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It was 1350, and I felt as though my world was falling apart. My family was falling into pieces; as was the entire community. A great disease had come through and was taking everyone with it. Nobody had the slightest idea as to what had caused the dreaded disease. The older and younger were more susceptible to the disease, but then the healthy were leaving one by one. Food was in short supply, as was doctors attending to the sick. The plague did not touch my family at first, but then that day did eventually arrive.
I was only five years old at the time. Young and naïve, I believed I was truly incorrigible. Nothing could stand in the way between me and my freedom. The first symptom of the death came to my grandmother. She was sitting outside, watching me and my brother, Henry, play Rugby. One minute she was smiling, and the next she was doubled over in pain.
“Clarice, go tell mama!” My brother yelled to me.
I ran as fast as my little legs would carry me to where my mother was in the barn doing morning chores.
“Mama, mama! It’s grandmother, she’s sick!” I yelled.
My mother dropped what she was doing and ran to my grandmother. She was still doubled over, but now with a terrible cough. I never noticed it before, but there was blood below her feet.
“Oh, no. Oh, help us.” My mother mumbled under her breath. “Henry, go get the doctor! Be quick!”
Henry, being the man of the house while my father was gone, ran into the sunset.
“Clarice, darling, I want you to go into the house and get a bed ready for grandmother. Okay?”
“Yes, mother.” I replied with an edge of uncertainty and triumph.
I quickly made up the bed so grandmother would have a clean place to lie. Henry soon came back with Dr. Murphy.
“Henry, help me carry your grandmother into the house.” Dr. Murphy said.
It took a few tries for Henry to lift grandmother up. Dr. Murphy made a quick evaluation of her condition. He had a very troubled look on his face, and I knew whatever it was, was not good. She had bumps on her underarms; as well as other parts of her body. Some of them had a bluish hue to them. I felt as though I was going to be sick.
“Does she? Please tell me she does not.” My mother said with a look of anguish upon her beautiful face.
“I am sorry Katrina, but she does have the plague. I wish I could tell you she does not. The bumps on her body indicate that she has had it for some time. There is not a cure for it, I am afraid. Doctors do not have the slightest clue as to what is causing this strange illness. Since she will die in a few hours, I would suggest that instead of burying her; burn her. That will get rid of any lasting illness; and move from this house as quickly as possible.” Dr. Murphy informed us.
I looked at grandmother, before she was taken from the house and burned. Her face looked contorted and sickly. Secretly I prayed that this illness would not touch any one else in my family.
The plague lasted for a year. It took most of the population of London with it. That half of the population included my mother, brother, and father. In my family, I was the only one left alive. A fair amount of people, mainly wealthy, believed that if they locked themselves in houses with no sick, ate the finest foods, and drank the finest wines, then their lives would be spared. That turned out to be a poorly planned idea. I had nowhere to go after the plague. Every community had a fair amount of sick left. So, I did the only thing I could do, at the age of seven I moved with good friends of mine to Austria.
I lived out the last few years of my life in a small Austrian community. It was depressing and drab. The plague had ceased, but still many were dying every day. What the cause was now, no one has a clue. Watching the mass burials, I remembered my experience long ago. It is my goal to one day figure out what caused this tragic experience.