The Milk Bottle Children

Bipasha Bhattacharyya


Feet placed at forty five degree angles to each step, the front of the skirt lifting up just as the feet fall. One by one, not hurried. One step missed will twist the ankle, and that isn’t in the memory. The people must clap from the bottom of the stairwell, with expressions of unbound joy pouring out of them in an uncontainable way that cannot involve them moving forward to catch the falling bride. Forty five degree angles, skirts lifting, one by one, until I reach the bottom. Slip my hand into the waiting elbow of a man who will be my father. I can grip the elbow in consecutive circles up until where his shoulders begin their plateau. The body has made the mark for me, a roundish edge at a ninety degree to the shoulder. The bride mustn’t lay heads on shoulders. Grief should be visible to everyone. It cannot be hidden until later. The first dance. Shoulders may fall on fathers then.

And away we go, linked in grief that comes in consecutive circles. Dum da dadum, da dadumdumdumdumdumdumdumdum. Pachelbel’s canon strains on violins. I know that this is my first choice for wedding pieces. The voice of the girl named Alice who will be my best friend, rings clear. She has taken off from Juilliard last spring to ride cross-country with a bum who ironically smells like White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor. My face will twitch with acceptable wryness, a twenty degree angle to the closed mouth, as I remember to remember her voice on other memories I have played in. I must remember my mouth movements, my consecutive circles, the tilt of my head succeeding at failing to fall on shoulders on a day when all will be forgiven. When it happens. Up and down. Feet waves.Skirts lifting up. One by one, not hurried. Consecutive circles on elbows. Mouth at twenty degrees. What am I missing? I cannot miss a step. I cannot remember not to miss a step.

We are at the altar. My hand is now placed in the hand of a dashing suit. Trimmed in grey. And I stop. I messed up. I did not pause in the aisle, did not take the grey pew trimmings in my hands, smile indulgently at Mrs. Truddle.

The glow comes calling. Jolts of pain tapped into my toes, only my toes. For now.Hammers that come out of pianos to tap pain into what will be toes.The glow that knows. It would be my name for when I am me. But I will not be me for many a moon, and the people are waiting. The glow throbs across my entire foot now, as I waste more time, miss more steps. The suit smiles encouragingly at me. My father of the future has dollops of water pasted in the hollow crevices of his aged, wasted cheeks. Alice has gotten louder now. The climax is upon us. The happiest day of my life.White, like a corpse.


We are controlled stimuli, willed into being before our existence, wrapped away in our happiest memories, memories which haven’t happened yet.

We must do exactly as these memories tell us, we must live them to life. And if we do not, then we feel our non-existent bodies zapped with the pain of a thousand suns, pain that would be welcome if the only ending was obliteration of our non-existent selves, if the pain finally freed us. But no. This pain cannot kill bodies that do not exist. It can only obliterate these memories, if we defy them enough. If we, the non-existent people of people to be, defy ourselves before we come to being, then our happiest selves are gone. We kill ourselves before we are born.

There is no conversation. We speak with people we will one day love, but do not know now. We can recognize that we have been induced to feel as if we know, but that we do not truly know these people. We are controlled stimuli. We must be able to recognize that it is a simulation, for all of this to be studied

In one of my memories, I hear of a man named Albert Einstein theorizing on time. That it cannot go back, only forward. This means nothing to me. If I do not yet exist, then my life where I read of Einstein is either during or after his time.

And yet I am able to see this moment before it happens, perhaps before Einstein theorized about time. If I am from the future, then Einstein was wrong. If I am from the past, then that past had not been studied well enough. Has been masked to include only the ‘right people’ and their worlds.Their words.

But what does the future, the past, what does it all mean to someone who doesn’t exist?

As a reward for getting all the steps right, we are let into the control room. It is like a mirror in many ways, the only way we can see what we look like to others. But we have no cognition of form, of shape, of color beyond our memories. All I See in these moments are entities that are of a different species from the ones in our memories

And then there are some memories which replay, which make us wonder how these memories can be Happy. They test us, these scientists, they test how long we can be passive, how long we can see ourselves die in front of our eyes, before we kill ourselves, the selves that will exist but Don’t yet.

And so we play back, as we play along. Tonight the marriage memory will replay. Over and over again. I will kiss him, but without tongue. As I wrap my mouth around his cock, I’ll bite the edge just a little, not enough to make him hit me.  I’ll smile just a little late, say his name wrong and correct myself before he notices.

It gives me immense pleasure as I close my eyes to know that I am messing up the experiment. That I, a controlled stimulus, have a little control. And just as he falls out of himself, the cue that I will soon fall out of this memory, I imagine them in the control room, their gleeful expressions as they catalogue my every attempt to play back, to fight back. This study is now human. This is what they wanted to study all along.