Life Lines

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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