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News & Features » July 2019 » “Bottled Up” by Gabriella Brand

“Bottled Up” by Gabriella Brand

Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.

This week, the doctor’s orders are sometimes simply impossible.

Bottled Up
by Gabriella Brand
Two-year-old twins and a one-year-old

Dr. Eye, the pediatrician, says that they should not be drinking out of bottles ANYMORE.

She has her reasons:

It will push their teeth forward and cause buccal-lingual distortions.

It will fill up their tummies and keep them from eating regular food.

The sugars in the milk will rot their teeth.

Dr. Eye says it. And then she says it again. At the next visit.

They’re weaned from their bottles, aren’t they?

I gulp. I look for the right words.

Sort of. Almost. We’re getting there.

Does Dr. Eye have any idea what I’m going through?

There are three of them. Twins boys who are twenty-seven months. A little girl ten months younger. Being their parent is like herding wild squirrels or orangutans. Some days they all want to be carried up the stairs at the same time. Some days I find one of them with his feet in the toilet, his brother pushing crayons through the heat duct, his sister bawling in the kitchen.

They have not had a bath in a week. Yes, perhaps, that is ringworm.

Some days they flip out because the fire engine pajamas are in the wash. Or the plastic ducks can not be found. Some days they sob because my lap isn’t big enough, or one of them is on the “good side” of the chair.

The only thing that comforts. That old Evenflo.

Suck suck, happy happy, love flowing white and smooth and cold.

I think I may just have to lie to Dr. Eye forever.

Sometimes, I have nightmares about the future. I picture them entering kindergarten with baby bottles tucked into their lunch boxes next to the sandwiches.

Or playing high school sports and taking swigs from their old Avents during halftime.

But, for now, I just fill the bottles. And when Dr. Eye asks, I continue to say:

Sort of. Almost. We’re getting there.


GABRIELLA BRAND lives most of the time in New Haven, where she teaches foreign languages and babysits a handful of her many grandchildren. Sometimes she lives in Quebec, where she tutors Middle Eastern refugees and paddles her red canoe.  Her writing has appeared in over fifty literary magazines. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee. She makes her own yogurt, bread, and mischief.


Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jul 23, 2019

Category: Original Fiction, Terrible Twosdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,