Several hours later, both raincoats were sitting in front of me in shreds. My hands were raw and chapped from tearing the material with my bare hands. I had used a sharp rock to help start my tears, but the rest came from my hands that now screamed in agony. My broken finger was throbbing so badly I was convinced a mini band was rocking inside it.
"Kimberly, what are you doing?" Mason asked me, turning his head to look at me.
Startled, I looked over at him. "How are you feeling?" I asked, reaching up a hand to smooth back his hair so I could feel his forehead.
The skin beneath my hand still radiated and I cringed that the Advil I had shoved down him hadn't done a whole lot of good.
"Don't worry, beach bunny, I'm fine," he lied with glazed-over eyes.
He let out a shuddering shiver and I realized the fever had given him the chills. I shrugged out of my jacket, ignoring his protests and draped it over him.
"Look, if I get cold, all I have to do is lie next to you. Your body heat is enough to warm up the whole cave."
"Are you saying I'm steaming hot?" he teased, chuckling slightly as I raised my eyebrows. "I'm kidding, but you should put your jacket back on, I'm fine," he repeated.
"Right, and I'm a graceful ballerina," I said sarcastically.
"You didn't answer my question," he said weakly.
"I'm getting things ready so I can save your sorry ass," I teased, trying to lighten the mood.
"With a wad of raincoat?" he asked puzzled.
"No, Mr. Negative, with these," I said, holding up several of the strips of raincoat I had torn.
"You're going to try to fly away with those," he guessed.
"No," I said, smiling at him this time. "I'm going to use them to mark the path I take," I added triumphantly.
"I don't think so," he said, all joking gone.
"Um, last time I checked, you weren't the boss of me. You're burning up with fever, can't move and your leg looks like it belongs in some horror movie."
"Yeah, well, you sound like a frog, you have a cough that would rival a sixty-year-old chain-smoker, and you just happened to destroy your only means of keeping yourself dry," he said with more energy than he had shown in the last twenty-four hours.
"Well, the rain is obviously not going to stop, and some stupid cold isn't going to dictate your health," I said, fighting sudden tears. "I'm sick of this whole situation. I miss sleeping in a bed, having cooked meals, hell, I even miss having a bathroom, but most of all, I'm scared you're going to die of some stupid infection. I just want to go home," I added, all fight going out of me as I laid my head on his chest.
"I know, beach bunny, I know," he said, rubbing my head.
"I have to go," I said in a muffled voice.
"I know," he said.
"I'll leave in the morning and I'll bring help back to you," I promise.
He didn't answer as he continued to rub my back. Eventually, he fell back to sleep, but I continued to lie on his chest. His heartbeat beneath my ear was reassuring. I was scared to death to leave him, but I knew it was our only chance. It had only been two days since our accident, but it felt like a lifetime.
I must have dozed for a while since Mason's touch startled me. Glancing out the mouth of the cave, I could see by the faint light that it was late afternoon. My throat felt like razor blades were playing a sick game with my tonsils. I took a small sip of water that only intensified the pain.
"Here," I said, helping Mason to take a drink before I handed him the last dose of Advil we had left, but he refused to take them.
"You should take those in the morning," he argued. "They're not doing me any good. It's like using a teaspoon to bail out a flooded boat, but they can make a world of difference tomorrow morning for you."
I wanted to argue with him, but I knew his logic was sound. Even if they took the edge off my aches and pains for a little while, it would be better than nothing. I slid the pills back into the torn package so they wouldn't get lost and picked up the empty backpack. I placed the bundle of raincoat strips into the pack.
"You should fill up the two good water bottles tonight so you can take them with you."
"I'm not taking all the water with me," I chided.