By: Sawyer Bennett

I’d never seen hair the color this woman possessed. It was as red as the setting sun and long as well; she wore it in a massive braid down her back. She was so different from the women of our tribe. So much taller than them—the top of her head coming up to my shoulder while theirs barely came to mid-chest. Her skin was pale, like the color of the moon, and she had tiny, little brown dots sparsely spread across her nose and cheeks.

I’d heard her speaking English with Father Gaul. I was sure she knew I spoke it as well, but she had stayed pretty far away from me since that first night when she arrived in our village.

When I was inside of Tukaba, taking my pleasure inside of her willing and warm flesh, my entire focus was on the beautiful, red-haired woman who watched me with fevered eyes. I imagined it was her body beneath mine, except I knew she wouldn’t lay there quietly the way a Caraican woman would do. No, I imagined someone like her would be writhing, moaning, and scratching at the dirt with her delicate fingers. I would have had to use my strength to pin one such as her down, but I would enjoy her complete surrender.

That thought alone had my shaft thickening, so I immediately tried to think of something else to quell its rise to glory.

Moira stumbled again, and I wanted to yell at her to watch where she was going. Her face was tilted upward to a pair of howler monkeys right above us, a small smile on her face as she watched them swing in the branches. I only glanced up briefly, and then turned my attention back to the jungle floor.

My gaze was keen—well trained—and in just a mere moment, I saw danger three feet from Moira’s stride as she stumbled along. A bushmaster snake was slithering its way onto the path from her right and, in two more steps, she would be right on it.

My hands shot out, grabbing Moira by the shoulders and pulling her backward into me. She screamed in fright as the bushmaster lifted its head toward us. I forcefully shoved her behind me, and she went crashing to the path on her butt. Father Gaul and Ramon looked at me as if I’d lost my mind, but they didn’t see what I did.

Certain death.

The bushmaster was defensively poised, its head hovering several inches off the ground. Without a word to any of them, I swung my machete through the air and alleviated the viper of its head, where it thudded softly onto the rotting leaves.

Reaching out to a large, wet palm leaf, I wiped the serpent’s blood from my blade and turned to Moira with a glare. “You need to keep your eyes on the path, foolish chama de cabelos. Next time, I let the serpent strike.”

She looked up at me with those mossy, green eyes filled with fear and contrition. Our gazes locked for a moment, but then I turned away and started walking down the path. Ramon rushed past me to help Moira from the ground, and our little expedition continued.

I reacted on instinct, saving her miserable life, and in turn, trapped myself at her side. In hindsight, I should have let the snake strike, then I could have hauled her lifeless body back to the village and been done with this foolishness.

We parted ways with Father Gaul and Ramon when we reached the Jutai. Moira and I continued north via dugout canoe, while Father Gaul went west to visit the Matica tribe, who was a sworn enemy of the Caraicans. There had been much bloodshed between our two clans.

On the second night after we had ported off the Jutai, I almost left Moira… so great was my longing to return home, back to the Caraican village where my friends and family revered me and I was happy. I went off into the jungle and contemplated what I would say to Paraila when I returned. I could tell him some lie, like Moira had changed her mind. Or that she had been eaten by a jaguar or caiman. With that story, I’d have to kill her and dispose of her body to get away with that, because knowing what little I did about her, she would have just tracked me back to the village.