The bike’s engine was hot next to my leg, the wind was whipping my hair around my face as the spiny vegetation flashed by. This was my first time on a motorbike and I was so excited. We were fly – the driver reached his hand around and grabbed my arse, then moved it down my leg and onto my knee. Weird. Although we were just coming up to a hill so maybe he was making sure I didn’t slip off – we were flying over sand dunes. Huge plumes of dust were kicked up from the wheel – his hand reached around again – as we sped along the flat track in front of us. I watched the sand disappear beneath us and made a mental note to protect my Batchelor degree head if we ever crashed. Although from what I had seen in the village yesterday – again his hand reached around – this slimy man had probably been on the back of a motorbike since before he could walk.
The midday sun was beginning to burn the back of my neck but I felt cool as we slid down dunes and left the ground when we reached their tops. The sand reflected the sun’s light and I knew if I were to touch it, it would burn my hand. The sandy-blonde dog that had joined us for breakfast began to run alongside the bike. I called her Gus, Queen of the Desert.
This time when the driver reached his hand around he looked over his shoulder, I looked too and saw the car that dad was in come into view. When I faced the front again, I watched the driver place his hand back on the handlebars. And that was when I knew that he knew what he was doing was wrong. He wasn’t scootching me forward, he was just trying to feel me up and I had let it happen. Any bit of positivity I was trying to hold on to was gone, any excuse I had for his behaviour, gone. I felt awful. He obviously didn’t as, upon seeing the car, sped up and out of sight then began reaching again. “Pull over.”
When the bike stopped he turned around to face me. His hand slithered down the inside of my wrist in an attempt to hold mine. This man, at least twice my age, then began kissing the air in front of my face and started leaning forward. I got off the bike and sat in the shade of a bush where Gus sat panting. All the while praying he wouldn’t follow me, but only his eyes did as he stayed seated on the bike. I told Gus what a horrible man he was, and what he’d done. She licked her paws. She understood. When the car caught up I swapped places with dad, who had a much more pleasant experience than I did.
I know that in the grand scheme of things what happened wasn’t that bad, but so much of our travelling has required me to place all my trust in strangers, for help, directions, and even something as simple as getting water. And this was the first time I felt vulnerable, completely out of sight of anyone, not knowing the way so he could’ve easily taken me somewhere else and I would have been none-the-wiser. It sucked. What should have been a fun, liberating experience was ruined by a man who couldn’t keep his hands to himself. So instead of remembering what it felt like to fly, my hair flowing in the wind, I’ll remember the feel of his calloused hands on my thigh. He had no right to take that from me. And that just pisses me off.