After a long and impossibly long day under the blazing tropical sun, Simon's fever lessened a little after sunset, at which point the sunburned and bedraggled trio dragged him back to the relative shelter of their make-shift lean-to. At various points throughout the day, James left in search of food, but always returned empty-handed. There was a nearby spring which trickled into a rocky pool no deeper than their ankles, but it was fresh and it was clean. George would occasionally dip shredded strips of his shirt into this pool and place them on Simon's head.
As night consumed them there was nothing to do but talk.
“Should we build a fire?” James suggested.
“With what wood?” George retorted, “or matches, for that matter? I wouldn't know the first thing about rubbing two sticks together.”
“I don't know either, but we can try.”
Summer nodded, “We can try. Tomorrow we can try.”
They rested on their backs a little ways above the surf and looked up at the enormous sky around them. There were no clouds, but the moon was only at a quarter and cast little light for them to see. For safety, they huddled closer together, although Summer warned, “Nobody better cop a feel tonight.” It was intended as a joke but neither of the men laughed. So she remained quiet for a while and let the breeze tug at her hair as she stared up at the stars.
“How are your shoulders?” George asked.
“They sting like hell,” Summer answered. She had sat at the water's edge with Simon's head in her lap for over an hour with her back to the sun, before James had finally thought to erect a palm frond shade over her. By that time, though, her shoulders and upper arms had turned beet red.
“I hope they don't blister.”
“Yeah,” George nodded, “I suppose it would be too much to ask for a patch of wild Aloe plants nearby.”
James shook his head, “I didn't see any.”
George, like Summer before him, had been joking. But he let it go. Wasn't important.
“Should we... sleep in shifts?” George asked no one in particular.
“Why?” asked Summer.
“Wellllll, with no fire to keep away the wildlife...”
“There is no wildlife,” James reported, “I searched as far as I could go today, looking for food, signs of shelter, bones, scat --”
Before George could open his mouth, Summer said, “Don't ask, George.”
James continued, “Whatever. I saw nothing that indicated the presence of any kind of animals present on this island. There aren't even any birds here.”
“Which means we are nowhere close to land,” Summer sighed.
“How do you know?”
“Because, George, birds don't live on the water. They might fly out to sea to explore or to hunt, but then they return home at the end of the day to their nice warm nest on land.”
“Oh. Sure, that makes sense.”