I haven’t written a creative article in months. I was ashamed at first, couldn’t even look myself in the mirror. I was ashamed that me, who’d called myself a writer, hadn’t churned out something creative in over six months. I did try though. I wrote a few stuff that now sit deserted in the ‘Drafts’ folder (my fullest folder). They never made it out because they were weak and spineless and I didn’t ‘feel’ them. So at some point, I decided screw it. I won’t force things. And that’s how ended up not writing for eons. After some bit of soul searching and psychedelic trips, it came to me, the reason I couldn’t write. I could try and explain it but it would only make for a sappy, tearjerker prose that we’d all rather avoid in this Corona times where sniffling in public can get you into big trouble. So, I wrote a little anecdote to explain it all. Make of it what you will.
The little mouse sits in his glass cage. Every day, a man with a funny beard and thick spectacles opens the little hole at the top of his cage and feeds him. He does this three times a day. The little mouse sits in his glass cage not thinking about anything in particular. He’s almost always full and all he does is eat, sleep and wait for his next meal. And shit of course.
But for the life of him, he cannot remember how he ended up in the cage. It all just…began. Because after all he’s a little mouse and his species’ memory has not really evolved since the Mesozoic era. For all he knows, he could have been born here. But no matter, life isn’t really that bad in this cage.
The scientist comes in every day at nine am. He comes in a cup of coffee in hand, whistling like a bird. He turns on the lights, sets his coffee on the table and feeds the little mouse. After that, he sits with his back facing little mouse with his head down into the microscope. But of course the little mouse doesn’t know it’s a microscope, because, well, he’s a little mouse.
Lately, boredom’s been killing the little mouse and he wants to get out. He wants to know where the outside is. Where the scientist comes from every day. Because life surely can’t be spent in a glass cage in a white room. As sure as there is life outside the cage, there is life outside the room. And the little mouse has to see it. He’s been obsessing about leaving. He’s been smashing his head into the glass walls to get the scientist’s attention. Perhaps, the scientist would hear the little clinks on the glass and let him out. But the scientist never turned or paid him any attention. Until one day, the unimaginable happened.
The scientist walked in looking beat as usual. His shoulders sagged. He did his regular routine. Lights on. Coffee on the table. Wears apron. Feeds little mouse. But after a few minutes, the scientist comes back to the little mouse’s box. This time, he opens the whole top cover not just the feeding hole. His huge hands descend upon the little mouse and grab him by his soft furless underbelly. The white rubbery gloves feel strange on his underbelly.
The little mouse can’t believe it. He’d given up hope about leaving this place. And now, he’s out in the fresh air of the outside. The little mouse is ecstatic.
But before he can process the excitement, he feels the scientist lowering him down and when he looks around, he can’t believe it. FUCK! The little mouse thinks. The scientist lowers him into another glass box. A larger one with what seems to be a wheel. He curses a few more times. His short-lived freedom comes to a crashing end.
The scientist then turns to his side and turns on a switch and the wheel start rotating. The little mouse is now confused. His anger is now utter confusion. He frantically runs up and down in his new cage, looking for an escape. And as he’s running, the scientist picks him up and places him on the rotating wheel. He falls the first time. Then the second. He stumbles on the third turn but recovers well and he’s now running smoothly on the rotating wheel. The scientist notes something down when little mouse does this.
The wheel rotates nice and slow. In fact, it’s at the perfect pace for the little mouse. He can’t complain. As he runs, the scientist observes him from the glass wall, scribbling something in his notepad from time to time. The little mouse is now panting, he’s been running for what feels like eternity. And even worse the scientist increases the speed every few minutes. His tongue is out and his muscles feel like a potent acid is running through them. He can’t stop running because he might fall and break something, or worse. He’s getting really mad at the fucking scientist. And in a fete of rage, he snaps at the scientist, “STOP THE FUCKING WHEEL!”
The scientist looks at him questioningly, like you would if a little mouse spoke to you, and asks “Why?”
“Because I’m tired you idiot.” The little mouse hisses back
“But you haven’t met your goals yet.”
“Goals? What fucking goals?!”
“Your fitness goals.” The scientists responded. “We’ve been feeding you for three months straight and now we want to get you fit… It’s a test we’re doing.”
“What the f- ?! I didn’t sign up for this! And who says I want to be fit?!” The little mouse barked angrily.
“Well, you have to be fit. Otherwise, you’ll die.” The scientist said with the calmness of a sociopath.
Tired and beaten down, the little mouse begs once again “Hey look, I’m tired I can’t do this anymore. Please stop the wheel.”
The scientist refuses. “I can’t. I’m sorry.”
The little mouse is has no energy left in him. He’s on autopilot mode. His feet roll loosely to the rhythm of the wheel, like it’s carrying him. He has no control over them anymore. He feels like he would pass out any minute now. Broken and defeated, he asks the scientist, “So is there an end to this? Is there a point where I’m fit enough?”
“No.” The scientist says. “Because once you stop, you go back to being a useless unfit blob of the earth.”
“But I hate it here. I’m tired… I’d rather do something else.” The little mouse begs, tears rolling down his whiskers.
“What will you do?”
“I don’t know yet.” The little mouse answers.