James was still asleep when a bit of purple light began to filter into the cabin and alert Liz to the dawn. She stepped outside, appreciative of the unfamiliar simplicity of simply getting out of bed and going out, entirely without the preliminaries of dressing. The air was no cooler now than it had been last night. A lush pink haze filled the space under the coconuts. She pulled her fingers through her hair and, reconsidering her readiness to face the world, went quietly back inside to brush it. Stepping back out onto the sand, she pushed her toes into her sandals and headed off toward the pavilion kitchen.
As she had hoped, there was a coffee pot apparently ready for self-service. She started a pot and scouted a place to sit; last night's chair covers were still in place on those chairs that had not be used, and she took a seat at the bar. Coffee ready, she took a cup to the edge of the pavilion to watch the brightening dawn.
A figure approached. It was Malia, wearing a waist wrap. "Good morning, Malia. What a beautiful morning sky we have!"
"Yes, beautiful," Malia said with a slow turn, scanning the horizon, before stepping under the pavilion roof. "You have coffee OK? Cream I get from refrigerator. I put breakfast."
"No cream for me, thanks. Could I have a glass of water?"
"OK I put water. This good water to drink."
"James told me you're short on fresh water here, that it comes in on the boat. It it good drinking water?"
"We no drink. Drink water from island. This water from catch rain. Best water from under ocean."
"Under the ocean? You drink salt water?"
"No, drink water come up from ground."
Liz puzzled over this as Malia busied herself with setting out a continental breakfast.
"Mr. James not up yet?"
"No. I had a good nap yesterday; he's sleeping off jet lag."
"We early," Malia said with a grin. Then, after a moment's thought - "You want to see water from ocean?"
"Yes, I would."
"Finish coffee, I finish put out breakfast, then we take walk OK?"
They walked through the coconuts to a broad open area of white sand. Liz had the sense, now, that the resort area behind them was a distinct patch of ground just high enough to allow the coconuts to hold the sand. What lay ahead of them was bare beach. As they continued, she saw water closer and closer on each side the lagoon on the left and on the right the open ocean. Underfoot, the sand was wet. Ahead of them appeared drier sand, and further along, vegetation more varied that the coconut grove they'd left behind.
As the narrow spit of sand led into the broader vegetated ground, Malia led them along the Pacific shore. In a few minutes, a view opened to the interior of the vegetated area. There was a small house some small distance away plywood, with a corrugated metal roof, an attached structure that might have been a carport if there were roads and cars here, but must be a porch, made of poles, thatched with coconut fronds. Someone was stirring in the darkness there; Malia waved, but did not catch the person's attention. They walked on along the beach. More houses on the higher ground to their left, and above them, near the highest part of the area visible to them, a square building made of white coral stone, steeply gabled with a metal roof, a double door centered on one wall. A modest little church.
That view disappeared as the ground steepened. The slosh of the surf quieted as they came to an area where the reef caused the waves to break well offshore. Malia stopped and turned to Liz - "Here. We get water." She took a few easy steps up the steep rise to their right, removed her waist wrap and laid it on the dry ground, and came back with a lidded gourd container. "You want to come in water?"
"I'll follow you."
The two women waded naked into the sea, Malia carrying the gourd. As the water reached chest height and began to pull Liz's feet away from the bottom, Malia ducked her head under the water and came back up blinking the salt out of her eyes. "You see water come out of ground." Liz repeated her gesture, opening her eyes underwater to a fuzzy picture of the bottom. Malia dove, swam a few body lengths ahead into deeper water. Then, kicking to hold herself down, inverted the gourd and and held it against the bottom with one hand, holding its lid in the other. The lighter fresh water rose into it. After a bit longer than Liz would have wanted to hold her breath Malia capped the gourd, and came back to the surface, turning the gourd right-side-up just as she did so. She kicked her way over to Liz and they walked toward shore until their footing was secure. "Try drink."
It was fresh water, with a bit of mineral richness. Malia waded ashore, set the container down, and rejoined Liz in the water. "You want to feel spring? Find with feet, water cold come out of ground." Malia led them back to the spot. Liz was not a comfortable swimmer in open water, and could barely see, but made the attempt. But she found she couldn't force herself under. She tried several times, but came up sputtering. She laughed, Malia laughed with her, and they went ashore to sit a few minutes. They shared some of the water. Malia returned the rest of it to the sea, pulled her wrap back on, and they headed back, the last of the pink in the sky now yielded to the yellow of the sun.
James awoke to bright daylight, to find himself alone in the cabin. He rolled out of bed and with minimal preliminaries headed outside. When he got to the pavilion, there were still bed-wrinkles on the softer parts of his skin, but there was no one there to notice them. There was coffee on a warmer, and he helped himself. A continental breakfast was set out on the bar. He nosed behind the bar to look around; a door behind the open kitchen gave onto a prep and storage room or two. Afraid of going out of bounds for some reason being naked even in this environment made him feel more cautious than he usually would be he didn't go in. At the bar he made himself a plate of fruit and took it with his coffee to a table. A certain restlessness came over him, which he noticed before he realized its cause there were no newspapers to read over breakfast, nothing to read at all. Breakfast was breakfast, just the food and the morning air and sunshine. It would have to do.
The voices of two women caught his ear. Liz and Malia came into view, Liz naked, Malia in her wrap. Malia hurried forward. "Good morning, James. You find coffee OK? I get hot breakfast if you like." She disappeared behind the bar.
Liz retrieved her coffee cup from the bar, warmed it up with fresh, and sat with James at his table with a quick greeting as Malia came over to them, naked now, to offer breakfast. Liz settled for the continental breakfast; James asked for bacon and eggs and toast, which Malia retreated to prepare.
"We had a nice walk this morning," Liz reported. "I got into the ocean for the first time since we've been here. There's a whole village over there."
"I saw something like that from the plane as we came in. Did you go into the village naked?"
"Not really. I mean, I was naked, but we just walked along the shore a little way. Malia wore her wrap. I think naked is their work uniform, not what they do at home."
"I don't think so. Just a scattering of simple houses. You're thinking about reporting to Peter, aren't you?"
"Of course. I'm supposed to call him later today."
"Using what for a phone?"
"They have some kind of radio link we're allowed to use. One of the few definite things I know about the place."
Malia arrived with James' breakfast plate.
Liz asked James, "Can we take breakfast outside? Table over by the volleyball net?"
"It'll be nice to be in the sun."
Once they were situated, Liz fixed James with a serious look. "I told Malia we were separated. Not divorced, but separated and friendly. It doesn't feel right to pretend. James, I want to understand what you're - what we're doing here. For one thing, Who is Kenji Nakamura? Everybody assumes I know him."
"Mark mentioned a Mr. Nakamura to me last night, and it didn't mean anything to me. But I do remember him, now that you've given me his full name. I don't know him. He's head of Matsumoto Industrial. We've brokered tin and cadmium to them, although that's been a while. He was in the news in some bribery scandal; I thought I read that he was under house arrest. But Mark last night said he thought he was going to be here."
"Yes, that's what Malia tells me, too. I think he's already here. And another thing: she tells me that when he's in residence here, they don't book the guests, he does. Whether you know it or not, we're at a private party. Level with me. James, what's going on?"
"Liz, I've told you everything I know. I didn't get any prep for this trip beyond a very general look-around-and-report. In some countries we do operate on a need-to-know basis. Mining can be a tough business. But there's nothing here to mine; I figure it's a real estate deal."
"Mind if I join you?" Mark asked, bringing his morning coffee out from the pavilion to a chair beside the volleyball court. James glanced at Liz for a signal whether she felt they were through with their conversation. Liz answered with her reply to Mark: "Please. Beautiful morning, isn't it?"
James excused himself to go back to the pavilion, coffee cup in hand. "Back in a minute can I bring you anything?" "No, thanks," Liz answered. "I'll go later."
James found Malia at work in the kitchen and took a seat at the bar to watch her prepare a plate of fish and rice. "Anything you need?" "Just coffee, thanks, I'll help myself, Wonderful breakfast. A question, though. I'll want to make a phone call later, and we were told there's a phone we can use?" "Yes, radio. Someone take you to radio when you ready. When you want call?" "A couple of hours OK?" "OK. Find you then." Malia decorated the plate with a piece of fruit, gathered tableware, and headed out to the volleyball net to give Mark his breakfast. James was refreshing his coffee when Anjelo rushed in. "Good morning, Mr. Edgerton. Is mama here?" "She's out by the volleyball." James followed him there, coffee in hand.
"Mama, they say the plane will be coming in early. The Bradfords, and an American named Heather Green. I asked Sarah and Kahoa to come meet it."
"Who fly the plane?"
"They didn't say."
"Take a thermos coffee for pilot, whoever. I come later maybe."
"OK." Malia and Anjelo went back to the pavilion and in a few moments Anjelo re-emerged, naked now, with the coffee, and headed off.
Malia, watching her customers with a waitress's patient invisibility, came out to the net at just the right time to take away the breakfast dishes. Mark stood to offer a hand and walked away with her, returning in a few minutes with rackets and a ball. "Tennis, anyone?"
"On sand?" Liz wondered. "Sure. Beach tennis rules. You don't bounce the ball, just volleys. I'll show you." Liz stood and accepted a racket. James was content to sit and digest his breakfast.
Liz and Mark took up positions on the court and began gently batting the ball back and forth while Mark laid out the rules. They exchanged a competitive volley or two, then relaxed into a leisurely rhythm. After a coffee break, Mark asked "Ready to keep score?" "You're on." And the pace picked up sharply.
Neither player spoke, except as Mark called the score. They were both good athletes, James thought. Even scuffling in sand their volleys were a ballet controlled, exact. Only the softest parts of their naked bodies swung and jiggled without purpose. One of the Russian czars, he remembered reading, had a private ballet corps who, on command, would perform naked. And a ballet master complained that this spoiled the ballet, Not for reasons of modesty, but because the breasts and male genitalia aren't controlled by muscles. For the movement and music to match, the music would have to be written with a final, extra off-beat or two.
Liz won the first game, and after only a moment to catch their breath, they started the second. Even naked, Mark was starting to sweat, as the sun rose higher in the sky.
Ballet dancers bind those parts so tightly, James thought, to produce an appearance of absolute control, as the ballerinas tightly bind their hair. Maybe people in everyday life cover them for the same reason. It feels risky and vulnerable to expose a part of the body whose presentation you can't fully determine. Maybe that's why people spend so much time on their hair. Or cover it, too. Or cut it. Of course, in some cultures...
"James?" It was Afitu, whose approach James hadn't noticed, transfixed as he was by the game. "When you want to make radio call? I take you."
"Thank you. Any time. Let me go back to the cabin to get my notes."
"I walk with you."
At the cabin, Afitu leaned against the shady side of a coconut palm, his bare, husky body not quite fully in shadow, James retrieved a pen and notebook, made sure to have Peter's home number, where he would be at this hour, and reported to Afitu. "Should I put something on?" "Do what you like, no matter," Afitu responded. So they went off, as they were.
They walked among the cabins, past the pavilion, and onto the open beach that lay between the resort and the village. They walked along the edge of the lagoon, on a well-worn path that sometimes hugged the shore and sometimes cut inland behind a homestead. A homestead, as James noted, not a house, its own world, with is own population of chickens and dogs. The house proper might be little more than a plywood box with a tin roof, but there would be a scattering of outbuildings, often thatched with coconut, as if each room of a house stood separate,. There were not many houses, and they were not close together. Afitu exchanged greetings with every person they passed, people generally busy about their places, in a mix of clothing styles women in shorts and t-shirts, women in sundresses, men in pants, men in skirts, kids in shirts, or naked. James felt a little out of place, since he and Afitu were the only naked adults, and Afitu probably only naked because he was with James. No one seemed offended, but this was the nudist version of dressing like a tourist, not quite sensitive to context. They turned uphill. James saw a coral-block building well above them. They had almost reached it when Afitu led them into the yard of a plywood-and-tin box that was graced with a TV antenna... well, it couldn't be television. Of course, this was the radio house. An older woman appeared from somewhere nearby, and the three of them entered the dark communications room.
"You have phone number in the United States?" Afitu asked. James handed it to him on a sheet of notebook paper. Afitu exchanged a few words with the radio operator in a language James did not understand. With a gesture she invited James to take a seat opposite her at a desk, on which there was an ordinary-looking telephone. She threw a few switches and picked up the receiver telephone. In English, she announced her purpose and read out the number to another operator, and in about a minute, handed the phone to James, who heard a ring tone. The operator stood, and when she heard James's "Hello," she left the room, Afitu following her.
"Hello, Peter. It's James. Quite a production making a phone call from here it's a radio link."
"So I understood. You really are at the end of the world out there. Tell me about the place."
"I haven't yet seen it all. There's a resort area, and a village. The resort area is all on dangerously low ground the airstrip floods, everything is lightly built but the cabins are decent, with plumbing and electricity. They bring water in in tanks, and the place is double-plumbed, with salt water for the toilets. The waste water just goes into the sand. There's no on-island telephone system that I have seen, they just send runners around. About fifteen cabins, a central kitchen building with an open pavilion, a shack of an office by the airstrip. No dock at all boats anchor out in the lagoon. The village has maybe twenty or thirty houses, all locals Liz tells me they are all long-timers, related to one another. Some subsistence fishing and some gardening; otherwise the resort is the entire economy. There's a lot that could be done a satellite dish, for one obvious thing, and a reverse-osmosis system for water..."
"All good," Peter cut in. "Have you met Kenji Nakamura yet?"
"No. He's much talked about, and I understand he's here. Liz tells me that when he's here, he approves or invites all the guests, so he must know who we are. What's our connection there? I know we brokered some metals to him some years ago, but I came here without any briefing on him."
"Well, just get to know the guy. He's a big arts person, connoisseur and collector. There's something to talk about."
"I'll do what I can."
"Excellent. You and Liz have a great time."
"I left her on the tennis court. She was making her opponent sweat."
"All right then! Call me tomorrow."
"Yes after four my time."
The line went quiet, and James walked outside to fetch the operator. Afitu walked him back to the resort.
Liz proved that at least once she could beat Mark at his own game, and satisfied with that, they both lay down their rackets and sat exhaustedly at courtside in the shade of a big umbrella. From one direction came Helen and Wolf Helen armored against the sun with another large hat, Wolf armored against the sand with conspicuously heavy sandals, both otherwise naked. From another direction came James and Afitu. Mark rose to join his travelmates as they scrounged brunch, and Afitu went to assist them; Malia had gone off.
Liz, now alone courtside, called out to James. "How did that go?"
"Brief, and frustrating. Peter didn't want to hear much about the place. He's focused on Nakamura, and I don't know why; he never so much as mentioned the man when we set up this trip. He told me to make conversation about art, and to call him at home again tomorrow."
"Well, it's a living, and he's the boss. I'm going to shower and lie down for a while." A few yards on, Liz crossed paths with a woman around thirty years old, slender, with a big mop of auburn hair. "Beautiful day. Are you just getting in? I'm Liz." Liz turned to backtrack with the new visitor.
"Yes, just flew in this morning. I'm Heather."
"Welcome. Have you been to the kitchen pavilion? It's just up ahead. This is..." Liz thought to say husband, and decided not to, thought to say friend, and decided not to, and after a hesitation she hoped would not be noticed: "...James. I'm headed back to the cabins for a while. I'm sure I'll see you later. Have a great visit."
"James, Hi. I'm Heather. Can I join you?" James gestured his assent. "I'm a creature of the darkness, and your umbrella calls to me."
"It'll probably cloud up soon; it certainly did yesterday." "James, have you been here long?" "No, we flew in yesterday morning." "You and Liz?" James quickly calculated an evasion on the question of their relationship. "Yes, she's fun to travel with." Heather continued her questions. "Is this your first time here?" "Yes." "What brings you here?" "Curiosity about the place. It's been a good experience so far."
Afitu walked up to them. "Miss Green, Mr. Edgerton. Mr. Nakamura invite guests to dinner today at his house. No dinner here at kitchen. You can come?"
"Certainly. Thank you," Heather answered. "Of course," James answered. "You tell Mrs. Edgerton?" James said he would. The "Mrs. Edgerton" caught him short; he was trying not to continue the pretense that they were married, but this had gone wrong. He expected a sharp look from Heather, and he got it. "Someone come find you to walk to Mr. Nakamura house later."
Seizing the initiative, James posed the standard query to Heather: "How do you know Kenji Nakamura?"
"I don't know him personally. I know he's run into legal trouble in Japan. I know he's been active in the European art market for a long time and is a major collector."
James volunteered "I hear that he's engaged with the modern arts scene in Vienna Wolf, one of the guests, is from there, and his partner Mark had some stories to tell. He's not fond of the guy. Have you met these people? Let me introduce you."
With that, James rose, and Heather followed him toward the pavilion, where the guests shared a table, tennis rackets leaning against a nearby chair, occupied otherwise by Helen's hat. "Heather, this is Mark, Wolf, and Helen. Heather's just gotten in this morning." Mark immediately stood. "Welcome, how was your trip? You hungry?" "Oh, no, not right now." "Up for beach tennis?" "I'll give a try, sure." Mark picked up a racket and handed it to her. James walked back toward the court with them.
Wasting no time, Heather asked Mark "I hear you've run across Kenji Nakamura in Vienna?"
"We ran in the same circles for a while, yes."
"James tells me you've got stories to tell."
"Yea. It's a pretty hardcore scene."
"Is he still buying and selling paintings?"
"I don't think so, maybe with older people. Our scene wasn't really about graphic arts."
They reached the court, and James yielded the umbrella to the pair, who set the rackets aside and sat together in conversation. James went to find Liz and relay the dinner invitation.
Liz dried in the sun after her shower, then went into the cabin to rest. She lay naked on her bed and closed her eyes, but found herself craving the comfort of a covering, even though the cabin was warm; she roused, and curled up in a sheet,
James climbed the stairs to the cabin, found the door ajar, and pushed in, to see Liz cocooned and asleep. As quietly as he could, he stepped back outside. At the bottom of the stairs, he stopped to feel the warm coral sand under his bare feet, to feel the nearly still air tickling every hair on his body. He widened his stance, opened his arms wide, and arched his back until he was looking up at the sky, now dotted with clouds. As he stretched he felt the warmth of his own blood, pulsing out of his tight, fatigued muscles. He relaxed, took a few steps away from the cabin, and stood again, feeling taller, more comfortable and at peace than he had been so far on the trip.
Feeling no obligation to observe and report the details of the place, he walked aimlessly for a while, relaxing into the experience of simply moving in the warm air, his nakedness helping him to feel present, fully a part of the gentle surroundings. He chose a path well away from the resort buildings, and found himself approaching the ocean side of the island, hearing the surf. The open ocean was forbidding, powerful, and the shore was steep. He clambered toward the water, moving carefully with full attention to each movement of his bare feet, each touch of his hand onto the rock, enjoying the exploration for its own sake, until he found himself dampened with spray. Climbing along the shore, he came to a pool of water pushed up into a depression by the waves, and waded in. He watched the ocean. Felt the alternation of spray and warm sun on his skin. Sensed the rhythm of the waves. And when it felt right, he threw himself onto the surface of the pool with a splash, shuddered, turned face up, and let his body go soft. Only a moment he was too conscious of the ocean to put himself at its mercy for long and then he stood, waded out, climbed away from the water a bit, and sat looking out across the water as the shadows of clouds moved across it.
Gathering clouds signaled the advancing day. It was time to rejoin civilization. He stood, nearly dry, brushed off a bit of sand, and headed back toward the resort.
Helen and Wolf were idling in the pavilion. James brushed the last of the sand from his now-dry skin, nodded a greeting, stepped in, helped himself to a glass of water at the bar, and approached their table. "May I join you?" Helen gestured broadly to a chair. "James, certainly. You've been in the water! Good for you. Do sit down." Wolf rose to pull out the chair for James and adjust his own. "Yes ocean side. Steep and surfy. Mostly just watching the waves, but I found a puddle to splash in."
"Helen, tell me about your work in LA you said you represent artists?" "Yes. Long time ago, I did watercolors, never very good ones, I'm afraid, and shared studio space with some really wonderful people. I'd put together shows for us. It was so easy for me to do that, so I moved from creating work to exposing other people's. I rented a sales space for a long time; now for graphic arts I deal privately, and I arrange venues and publicity for people like Mark and Wolf. Bringing people together."
"I'm looking forward to meeting Mr. Nakamura tonight. I don't know much about him."
"You know, he grew up in the arts he and his father lived part-time in Europe when he was a young man, buying there and selling in Japan." "Paintings?" "Yes, painting and sculpture. Some things contemporary to the period, and some Old Masters, minor ones, and some antiquities prestige pieces that had a market in Japan."
"How did he move from that to manufacturing?"
"Oh, they came from money. His father was something of a black sheep, I think, no businessman. He died in Europe during the War. Afterward the uncles took in Kenji and put him in the family business."
"He was evidently pretty good at it!"
"He's done well."
"I hear he's run into some difficulty."
"I wouldn't know. But honestly, I think he's tired of it."
"Is he a customer?"
"I've never sold him anything. I've bought a few pieces, mostly Nagy's early work. I hear he'll have a few pieces here for me to look at. These days he's collecting experiences rather than things, very supportive of conceptual art and performance."
Liz stirred awake, warm under the covers, and threw them off. She felt a chill as the fresh air reached her damp skin. It passed quickly, but drew her out the door of the cabin, seeking the sun. She found clouds, but as her skin dried she felt warmth in the slight breeze, heard the rustle of coconut fronds, sounding like gentle rain. She began a slow, winding walk among the coconuts. A noise of movement at a nearby cabin attracted her gaze, as a man and woman came down its stairs. They were alike in their short, steel-gray hair, erect posture, and slender, athletic builds. She could hear their English accents, and hearing them realized she was close enough that she should speak. "Good afternoon. Hello." They turned to her. "I'm Liz. Did you just get in today?"
"Liz, hello. Sarah Sarah Bradford. Good to meet you. This is my husband Derek." There was a certain rigidity about Derek even naked he gave the impression of being in formal dress that demanded he be called Mr. Bradford, and made Liz, despite her American familiarity, reluctant to call him Derek. So she called him nothing, and simply extended her hand with a "Pleased to meet you."
"Have you visited here before?" Liz asked. "Oh, yes," answered Sarah. "Several times. Lovely island, lovely people. And I do so enjoy the chance to be out in quiet nature."
"Where are you from?" "London. Bloomsbury."
"I suppose there's lots to do in London." "Oh, yes. But I do love to travel, since we've given up our country place. Derek has his work -Virgin Airways, you know - which lets us travel quite a bit."
Derek caught Sarah by the elbow and fixed her with a stern look. "Mostly retired now," he said to Liz. "Come, let's walk to the lagoon," he said to Sarah, as he turned her bodily away from Liz. Thus left alone, Liz continued her meandering, which soon drew her toward the pavilion. She heard the sounds of a tennis game in progress on the court, and voices in the pavilion. There was James, sharing a table, and she went to check in with him. "Good morning," she joked with an exaggerated stretch and yawn. "Helen, Wolf. I've had a nice nap." Then to James: "What's up?"
"We have a dinner invitation. We all do, to Mr. Nakamura's. Probably soon. I didn't wake you up to tell you." "Dinner invitation. Sounds fancy! What do we wear?" Helen interjected "Everyone's always naked at Nakamura's." This relieved James' doubts, too, on that question.
Liz took her leave. "I'll be at the tennis court."
She found it was badminton, now, Mark and Heather exchanging lazy volleys, the tennis rackets set aside. As she approached, Mark waved hello with his racket and extended it to her. "Want to take a turn?"
Liz took the racket, gave a smile and nod to Heather, and they began. Not keeping score, starting with the same easy pace, taking one another's measure. Heather shot the birdie, more strongly than she'd intended, straight at Liz's chest, and Liz took a quick sideways step to hold up the racket and bunt the birdie back barely over the net. Heather dove forward to bat it up and just inches over the net; Liz lunged for the net, but had no room to swing and caught herself abruptly, avoiding a bare-skin-on-sand fall. "Good one!" Heather called out.
James heard the increasing noisiness of the game, and came out from the pavilion to watch, taking a seat next to Mark. "What's the score?" "I don't think they're keeping score."
"Are you looking forward to dinner?" James asked.
"With that creep? Less and less." Mark answered. "Heather's been looking into him. He's not just a fan of the neo-Nazis in the art scene, Back in the day he was hanging with the real, old-fashioned Nazis, too. In Berlin. And making money doing it. And he's up on charges in Japan for bribing half the third world for mineral and marketing concessions."
"You still going to go to dinner?"
"Yea. Do you see any grocery stores around here? We're tourists in somebody else's world, and I want to enjoy the visit, strangeness and all."
There was a shout from the court. Heather was on the ground, having lunged a bit too far in pursuit of an out-of-bounds shot. Liz ran around the net to assist her up, and held her by the armpit for a moment while she regained her balance. Sand clung to the skin on Heather's thigh. Liz called out "James, can you get a pitcher of water?" and to Heather, "Let me wash that off. Don't brush it. Hold on." James hurried back with the water, Afitu following. They allowed Liz to wash the sand away, revealing a scattering of red scratches. Heather twisted to examine the area, then stood up straight, not wanting to be the center of so much attention. "Thanks. I'm fine, really. I'll go shower and it'll be fine."
"We ready to take you to Mr. Nakamura's soon," Afitu told them. "When you ready, we find you. Miss Green, you be in cabin? I bring you first aid." "Yes, thank you."