My Mother broke every plate in the house that day.
She wouldn’t speak to me. She just kept grabbing plates from the cupboard and smashing them into shards on the tiled floor.
I watched her, how her face contorted as thoughts overwhelmed her mind. I could see pain in her eyes but I couldn’t reach her. She didn’t even look up or at me.
I kept shouting, “Mom! Mom stop! Mom it’s me!”
When she had emptied the cupboard by the fridge, she moved on to the desserts plates in the middle of the kitchen wall.
Precious dishes I knew she cherished from her own mother, the delicate pattern of daisies circling the plate framed by a band of gold… Annihilated there on what was becoming a treacherous battleground.
I wanted to seize her arm, prevent her from doing more damage but now there was no way I could safely make it over to her without injuring myself.
So I left the room, went to the garage and put on my rubber gardening boots. Wait, I thought, glass could definitely penetrate rubber. Instead, I chose my father’s work boots, steel toe and all. They were massive but at least I knew I would be protected.
I returned to see her angry now, whipping the dishes against the wall in a frenzy of agitation. I had to stop her because all Mom was wearing were her fuzzy fabric slippers, her bare feet hanging out the back.
I lumbered into the kitchen, it was insane. Honestly, if you could see what it looked like…I would have taken a photo but I thought Mom deserved at least a shred of discrete respect here.
“Mom! That’s enough!” I called out in the loudest scariest tone I could muster. It seemed to work. She froze, a soup bowl in hand, her arm raised high above her head.
“Amy, I…when did you get… what the…” she said bewildered, as she stood there amidst a rainbow minefield of devastation.
“It’s okay Mom. Just stay where you are until I get to you,” I instructed.
I looked around and saw the broom and shovel leaning against the wall in the corner by the pantry closet. I grabbed them and rushed to the scene, terrified she’d start again. I did my best to clear a pathway she could at least move through.
When I felt it was safe, I extended my hand and she took it immediately. I led her through the fray, to the living room and into her recliner. I settled her there and took her hands in my mine making sure she fixed her gaze on me. “Stay here while I tidy up a bit okay?” She nodded, her face still locked in a trance of shock.
By the time I was done, I had four of five small cuts in my hand. But I ignored the pain.
I managed to salvage one tiny decorative saucer from Mom’s “special guests” set, and placed a couple of pieces of shortbread on it to go with the small plastic cup of milk I prepared for her.
Then, carefully, I carried the treat to the living room.
I sighed a deep sigh when I saw her. There Mom lay in peaceful slumber. I left the snack on the wooden coffee table in front of her and was just about to go when I changed my mind.
I removed the cookies and placed them on a tissue instead and brought the milk back to the kitchen. I wasn’t going to chance it.
Then I went to the phone.
“Dad?…,” I said as I slumped on the stool under the wall phone, “It happened again.”
Paula Antonello Moore, Fiction prose. Copyright: Monday, March 23, 2015
Writing Challenge: “Start a story with the line, ‘My mother broke every plate in the house that day,'” from 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.
Image: Broken Plate from Pixgood.