by RW Spryszak

I promised I’d get the butter.

I promised you I would never climb the mountain again and so I wrapped my face and my whole head in a white shroud. I said I would never cross the bridge anymore and bound my legs to the posts. I don’t know what became of all the old statues because I can’t see that far. But in my fever bed, between wet sheets, my eyes come back to life no matter how hard I try to ignore the impulse and stay in the dark. This morning the walls hide the tree outside. Only its spiny branches are seen in windows on either side of the corner. One of several possibilities, all of which I have explored by now.

All the figures in my half dreams, the same old ones that never have anywhere else to go, are frozen anyway. They were moving, motivated by the strange whiskey of dreams, and then they all stopped. Cold. In mid-pose. Mid-word. Mid-stride. Mid-heartbeat. Stuck there.

It’s from this I rise, repeatedly, fashioning a life and a face set to fool them all. Though I’m not a cricket or a roach, I fool you pretty well anyway. Once again, as in so many days and books past, the sun is kicking up a cloud of wet red dust on the horizon. I’ve seen that one before. It’s my least favorite. The first thing I always do is look out the window. This time it’s the one with the cracked streets and unkempt parkways just wet with last night’s rain no one predicted.

The question, the determining factor in all the world’s relationships all over the globe from desert market to the stray bullet, is—whose world is it now? Are you in my world or am I in yours? Because whoever owns the world plays the host. The home team. And the visitor plays the guest. Whoever owns the world holds the power. And if two people can’t agree on whose world it is, they separate. There is no resolution and people go on their way apart forever. There are winners and there are losers because points are always added in the end no matter how altruistic and alternative your wonderful lifestyle.

I promised to remember the butter and the milk too.

For now there is only this battered factory district with the shells of dead buildings as in all the aftermaths of war ever known and no one intends on returning. The old quarters are managed from the suffrage of rats. I manage the broken sidewalks and weeds nestled tight in the cracks as if they’ve been there all along and are claiming revenge. These hooded old shells, dirty as I suppose they are inside, are a quiet place. I do wonder how long it will be before they close our shop.

I won’t be late. I know the rules. Since everyone knows better than me I say very little and that’s the way people like it. I have nothing to add and nothing to contend with.

Oh yes. And paper towels. Butter, milk, and paper towels. Because things spill.

RW Spryszak is managing editor of Thrice Publishing. His work has appeared in alternative magazines since the late 1980s and, recently, in A-Minor MagazineCity Brink, and others. His novel Edju is published by and available from Spuyten Duyvil. He can be found at