On the long road through the desert, we stopped each night to camp. We slept in swags, scattered around the dying embers of a fire. I laid mine away from the others, all men, so the cacophony of snores wouldn't be so loud. I wore all my clothes, including a sheepskin jacket.I was tired, a little stoned, and very cold. One of the men stayed up until everyone else had gone to sleep. He crept over to me in the dark and murmured, “You’re cold. I’ll warm you up”. I turned my back to him and he crawled into the swag. I thought about the others waking to see him lying next to me. Then I figured it wouldn’t make any difference. They already believed I'd slept with him. They were wrong. He was short, sun-dried and at least fifteen years older than me. I hadn't given him a second thought.His breath shortened against the side of my neck. It smelled of stale beer. At least, it was warmer with him lying against me. I thought about the boyfriend I’d broken up with because he didn’t want me to do this journey. I felt the man’s hands slide under my clothes. “I think I’m falling in love with you,” he whispered.
I didn’t turn around. I stared into the night. “Yeah. Me too," I said flatly. He pulled my pants down to penetrate me from behind, then his calloused fingers clawed my still-covered breasts. I lay still as he moved against me. It’s too late now, I told myself. I’m already fucked. I was very young then. I forgave myself long ago. But I've never let myself become anybody's victim again.