The 2016 Literary Supplement

Letters to Abram

Prose ❖ Written by : Xavier MartinezOnline extra

Abram, my dearest brother,

I’ve been at the Port of Cedars for two days now, safe and in high spirits, but unsure about the dangers that await me. The merchant who brought me here advised me to hire the services of the captain of a well-known schooner, famed to be reliable and generous in his fees. You see, in this port where markets and offices thrive alongside slums that fester with smugglers and crooks, you really have to know who exactly you can find yourself dealing with.

I found this captain in a tavern near the liquor market, just like the merchant had pointed out. At first, he seemed pretty reluctant to lead me to the Throat of Hell, but I managed to convince him by promising that his ship would stay far away from the rocks, and that I’d swim from there. So, the schooner is now all loaded up and ready to set sail tomorrow morning. So far, so good.

But my thoughts remain haunted by the Throat of Hell, this belt of huge rocks that, legend says, would easily tear to shreds the fiercest of sharks, and crush down the strongest of galleons. I can still remember our cousin’s words: “Those rocks then emerged from the black depths of the sea, barely visible through the cold, wet fog and spewing out such wrathful, merciless waves. I saw the wreck of the Midas impaled on their flanks without ever seeing a single glint of gold or silver. In so little time, the Throat of Hell had voraciously devoured the ship that had taken me there, engulfing all those ill-fated sailors into its jagged, gaping maw, swallowing my illusions and spitting out my hopefulness. Curse this wretched treasure that still lures so many naïve and adventurous young souls into this rugged, watery tomb!”

For a while, his dramatic words did discourage me from leaving on this quest. But if you’d just think about it… with all the gold and silver that the Midas was said to carry, we could finally escape the poverty that’s afflicted our family for centuries now. But our cousin must’ve had the same illusion, and who knows how many must’ve had it before him. So, am I a brave young woman who’s really looking for a way out of a miserable life, or just another poor naïve soul who’s risking her life for a hopeless treasure hunt? I plan to figure it out as I’ll stand before the Throat of Hell, leaving my fate to the will of the great sea. And I sincerely hope to come back home with the treasure of the Midas and the first option as my answer…

Love,

Ingrid

Dear Mr. Abram,

I am the captain of the schooner that brought your sister over to the Throat of Hell, and I am writing this letter in her stead. But firstly, I want to assure you that Ingrid is alive and well. And even though I have just met her, your sister is truly one of the bravest people I have ever seen. She demonstrated this right from the moment she hired me, as she explained the reasons for her perilous journey.

She proved her bravery even more as we sailed to the Throat of Hell. It was a nasty day to be out at sea, the sky cracking out into a crust of dark, dreary clouds and the Throat violently spewing out the grey waves that flowed into its rocky maw. After dropping the anchor far away from those jagged rocks, as she had promised, your sister swam over to the Throat, where she managed to climb over its flanks while seemingly ignoring the pain of her bare feet on those mighty rocky fangs. Then, by leaping from one of these rugged teeth to another as nimbly as she could, she finally came to the wreck of the Midas.

Once she got on this wrecked ship, she did find some of the old leathery bags of gold and silver that had been wallowing on the deck for so many ages. She managed to tie two of those bags around her fists and two more around her waist. However, as she leaped from the wreck over to a rock, and then jumped down in the water to swim back to the ship, she must have realised that those heavy bags would surely lead her to sink into the jagged depths of the Throat. As she desperately tried to grab on to a rock and not let herself sink, I then decided to pull up the anchor and come to her aid. So, my ship got closer to the rocks as she hung on for dear life under the terrible wrath of the waves and the wind. With tremendous effort, she swam across the few feet that separated the Throat from the ship. But she was still too heavy, and so she had to drop off the bags at her fists if she were to climb back on board with the ones at her waist…

Ingrid is now back at the Port of Cedars, safe and sound. She is still a little disappointed with the loss of those two bags, but happy nonetheless to end her journey with a part of the Midas’ legendary treasure. I arranged a passage for her on a merchant galleon that should sail by your country, which means that she should return home soon enough, and that your family could then finally reach out for a better life.

Yours truly,

Abraham Gelrahs