She held the blanket to her face and breathed in. The fragrance hit her. She pictured him in sunshine, among the flowers of the rose garden they used to visit. She saw his smile and those wide blue eyes.

The fragrance wasn’t him of course. The smell that had stained the blanket was the medicine, the insulin that had kept him alive. How many injections over the years had she given him? Every day, at least five times a day, those little units of clear liquid that controlled his blood sugars and allowed him to grow.

And then the war had come. At first the chemists kept up a supply. Gradually it became inconsistent. The black market sprang up to fill the void. He had no choice, she had no choice. When the money ran out she did what she had to for the life-sustaining vials.

By the third year of the conflict even the bootleggers and charlatans had given up. There was no more insulin to be found in the city.

She did what she could for him. She nursed him as he grew weak, as his body ate away all its fat and energy reserves. She thought it would have taken longer, but it was over in a couple of weeks. What had he died of in the end? Kidney failure? Abdominal damage? In the end, after he had spluttered up blood one night, he simply fell asleep and didn’t wake up.

Her boy, only ten, was gone.

She pulled the blanket close to her as the shelling began for another night. She cowered in the corner of her apartment, smelling the sweet fragrance of life, and prayed once again for one of the bombs to fall on her.

Copyright Sue Vincent

This is a response to the #writephoto Prompt – Fragrant curated over at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. Click on the link to read other stories inspired by the image.

68 responses to “INSULATED”

  1. A lovely but very sad and painful account of what this mother went through and the desperate lengths she went to care for her son only to lose him in the end. As Anjana said, it’s a very touching, well framed story that tugs at the heart strings.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Oooh this is so sad but so well written at the same time! It’s beautiful and portrays how horrible war is. Then it was like another stab to the heart when you said that he was only 10! I was thinking it had been her husband all along. You are so good at those twists.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you – my own son has recently been diagnosed with type-1 diabetes, so he is insulin reliant for the rest of his life. Needless to say, I hope war doesn’t break out anytime soon.


      • Sorry! I had read this and wasn’t able to respond at the time and now just remembered. Sorry about your son, a life change for him and for all of you. I totally agree with you about not wanting war to break out anytime soon. I really can’t fathom the life of the people that have to deal with living life in a war torn country . Makes you realize how blessed we are.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A heart-wrenching story of the loss of a child. Our first instinct, honestly, would be a desire to go too. I know it’s personal for you as well. I hope your son is doing okay with adjusting to the insulin. So thankful for advances in this area. My husband takes medications for diabetes. Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. It’s always comforting to hear stories of those who have managed the condition over the years. When my son was diagnosed we quickly found we were not alone and many parents and children were going through the same. I’m glad this meant something to you. Look forward to reading the poem 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very moving, Iain, the pain is as tangible as the scents on the blanket. Reading the other comments I was sorry to hear about your son. Diabetes of both kinds is in my family and those who have had it have lived long loved lives. I hope this for your son, treatments are improving.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts Antonia, it is so reassuring to hear from those who have dealt with the condition and have lived full and loved lives 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That is quite a twist on that picture prompt.
    But so realistic. Because, yeah, I can picture a lot of people who would die if a war meant a shortage of meds. I know a lot of people who are dying/ getting worse because, even with insurance, they can’t afford their meds and food and shelter, even while working two jobs between hospital stays where doctors say unhelpful things like “stay home and rest, you can’t keep working the jobs, but here’s another bill which puts your balance at just over half a million dollars, will that be Visa or American Express?” Yeah, like adding 23% interest on from a credit card is going to help with the unaffordable bills.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are so lucky over here to have the NHS. The cost of treating my son’s diabeties would cripple our household if we had to pay for everything. Even then, a lot of the new treatments aren’t available on the NHS, and if we want the best for him, we may be forced to pay in the future. It’s a vicious circle. On top of that I couldn’t help thinking that if we lived in say Syria, our son would not be able to survive – which is a scary thought, and one that makes me think of the plight of those caught in war zones more keenly.


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