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.