the blue plate

susie castledine


When she left home, her parents offloaded all their old, broken, shoddy crockery. She was their very own breathing skip.


The plate had been sat on the side for a while now. It had given up asking to be cleaned. It had accepted its fate a few hours ago, and had almost begin to love the cloyed blanket of days old bean juice that had made its home there. The sauce had now a film, like a puddle frozen over on a grey January morning, a battlement that could be wrecked by a toddler’s Wellington boot or a squirt of Fairy liquid.


There were splinters in the middle where your father’s steak knives had ripped apart the last chunk of overcooked meat, where crumbs of toast set up camp in the trenches formed from years’ worth of cutlery. A mother’s frustration at her mother’s opinions.


The rim of the plate used to be a deep indigo but had faded with the stress of a family of five, small thumbs and big thumbs and young thumbs and old thumbs making the tight-rope walk meal after meal from the kitchen to the dining table. Darling, please be careful, don’t drop your dinner on the carpet, it’s just been re-done.


There was a small chip on the indigo, a scar in the stoneware which tugged on sleeves of jumpers and scratched unfamiliar finger pads. He dropped it the first time he came here. She shed a tear for the man who told her he loved her then uncrossed the fingers behind his back.