Rats by Beate Sigriddaughter

Already uneasy about so much, especially her weightlessness, she happens to read about an experiment where rats were raised with regular electric shocks. They lived.

She remembers a boyfriend who gave her honeysuckle blossoms, but always only ones that had fallen off voluntarily, not ones deliberately plucked. He spoke once of the horror of trying to explain in the clinic that the doctor had ordered only one side for shock treatment, not both. The medical staff only sneered an impatient “yeah, yeah” into his petrified face.

Back to the rats. When they were grown, their cage doors were opened to cages in which there was the same amount of food, but no electric shocks. The rats were allowed to move from one cage to the other freely. They explored the new situation. Then, one by one, they returned to the devastating comfort of the familiar shocks.

She wants to cry. She talks to her husband instead, tells him about the rats. “It’s so sad,” she pleads.

“Yeah, yeah,” he says, looking up from his computer screen. “The way they use those rats in labs.”

“That’s not it,” she whispers. “What’s sad is that they returned to the pain.”

“Oh,” he says. “I thought you were sad because you cared about the animals.”

Her energy freezes, expands into silence, a thing she knows well. She aches for the wrong reasons.

.

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9 Comments

Filed under Beate Sigriddaughter

9 responses to “Rats by Beate Sigriddaughter

  1. guy

    I’m drawn to this like moth to flame, rat to pain. Super.

  2. Catherine Davis

    Such a lovely harrowing story. Brilliant flashes on boyfriend; back to the rats. You’ve gotten so much in here. – beautiful rendering.

  3. Gorgeous prose, the relationship metaphors with the rats. Great! A lovely story.

  4. This piece strikes me as therapy. The moment of realisation, when you see what hurts. And when you realise that there’s no-one to make it better but you.
    It’s a sad truth about those rats.

  5. Empathy with the rats but not from her husband. I can understand why she would ache.

  6. Loved it at fn, love it here! Peace…

  7. Pingback: Week #26 – Animal behavior | 52|250 A Year of Flash

  8. Are you sure the husband bothered to look up from the computer screen when he said, “Yeah, yeah”? I’m thinking that he never looked up. As for her
    engrgy freezing and expanding in the silence… Oh yes! Doris

  9. Maude Larke

    Devastating, simple statement about not only rats but humans as well. A world in microcosm.

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