The Black Death:A Journal of One Who Died | Teen Ink

The Black Death:A Journal of One Who Died

January 17, 2011
By lovetowrite22 SILVER, ..., Colorado
lovetowrite22 SILVER, ..., Colorado
5 articles 0 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Everything happens for a reason."

Dear Journal,

March 19, 1348

Never in my thirteen years of being a doctor have I seen such a horrifying sickness among so many of my patients. Streams of people are constantly flooding into our hospital, their legs and necks covered in swollen bumps that blacken within hours; goose bumps rise upon their skin as they shiver with exceedingly high fevers, and many are violently throwing up blood. Nurses are madly dashing around from person to person, trying to aid them as much as possible, while our top doctors are desperately racing against time to find some sort of remedy; the hospital is in mass chaos I tell you, mass chaos! I just can’t take it anymore, seeing so many faces that were once smiling and laughing all of twenty-four hours ago to now being masked with such desolate fear and misery. I want to leave this place, just like Dr. Kamish and Dr. Maveroh and about ten more of our staff members that deserted our hospital did. It would be better than hiding in this old closet that I’m in now, which reeks of must and unused cleaning supplies. Although, the stench of dirt and Windex couldn’t possibly smell as bad as the vile odor of the sick and decaying people outside; I don’t want to go out there. I’m petrified. If I go back out there, I could get sick myself, and leave behind my husband and kids. But I can’t stay in here. It’s wrong. I’m going to go out there right now and try to do my best to help the people that have fallen ill during this grave time, the grimmest time of my life.


Dear Journal,

March 20, 1348

Yesterday at work was one of the most horrifying sights that I have ever had to witness. And now, as scared as I am to admit it, I have a terrible headache and my lymph nodes are beginning to swell. I have a gut feeling that I may be catching the disease, and the thought of possibly dying within the next four days lingered in the back of my mind while I made my way around town today. As I ran my errands, I saw that just about every civilian had handkerchiefs tied around his or her face, and people were buying talismans and charms from our city’s local wise woman in a fretful attempt to shield themselves from the disease. Church bells rang endlessly in a hopeless effort to force this pestilence away, but more and more people continued to perish. When I saw Annie at the shop, she told me about how the lord of our manor left town, abandoning his sick son with the intent of not becoming ill himself. I couldn’t believe how selfish his actions were, and all I could do was shake my head as she told me more. “Lawyers are refusing to come and make out wills for the dying. Friars and nuns are being left to care for the sick, and monasteries and convents are being deserted, as they are being stricken, too. Bodies are getting left in empty houses, and no one is willing to give them their rightful Christian burials." Annie twisted the jade necklace, a symbol of hope that many people have been wearing recently, around her neck, and hopped around her feet uneasily. “Sue,” she said to me, “the animals on our manor are getting sick as well; what are we going to do for food?” I didn’t answer though, as I noticed Rob, the shop owner, collapsed outside. We ran to him, hoping that he, too, hadn’t been consumed by the ailment. But he was. I couldn’t bear to look at him, so I told Annie I was going home. Now I’m lying on my bed writing in this little red journal, thinking about how everyone I know is falling prey to this monster of a disease. I don’t know what I’d do if I or my family were to become victims; all I know is that my headache’s getting worse, and there’s a few areas of my thighs that are starting to swell.


Dear Journal,

March 21, 1348

If dreams can come true, then so can nightmares, and one of my worst ones has come true: I officially know I have the plague. The swellings on my legs are as red as the tomatoes that were in the salad that I vomited this morning, and my fever has skyrocketed to 102°. Everything’s starting to become blurry. It takes effort to walk from my bed to the bathroom, and my legs have given out from under me twice. I know it’s only a matter of time before I go like everyone else, so I’ve quarantined myself in my room to keep my family safe; thinking about leaving them behind makes me sick to my stomach. But, I’m trying to stay strong. After all, I’ve lived a pretty good life. I made a successful career as a doctor, which not many women are given the chance to do, and I have a great family that I know will make it through this. I also know that the pages of this journal are getting difficult to see, and keeping my eyes open is becoming harder and harder as the minutes go on. I think I’m going to get some sleep now; if I wake, I will write again, and if I don‘t, then just know that I’m resting happily in heaven.


Dear Journal,

March 22, 1348

They say that people die young because they have completed a task. This leaves me to ask myself, what is the task that I have completed? This is a question that I ponder, ponder with great consideration. I can’t seem to think straight though, as my thoughts are disoriented and, at moments, I’ve felt delirious. I’ve gone through three, four, maybe five seizures today; I can’t quite seem to remember the exact count. I’ve found myself forgetting thoughts only seconds after they’ve crossed my mind, and while this frustrates me, I try to make peace with it. I’m practically blind—I can’t distinguish anything further than an inch or two away from my face. I do notice the colors of my fingertips though, and they are blacker than the coal that my kids are scared of “Santa” leaving in their stockings at Christmas. You know, this disease should be called, “The Black Death”—it’s certainly a fitting name for it. Ugh, the smell that I was so repulsed by only three days ago is now coming from my own skin—my own, burnt-looking skin that is now too dreadful to look at. As I continue to write, it’s getting harder to breathe, and it’s taking a great amount of effort to keep the pen moving. I know what I’m scripting right now will be the last words to ever come from me, and the thought’s overwhelming to consider; so, I just want my friends and family to know that I love them, and to live their lives to the fullest. Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die tomorrow.

I’m going to go to sleep now. Goodnight.


The author's comments:
The Black Death was one of the deadliest plagues in history, and is said to have killed 30-60% of Europe's population in the 14th century. For my history class, we had to write journal entries from the point of view of one who died from this plague, including various, true details from the real event. The websites that I used to help me with this task, as cited in MLA format, are in the following:

-Cartwright, Frederick, F. "The Black Death." Dorset Press, 1991. Web. 9 Nov 2010. <>.

Hope you enjoy reading about my piece, as well as learn a little more about "The Black Death".

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This article has 19 comments.

cjmmermaid said...
on May. 6 at 7:16 pm
cjmmermaid, Sydney, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I really enjoyed this. It helped me a lot. Thank you!

on Nov. 27 2016 at 10:05 pm
Thanks so much for the journal entry it helped me a lot

anonymous said...
on Sep. 22 2016 at 10:46 am
Friend,there were no female docters back then,no bathrooms.

on Oct. 21 2015 at 9:38 am
BuddingRose GOLD, Irwin, Pennsylvania
10 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A person's a person, no matter how small." -Dr.Suess

This is a very well researched work. The only problem is that at times, you break into a present day mood.

banana said...
on May. 6 2015 at 2:40 am
is this even true because i really need to find a primary and secondary source ASAP so if anyone knows a website for me to find a secondary and primary source please tell me and it has to be a picture

Jonno said...
on Apr. 14 2015 at 1:10 am
Is this a real primary source

LadyZ SILVER said...
on Nov. 25 2014 at 9:02 pm
LadyZ SILVER, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
5 articles 0 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
From the movie adaptation of Going Postal, "The only problem with having a bright tomorrow is getting through the night before."

Interesting story, and quite well researched. As other comments have said, occasionally your voice breaks into a more present day sound (Windex... bathroom...) the overall feel is quite strong, and shows courageous traits in such a desperate time. 

ImaScribe said...
on Sep. 6 2014 at 4:33 pm
It is a common misconception that there were no women doctors in the middle ages. In fact, the University of Salerno had a whole section of women surgeons on the faculty by the late 1400s. This was a great exercise and by changing the POV you had an entirely different look at plague.  Historical writing is hard, and published authors continue to work their whole lives to make sure they make it historically correct with words, phrases, objects, etc. You did a nice job. 

on Jul. 30 2014 at 4:49 pm
claudettedayno SILVER, Syracuse, New York
8 articles 0 photos 2 comments
While I feel you put effort into these entries as evidenced by their length, as pointed out by several posters, there are quite a number of errors. The windex and use of the word "skyrocketed" have been addressed, there are a few things that have been overlooked. 1. You mention that the writer ate a salad with tomatoes in it-tomatoes are a North American crop that wouldn't have been known in Europe during the Middle Ages. 2. It is mentioned that several vendors were selling talismans. These wouldn't have been sold in public as is implied since they were considered instruments of witchcraft during that time period. They would have been sold but in the back streets on what we would equate to a black market.  3. Your characters have the names Sue, Annie and Rob. Although the names Robert, Anne and Susan all existed during that time, the nicknames would probably not have been used. 4. Doctors would not usually have been literate during this time. The only ones who could read or write were clergymen and thus they were the only ones who could have been capable of keeping journals and keeping records. 5. The main character mentions it taking effort for her to get to the "bathroom." There was no such thing during the Middle Ages. People would do their business in buckets which were then tossed out the window into the open street. This was one of the reasons disease spread so quickly-complete lack of hygiene. 6. The concept of Santa did not exist at the time. Their was a Santa-like figure named St. Nicholas who lived hundreds of years earlier and was and still is the patron saint of children but people during that time would not have associated him with a man who brought their children gifts-or coal. 7. "Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die tomorrow" is a quote said by Mahatma Ghandi-several hundred years later. I am only writing these things to be helpful for when you write your future stories. Anachronisms were a major problem with this story-I've struggled with the same problem too.    

on Jun. 26 2014 at 12:29 pm
This is great!!!!! I loved the part at the end where she's talking to her family. I also just wanted to say that all those people who try to correct the windex bit need to chill out. Its the story that matters, right?

on Nov. 14 2013 at 1:21 pm
lovetowrite22 SILVER, ..., Colorado
5 articles 0 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Everything happens for a reason."

I was 14 when I wrote this. Chill out.

on Nov. 14 2013 at 1:20 pm
lovetowrite22 SILVER, ..., Colorado
5 articles 0 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Everything happens for a reason."

I was 14 when I wrote this. Chill out.

marleymoomoo said...
on Jun. 14 2013 at 6:19 am
it was a very captivating story, but it was very historically incorrect. women werent doctors, they didnt have nurses or hospitals and there were no cleaning supplies like windex because of their poor hygeine. it was a great story but quite a few errors

hist said...
on Apr. 13 2013 at 11:42 pm
Only read first paragraph - women weren't doctors, no such things as nurses and no such things as hospitals in those times.  They also didn't recognise the importance of hygiene so there were no cleaning supplies.  Further research required.

1234ASHLEE said...
on Mar. 3 2013 at 6:35 pm
They didn't have 'Windex' back then but it was good overall.

on Aug. 29 2012 at 3:59 pm
the.expressionist BRONZE, London, Other
1 article 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A small step for man, a giant leap for mankind"

I liked reading your story, it is very captivating. Maybe the use of the word "Windex" as you heard from a previous comment took away the reality of the situation, but all in all quite good. One thing I would advise to you when you are writing future stories is to go more in depth with your story. 

Angelic_Rose said...
on Jul. 16 2012 at 1:35 pm
Angelic_Rose, Cottonwood, California
0 articles 6 photos 55 comments

Favorite Quote:
"What's meant to be, will find its way".

oh and ignore arosed- its arose. No "ed", my bad :)

Angelic_Rose said...
on Jul. 16 2012 at 1:30 pm
Angelic_Rose, Cottonwood, California
0 articles 6 photos 55 comments

Favorite Quote:
"What's meant to be, will find its way".

I have to say that this isn't too bad. You've definitly done your research, since it's pretty accurate in my opinion. I think that some parts were a bit vague, like when you mentioned "Windex" and "skyrocketed", but it's not entirely bad. And i absolutly loved the last journal entry! The first sentence, the last part of how you leave the reader hanging even though we know what happened- so sad! And as for the "windex" problem, maybe you could mention ingredients used as disinfections during the middle ages- vinager was one poplar ingredient. And lastly, find other words to replace "skyrocketed" like ascended, soared, or arosed. Nicely done! :)

GigGleZ said...
on Feb. 18 2011 at 2:23 pm

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