Edwin At Sea.

Edwin awoke, but his legs did not. His lips were encrusted with salt, his left eye puffy. Hauling himself up the orange sands it became clear that the flesh on his shins was shredded. This was a result of the previous night, when he had been drifting across coral; too exhausted even to awaken.

Staring across his world, The Stranger realized that this is where he would be. For there was nothing but this sandbank, and around it, the horizon. Sleep returned.

Edwin awoke, for he had much to do. He had grown to know this sand bank, and there was more than initially appeared. There was a small cluster of trees, including two ripe with breadfruit, and on the north side of the atoll there was a gap, leading to a pond unworthy of the name lagoon. Garbage collected here from the currents; currently some wooden panels, white supermarket bags stuck on coral fingers, and a serrated shard of metal. On the fourth day he cut down a tree with the metal shard, to produce wood for working, and bark to make rope. On the ninth day he stared at the stump, and felt a seed of regret - this would grow.

The Man grew to know his situation well. There was a current from the north that washed into the atoll, and somewhere upstream there was civilization, for daily there was fresh salvage on the beach, but the current was too strong to swim against. He dug out a southern opening to the pond, cutting his hands many times on the coral. This led to a deep wound on the ball of his left hand, which scarred; but the channel funneled the currents through, allowing him to place his knotted shirt at its mouth and collect as many fish as he could eat. He found himself often singing at the sun, the sound of a human voice was consoling.

Edwin awoke, he was upset. The night had brought a strong current, and a forceful wind, which had both now passed. The door he had used for shelter, leaning against the trees, had blown into the sea and vanished. To his considerable irritation, new red sands had covered the island and blocked up his channel, the orange beaches had turned to red. The channel's only testament was the scar, which throbbed as he squeezed his forehead between his palms.

The Islander returned to work, he dug deeper into the sand to give foundations to his dwelling, the bountiful salvage provided rope, with which he constructed a bridge across the pond, allowing him to hunt larger fish with a spear. The work to build his new channel was easier, but he reinforced it with wooden slats - just to be sure. The sun and wind had baked his skin to sandpaper, and he began to feel pride in his new physique, his muscles had grown definition and his hair long. In the evenings he would sit, staring at the northern horizon with mixed emotions, or examining the fingers of his hands.

Edwin awoke, and found his anger had turned to a weight on his chest. He had spent the previous day examining the damage from the storm, this time the fresh sands were white, sharp, and flinty; and the current had grown stronger, making all swimming a danger. There was no vestige of his bridge, and the channel was barely there. The previous day he had spent a lengthless time screaming at the sun. Now, a mere look at its yellow face left him retching and swallowing bile.

The Stoic spent each day working in the way that had become his habit, and even without his enthusiasm he made worthy discoveries. The strengthened currents were visibly darkened with plankton, and to the south a point was visible where these currents broke. Swimming over he discovered a shallowly submerged atoll where the island's peak was nearer to the surface than on his refuge. Diving here provided him with rocks, and over a week he managed enough to reinforce his constructions with real mass. His work was lousy, for he felt beaten, but the foundations were stronger, and even working slower, he managed to construct a better building. He would spend his last hour - every day - tieing down the fixtures; making sure nothing broke loose before dawn.

Edwin awoke, and felt total despair. The previous night he had been coughing until he slept, and looking into the turbid waters he could see that his skin was ashen. Somewhere upstream, and further along the chain, a volcano had erupted, and the resulting waves had thrashed the island. The breadfruit trees lay snapped, with split wood striking out into the sky. He was also left with one broken finger, and three broken toes on his right foot. His lungs and nostrils were caked with sticky tuff, and breath brought wheezing. The sands had turned to grey.

For three days The Stranger sat on his island, recovering his health; his despair may have been the result of his lost work, or it may have been regret for his vain persistance. On the second day the salvage was the best he had seen since his arrival, for a Swiss army knife and a length of strong hemp rope had washed up on the shore, a nearby boat had probably been sunk by the waves. But deep inside himself, he knew this no-longer meant anything to him. He untied his shirt/net and found himself dressed as he had been on the first day. He leapt out into the currents.