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At the Mercy of the Black Death

“Hurry along child,” my mother said to me frantically as she looked behind her shoulder to see if I was still keeping up. “We best not be outside too terribly long so we ourselves don’t run the risk of catching the plague. We don’t want that now do we sweetie? You definitely don’t want to end up like your poor little friend Marie.” My mother noticed I was lagging behind so in turn grasped my arm tightly, dragging me along. “Now hurry up Charlotte!”

“Yes Mama,” I said quietly, barley more than a whisper. All I could think about was Marie. I knew where she had gone. I knew that the Black Death had taken her in his clutches and claimed her as his own. When Mama had come into my room one morning weeping uncontrollably, I knew something dreadful had happened, something happening very close to home. Around us death raged and it had taken my very best friend. Marie and I, we would never be able to play together, no more playing with dolls or going on great adventures together. I still couldn’t fathom that she was truly gone.

I walked the dark deathly streets of London and literally saw death all around me. Ghastly corpses piled up in heaps and strewn everywhere line the streets and sidewalks stretching on for miles. Houses, looking as grim as ever, are boarded up tight not even allowing in a ray of sunshine, with a guard stationed out front. No one was allowed to enter or leave. Everywhere I looked I saw death. I looked into the faces of the dead and saw a mirrored image of myself looking straight back at me. If all those countless victims could fall prey to the hand of the Black Death, even my dear Marie, then so could I.

My mother kept walking at a brisk pace, with me at her heels, until we finally reached the confines of our home. “Mama, why did we have to give Patches to those mean looking men? Why was everyone giving their dogs and cats to them? Patches never harmed anyone.” Once we got inside and the front door was closed tightly shutting out the demise finally did my mother speak. She lowered herself down to my level and looked me straight in the eyes. “Honey, I know that a lot of terrible things have been happening lately, specially the loss of a dearest friend. Now you have to deal with the sacrificing of a great companion like Patches. I know that he never hurt anyone, but we had to give him up for the well being of ourselves and others. “

Tears started to well up in my eyes and my lip started to tremble. My only friend left was Patches. “But why did we have to give him up? He didn’t hurt me. I promise!” I tried to make my mother understand that Patches was a good dog and he didn’t need to go away. “Honey, dogs are supposedly helping to spread the plague around and it’s been told that everyone must give up their dogs and cats. Patches will be alright though. He’s just going to be living in a new home for a while till all of this dies down.” She patted me on my shoulder and whipped away a stray tear. I knew she was lying. She just wanted to save me from more grief. I knew Patches was going to die and there was nothing I could do about it.

He came for me, first only in the forms of nightmares. In my dreams I soon fell ill with the plague. My parents didn’t want to be quarantined, locked up inside our house for 4 months, or become sick themselves, so they discarded my useless, lifeless body into the streets to join the already perished. I was just another faceless victim of the Black Death; no one cared about me. From every dream I would awake screaming and crying with my mother at my bedside soothing me and telling me everything was alright. I knew my dream would never become reality, never come true. My mother would never abandon me to the wrath of him.

I was wrong. The Black Death soon came knocking on our door after Mama and I’s last outing into the gruesome world. Mama started developing dark patches all over her skin; that’s when we knew that he had entered our household. Like Marie and countless of others she had been taken by him. My mother was dyeing and there was nothing I could do about it. I sat at her bedside wiping the vomit from her face and soothing her splitting headaches the best I could. All I could do was sit there and comfort her and watch her slowly slip away from this lifetime. No eight-year- old should have to see their mother waste away. The last thing she said to me was “I want you to stay strong for me and fight against him as long as you can. I want to see you come out a tough survivor.” She could barley talk. I knew her time was coming to an end. Mama grabbed my small hand and held it in hers. “I love you my sweet Charlotte. Never forget that my dear.”

Mama in the end did up abandoning me. The Black Death took her away from me against her will and mine. Soon after Mama’s death, Papa followed in pursuit, also taken by the plague. I was left all alone in the world with him awaiting for me behind every corner. I was at the mercy of the Black Death. I knew that his mercy would run out in due time and he would be back for me soon enough. I hid in the shadows, cowering behind death, just waiting for him to come.



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