It was the end of a long, hard day, made tolerable because the work was performed to benefit victims of the earthquake.
The other volunteers and I ate our bowl of soggy, undercooked rice and beans as if it was the finest meal ever prepared before we slowly dragged ourselves to the individual pup tents on the edge of the small, third-world village.
Having closed my tent flaps, I removed my mud soaked clothing, placed the sleep mask over my eyes and gloriously plopped down on top of my sleeping bag enjoying the barely perceptible breeze filtering through the netting of my tent.
Just as I was teetering on the brink of unconscious sleep, I heard the unzipping of my tent flaps and was aware of another presence in the tent. The hands that began to massage my shoulders were obviously feminine. It felt so good I could not make myself move in a modest attempt to cover my exposed back side. I simply melted at her touch. Muscles released the stresses of five days’ worth of heavy lifting, long hours and emotional gymnastics at seeing so much damage and loss.
In my mind, I conducted an inventory of the twenty or so female volunteers I had met that week trying to imagine which one may have been so bold as to enter my tent. Having massaged my neck, shoulders, back and legs, she was now enticing me to roll over. Embarrassed by the impact her hands had on my libido, I cautiously rolled over aware that it was obvious how much I was enjoying the massage.
As I reached up to remove my sleep mask, her hands intercepted mine and without a word, lowered them back down to my side.
From the rustling sounds, I knew that she too, was now removing her clothing. The massage had evolved into a higher level of physical pleasure. Energy I thought I no longer possessed somehow inspired me to join her in the rhythmic motions that brought us together as one.
The climax was simultaneous. Our sweat soaked bodies collapsed; entangled in an exhausted sleep in the deep, dark night.
When I woke in the morning, she was gone.
During breakfast, I looked into the eyes of all the women volunteers searching for some acknowledgement of a shared, intimate secret … I found none. Throughout the day, I talked with each woman, asking how she slept last night and saw no indication of a guilty soul.
My tour ended that night. I was taken to the airport by one of the local Red Cross workers without ever knowing who to thank for a night that I will never forget.