Over the next few weeks Jonas and I continue to grow closer; I’m spending the night at his apartment several times a week and we’ve both become more confident between the sheets. Taking things slow has proved to be the right thing for both of us.
It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve just returned to my apartment after spending the weekend with Jonas. It’s the first weekend of November and our fall term finals are only a couple of weeks away. We will both be buried in books and busy with our studies for the foreseeable future.
In about six weeks time I’ll be on a plane on my way to spend three weeks in South Africa and I still haven’t invited Jonas along. He has confirmed that he isn’t planning to spend the holidays with his family and he hasn’t told me about any other plans. Time is running out and flights are filling up, so I know it’s time to talk to my parents. I send a WhatsApp message to Mom and ask her if she’s got time for a Skype call today.
Half an hour later her face fills the screen of my laptop.
“Hi Sigrid! How are you? We haven’t heard from you in a while,” she says.
“I’m good Mom. Just busy with school.”
“And your boyfriend?” she teases.
“Yeah, we spend much of our free time together.”
We chat for a few minutes and I fill her in on what I’ve been up to lately and I promise I’ll try to make time to spend dinner at my grandparent’s house more often. I’ve turned down a couple of their invitations because of dates with Jonas and they’ve relayed their disappointment to Mom.
“You seem happy,” she says as the conversation is coming to an end.
“I am. I still feel like a bit of an outsider at school, I haven’t really made any friends there, but I like my major and the lectures are interesting. My Norwegian is getting better too.”
“I can hear that. Not that it was bad before.”
“Thanks Mom. I have something I want to ask you.”
“Well, ask away.”
“Would it be okay if I invited Jonas to come with me to South Africa for Christmas break? He doesn’t have any contact with his family and is planning to spend Christmas alone in his apartment.”
“Would you be spending all three weeks here?” Mom asks.
“Probably not. Natalie has invited us to spend New Years Eve in Cape Town, I figured we could drive down and maybe stop in Karoo National Park on our way there. We’d probably be down there for about a week or so and then we can spend a couple days with you before we fly back to Norway.”
“Have you discussed it with Jonas yet?”
“No, I wanted to be sure it’s okay with you and Dad first.”
“If it can be arranged on such a short notice you can bring him. I’d like to meet this man that seems to have won my only child’s heart.”
“Thanks, Mom. I know you’ll both like him! He’s great!”
“Get back to me as soon as you guys have made your plans, okay?”
“I will. Talk to you soon, Mom.”
“Love you and miss you.”
“Love you too. Say hi to Dad from me, okay?”
We end the call and I place my laptop on the coffee table and flop back against the couch. She said yes! I can bring Jonas! I check the time; it’s only 5:30 in the afternoon. I grab my iPhone and quickly dial his number. He picks up almost instantly.
“Hey babe,” he greets me happily. “What’s up?”
“What are your plans for Christmas?”
“Huh?” He’s clearly a little thrown by the question, but he pulls himself together quickly. “Nothing particular. It’ll probably be me, some good food and a stack of movies. Why do you ask?”
“Wanna go to South Africa with me?”
“What?” He sounds genuinely surprised.
“You heard me. Would you like to come to South Africa with me? We’ll spend Christmas with my parents in Pretoria and then we’ll drive down to Cape Town and spend New Years Eve with Natalie and a few of my other friends.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah. I talked to my parents and they said you’re more than welcome to come. And I’d be thrilled if you want to come.”
“I…I don’t know what to say…”
“Say that you want to come to South Africa with me.”
After a few beats of silence a smile is evident in his voice as he replies, as well as a little hesitance. “I’d love to come to South Africa with you. Are you sure your parents are okay with it?”
“Yes, they are. They both want to meet you.”
“How long will we be there for?”
“I have tickets booked to fly down Friday the 20th of December and return on Saturday the 10th of January.”
“So, about three weeks?”
“Yeah, that’s the plan. Will that work for you?”
“Should be fine. Um, have you eaten dinner yet?”
“We have some planning to do. Wanna come down to my place and we can eat and talk about it? And if you want to you can spend the night and catch a ride to school with me in the morning.” On Mondays we both have a lecture at 9:30 AM, it’s one of the few things on our schedules that actually coincide.
“Sounds good to me. Let me get my stuff together and I’ll be there in about an hour or so, ok?”
“Excellent. Any preferences food-wise? I’m not in the mood to cook, so I’ll order something.”
“It’s up to you, really. Maybe pizza or some Chinese food? Whatever you feel like.”
“Pizza it is,” Jonas says. We chat for a couple of more minutes and then we end the call.
When Jonas opens his front door I’m surprised to see him tall. He hasn’t used his braces and crutches much lately, since doctor ordered him to cut back he has almost exclusively been using his wheelchair. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I don’t miss seeing him crutching around; I just find it so hot. And even if he’s dressed in a pair of old sweatpants and a faded t-shirt he looks incredibly sexy to me.
After I’ve dumped my duffle bag and backpack on the floor by the front door I wrap my arms around him and kiss him soundly on the lips. He shifts his left crutch so he’s holding both crutches with his right hand and wraps his left arm around my waist, pulling me close.
“This is a nice surprise,” I say as we pull apart and Jonas is again leaning on both of his crutches.
“What?” he asks, clearly not getting what I’m talking about.
“You’re tall,” I say with a smile.
“Oh… Yeah, I know you want to see my braces and being tall is good for my circulation and stuff, so…” His voice trails off and my heart skips a beat. I’ve been dreaming about seeing his braces since I first saw him crutching into the auditorium. I’m lost for words, so I opt for kissing him. Tonight it’s finally happening.
A few moments later the delivery guy from Peppe’s Pizza arriving with our dinner interrupts us and we pull apart reluctantly. Jonas has ordered and paid online, so all I have to do is to take the pizza box and bag the guy hands me and carry it into the living area. I set it down on the dining table and watch as Jonas gets settled on one of the chairs and reaches for the bag.
“Would you mind grabbing some beers from the fridge? And some napkins? They’re in the drawer below the oven.” he asks me as he unpacks a salad and a container of garlic bread from the bag. “Oh, and the pizza cutter.”
“The pizza cutter?” I ask as I grab two bottles of Heineken from his fridge.
“I ordered one of their new New York-style pizzas. It’s not pre cut for some reason.”
“Oh, right. I’ve seen the commercials and I’ve been wanting to try it for a while.”
We finish our dinner mostly in silence and while I clear the table Jonas boots up his MacBook Air. I grab another two bottles of beer and sit down next to him.
“So, it’s planning time,” he says with a smile.
“Yep! I’m so happy you’re coming.”
“I’m excited too, although I don’t think I’ve managed to fully wrap my head around it.”
“I bet you haven’t,” I chuckle. We spend the next few minutes looking for flights. We’re lucky; there are available seats on the flights I’ve already booked. Jonas surprises me by upgrading us both to Business Class, using frequent flyer miles he has that are about to expire.
“I feel spoiled,” I say with a grin. He pecks my cheek and continues to fill out a form on the airline website about his disability and what sort of assistance he will need.
“That’s a lot stuff to fill out,” I comment.
“Yeah,” he sighs. “Comes with the territory. Have to admit that I’m apprehensive about the flight from Zürich to Johannesburg, but I’m sure we’ll make it work somehow.”
“We will,” I assure him. “Have you flown at all since your accident?”
“I’ve been to Copenhagen a couple of times, but the flight is only and hour and I’ve used my crutches and braces and just sent my chair with my checked in luggage. I’m not sure about staying in my braces for like 18 hours straight though.”
“We have almost six weeks to figure things out, so maybe you should as your doctor or your physical therapist? Or maybe you can contact the place you did your rehab and ask someone there what’s best?”
Jonas nods and returns his attention to the Swiss Airlines website. A few minutes later the booking is complete and he saves both of our tickets as PDF files before he shuts down his computer. He suggests we move over to the couch and then excuses himself to use the bathroom first.
He’s gone for almost twenty minutes and when he returns he asks me to grab fresh beers for us in the fridge. I happily oblige and soon I’m curled up next to him.
“So, what exactly are the plans for this trip?” he asks me after taking a swig of his Heineken.
“Mom and Dad will pick us up at O.R. Tambo Saturday morning, that’s the airport in Joburg. I figure we’ll just spend the few days before Christmas relaxing at our house. We do have a very nice pool. Maybe we can squeeze in a trip to Rietvlei, it’s a small game reserve just outside Pretoria or go see the Union buildings or do some sightseeing in Joburg.”
“Cool! Is Rietvlei like a safari? Do they have all sorts of African animals there?” Jonas asks with a grin, sounding surprisingly enthusiastic.
“Well, Rietvlei is small, but you always see a variety of animals. They have rhinos, zebras, springbok, bleesbok, eland, ostrich, cheetah… It’s not a full on safari experience though.”
“Oh…” Jonas face falls and he sounds disappointed.
“After we get back from Cape Town we’ll spend a whole day in Pilanesberg National Park. That’s a full on experience. We’ll have to leave at around five in the morning. It’s best to be there early, because when it’s hot in the middle of the day the animals tend to hide in the shade and they’re harder to see.”
“Sounds cool!” His enthusiasm is back.
“Anyways, we’ll leave on the 26th o. r 27th and drive to Cape Town. It’s about a 20 hour drive, so we’ll divide it into 2 days of driving.”
“Why not fly down? Isn’t that like a two hour flight?”
“It’s nice to have a car down there and it’ll give you a chance to see more of the country. But if you’re not up for the drive we can fly down and rent a car in Cape Town I suppose.”
“I didn’t think about the whole seeing stuff side of it,” Jonas says. “I think it sounds good.”
“Anyway, depending on what day we leave Pretoria we’ll arrive in Cape Town either the 27th or 28th. The only firm plan I have in Cape Town is a New Years party with a bunch of friends of mine, which you’re invited to as well. Obviously. We’ll stay there for about a week and then do the two-day drive in reverse.”
“Where will we stay in Cape Town? Have you booked a hotel room?”
“My parents have an apartment there, right on the waterfront. They bought it after Dad’s last book was a hit and he made quite a bit of money on it.”
“That sounds great. This whole trip sounds great. It’ll be great to meet your family and friends, I just hope they don’t freak out because I’m disabled.”
“They all know and they’re cool with it,” I assure him. I’m not entirely sure that it’s all cool, but I desperately want it to be. Fingers crossed.
We both lose track of the time as we eagerly chat about our upcoming trip and suddenly it’s midnight. It’s a school night, so we do need to get some sleep. Jonas heads to his bathroom to do his evening routine and I go into the guest bathroom to brush my teeth and change into my pajamas.
My heart is pounding as I realize I’m about to see his braces. Something I have fantasized about since the first time I met him. When I step into Jonas’ bedroom he’s still in the bathroom. I climb into ‘my’ side of the bed and use my iPhone to check what’s going on with my friends on Facebook. Almost 15 minutes later Jonas crutches out of the bathroom. He’s still dressed in the same sweatpants and t-shirt he has been wearing all evening.
He reaches the bed and lowers himself to the edge of it, then he uses his arms to scoot onto the mattress and finally he lifts his rigid legs onto the bed without unlocking the knee joints. He scoots up so he’s leaning against the headboard. His braces are still concealed by the sneakers his feet are clad in and his sweatpants.
“I’m all yours,” he says, sounding a little unsure of himself.
I my phone down on the nightstand and look over at Jonas. “You want me to help you undress?”
“You’ve been dreaming about that, right? Figured I’d make at least one of your dreams come true.”
I don’t need to be asked twice and I eagerly get out of bed and walk around to his side of the bed. Suddenly I’m unsure of what to do. Damn, Sigrid! You’ve been dreaming about doing something like this for years and when it’s actually happening you freeze up. Snap out of it!
“Take my shoes off first,” Jonas instructs, sensing my hesitance.
I untie the laces of his Nike sneakers and slide them off his feet. They reveal the foot molds of his KAFOs. Both his feet are resting on a white plastic sole and a Velcro strap across each ankle is keeping them in place.
“Next step is to get out of my pants. I’ll hold myself up and you can slide them down over my ass. When that’s done it should be pretty easy to get them down my legs.”
Jonas then uses his strong arms to lift his butt from the bed and I grab the waistband of his sweatpants and pull them down past his butt, to his upper thighs. He lowers himself to the bed with a relieved sigh. Getting the sweatpants off the rest of the way is pretty straightforward and soon I get a full view of his braces. I’m more turned on than I’ve ever been before.
The braces are made of white plastic with white Velcro straps and metal bars extend from Jonas’ ankles to his upper thighs. The soles under his feet are part of a molded piece of plastic that stops a couple of inches below his knee and in addition to the strap across his ankle there are two more across his calves, one about halfway up and one about two inches below his knee. The thigh cuffs are also made of white plastic and two wide Velcro closings on each are keeping them in place. He’s wearing black KAFO socks that stop at his crotch under his braces.
“Damn, these are hot,” I exclaim, my voice sounding alien in my ears. I’m so turned on and I’m struggling to keep my cool.
“Right,” Jonas says. He sounds pretty unconvinced.
“This is a fantasy coming true for me,” I say. “Believe me, I find you in your braces incredibly hot.”
Jonas still doesn’t seem convinced; he instructs me on how to take off his braces and leans back against the headboard again, watching me curiously. I eagerly get to work on releasing the Velcro closings and it doesn’t take me long to free his right leg and I lift it gently out of the brace.
“Where do you want me to put this?” I ask, gesturing at the brace that’s still resting on the bed.
“Just slide it under the bed,” he says with a small smile. I do as I’m told and repeat the process on his left leg. Finally I roll off the KAFO socks and put them on the floor next to the bed. It’s the first time I see his naked legs; they barely have any muscle tone and his knees and feet looks disproportionally large. Before I can look at them anymore Jonas grabs the comforter and pulls it up so it’s covering his legs.
“Would you mind putting my wheelchair next to the bed?” he asks. “I didn’t think about it and I feel kind of trapped with the braces off and the chair out of my reach.”
“No problem,” I say, then I fetch the wheelchair from the corner next to the bathroom door and place it next to Jonas. He thanks me and I walk around the bed and climb back in. I snuggle up next to him and kiss him passionately on the lips. He pulls me closer and the kiss soon escalates into a passionate make-out session.
“Jonas Østgaard (28) is back on the dating scene. Sightings of him has been few and far between since he was paralyzed in a worksite accident three years ago, but for the past few months he has frequently been spotted around Oslo in the company of a young woman; Sigrid Bjerke. Bjerke (19) is the daughter of journalist and author Bjørn Bjerke and freelance photographer Margrethe Storlien. She has grown up in the UK, USA and Australia, and for the past seven years the family has been located in Pretoria, South Africa. Sigrid returned to Norway in August and enrolled as a student at the Norwegian Business School campus in Nydalen where Østgaard is currently enrolled as well. We have not been able to get in touch with either of them for comments.”
I read and re-read the piece in the Norwegian gossip magazine several times; a picture of Jonas and I having a drink at Friday’s at Aker brygge is the centerpiece of the one-page article. It’s actually not a bad picture of us; it’s a sideways view of Jonas in his wheelchair, his forearms resting on the table in front of him. He’s dressed in a pair of dark jeans and a navy blue dress shirt with the top two buttons undone and I’m sitting next to him with. I’m partially disguised by Jonas and the table we’re seated at, only my head, my torso from the waist up and my left arm is visible. My hair is pulled into a loose bun and I have a pair of silver hoops dangling from my earlobes. I’m facing Jonas and it looks like we’re deeply immersed in a conversation. I remember that evening; we’d had dinner at Jonas’ apartment, but we were a bit restless and decided to go out for a couple of drinks. I still feel sick to my stomach; my face is plastered across a page of a gossip magazine. Before I can think I stuff the magazine into my messenger bag, slip into my heavy coat and a pair of Uggs and head for the bus stop.
Less than half an hour later Jonas lets me into his apartment. He’s in his wheelchair; dressed in a pair of ratty sweatpants and a faded t-shirt and looks surprised to see me. We’re both studying for our end-of-term exams and haven’t had as much time for together lately as we’d like to. When he sees my face he immediately looks worried.
“Sigrid, what’s wrong babe?”
I grab the magazine from my bag and toss it at him. It hits his chest and lands in his lap. “This is what’s wrong.”