Life Lines

Avatar Author: jesteram I like to hit 1,024 exactly. Read Bio

A week’s journey farther down the coast brought me to the city of Coir. Each citizen’s house sits on its own free-floating island.

The dwellings are bound together with crisscrossing lines of cord. Any person with a connection to another—a friend, a partner, a lover—strings a rope between their two houses. In this way, Coir holds together against even the fiercest of tides and storms.

People travel the streets in narrow boats, ducking under and around the thick twine that webs the waterways. Each man and woman carries a small silver knife, used to sever ties if there is an offense. A harsh word or unpaid loan is enough to prompt a cut. Thus, courtesy, honesty, and formality are highly prized.

I navigated the bobbing city in my coracle, searching for the home of Tulann, my guide and lover from my last visit. Lost, I stopped a passing fisherman to ask about her. He shrugged slowly, his shoulders rising and falling as if moved by the waves beneath our feet.

“Apparently, she offended one too many,” he said.

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Comments (12 so far!)

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  1. Avatar jesteram

    I really can’t resist this type of story. Spiderj is my hero for the inspiration.

  2. Avatar Jessica Cahill

    This poor guy’s never going to catch a break is he? I love if of course.

  3. Avatar The Note Writer

    Floating away- with the rest of the Flotsam.

  4. Avatar wordwill

    Quite an image for the city! My only note would be that I’d love to see an image of a house hanging by a thread, and not just the stinger of the dialogue. But I think leaving me wanting for more is sort of the point here, so mission accomplished.

  5. Avatar Spiderj

    I still intend to rate and comment on everything in this chain; I’m actually away from home at the moment, although not in a place quite as fantastic as these.

    When I get home I think I’m going to try the impossible – I’m going to throw our hapless adventurer a bone and build a city of pleasure for him. Of course, he’s going to have to leave which will leave to its own heartbreak.

    Poor guy.

  6. Avatar Spiderj

    Oh, and just to be clear, I think this latest story is almost ridiculously good.

  7. Avatar John H Reiher Jr

    I can see poor Tulann, adrift in the stormy sea, alone and miserable… Oh dear, this story is going to branch.

  8. Ahfl_icon THX 0477

    Great allegory for social existence. I thought it fitting that the fisherman was unconcerned and unaffected by the loss of a fellow denizen, as she had, apparently, cut too many ties.

  9. Avatar halfpenny

    Yet another excellent addition to the travelogue. What a sad state to have not a single thread tying you to the community.

    I love the concept and think that it could be fascinating to explore other elements of the society in a larger-format version. (How are new islands found/formed? Can people move there? What happens when children move out? Is it connected to the coast, or might the entire city float away?

  10. Avatar jesteram

    My too-long first draft featured a city gate on a barge, to which key islands (mayor? constable? I hadn’t decided…) were anchored.

    Actually, this city really intrigued me, too. It’s already floating in different directions, thanks to Reiher.

  11. Avatar John H Reiher Jr

    I think we’re all waiting on Spiderj to write the next sequel for our unnamed protagonist.

  12. Avatar Kater

    I love the imagery in this. The ending just broke my heart, because I could picture her floating away from everyone else.

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