A Plate of Fear?

So I was at a bit of a loss as to what to write about today. So I thought I’d search writing prompts on google and this is what I found.
I texted my friend Hannah to pick a random number and she chose 234 which is “create a story, poem, or any piece based on this metaphor: a plate of fear.”
So here goes nothing.


Johnny collected plates. No one knew why he did it or what his obsession with them was, but by the ripe age of sixty-four, he’d procured thousands.
I remember sitting in his room when we were just fourteen and seeing just drawers and drawers full of dinner plates, tea saucers, and china sets. Some he’d bought for ten cents at the flea market or pawn shop, some he’d stolen out of his own kitchen.
Johnny and I dated that summer we were fourteen. He’d been collecting ever since I’d known him, a few years give or take. He’d always been a little off. You know, in the way he carried his head or how he counted the soda bottles in the grocer’s every time he went. But he had a great mind, a beautiful smile, and some sort of love for me that I could never quite understand.
But I was the one who had to ask him to go steady. It was in Levi’s Pawn Shop just off Stellhorn with the promises and kisses of a newborn summer sun upon our backs. He’d traded baseball cards with Clint Jeevers that morning just so he could pawn them for a nice cerulean saucer with a daisy pattern along the rim.
Being the wild and brash young thing I was, I asked him outright, in the middle of the store. We were hunting through racks of gold rings and Singers to find where he’d hidden that dang saucer the day before.
I saw the way his cheeks colored when I asked; pink as rosebuds. He didn’t answer, not verbally. But a few seconds later I felt his sweaty hand reach for mine. He held it the entire time we were in that store; finding, discussing, and trading for the cerulean saucer. He even held it the whole walk home. It wasn’t bliss but it was blissful, and it made me love him just a little more than I already did.
It was that fall that Johnny got scared. Scared of me, scared of everybody, scared of everything. Everything, but his plates. Those plates kept him calm. His mamma had to keep dragging him to the doctor, praying by his bedside, and calling her sister in Jackson every night just to cry. She held his hand as he shook and stared at his stacks of china.
He wouldn’t let me come in his room anymore. Not after that. I tried to buy him plates, just to do something, anything I could to help. He wouldn’t take them from me, his mamma had to do it. She’d come to the door trying to smile and seem like a regular woman, but I could see her dismay in every lipstick smudge and imperfect curl.
“Just let me see him, maybe today he’ll be better,” I’d say.
But after the first couple times, she thought it was best to keep my distance.
It was when I saw a plain white plate at Sears when I had that idea.
My sister complained when I stole her paint set.
Johnny’s mother looked at me skeptically when I pleaded to see him again.
His door creaked as it swung on its hinges.
My pulse picked up when I saw him staring at the cerulean plate with the daisy pattern.
I talked over his protests, loud and violent as they were, “Johnny, this plate is for you! I bought it and I painted it. Well- I wrote a list in paint! A list, Johnny! Johnny listen! It’s all the things I’m afraid of! Every single thing, it goes all the way on the back too cause I needed more room.”
He’d stopped screaming and turned his head to stare at the wall, his fist clutching the faded fabric of his sheets.
“Johnny, everyone’s afraid. You’re not alone.”


~ by Jade Elizabeth on May 26, 2011.

2 Responses to “A Plate of Fear?”

  1. I came across your blog by searching blogs with the tag “writing.” This is a very good story! And so perfect for the prompt. I like to use prompts, too, on days when my novel just won’t budge or i can’t get a story out. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that i like your story very much!

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