Becca put the horse on a long tether so it could graze. She took the saddle off, setting the bear spray near it, and spread the blanket on the ground. She removed a thermos and some food from the saddlebags, creating a picnic. Then she wandered back to the horse and offered it a carrot. The beast carefully took the carrot from her palm, using its thick lips. He was relieved she didn’t ask if he’d like to feed it, too.

They settled down on the blanket, which was reeking of horse. He probably smelled like the animal, too. They drank some of the US-style lemonade she had in the thermos, which tasted more sour than others he tried. He was glad; some things in America were too sweet.

“You OK now?” she asked.

He nodded, even though he wasn’t sure. “You?”

She took so long to reply that he’d started to wonder if she heard him. “I think my mother has a girlfriend.”

He stared into the sky. What does anybody say to that? “Um … know who she is?”

From the sigh she exhaled, he gathered that whatever he was meant to say, it wasn’t what came out of his mouth. Maybe if he’d had a father who actually talked to him he’d know what to do. Then again, his father didn’t seem to be handling the current situation very well. Or at all.

She stood up, catching his attention. With a sly grin on her face she held his gaze as she unbuttoned the fly to her jeans. He briefly considered the lions, but then figured no girl was going to do this if she thought they were near.

The panties were red. Red with tiny bows; he had no idea they made panties like that. Although his friends probably knew.

Her top followed the panties; and then there she was, in her peach-pink birthday suit. He wanted to touch her. Badly. But he waited.

She knelt over him, kissing him firmly on the mouth. “Did you bring a rubber?”

He knew she meant a condom. He nodded, fumbling for his wallet. He pulled it out. She smiled, then tugged at his clothes. He felt like he was being peeled, like a banana. Soon he was as naked as she; it felt that it was all going rather fast. How did she go from her mother’s possible girlfriend to them having sex? Then again, why did he care?

She handed him the condom. “You put it on; I’ll watch.”

So he did, but all the while, keeping an eye on her. She was biting her lip. It all seemed a bit too familiar, like he’d been in this place before. Maybe … but it was she who took her clothes off.

Yet …

“Come here,” he said, and he opened his arms. She entered his embrace, she felt so smooth and warm. He enjoyed how his fingers ran through her soft silky hair as they kissed. He’d been hoping to do this for weeks. So badly.

She leaned back on the blanket and whispered, “Come on.” He moved over her. He looked into her eyes. They looked a little too bright, as if there were tears lurking, ready to spill onto her face. Then that little cross she wore around her neck caught the light.

He flopped down next to her on the blanket, and inwardly cursed the gods for once again putting him in such a situation.

She tugged his arm, “Come on, watcha ya doing?”

He reached an arm out and pulled her so close that her head rested on his chest. “No.” It came out so softly he himself could hardly hear the word.


He swallowed. “No. Not like this. Not today when you’ve got all this on your mind.”

And then she began to sob. He half expected her to jump on that horse and ride away leaving him stranded. Or slap him. Or yell at him. Or pick up the bear spray and blast him. Or all of it. But she didn’t. She stayed, clinging to him while she cried and cried. What on earth is a guy to do when a girl cries? So he kept holding her. Maybe she’d pull away when she wanted him to stop?

Malcolm kept his eyes to the sky, watching a hawk soar far above them. He vowed that as soon as he returned to Cape Town he was going to find himself an uncomplicated girl and have uncomplicated sex. But maybe there was no such thing?

The hawk continued to circle while her tears ran down his chest. Did his father ever hold his mother while she cried? Why didn’t he come now? If he didn’t come soon his mother was going to do something stupid, like pose naked for that doos.

And why did he have to think all these responsible things when his parents clearly didn’t? He was the teenager. He should be having sex right now – and enjoying it – not worrying about how some peach-pink American girl might regret it! It wasn’t like he’d see her again after he left. Why did he care? She was naked. She was willing. It was her fault.

Wasn’t it?


Tell us: In what way might this situation not be Beccas’s ‘fault’?