David Roberts

Milk (2014)

He watches the cat. The cat watches the dog. The dog is mostly grey and the cat is near enough to orange, electric striped. The dog watches the cat. He watches the dog. Watches the cat watching the dog watch the cat watch the dog being watched. There is no mouse here. The dog watches the cat and the cat watches the dog. Bluegrey hound prone and jowly, puss-puss bubbling marmalade. He fidgets but they do not notice. Sitting on the footstool he fidgets but they do not notice, cat and dog remaining unaware of his presence, the child watching them. Erect cat motionless as the dog all prone and jowly and watching it, the cat that watches the dog being watched. Once it would puzzle him, that the cat might watch the dog unaware that he the boy was watching the dog watch the cat, alley beasts oblivious to his gaze. For now he accepts it, understands that they are not his friends, will nevernow befriend him. The dog that watches the cat watch the dog. He pulls himself tighter to the box. Watches the dog watch the cat watch the dog being watched, the watched dog. Dog and cat without awareness, no gumption as to that which beyond the box, the noises from elsewhere that percolate the morning and enter now the room.

On the doorstep milk. Silver and redtop pints alert to his gaze. Over two journeys he carries them, in either hand a pint and the condensation gaining momentum to slipstream and droplet upon his palms. Doing his best, his steady ready best not to shake the bottles, disturb the risen cream.

The dog now chasing its tail is another dog again and always chasing its tail. The cats landed from another planet are here for the benefit of mankind. The dog that believes in loyalty and honour and trust between comrades is another dog. The cats forced to abandon their home planet are here now crash landed and ready to bear arms. The dog now wandering lonely by the wayside with all its possessions wrapped within a handkerchief is another dog. On the night of starfall the child of the stargazer shall return from a faraway land. The cats now acquisitioning the castle do so with intentions good and pure. The dog now in the car that requires no driver is another dog. The journey towards the temple of light is lit with pratfalls. The cats that man the weapons are alert and on guard. The dog now entering hovercraft mode now entering hydrofoil mode is another dog. A hundred thousand souls shall live in terror no more. The cats from a different planet stretch and watch, stretch and watch. A hundred thousand souls have lived in terror too long. The dog that believes in trust and loyalty and honour between comrades is another dog. The cats now sharpening their weapons do so for a noble cause. The dog that oils the spring is another dog. A hundred thousand souls shall live in terror no more.

With a pinch of thumb and finger he compresses silver and redfoiltops, decanting cream and correcting each bottle in turn before undue milk is allowed to leak upon rice and corn contained together in his single bowl. White liquid dribbling to spool upon the worktop as rice crackles and he heaps sugar over his breakfast, grains mounded into place. Cats from another planet defend the honour of a dog that believes in trust and loyalty, will return the favour someday. Upon the worktop dissolved sugar crystallises anew. He sets aside the bowl, its soggying contents. Upturned foiltops remain as they were.

Not without recourse was this team assembled. No happy accident melded them together. Myth acknowledged and potent in the sunchild’s form, his lyrical eyes. The sunchild following the course of the setting sun. West. To distant lands and undiscovered continents, west. Sailing the ocean through unknown currents west. Flying fish peeling phosphorescent from the ocean to sliver and bellyglide on deck. Golden clouds of insects guiding them to sanctuary and landfall. Having sailed through uncharted waters it is his resolve which must guide them, through the undiscovered continent west. Navigating by principles innate as a dream within the sunchild’s lyrical eyes. He does not rightly understand them himself, those principles by which he navigates through pratfall and jungle towards lost and mysterious cities. Cities built of, established from indelible and precious elements, indivisible materials. What treasures there. What treasures to be found. Gemstones and smithery glistening, pleasures ornate and true. Treasures enough to set forth from Europe across uncharted seas following the course of the setting sun. A fortune from which all their fortunes might be established, golden foundations of their path. The sunchild’s destiny revealed. The sunchild’s destiny revealed.

Upon the worktop dissolved sugar crystallises anew. He quarterfills a bowl with puffed rice, quarterfills it with toasted flakes of corn. Spoons sugar over proceedings and decants milk from four bottles in turn, doing his best to equipartition the liquid, level things off. Unanimous volumes of air above the juice, consistent atmospheres. The pop and crackle of rice expanding.

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