The calm exterior of the neatly dressed, elderly woman in the chair crumbled. Her lined face twisted as the tears flowed down her face and sobs racked her body.
“I watched him die in the back room. He was only three years old.”
The doctor in the other chair nodded encouragingly but did not say anything.
“He stood on a rusty nail in the backyard. Within a few days he became ill with a high fever and it soon became apparent that there was something very wrong with him. The doctor came but there were no antibiotics available in those early days of the war so there was little he could do to stop the infection that swept through Grant’s child’s body.”
The doctor wrote some notes on the startlingly white page of his notebook.
“We watched him die an agonizing death. All the muscles in his frail body spasmed until eventually, the extensor muscles of his back arched backwards and locked, his arms flexed to his chest with his small fists clenched. He died with his baby teeth bared and an unintentional and horrendous grin on his face. They call it the grinning death.”
Her words stopped and she drew in a deep and shuddering breath.
1809 Painting by Sir Charles Bell entitled “Tetanus Following Gunshot Wounds” depicting a soldier suffering from tetanus.
This piece was written for Sue Vincent’s weekly photo challenge, https://scvincent.com/2018/11/08/thursday-photo-prompt-calm-writephoto/