The Trip

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Joined: 18 Jan 2022, 06:14

The Trip

Unread post by anonymouse »

Author's note: This is another fantasy-inspired story; probably lighter than most stories here, but hopefully still at least moderately engaging. It's semi inspired by some posts and comments from Jessica Ackles (to give credit where due).


Chapter 1: Stepping Out

“You sure you still want to do this?” Sahara inquired, as Venessa fiddled with the screw-type connector, securing the chain around her ankle. “You are a foreigner, you can get an exception if you want to back out.”

Venessa glanced up at her good friend, temporarily distracted from the task at hand. “I said I was going to do it for the whole trip, and I’m a woman of my word.” Her look was half steadfast determination, half playful grin. “Besides,” she added, “what kind of a friend would I be if I went to your country, took advantage of your family’s generous hospitality, and didn’t engage in the one signature local custom here which you all follow?”

Sahara smiled; she hadn’t expected Venessa to back out, but it was a bit of a comfort nonetheless. Venessa was one of her only good friends now that she had moved away from home, and one of the only people she had connected with at the university. When she’d invited her to come visit her home country, she hadn’t really expected her to say “yes”, much less commit to wholeheartedly immersing herself in local custom. But that was the kind of person Venessa was: enthusiastic about taking advantage of opportunities and gathering new experiences, and never afraid to jump in with both feet in the process. It was that enthusiasm which had led her here, only a few months later, to kick off her summer break with a visit to Sahara’s family home, and a planned two week guided exploration of her native country.

“Besides,” Venessa continued, returning to attaching the connector, “I spent an entire week practicing for this, and I’m not going to waste all that practice. I’ve totally got this.”

That was true. When Venessa had expressed serious interest in taking Sahara up on her offer, Sahara had told her about her country, including this particular unique custom. It was called the Volwa, which Sahara understood was originally derived from something related to a rite of passage to adult womanhood. It had changed a bit over the years, and used to be accompanied by many more odd and onerous customs and practices; in modern times, though, this was what remained of those cultural rituals, and to the dismay of many modern feminists outside of the country, the people here held on to it as a vital part of their cultural identity. And now, Venessa was choosing to experience it, alongside her friend.

It was, in essence, the practice of binding the women’s legs together with a hobble chain.

What Sahara had been taught while growing up was that in times long ago, when people still lived in tribes, bracelets and anklets (and other jewelry) were very common among the more well-off female members of a tribe, and used both to attract mates, and to signal status. At some point, a custom developed where the “spoken for” females would attach their bracelets and/or anklets together with decorative rope or the like, to signify that they were both not available, and not in need of performing physical tasks (because they were well taken care of). Over the years, various aspects of the customs were modified or abolished, but this one remained, a now valued cultural reminder of a rich and extensive tribal past, which virtually all the women in the country practiced with pride.

Of course, the particulars had changed a bit over time, with the advent of modern materials and sentients. Long gone were the twine strands and makeshift ropes from vines and such, replaced by delicate but study, and often decorative, metal chains. Also mostly gone were the colorful anklets made of flowers and beads, hand woven together with string; some residents still wore decorative anklets, but they were now more durable, and generally more comfortable. Of the women Vanessa had observed walking around the airport since their arrival, most seemed to be wearing anklets which were wider, no doubt to distribute the pull more comfortably from an errant long stride. A surprising number of them still appeared to be metal, though; Sahara had noted that softer materials were frowned upon by the locals, and perceived as somewhat not honoring the cultural tradition. She had also explained that it was generally acceptable to have a small amount of padding on the inside, as long as it was not visible, but that most of the people who grew up here just had solid metal anklets, because that was what they had grown up accustomed to.

Venessa noticed another consequence of the evolution of the practice within the country over the years, as she watched the various women walking through the airport: most of them had unusually tall heels on. Sahara had explained that one of the modernizations of the tradition was that it was frowned upon to have the connecting chain drag on the ground; she wasn’t really sure what had originally motivated that additional requirement, whether cleanliness or otherwise, but it was now seen as dishonoring the tradition to allow the chain to touch the ground. Of course, this meant that there was some incentive for the women to elevate their ankles, as the higher the anklets the longer the chain could be. Thus the abundance of elevated shoes, mostly high heels, and the many overlapping staccato rhythms of clicks and jingles as the women walked about.

Venessa knew all of this before-hand, of course, Sahara having given her a cultural crash course back at the university. That had also led to an excursion to a local sex shop, once Venessa had expressed that she was adamantly going to follow the tradition also, where Sahara had purchased a pair of ankle cuffs for Venessa to practice with (“I insist I pay,”, she had said, “it’s the least I can do, since you’re learning my peoples’ custom.”). Venessa hadn’t objected too strenuously to the offer, especially since Sahara also offered to buy some quite tall and quite sexy shoes for both of them as well (“We’re going to need these too.”).

The “practice” Venessa had done was walking around their shared dorm room the next week, in the heels they had purchased which would normally be reserved for only looking sensual while lying on a bed, and with her ankles chained together in unforgiving steel. Initially they had put the ankle cuffs on loose (“it’s not like I’m holding you captive or something”, Sahara had quipped), but that turned out to be counter-productive: as the chain pulled it twisted the cuff, which rubbed against and banged into Venessa’s ankles. Tight turned out to be less painful, ironically: with the cuffs pushing into the skin, they didn’t move around as much, which meant less banging while walking. Of course that also meant no standing without being on her toes or having the heels on, due to the compression on the tendons, as Venessa discovered during one of her early breaks, but that wouldn’t really be a significant concern, given the expected usage.

The first evening had been tough. The heels hadn’t been too challenging (“Let’s be honest here,” Venessa had remarked with a smirk when strapping them on for the first time, “this certainly isn’t the first time I’ve worn seven inch platform fuck-me shoes.”), but there were some significant bruises from the metal cuffs and the initial experiments. Venessa had quickly learned to take smaller steps, even shorter than what the chain would allow, so that she stopped short of torquing the cuffs on her ankles, which was painful even with the cuffs ratched down tight enough to not move much. By the third evening of practice, though, she got the hang of it, and by the end of the week she’d felt pretty confident about what she was diving into.

Sahara, for her part, in addition to giving encouragement and helpful pointers, had also done shifts around the room in the cuffs and her identical pair of the shoes. Venessa couldn’t decide if her shows of solidarity were a positive or a negative, though. On the one hand, it was good to know that whatever she was enduring, Sahara was enduring right along with her, down to the residual bruising around both their ankles. On the other hand, Saraha had made it look so easy, as befitting her years of practice growing up, and her tendency to take small steps and wear really high heels anyway (both of which, Venessa had realized after she described the custom, now made total sense). Still, the gesture was nice, and Venessa did get a slight rush when, after she was done practicing, Sahara would ratchet the cuffs onto her own ankles and hand Venessa the key, usually saying something like “Good job, now you get to ensure I take my full turn too,” with a wink and a playful smile. She was a good sport.

That was then, though, and now that playful version of the experience was physically and mentally quite a distance away. They hadn’t packed the training cuffs, of course; Sahara had explained that there would be much more comfortable things they could buy in the country, and Venessa hadn’t contested the assertion. That meant getting something at the airport to go home in, though (the airport was treated as a transitional area, Sahara had explained, but women who lived there and/or were observing the custom were expected to have donned the traditional accessories before exiting into the country proper). Thus, they had stopped by one of the local fare shops in the airport, which helpfully supplied cheap anklets and chains for returning travelers and curious tourists alike.

The nice lady working in the store (ankles chained, of course) had measured Venessa for the appropriate length of chain, by holding both ends near where the anklet would sit, and letting the middle section hang down; she selected a length which was around an inch off the ground, to allow some leeway for the connectors. That day, Venessa had chosen some moderately heeled wedges to wear on the plane: comfortable, easy to walk in, and easy to slip off and on for security checks. They were a good four inches of height or so, which Venessa had thought to be a reasonable compromise, but after seeing the length of chain that equated to, she was wishing she’d gone with something just a bit higher. At least the semi-decorative anklets they had in stock were a bit more fun, even if they were not totally smooth on the inside and smelled somewhat of kitsch.

Sahara had picked up a pair for herself also, and requested the same shorter length of chain as well, even though her chosen heels would have supported one at least three or four inches longer (“It’s not fair for only you to have a shorter stride.”). Once again she also insisted on paying for everything as well (“My country, my customs, my costs.”). Venessa had long suspected that Sahara’s family had some wealth (although they had never really discussed it, and Sahara didn’t flaunt a designer wardrobe or anything, money didn’t seem to concern her too much); even if that was true, though, it was still an appreciated gesture. After paying for the accessories which Sahara assured Venessa would just be temporary until they could get something nicer, they made their way over to a bench to get properly attired. And this was the task which Venessa was now completing as Sahara looked on, having secured her anklets and chain in place with a quickness and fluidity which suggested that type of movement was second nature to her.

“How are we getting to your parents’ house, anyway,” Venessa asked, still bent over and fiddling with the connectors, “assuming we make it all the way out of this airport like this eventually.”

“Oh, that’s easy, we’ll just take a rideshare,” replied Sahara, cheerful and confident as ever. “It’s a bit of a ride, but I didn’t want to bother my parents to pick us up or anything, because I wasn’t sure if our flight would be delayed, and they might also be busy. I just told them we would show up at the house when we got in; they’ll be expecting us when we get there.”

“Alright,” said Venessa, finally done with attaching the connectors and straightening up. Sahara helped her to her feet, and she tested the chain: this was, as expected, significantly more restrictive than what she’d practiced with before, and her stride felt comically short. But she could still walk, she decided, so she shuffled over and picked up her bags. “I suppose we should get going then, as it might take a bit.”

Sahara smiled, unperturbed, and shuffled over to alongside Venessa, her own bags in tow, and with her free hand intertwined their elbows for mutual support. Together they slowly made their way away from the airport concourse, and onward to the promised vacation adventures.

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Re: The Trip

Unread post by anonymouse »

Chapter 2: Settling In

They would, eventually, make it all the way through the airport, and to the designated location for ride share pickups, even though that was still further separated from the terminal areas. Venessa had quickly discovered that walking around a dorm room with short steps, where stops were frequent and the furthest single trek for anything was somewhere around twenty feet, was quite a bit different than walking what felt like a mile or more through seemingly endless hallways and bland decor spaces of the airport. Venessa felt like her butt muscles were working overtime for the non-familiar strides, and they stopped a number of times to rest along the way.

“You’re trying too hard to move quickly,” Sahara had said, in one of her many rounds of upbeat encouragement along the way. “You’re trying to compensate, and keep the same speed you’re used to. Look around, though: all the people here are walking more slowly, deliberately. I mean, they are not going super slow, but they are not trying to hustle to the point of exhaustion either; the husbands here know the speed their wives walk at too, and have long ago adjusted to that. People move around a little slower here on foot, and that’s okay.”

“Besides,” she added, “do you really have anywhere you need to be where getting there a few minutes later is going to be the end of the world?” Venessa was forced to mentally concede that point; they were on vacation, after all. “The Volwa forces people here to slow down a little, and not get caught up in that incessant need to rush from one obligation to another, as is so common in the rest of the developed world. It’s understood that getting places here takes a little longer, and that’s okay: everybody understands and accepts that, and sometimes, that can even be a good thing.” Sahara added the last bit with a wry smile, suggesting the small addendum was less a trivial point, and more the glimpse of a larger truth.

Venessa tried to internalize that last point as they continued on, focusing on maintaining a steady pace without as much worry about the slower overall walking speed, and instead focusing on looking around as they walked. She started paying more attention to how other people were moving and interacting; as Sahara had said, people did seem content to just move slower, most of the women hobbled as they were. She also noticed that the local women, in particular, did not seem to be deferential or subservient in appearance, as Venessa had assumed might be the case in a culture with this custom; on the contrary, they walked confidently and generally with impeccable posture, and that combined with the generally high-end clothing and fairly ubiquitous towering heels meant that their stature was not diminished in the slightest, physically or metaphorically. That was not what Venessa had been expecting to see here when the custom had first been described to her, certainly.

She also noticed that the more affluent-looking women tended to have more affluent looking anklets and chains; wider anklets with elaborate designs on them were not uncommon, and several women seemed to have chains which color-coordinated with whatever shoes they were wearing. Some of the anklets and chains also had visible locks; on inquiry, Sahara clarified that while this was certainly not required or even the cultural norm, a lot of women (and upper-class married women in particular) tended to add visible locks to their chains, to signify that they would have no need to remove them (ie: they were well-off enough that other people would take care of anything which would necessitate physical efforts). Venessa also noticed there was quite a bit of accessory coordination as well: more than a few women had matching bracelets and/or chokers, and although these were generally not otherwise restrictive (one woman had a matching chain securing her wrists behind her back, but that seemed to be an anomaly), it was notable that many of the woman seemed to have integrated the ankle chains into their overall looks.

“Some couples treat the Volwa as an excuse to display more fetish proclivities in public,” Sahara observed, noticing the same woman that Venessa had observed, “but that’s not really the norm. For most people, it’s more of a cultural oddity, something practiced here which makes our country a little unique, and maybe inspires people to slow down a bit, as I mentioned before. The people using it as an excuse for more extensive public bondage are usually tourists, in my experience. But, people here are also pretty tolerant, as you can imagine, so you’ll regularly see a few random people wearing more extensive restraints around too.”

Venessa turned her attention to her friend, curiosity engaged. “What’s the most restrictive outfit you have seen someone walking around in public in?”

Sahara laughed a little, amused by Venessa’s seeming interest in this side effect of the cultural practice. “Assuming you mean aside from explicitly bondage themed parades and such,” she replied, “where pretty much anything goes, I have seen a few outfits which turned my head. I once saw two women stopped on the sidewalk to talk to each other, while their husbands looked on from the side, and each of the women had their hands chained behind them like this.” She twisted her arms behind her back to emphasize the point, pushing them as far up as she could manage on her own. “The chains on their wrists were pulled up and locked to the backs of tall and thick metal collars on each of them, and their husbands were each holding leashes attached to the fronts of the collars. And they just stood there talking, like that, for at least five minutes, like it was no big thing. All I could think was ‘what if they twist an ankle on a loose stone while walking or something?’ But I guess it was just a thing for them.” She shrugged, letting her arms relax back to their normal positions.

“Well, let’s maybe hold off on the leashes until I can at least navigate small stairs,” Venessa quipped. “Also, I don’t think our bags are going to pull themselves.”

“No, I don’t think they will,” agreed Sahara. “Shall we move on, then?”

Venessa nodded, and they both rose, and resumed their slow walk to the designated rideshare area. That took a good thirty minutes or more, but per Sahara’s advice, they spent more of that time talking and people watching, and discussing things to see and do on their trip. That was, as predicted, significantly less stressful and more enjoyable than trying to rush the walk. They made it to the rideshare pickup area without incident, and before long, their ride had arrived.

“Uh… how exactly do you climb into cars like this?” Venessa inquired, as she pondered the open door in front of her, stymied in her initial effort at lifting her leg across the door sill.

Sahara smiled, once again assuming the role of helpful tour guide. “Let me show you, babe. It’s sorta like you’re a movie star, or a VIP; you sit down backwards, then swing your legs in.” She proceeded to demonstrate, gracefully lowering herself into the other side of the car and swiveling into the seat, before making the classic “ta da” gesture with her arms.

Venessa’s attempt was a bit less graceful, but she managed, with a newfound appreciation for how celebrities made the motion look effortless, and with that they were off. The nav showed a little over thirty minutes to their destination, which gave the women plenty of time to talk during the ride. Most of the conversation consisted of Sahara pointing out sights and recounting anecdotes from her formative years, while Venessa looked on, and they made their way out of the city proper, and into what looked like an affluent suburban district.

Then they went a little beyond that, and by the time the rideshare vehicle (a fuel-efficient hybrid, of course) pulled up to the gate which marked their destination, Venessa was beginning to suspect that she may have underestimated Sahara’s family wealth. Sahara keyed in a gate code through her rolled-down window, and with the entry open, they proceeded up the private driveway to the actual house, which was not visible from the street. And what a house it was: not quite on the level of something like the famous Playboy Mansion, but a bit beyond what would be just upper middle class. They pulled up to the roundabout, which had a fountain in the center, and performed the leg-swinging exit maneuvers.

“This is quite the house,” Vanessa remarked, with a clear grasp of the obvious, after they had extricated their luggage and their ride had set off. The three story facade was impressive on its own, but it looked like there were also no particularly adjacent neighbors, and there were some clear grounds beyond the house as well. In addition, there was a great view over a nearby canyon which could be glimpsed on the way up, and Venessa imagined it must be even more impressive from the upper stories of the residence.

“Yeah, I guess,” said Sahara, seemingly a little embarrassed. “My parents moved to this house when I was growing up, and I didn’t think too much about it. They were always pretty down to Earth with us, and it’s not like I bought a bunch of expensive things, but I also didn’t really have to worry about money growing up.” She looked over at Venessa, seemingly unsure about what her reaction would be. “I hope it doesn’t make you think of me any different.”

Venessa smiled, putting her friend at ease. “No, we’re still cool. To be honest I always thought you might have come from money, but I don’t think it changed you, at least as far as I can tell. As long as you don’t start wanting to drink only expensive wine or something, we’re good.”

“Says the women who needed help crawling to the toilet after that one party,” counted Sahara, and they both shared a knowing laugh. “Shall we go in, then? I can show you around. Just don’t get your hopes too high; my parents have some money, but not money money, if you know what I mean.”

Venessa nodded in agreement, and they made their way up to the stairs on the way to the large front door. “You know,” remarked Sahara, “technically this is private residential property, so Volwa doesn’t apply here, and we could take these off now.” She gestured at the ankle chains. “Although,” she added, “it’s also customary to not remove them until you’re actually inside the house and out of the ‘public’ view, so it’s sorta a gray area.”

“Well, we’ve made it this far,” replied Venessa, struggling a little with pulling her bags over the gravel, “might as well not half-ass the last few steps.” They navigated the rest of the driveway, and opted for a slightly longer, indirect path to the door, which circumvented the stairs in favor of a helpful ramp. That brought them to the door at last, where Sahara rang the bell.

“I have a key in my bag,” she said, anticipating the follow-up question, “but I don’t know if my parents are home, and I don’t want to surprise them by just going in if they are.” Sure enough, a moment later, there was some motion visible behind the frosted glass of the door, and it swung open to reveal a stately looking, slightly older, but still very presentable woman with a striking resemblance to Sahara.

“Sahara, welcome home!” Sahara’s mother embraced her daughter before turning to her companion. “And you must be Venessa, Sahara’s roommate; I’ve heard so much about you. I’m Samantha, and it is absolutely lovely to meet you. Please, come in!” Hugs were exchanged, and Samantha moved to help roll their bags into the house.

Once inside, Sahara moved to sit on a small bench by the entrance way, and bent down to undo the chain on her ankles; once she noticed this, Venessa shuffled over to join her. “You are honoring Vulwa too,” observed Samantha, with approval. “Sahara said you were intending to when she called, but you never know until people actually get here; it can be difficult for people who are not used to it. And it’s only for public spaces, as I’m sure she told you; while you’re in our home, you can move freely.” To emphasize this, she lifted her long flowing dress a little, just high enough to show off her heeled sandals and unadorned ankles. “Sometimes it’s nice to just waltz about, especially after you’ve been out and about for a while.”

“Indeed,” agreed Sahara, having deftly removed her chain and anklets, and now just waiting for Venessa to manage the same. “It’s been a while since this was my daily routine, and walking across that airport was a challenge, even for me.” Her mother gave her a playful disapproving look. “I managed, though, okay? It’s not like I’ve been gone that long.”

“You two must be tired from the trip,” said Samantha, changing the subject. “Let me help with your bags, and you can show your friend around the house.” She did so, and Sahara and Venessa toured the premises. The house was comfortably large, the view was as impressive as Venessa had anticipated from the front, and there was an extensive manicured backyard as well, complete with a well-appointed pool area. This was quite the house, indeed.

“I have something for you, also,” Sahara said, once they had found their respective rooms and availed themselves of sitting on the soft and luxurious bed in Venessa’s “guest” room. “When you told me you were going to honor the Vulwa while you were here, I knew I needed to get you something nice for that, because the cheap anklets they sell in tourist shops are going to hurt after any amount of real walking, as you can tell.” She nodded toward where Venessa was subconsciously rubbing her ankles where the beaded circlet had pulled into them while walking, and ran her hand over her own ankles with red marks on the outsides to emphasize the point.

“Let me get it,” she continued, after hesitating a moment to gauge Venessa’s reaction to her initial statement, and hastened out of the room. When she returned about a minute later, it seemed to Venessa that she was a bit nervous, a look which she had rarely if ever seen from her good friend. Sahara was holding what appeared to be an ornate wooden box, about a foot square and half as deep; not old, but with a glossy sheen and precision craftsmanship which suggested it was designed to be displayed. “I really hope you like it, and don’t take offense or something, or think I’m trying to force anything on you. I just wanted you to have something nice, and this is from the same company that my parents bought one for me from, when I became an adult.” She set the box in front of Venessa, then stood to the side, watching for her reaction.

Venessa undid the clasp and slowly opened the box, acutely aware that Saraha was scrutinizing her for her reaction with baited breath. That was quickly forgotten, though, as pulling the lid up revealed what looked like a very nice felt-lined display stand inside, holding what initially looked like two wide metal bracelets with intricate patterns embossed into them, and a gold-plated chain displayed somewhat like a necklace alongside them. After a half second, Venessa realized that they were actually anklets, and the intricate design actually matched an equally intricate butterfly tattoo which Venessa had on one of her ankles, a meaningful design to her which she had permanently affixed to her body just before she’d gone off to college. The embossing looked darker than the light gray metal of the anklets, but seemed to reflect the light with a hint of gold. Venessa was at a loss for words.

“Oh my gosh,” she started, “that’s… so beautiful…”

Sahara seemed to visibly relax on seeing her friend’s reaction, not that Venessa noticed, as transfixed as she was looking at the intricate detail of the metal work. “I took a picture while you were sleeping,” Sahara said, hustling to get the words out in a semi-apologetic tone, “cause I knew that design was meaningful to you. I also might have snuck in a measurement of your ankles too, but only because I wanted the fit to be just right. If it’s not, though, it can be adjusted…” The tone of the last addendum suggested that adjustment might be a costly process, but the nuance was lost on Venessa, who was running her fingers over the design, still in awe.

“This is too much,” she managed, finally. “This must have cost… I don’t even know.” She looked up at Sahara, with the telltale hint on glossing in her eyes. “Thank you so much, this is so gorgeous!”

“Well, don’t just sit there, try them on,” countered Sahara, deflecting from the praise and turning away slightly to mask the tears threatening to form in her eyes as well.

Venessa lifted the anklets out of the display case, and immediately noticed that they felt substantial; not necessarily overly heavy, but very solid and well built, with a commiserate amount of weight. They looked about two and a half inches tall, and the inside was lined with some sort of soft material which was attached to the metal. They were hinged, with a mechanism which was effectively invisible when closed, save for a small hole on the top and bottom of one side where the hinged halves came together. Venessa also observed a small metal loop on the other side, which seemed to be folded into the anklet seamlessly at the moment.

“There’s a pin which goes in the hole,” explained Sahara, having moved to sit on the bed next to Venessa so as to point out the particulars better, “and a small little screw-type thing to tighten it.” She pointed to where the anklets had been sitting in the case, where a cavity underneath revealed said pins, which curiously seemed as long as the anklets were tall, and a small tool which looked similar to a precision screwdriver. “You don’t really need to tighten them, because the pins go in from the top, but it helps the pins not bounce around when you're walking, or fall out accidentally. And there’s a loop in the middle which can be extended to attach the chain to,” she added, demonstrating how the loop on the other side could be extended, and retracted on the slight spring to be flush when no force was holding it open.

Venessa put one of the anklets to the side, and shifted her body to try on the other. She noticed that the outside closure also had some sort of weak magnet inside, as it held itself closed until slight force was applied. She opened it, and slid it around her ankle; the inner lining was soft and thin, and there seemed to be a slight squish to it as well. She closed the anklet around her ankle, prompting a slight click as the magnets pulled the outer closure tight; it was snug, and as in their dorm room testing Venessa suspected that flexing her foot to be flat on the floor would be impossible with these on, but otherwise the fit was very comfortable indeed, and it seemed whatever clandestine measurements Sahara had taken, they had been done well. The anklet was slightly oblong, so it was essentially snug on all sides. In addition, the embossed butterfly design was not clearly visible with no apparent seam on the outside of her ankle, mirroring what was concealed underneath.

“That’s such a good fit,” confirmed Venessa vocally, “snug, but not uncomfortable, and this inner lining material feels very nice.” She moved her leg around in the air to get a feel for the weight and a look at both sides. “You can’t see the hinges at all when it’s closed,” she added, “and they are totally invisible in the engraving. That’s so cool. Thank you so much!” She leaned over to embrace Sahara.

“It’s the least I could do,” said Sahara, accepting the gratitude. “These are the same type that I have here, and it’s not like I’m going to try to upstage you when we go out or anything. You should try both, though; I want to make sure they both fit well, and I should show you how to secure the pins.”

This Venessa did, and to her delight if not surprise the other anklet fit just as well, and felt just as comfortably snug. She then added one pin, which slid easily through the outside hole, only coming to a rest when the top of the pin was just slightly protruding from the anklet. With a couple of twists of the screwdriver tool, the pin disappeared beneath the top surface, almost flush but just below so. To Venessa’s surprise, though, the bottom of the pin actually protruded from the bottom of the anklet just slightly, and Venessa noticed that the bottom had a small hole in it.

“Is that… normal?” Venessa inquired tentatively, really not wanting to point out a would-be flaw in this otherwise flawless gift.

“Actually, yes,” replied Sahara, “although we could get a shorter pin if you want. A lot of the customers who buy these wear them out with locks, as I was telling you about before for the more affluent women here, and that’s there so that a small lock can be added to the bottom of the pin. In fact,” she added, turning her attention to the display/storage case again, “I bet they provided some locks in the package too.” Sure enough, Sahara pulled up the initial display layer to reveal additional small storage boxes underneath, one of which contained a set of four small ornate locks and presumably matching keys.

“In for a dime,” said Venessa, reaching for the locks and surprising Sahara in the process with her enthusiasm. In retrospect, Sahara realized she should have anticipated this, Venessa being the type of person to jump at new experiences; when she had received her anklets as a young woman, the locks stayed hidden in the box for a good while. Venessa was who she was, though, and before long she had both pins in place, with locks securing them there, and she was once again waving her legs about to take in the experience. The locks jingled slightly with the movements.

“There are still two more locks,” Venessa observed, “I assume those are for the chain?”

“Yup,” confirmed Sahara. “There are also more conventional chain link type connectors in the package, the kind that screw closed.” She pointed at another compartment in the case with these.

“I can see that, ya dunce,” said Venessa, playfully rolling her eyes, which elicited a knowing giggle borne of many such playful teasing incidents previously. “So I guess this means we’re going to have to go back outside and test these babies out.”

“Well technically, you can test these out inside just as easily, ya dunce,” countered Sahara, eliciting another shared moment of amusement, “although if you’re up for it, there are plenty of other things we could see and do today. I had a whole lot of things on the mental itinerary, but it’s up to you, in terms of how tired you’re feeling and stuff.”

“I’d certainly be down for more activities today,” said Venessa, with energy as always. “But maybe let’s get our stuff unpacked first, and then think about lunch or something.”

“Agreed,” said Sahara, and they both set about doing exactly that.

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Re: The Trip

Unread post by anonymouse »

Chapter 3: Exploring

Venessa lasted about ten minutes trying to unpack while walking around strictly on her toes, give or take. While she was loath to remove the beautiful anklets (shackles? The distinction was a little fuzzy with these…), even with sitting breaks her calf muscles were getting tired by then, even if her ankles felt fine with the padding. Plus, as Sahara reminded her, there was plenty of time later that trip, and day even, to wear them out and about, and she didn’t want to exhaust herself prematurely. Somewhat reluctantly, Venessa retrieved the keys from the box, and reversed the adornment process.

With the anklets back in their storage/display case, Venessa made short work of the rest of her unpacking, and then joined Sahara exploring the grounds, which were comfortably large, but not excessively so. When Sahara confirmed that was all to see of the house and outdoor areas, they sat by the pool to relax and chat.

“So when did you actually start wearing connected anklets around?” Asked Venessa, continuing the topic on her mind. “You told me before it was when you reached ‘adulthood’, but that time was never really specified.”

“It’s not really well-defined here, actually,” answered Sahara, her eyes aimlessly surveying the countryside views as she lounged in the poolside chair. “Usually it’s around sixteen, and it’s traditionally supposed to coincide with puberty, but since you can’t always see physical development from across a room, there’s always some leeway. Most families pick a time around a woman’s sixteenth birthday; that was the time when I got a pair of anklets very similar to the ones I got for you, but without the engravings. I’d been practicing for a couple months before that, though, both in and outside the house, so there wasn’t really a fixed point when I started, I suppose.”

Venessa pondered the answer for a moment before posing a follow-up, content to not rush the conversation as she too was enjoying the view. “How hard was it for you, initially, to get used to that? When I was sixteen, I was just seeing how short of a skirt I could get away with at school, not adjusting to a new way of walking around.”

“It’s not really like that,” replied Sahara, in a tone which suggested clarification and not correction. “Girls here learn to walk in heels much earlier than you do in the states, as that’s much more ubiquitous in the culture here. So by the time I was sixteen, I was pretty well-practiced in that regard, which sorta also comes with taking smaller steps if your heels are high enough, as you know. Also, I was pretty eager to start practicing the Vulwa, cause I saw all the role models and strong women in my life doing it, so it wasn’t so much of a transition as a new and exciting thing, if you will. I hope that makes sense.”

“It does,” said Venessa, once again pausing to ponder the information. “So the girls here are forced to wear heels from a pretty young age, then, I guess?”

“Not everyone, and not ‘forced’” replied Sahara. “I think the girls from the more wealthy and influential families are encouraged to do so more than others are; they… we… have more expectations on us to attend social events, and ‘set the tone’ for what is appropriate as we get older. Plus, when you’re that age, you want to look good and sexy, and we got plenty of positive affirmation for how we dressed, especially after starting with the Vulwa, from pretty much everyone in the society here. And if you’re popular and sexy, then other girls want to be like you, so there’s a lot of peer pressure also. So it’s not really that girls are forced down that path, but it is certainly a general societal trend here.”

“So you probably have a pretty extensive collection of heels,” Venessa mused, somewhat fancifully.

“Oh, baby, you have no idea,” said Sahara, which elicited another laugh of amusement. In truth, Venessa had some idea, since Sahara was somewhat well known around the university for wearing higher heels regularly than most women there would even consider, much less own, but when Sahara later showed Venessa her actual home collection, it was still impressive. The combination of the societal pressures and significant familial resources meant that Sahara had an entire closet dedicated to just shoes attached to her room, and if there were any which were less than five inches, Venessa didn’t see them. The collection was, in a sense, as impressive as the house and grounds, from a different perspective.

“Well, we should probably not just sit around the house all day,” prompted Sahara, a couple hours later. They had relaxed a bit, explored the house, managed a basic lunch from food in the kitchen, and let that settle while relaxing by the pool some more. “There are plenty of things to see and do, and I was thinking we could take a trip downtown to see the sites there, get dinner later, and maybe explore some of the bars and cool social places in the evening.”

Venessa raised an eyebrow. “Looking to hook up, are we?” she asked, somewhat in jest. “That might be a bit challenging while we’re staying at your parents’ place, don’t you think?”

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Sahara countered, deadpan. “But seriously, not looking to take anyone home, just let you meet some people outside of my family, see how people are here, and maybe make some friends. Besides, I figured you of all people would be down for a little drinking and dancing.”

That was entirely fair, of course: of all people, Venessa was one of the more likely to always be down for both drinking and dancing. “Sure, okay, that sounds like a plan.” Somewhat reluctantly, they pulled themselves away from the lounge chairs, and set about getting ready to go out.

Venessa chose a modest skirt to wear out, with a casual top and a light jacket; finding something which would work for both casually walking around and potentially a nightcap of drinking and dancing was tricky, so she just split the balance. She paired that with some tall black platform heels, which was a good thing too: when she measured the decorative new chain using the method the airport store vendor had suggested, they were just high enough. “At least I’ll have a more reasonable stride length this time,” she thought, before her mind wandered to another topic of curiosity.

She found Sahara in the aforementioned dedicated shoe closet, pondering which of the seemingly unlimited pairs of shoes she wanted to pair with the long but form-fitting dress she had selected for their outing. “So…” she began, pulling Sahara’s attention away from that decision, “did you ever… you know, lock your anklets and chain on before you went out?” Venessa had that mischievous look she got whenever she was thinking about doing something risky or risque, and Sahara had a pretty good idea what she was thinking this time.

“Oh, plenty of times,” answered Sahara, playing it cool, because at that moment she didn’t want Venessa to have the satisfaction of thinking she was pushing the envelope of suggestive behavior. In reality Sahara had done so a few times, just to see what it was like, but only for short trips in controlled environments. Still, a part of her did not want Venessa to always be “the cool one”, and sometimes that part prompted impulsive quasi-accurate responses like the one she’d just given.

The effort to play it off as no big deal did not diminish the twinkle in Venessa’s eye, though. “Let’s do that,” she continued, undeterred. “It’ll be fun, and different, and a little exciting!”

Sahara had known her friend long enough to know that talking her out of an idea she had grasped onto was typically a losing proposition, especially where Venessa thought it might be exciting, so she pivoted to just being the responsible one. “Okay, fine, but I will take the keys along with us, just in case something happens.”

“That doesn’t seem fair,” said Venessa, mock frown on her face. “How about I keep the keys for yours, and you keep the keys for mine, so we have both with us, but neither of us can cheat.”

Sahara rolled her eyes. “Fine,” she agreed, “but don’t come crawling to me later in the night when you want to back out, because I’ve been doing this since I was literally I child, my young padawan.” In retrospect, she should have predicted this possible suggestion: it was just the sorta of “jump in with both feet” type of thing Venessa loved to do, and she had been more enthusiastic than Sahara had anticipated with practicing with the ankle cuffs back in their dorm room. Maybe there was something Venessa wasn’t telling her about her private life, but that topic would keep for another time.

That settled, they finished getting ready, and did the requisite ceremonial key exchange as a final step. The semi-matching anklets Sahara had (sans the embossed additions) looked brand new as well, which Venessa inferred boded well for the durability of the brand in general. They had told Samantha their plans, and she’d wished them well on their adventures; she offered the family car, but since drinking was very likely in the evening plans, the girls had decided that rideshare was probably the way to go again. They waited for their ride, and then were off to see the big city.

The big city, as it turned out, wasn’t enormous, but the downtown area which Sahara had in mind to explore was large enough that they spent the rest of the afternoon walking around, looking at various sights and such. As before, walking in the chained anklets was a bit of an adjustment for Venessa initially (ingrained habits wouldn’t change quickly, even with the morning’s walks), but this adjustment period was quicker, and these quality, thick, padded, and effectively form-fitting anklets were a hundred times more comfortable than the cheap tourist versions from the morning. Venessa found her stride only limited slightly from what would have been normal for the heel height anyway, which was far easier to adjust to. She also had plenty of experience with platform heels, and this was a comfortable and well-worn pair she’d brought with her for the trip, so that aspect posed very little additional challenge. It wasn’t like walking several miles that afternoon was relaxing, in comparison to pool lounging for example, but by the time they went to dinner, Venessa was feeling pretty up-beat about the whole experience, and had basically grown fully acclimated to her attire.

“How are you doing?” Sahara inquired, as they were waiting for their table at the restaurant she had suggested, an upscale fusion dining location which looked popular, but not overly crowded.

“Surprisingly good,” replied Venessa. “I honestly also expected to get more looks from people, but it seems like with this being so commonplace in the culture and all,” she gestured down to her feet, raising one leg to pull the chain taut and emphasize the strict restriction, “I guess nobody really pays it too much heed. Back at the university, this type of outfit would get everyone’s attention, no question, but here these aren’t even the highest heels I saw on people walking, and it seems like even the locks are no big deal to most people here. I can’t decide if I like that, or I’m slightly offended.”

Sahara grinned at her friend’s mock indignation. “Well, we’ll have to hit one of the clubs later, to get you that attention you so clearly crave,” she countered, tongue somewhat in cheek. “Assuming you’re still up for some dancing after all that walking.”

“Oh, I definitely am,” asserted Venessa, confidently. “I could go all night; the only question is when you’re going to tap out.” In truth, Venessa was far from certain that she could last longer than Sahara in their current circumstances and proposed upcoming activities, especially given her friend’s considerably more experience, but now it had fallen somewhat into a friendly competition, and Venessa also didn’t like to lose. Sahara knew all of this, of course; it was far from the first time they had engaged in playful competition, and it was generally all in good fun.

“Well, you’d better get a good meal in then, cause I’ve got the perfect club to visit afterwards, and I know they will be rocking till the wee hours,” said Sahara, laying down the metaphorical gauntlet. “We wouldn’t want you to run out of energy or anything.” And with that, the tone was set for the rest of the evening.

They had an excellent meal there, as it turned out; Sahara knew the really good places to eat, especially when not filtering by price. They both had wine, and shared a dessert. When the bill came, Sahara offered to pay, since Venessa was here as her guest; Venessa objected politely, but not strenuously, especially after she caught a glimpse of the total. With a promise to pick up something else later in the trip, the bill was settled, and they were off to the club.

The club, as advertised, was a popular spot with good music, and did indeed rock quite late into the night. The girls were able to get waved past the line (a fairly common occurrence in their experience, being young and attractive looking), and they spent the next four hours or so alternating between sipping drinks, dancing, and sharing drinks and company with several of the would-be suitors who approached them. By the time they headed out to return home, it was past midnight, Sahara was fading, and even “never quit” Venessa was starting to feel wiped out from the day.

“Okay, I admit it,” said Venessa, sleepily, “my feet are hurting now, and my ankles as well.” They were in the rideshare on the way back to Sahara’s parent’s house, and Sahara was leaning over to rest her head on Venessa’s shoulder, but still mostly awake. The driver, an older gentleman, had headphones in, so they could probably talk in relative privacy, although in their mutually exhausted state neither particularly cared if they were overheard at that point. “I maintain, however, that you cheated, and that little foot rub diversion should disqualify you from whatever competition we may have had.”

“It’s not a competition, but even if it was, that would clearly not be cheating,” murmured Sahara, not asleep but also tired enough to not really have much of a buffer between her thoughts and what came out of her mouth at that point. “He offered, I accepted, and it felt really nice, especially after all that walking and dancing. He probably would have done you too, if you accepted.”

“He hooked your chain with his leg, and massaged your feet for like twenty minutes,” continued Venessa, more a recounting than a criticism. They’d been dancing with a few men, one of which had commented that their feet must be tired after all that dancing in the heels, and offered to rub them if the girls desired. Venessa had demurred, but to her friend’s surprise Sahara accepted the offer, and before long her nylon-shrouded feet were out of her platform stiletto sandals and into the gentleman’s lap, where he was working on blood flow and circulation while she leaned back in her chair eyes closed and softly moaning.

“Yeah,” confirmed Sahara, “that was so nice.”

“You are aware that he had an erection while he was doing that, right?” It was a half question, half light-hearted accusation.

“So what?” Sahara countered, still murmuring stream of consciousness with her eyes closed. “He enjoyed it, I enjoyed it, we’re both consenting adults, what’s the issue? Sometimes you have some surprising hang-ups, for such a wild-child. I got his number, by the way; I’m looking forward to more of those sessions in the future, thank you very much.”

Venessa rolled her eyes, and stroked Sahara’s hair. Maybe she was right: maybe Venessa did feel a little jealous watching her friend in momentary ecstasy like that, even if at the moment she thought the guy was a little strange. Maybe she did have some weird residual hang-ups. Maybe Sahara would be open to a double-date with the man next time. Whatever the case, that was a topic for another day.

They made it back to the house, eventually, and mutually supported each other on the walk up to the front door. Sahara dug the house key out of her purse, and they helped each other inside, where Sahara helped Venessa get her room; solo walking and navigating were both a considerable challenge for Venessa at that point. Once Venessa was safely on her bed, Sahara retrieved the key for Venessa’s anklet locks from her purse. Confronted with Venessa’s hazy gaze of gratitude mixed with a near complete lack of situational awareness, Sahara once again rolled her eyes, and moved to remove the locks herself, freeing Veenssa from the anklets and chain. “There you go, babe, you’ve earned it,” she said, starting off toward her own room, “you won the day, congrats, it was awesome, I’m going to bed.”

It took Venessa a good moment after that to realize she was forgetting something too. “Hey,” she called after Sahara, who was already halfway down the hall, “I have your key too…”

“No worries,” said Sahara, without turning, just raising a hand to acknowledge. “I’ve got a spare in my room. Just go to sleep babe, we’re all good.” Her tone suggested that she, too, was fading very fast now, and just trying to make it back to her room before passing out, but Venessa didn’t notice; it was all she could do to pull some covers over herself, before the weight of the day overwhelmed her.

She slept well, and long, and dreamt of dancing with Sahara, strange exotic attractive men massaging them, fabulously dressed women milling around, and Sahara walking into her room at some point in the morning and taking something from her purse. She was fairly sure all of that was in her dreams.

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Re: The Trip

Unread post by anonymouse »

Epilog: Stepping Back

Venessa did meet Sahara’s father the next day, after an elongated rest; a very nice and considerate man, in her estimation. The girls took advantage of the pool that morning, but by the afternoon they were back out, to see more sights and have more experiences. That pattern continued, with only slight variations in timing and destinations, for the rest of the two week trip, with Sahara escorting Venessa to places far and wide, and many interesting sights and experiences.

Sahara promised not to hook up with the guy she’d met at the club, at least during that trip, out of respect for being the host (although she made it clear that she reserved the right to do so on a future trip back home). They did, however, go on a casual “date” with him together a few days later, which at one point involved foot massages for both of them. Venessa decided that regardless of what he got out of the experience, it was great for her, and whatever hang-ups she’d previously had about it seemed silly in retrospect.

For a few of the longer trips to sightseeing destinations, they did take one of Sahara’s family cars (it turned out they had a few), a lovely Aston Martin convertible which was sleek, stylish, and seemingly powerful. Sahara explained that it was acceptable, and in fact legally required, for women to remove the connecting chain while driving, so that is what they did, replacing and securing it only at their destinations. Venessa really enjoyed the cruises through the countryside to and from the destinations with the top down too, and Sahara confirmed that the feeling was mutual.

Eventually, though, it was time to pack up and return home (to the states, anyway, where they both had obligations and future summer plans). Collectively they had acquired a number of clothing items and souvenirs during their trip, enough to aggregate into one additional check in bag, which would make the flight back with them. On the predetermined day, they said their goodbyes to Sahara’s parents (and again expressed their sincere gratitude for allowing them to stay at their house during the trip, which was reciprocated with pronouncements that they were welcome any time), and embarked on the trip to the airport.

Venessa was surprised that she felt a tinge of regret, while in the airport lobby area removing the anklets for the flight home. Part of her had grown accustomed to wearing them over the trip, despite the restrictions they imposed; in a sense, they were now a comforting security blanket of sorts, which Venessa had been both proud and comforted to wear around, and which now seemed sad to remove. She and Sahara shared a knowing look, as Sahara was doing the same on the bench beside her: this was yet another bond they both now shared, as an intangible but indelible memento of this memorable trip. She returned the anklets and chain respectfully to their case, which was coming home with her as a truly personal item.

The flight was uneventful, and the girls made it back to their dorm room the next morning, and quickly fell back into their state-side routines. Their bond had been strengthened by the trip though, without a doubt, and the next year would hold plenty of instances of one of them coming home to the other wandering the room with ankles chained, because it felt “comfortable”. They both vowed to repeat the trip the next summer too, and have more adventures together.

“You know,” said Sahara out of the blue, one evening when they were both relaxing together on the couch in their room, at a rare occurrence when they were both enjoying wearing the anklets from Sahara’s country, complete with chains and locks. “When we graduate, there’s no reason we couldn’t try to move back to my home country together, if you wanted to. There are certainly plenty of jobs there, my family would love to have me nearby, and it would be great to have someone I knew there too.” She turned and smiled. “And by that, I mean it would be great to have you there too.”

“That’s a nice thought,” replied Venessa with a smile, taking another sip of her wine and mulling it over. It was a very pleasant thought, indeed.

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Re: The Trip

Unread post by JaniceNoyb »

Nice story, thanks for writing and posting it. Sahara's country is similar to "Restraint World" by one of the authors on Deviant Art (can't remember his name, sorry) In that world, women must have their hands fastened behind their backs when out in public.

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