Featured Prose

This piece was a submission at ‘Dear Diary’, an event held at Verba Maximus 2015.


Dear Diary,
Venice, 12th December 1350.

It has been two days; I still haven’t left the basement. It’s hard to breathe through the cloth tied around my mouth. But Dad told me to do that. I wish the Black Death hadn’t taken him away. There are thousands of bodies rotting away in the waters of our city. No one seems to care anymore. I am scared. I don’t want to die. Death looks scary. Your fingers and toes slowly turn rotten black, and then your whole limbs… that’s what mommy said. Mommy was right. She does look like that now. How long is it before I die diary? Like you would know.. I’m not sick. I can still move around. But those rats – the black rats they brought this here. That’s what I heard at least. I am almost out of water and bread in the house.

Dear Diary,
Venice, 13th December 1350

I don’t want to go outside. People are wearing masks. It is scary. I am scared. But I like poetry. I think.

As may be seen on picture here,
In Rome the doctors do appear,
When to their patients they are called,
In places by the plague appalled,
Their hats and cloaks, of fashion new,
Are made of oilcloth, dark of hue,
Their caps with glasses are designed,
Their bills with antidotes all lined,
That foulsome air may do no harm,
Nor cause the doctor man alarm,
The staff in hand must serve to show
Their noble trade where’er they go

How will I get through this by myself? I need a saviour now. This is getting out of hand.

Dear Diary,
14th December 1350

I find a smile etched on my face. The grey has disappeared. Father has returned to me! Oh! How I feel safe again, I feel complete in his arms… But wait, his fingers… Why do they cringe, so? I find myself screaming, “Papa!!” That is how the day began, the disease sparing my body, while it eats my will-to-live away. I have lost my mother to misfortune and my father to fate.

Hope, the demon of seventh hell,
The vermin of purgatory, set free,
He livens heart with sweet promises,
And fills your head with lies and dreams.
I watch him curl his lips as he sniggers,
As you reach the pinnacle of your decadent fantasy,
He rushes reality in like a knife through the heart,
I watch my happiness bleed away, as tears of red burst their seams,
I crawl, as I life to leave me be,
And yet not abandon me,
I fold my hands in prayer,
As I cry myself to sleep.

Dear Diary,
15th December 1350

I found an artefact and that god forsaken library. Of all the places I expected to find respite, I found it here. But. This diary is different, it seems to call me, offer me a momentary release from my worries.

“I read of a tiny little flower,
Fighting a hurricane of death and disease,
Curled and shunned by existence,
Yet she didn’t look to death for release,
She gave up the light in her eyes,
She gave up the childlike faith, that one would see in one her age,
She walked among the dying like a beacon of hope,
And though such victory did not come cheap,
The disease did char half her face and all of her soul,
She ripped the very heart of the plague,
With grit and effort alone,
And in her final entry to herself,
She called herself the Marauder for the warrior she had become.”

And as I lay my head tonight, I will be surely reminded and fondly remember the woman who set my heart on fire.

 –
Rithvik Srinivas

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