Empty plate

Sister Agostina would turn purple seeing Gloria eat in such a way: sitting on a chair with her legs against the table and the plate of spaghetti on her knees. She wolfs it down, taking big forkfuls. It feels tender and it’s tasty after the boarding school food.
She would give everything not to go back there, everything not to see Sister Maria Giuseppina’s face again: her thin mouth, the grey dress, rosary beads jangling.
At home, the tiles on the kitchen wall have familiar pictures of red and green peppers, white garlic, onions and carrots. A leather Mediterranean mask hangs above the table, the Roman nose and large mouth protrude, enhancing its features. She bought it with her mother at Porta Portese flea market years ago, when she had more time to spend with her. Gloria would have liked to bring it with her at school, to wear it from time to time to hide her anger and homesickness, to feel carnivalesque. The curtain at the window has a thin red hem and tiny red flowers here and there, she remembers it since ever. Traffic noises and voices from the street are muffled, distant chatting, away from her real life.
It’s a holiday but her mother couldn’t change her shift at the hospital. And Gloria has to live in the boarding school until she is eighteen, her mother said. There is no plan B, no alternative, no rescue. Another five years there.
The plate is empty. She won’t throw up, not this time. Vomiting is forbidden and horrid. All these smelly things flowing out of your body like dirty unrestrained thoughts. On a bad day you may be forced to eat it up again.



Carla Scarano D’Antonio lives in Surrey with her family. She obtained her Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and has published her creative work in various magazines and reviews. Her short collection Negotiating Caponata was published in July 2020 by Dempsey & Windle. She completed her PhD degree on Margaret Atwood’s work at the University of Reading and graduated in April 2021.Website: