Based on a true story. 



Glimpses of the afterlife haunted her as she ran from her demise. Sweat dripped down her forehead and arms swung as she ran! Through darkness, through Harvard Yard, past the Science Center, and onward. Like the Devil himself, her face morphed to shades of red. Eyes squished down by swelling of the skin. Legs moved underneath her but began to slow like stepping into quicksand. Quaky legs ran farther. 

It would have been a curious sight to see her run. To see her pant as her throat closed and skin grew hot and red. Poison that spread through her body became visible underneath layers of clothing. Clothing meant to keep her warm in cool weather was made to induce some kind of heatstroke. She was burning up. But still, she ran away.  

They found her. Got her. Picked her up and carried her downwards into a tiny room where she was strapped down. She was injected. Strapped and injected and hooked up to tiny tubes where liquid dripped down and entered her bloodstream.  

“Poison,” she thought. Poison took over and knocked her out. She was paralyzed lying there without air to breath or space to move or legs to run. She lay naked under the spotlight of fluorescent bulbs that blinded her when her now tiny eyes attempted to blink. Blinks slowed and her face strained to hold her eyelids open until those tiny muscles couldn’t strain themselves any longer.  

She woke up more tightly strapped than ever. Strapped to herself and to whatever held her high up from the ground. Prickling, itchy, waves of discomfort rippled down her spine. She grimaced when she felt the sharp pains of a needle pricking her arm. And another. And another. Blinks slowed and eyes closed and she slept on blood stained sheets. Sleeping beauty: pricked with no spindle or mystical fate. Men in long coats spoke in whispers of her fortune. Her throat would close and inch towards death.  

She woke again with new straps and new needles. Beeps echoed the fast-paced beat of her heart. Tears flowed down her cheeks uncontrollably. Nothing in control. She made her hands into tiny fists. Tiny fists which tensed her muscles which shook uncontrollably. Uncontrollable. Her heart beat faster and eyes opened and needles rippled in her arms.  

A sentinel watches. Francesca Cornero ’19.

Under the lights, she felt strange – exposed and dazed. Dressed in unfamiliar clothing in an unfamiliar place and thoughts of walls closing in around her en route to hell or otherwise. Everything was white and only sounds of her beating heart filled the room.  

In the hospital room she lay in her hospital gown and laughed. A taste of that damn peanut butter chocolate chip cookie sent her running and each glorious bite brought her closer towards death. Poison! Anaphylaxis and a whirlwind adventure towards the end of it all.  


Abigail Koerner (ajkoerner@college.harvard.edu) writes short fiction, but not always after an allergic reaction!