Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Outsiders - Chapter 11

NOTE: This chapter is written from Jonas' POV. 

The loud birds wake me up at the crack of dawn. The hadedas are the loudest part of the chorus. The sounds they make remind me of seagulls, which I find a bit funny since we’re very far inland at the moment. There are definitely no seagulls in Pretoria, South Africa.  I grab my phone from the nightstand and check the time; 5:30 am. Way to early to get up, even for me. I roll over onto my side and carefully wrap my arms around Sigrid’s warm body. She instantly scoots closer and curls up next to me, letting out a small contented sound. I kiss the crown of her head and soon I drift back to sleep, spooning her.
I wake up again at seven.  Sigrid is still fast asleep, but it’s time for me to start my morning routine.   I carefully move away from her, she lets out a little moan as our bodies lose contact, but thankfully she pulls the blanket around her and seems to go back to sleep. I try jiggle the bed as little as possible as I lift my legs over the edge of the bed and line up my wheelchair to transfer to it.  Sigrid barely stirs as I lift my butt from the bed to the seat of the wheelchair in one move.  I quickly lift my bare feet onto the footrest and shift my weight before I grab my glasses from the nightstand and put them on before I wheel myself into the bathroom.
Once I’m in the bathroom wheel over to the toilet and transfer to it before I grab a catheter pack from the small bag of supplies I’ve left on the counter next to it.  I put on a pair of sterile gloves and pull my sleep pants down.  With practiced ease I never imagined I’d have I slide the catheter into my limp penis and soon I watch the urine flow through the plastic tube and into the toilet. I do my bowel program in the evenings, so after I’m done cathing myself I remove the gloves and wrap them in the catheter wrapper with the used catheter and throw it in the trash.  Then I wheel over to the sink and wash my hands thoroughly before I shave and brush my teeth.
Sigrid is still fast asleep when I wheel back into the bedroom and I decide to let her sleep. I prefer to change my pants on the bed, but I know the movement will wake her up so I grab a t-shirt from the bench at the foot of the bed and pull it on and then I grab my iPad and head to the kitchen with it in my lap. I figure I can start a pot of coffee and get caught up on the news and my email while Sigrid sleeps.
As I head down the passage from the bedrooms to the main part of the house I hear sounds from the kitchen. Sounds like Margrete and Bjørn are up. Or maybe it’s their housekeeper. 
“Good morning, Jonas,” Margrete greets me as I wheel into the spacious kitchen a moment later. She’s baking something; it looks like cinnamon rolls.  It brings a smile to my face; it reminds me of my childhood visits to my grandparents’ house. Grandma loved to bake and I enjoyed spending time in the kitchen with her. It was probably because my mother is the least domestic person in Norway. I’ve never seen her go near the kitchen.
“Good morning. Baking already?”
“Yeah, Bjørn woke me up. He got up at 5:30 to catch a morning flight to Durban. After he left I was wide-awake and I figured I might as well get up and I decided to bake some cinnamon rolls. Is Sigrid still sleeping?”
“Yeah. I managed to get up without waking her. I know she likes to sleep in,” I say as I wheel over to the spot by the kitchen table where they’ve removed a chair to make room for my wheelchair. I place the iPad on the table in front of me.
“That she does,” Margrethe says with a chuckle. She puts the two trays of cinnamon rolls in the oven and walks over to the coffee maker and pours two mugs. “You take it black, right?” she asks me as she hands me a mug. 
“That’s right. Thanks,” I say as I take it from her and cradle the warm mug with both hands. Margrete sits down across the table from me.
“Are you going to Joburg today?” she asks me.
“That’s the plan. And Sigrid mentioned shopping at Menlyn Park mall on the way back.”
“Ah, I hope you like malls. Once Sigrid gets into shopping mode it can take a while to get done.”
“It’s okay. So far we haven’t done much shopping on this trip apart from a stroll through the mall at the waterfront in Cape Town. I’m okay with spending a few hours at the mall,” I assure her. “When will Bjørn be back? Are we going to Pilanesberg tomorrow without him? Or is that postponed?”
“He’ll be back this afternoon. He has a meeting with a source for the documentary he’s working on for NRK, but they should be done by lunch if nothing comes up.”
“Great. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I really enjoyed the game drives in Rietvlei and Karoo.”
“Then you’ll love Pilanesberg. The weather forecast looks good too. Sunny and a few clouds. We don’t want rain, that causes the animals to hide under the trees and they’re harder to see.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that. I definitely hope to see lots of animals. I’m a bit childishly enthusiastic about seeing African animals,” I admit as I take a sip of my coffee. “Kind of ridiculous for a guy that’s almost thirty.”
“Sigrid mentioned that. I was like that the first few times too. I still enjoy it a lot, so I like it when we have visitors and an excuse to go for a day trip to Pilanesberg.” 
We chat for a little while longer and then the oven timer dings.  The room has been filled by the scent of cinnamon rolls for the past few minutes and when Margrete opens the oven and takes out the two trays the scent really fills the room.  I ask Margrete if she has a small tray and soon I’m on my way back to the bedroom with two mugs of coffee and a basket with four cinnamon rolls balanced in my lap.
We decide to skip the sightseeing bus in Johannesburg. I’m not convinced we’ll get good views downstairs and it seems like a bit of a waste of time to spend a couple hours in a bus, looking at the cars next to us.  We go to the Apartheid Museum and World of Beer.  After we’re done at World of Beer Sigrid agrees to drive around the city center for a little bit so I get to see a little of it before we head back to Pretoria.
When we get to Menlyn Park mall we head straight for a restaurant to grab a bite to eat.  Neither of us has eaten since breakfast and it’s almost three in the afternoon so we’re both hungry.  After we eat we spend a couple of hours strolling around the mall.
The alarm clock on my cell-phone wakes us up at four the next morning.  We went to bed early, but it feels like I’ve gotten virtually no sleep when I sit up in bed and rub my eyes.  Sigrid pulls the covers over her head and I decide to let her sleep until I’m done with my morning routine in the bathroom.
When I wheel out of the bathroom half an hour later Sigrid is still sleeping and I wake her up.  She reluctantly gets out of bed and walk into the bathroom as I wheel over to the closet and grab a pair of cargo shorts and a t-shirt, as well as a hooded sweatshirt.  With the stack of clothes in my lap I wheel back to the bed and transfer back to it. 
Sitting on the edge of the bed I grab my braces from under it.  Sigrid has told me I’m better off tall today, since the picnic spots aren’t exactly wheelchair accessible.  I line the left brace up with my left leg and lift the leg into the brace.  After making sure it’s positioned correctly I secure the straps.  As usual I start with the strap across my ankle and work my way up to the two straps on the thigh cuff.  I repeat the steps on my right leg and then pull my shorts on.  I’m tying the laces on my sneakers when Sigrid walks out of the bathroom a few minutes after I finish dressing.
The look of happiness and desire on her face when she sees me in my braces still baffles me.  I really don’t see how the plastic, metal and Velcro contraptions that help me stand up are hot or attractive in any way. But Sigrid thinks so and I think it’s much better than her being freaked out about my disability and all the shit that comes with it.  
“Are you ready for a day filled with African wildlife?” she asks me as she pulls on a pair of denim shorts and a navy blue t-shirt before she pulls a hoodie over her head. It will warm up, but now it’s a bit chilly.
“Yep, I am. And my camera gear is ready too,” I say, pointing to the backpack next to me on the bed.
“I had no idea you were such a good photographer until we got here,” Sigrid says as she sits on the side of the bed and pulls on a pair of ankle socks and her sneakers. “You’ve really got a good eye.”
“I don’t think I’m particularly good, but I enjoy taking pics.” I say with a shrug. Before we can discuss my photography skills further Bjørn knocks on the door and announces that we’re leaving in 15 minutes.
Although I haven’t slept much I’m wide-awake and paying rapt attention to the scenery that passes outside the car as Bjørn heads northwest toward Pilanesberg. Margrethe is in the front passenger seat of Bjørn’s Land Rover. Sigrid and I are settled in the back seat, she’s sitting behind Bjørn.  The backpack with my camera gear is on the seat between us. I notice that Sigrid seems to be slumbering; her head is resting against the side window of the car.
Just after seven in the morning we pull through the Manyane gate.  Bjørn heads to the ticket office to pay the entrance fee and Sigrid ceases the opportunity to use the restroom. They both return to the car after a few minutes and we head into the reserve.  We have barely passed the gates when we drive through a large heard of impalas and I take my first photos of the day. 
Bjørn takes a right turn not long after we’ve entered the reserve, according to the sign the road leads to the Malatse Dam, it’s about six kilometers ahead.  During the drive we see several birds and Bjørn stops a few times so we can look at birds though binoculars and I manage to take some decent pictures of a couple of colorful birds. Bjørn promises to go through my pics and help me identify the birds before Sigrid and I go back to Norway.
When we arrive in the parking lot at the hide by Malatse Dam we get out of the car. I’m relieved that we seem to be alone here; there are no other cars in the parking lot.  I can’t help but feel like a bit of a spectacle when I’m wearing shorts with my braces out in pain sight.  I lift my legs out of the car and grab my crutches from the floor. After I’ve slid my arms through the cuffs and gotten a firm grip on them I pull myself up to a standing position. I hear the clicks as the knee joints lock.
“Want me to carry your camera?” Sigrid asks as she comes around the car and joins me.
“Sure, thanks,” I reply. I don’t like carrying it around my neck when I’m on crutches; I worry about damaging the optics in the lens.
After Sigrid has grabbed my camera she shuts the car door and we follow Margrethe and Bjørn through a gate and onto a wooden path that leads down to a small building with a thatched roof.  When we get inside I realize it’s like a covered terrace, with only a back wall.  There are benches where we can sit down and watch the wildlife around the small pond.  Sigrid walks ahead of me and sits down on one of the benches. What immediately catches my eye is the dead tree in the middle of the pond.  It has several light brown ‘balls’ hanging from it.
“What are those things hanging from the tree there?” I ask Bjørn, who’s standing next to me.
“Weaver bird nests,” Bjørn repiles as I sit down on the bench next to Sigrid. After unlocking my braces and adjusting my legs I shift my weight slightly.
“Weaver birds?”
He hands me his binoculars. “Just watch the tree.”
I take the binoculars from him and do as he tells me. Moments later a bright yellow bird arrives with some grass in its beak. I watch in awe as it literally weaves it into its nest that’s hanging from a branch of the tree.  After watching the bird for a couple of minutes I hand to binoculars back to Bjørn and ask Sigrid for my camera.  I manage to get a couple of decent shots of the bird working on its nest.  Over the next ten minutes I also manage to take pictures of some other birds around the pond. Then I realize I’ve been sitting on the hard wooden bench for longer than I probably should have.  It’s a pressure sore waiting to happen and I really should have brought a cushion to sit on.  I actually have my wheelchair cushion in the car, but I didn’t think about bringing it to the hide.
We head back to the parking area and after we’re all settled into the car again Bjørn starts the engine and we head back to the main road. We’ve been on the road for a couple of minutes when he pulls over on the side and points toward some trees about a hundred meters away from the car.
“There are two giraffes by that tree,” he says.  I grab my camera and look at them through the zoom lens.  I’m awestruck and the day has barely begun.  As I take several pictures of the giraffes I feel Sigrid scooting across the seat and placing a hand on my shoulder.
“Pretty cool, right?” she asks when I put the camera down in my lap.
I turn to face her. “Amazing!” is all I manage to say before she places a kiss on my lips.


  1. Another great chapter! A little shorter than I would have liked, but then again, any thing that I like that is well written seems to be too short no matter how long it is, lol! So, basically, it is a compliment I found it too short and wanted more! I enjoyed the POV switch to Jonas, it was nice to see some of his thoughts this chapter. I always look forward to the next chapter, thanks for sharing your talent of writing!

    1. Thanks for the compliment :-) and sorry this chapter isn't longer. I really wanted to get this posted today, since I know the coming week will be very busy for me and I will have little or no time to write.

      Glad you liked the POV switch. Although it was a bit of a struggle I enjoyed trying to get into his head. It's easier to write from Sigrid's POV, since she's a dev like me (and a woman), but I enjoyed the challenge of trying to get into Jonas' head. The next chapter will also be from his POV.


  2. I really like how you switched things up and wrote from Jonas's POV this time!

  3. great chapter. I enjoyed Jonas point of view

  4. Thanks for the update.

  5. It is always a challenge to write from a male's POV for a female writer but you did it well.
    Make the next chapter a bit longer pls.

  6. This might be my new favorite store, Mille. I think you did an excellent job writing from Jonas' point of view. I might challenge myself to do the same soon... ;) I can't wait to read the next chapter!!

  7. Well done! I really enjoyed the scenery, too.

  8. Having been to Pilanesberg several times, I am visualising exactly where the guys are. This is one great story - thanks!