The seas had risen, but through some trick of construction, #226 resisted the wave action and the intensely corrosive salt better than anything else. The time would come, surely, when it too would topple and be borne off into the deep as its neighbors had. But even as the apartment blocks on every side of it had been swept away, #226 remained.

Officially, no one was allowed to go near it, much less live there, for fear of collapse. But nobody enforced that, either…for fear of collapse. #226 wound up being a haven for squatters, free spirits, and ne’er-do-wells who wanted to make a go at living off the land and fish.

That’s what the lay of the land looked like when Mina Umbeyashi appeared on the top floor one day, followed not long after by Carlos Ramirez on the bottom. No one saw them come, but within a week the sight of their laundry out to dry and their long fishing lines.

Within a month, they would leave their mark on #226 forever.

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