wear them again except to work, yet here she was now planning an even more restrictive outfit. Yet she couldn’t put the idea out of her mind. All the way to her parents’ house on the train she found it coming back into her head and, worse, she found herself wondering how she could get a neck brace and restrict her arms as Narita’s were restricted. She knew that Narita had to have help dressing so the method she used was out of the question. But there must be a way.
So preoccupied had she been with these thoughts that it was a good half an hour after she arrived at her parents’ house that she remembered to tell them that she was engaged. Although they had never met Matthew, they all expressed their delight and a wish to meet him as soon as possible. It was easy to agree on the following Saturday, and Matthew could stay the night. In fact it was nearly lunchtime before her sister leaned over and asked is Michelle had brought the clothes for her to wear, and immediately scampered off to change. Throughout the day, Michelle was careful to keep off the subject of veiling, until she had to ask her sister for her clothes back before she left. But her sister had disappeared, so Michelle had to return home without her favourite outfit and in the knowledge that she now had only one outfit other than her work clothes.
On the train journey she once again couldn’t get out of her mind Narita’s restraints. As soon as she got home she switched on her computer and searched for surgical collars. She was surprised to find that there was an enormous range available over the net. Even an adjustable Philadelphia collar, which matched the description Narita had given her, was less than £20. She pondered ordering one there and then, but on reflection decided that she still had her skirt and mask to try out on Matthew. But this set her thinking again about how her arms could be restrained in a way she could manage on her own. Another search on the net revealed all sorts of bondage gear including lockable belts with wrist restraints, but nothing which would quite do what she wanted. Eventually, exhausted, she fell into bed, only waking to the call of her alarm clock.
The week went very slowly, though Narita was a quick learner and Michelle could generally give her a job to do and just check it when it was complete. And whenever she was not occupied by work, Michelle found herself thinking again about her veiling and restraints. She knew she needed to talk to Matthew about this before it got out of hand, but wasn’t sure how to broach it. But on the Saturday morning Matthew helped by asking her to wear her work outfit when he called. She added her hobble skirt and mask though when she answered the door to let him in there was nothing different to show unless Matthew had been observant enough to notice her short steps. She led him to the sofa and headed for the kitchen to fetch some drinks. When she returned, Matthew opened the conversation.
“Thanks for wearing this outfit. I really like it but I know you find it inconvenient and rather hot in the sun.”
“Well, that’s what I need to talk to you about,” blurted out Michelle. If she had not been veiled Matthew would have seen her blush. “You are right in one way, but I am also fascinated by Narita’s restraints. You can’t see but I am wearing her hood this morning, and I have made myself a hobble skirt, so I can only take little steps. So can you fasten my mittens so I can be as much like her as possible?”
Matthew laughed and pulled his fiancé close.
“That doesn’t worry me. I feel very much the same.”
“But I have also been fantasising about her neck brace and her restrained arms, and I’m not sure that’s really normal,” responded Michelle. “I’ve even been looking them up on the internet. I could easily buy a neck brace but I can’t find any way of restraining my arms like hers that I can do myself. After all, she has to have her mother help her to dress.”
“You really want to try a neck brace?” queried Matthew.
“Yes, I know it’s mad but I do. I want to feel that extra bit helpless when I am with you.”
As she was saying this Michelle took her mittens from the drawer and handed them to Matthew who immediately slipped them on her outstretched hands and did up the straps.
“There, is that better?” he asked with a smile, kissing her on her forehead. Now I was thinking that we might go to Dunstable Downs again if that’s OK with you. I realise that you are less mobile and can see less, but I’ll look after you. Is that OK? And I want to hear about your visit to your parents, too, but we’ll do that in private so you don’t have to talk in the open air. I can’t afford the restaurant we went to last time too often, but I have found a nice pub with a private room we can borrow.”
“As long as I don’t have to walk too far, as I will be very slow,” Michelle answered, “and remember that my sight is more limited too.”
Eventually they arrived at the same seat as on the previous visit, and Matthew helped her to sit. Michelle really realised just how much the hood reduced her vision, as to see anything not straight ahead of her she had to turn her head. To see Matthew she had to turn on the seat, though this was no hardship, and anyway most of the time his arm was round her holding her so firmly that she couldn’t move much if she wanted to, and there was no way she wanted his embrace to stop.
She told him about her visit home, and that her parents would like Matthew to visit. She explained that they were very happy with her description, but Matthew couldn’t help joking that he was being called in to see if they approved of him. Then they sat in silence, just enjoying the view and each other.
After they had been sitting for long enough for the sun to heat up Michelle’s head until it was a bit warm for comfort, Matthew broke the silence.
“I have been thinking about how to restrain your arms, he began, “if you are really serious. I think I could put something together in my workshop. Shall I try?”
Michelle nearly choked with surprise so for a minute she couldn’t respond, but as soon as she was able she nodded as vigorously as her veils would allow. Matthew saw her response, and kissed her veiled head.
“And if it is not expensive I will buy you the neck brace,” he continued after pulling her close again. “Send me an e-mail tonight with a link. It’s far cheaper than a meal for two at that restaurant!”
Michelle didn’t answer. She wasn’t sure whether she wanted to say yes or no, and was beginning to wonder what she was getting herself into.
Eventually they headed for the pub. As Matthew had promised, they had a private room, and the landlord left them alone except for bringing in the food and drinks. It was only when she picked up her knife and fork after Matthew had released her from her mittens that it dawned on Michelle that she couldn‘t eat because she was wearing the hood and there was only a small round hole at her mouth. She put her knife and fork down again and wondered what to do. Eventually, she picked up her handbag and headed for the toilet where she removed the hood and replaced her veil. Now it was at least possible to eat even if very fiddly with her long bushiyya, which came well below her waist, to negotiate with every mouthful. But she noticed that Matthew was watching her every move, fascinated.
When they had drunk their coffee and Matthew had paid the bill, Michelle was surprised when he quite firmly told her to go to the toilet and put her hood back on. She had intended to, anyway, but it was the firmness with which he told her.