Rose Malana | Anticipatory Grief
Perhaps, Angie thought, the universe is stored in the rat.
Then, as quickly as she had the thought, she brushed away the thought and shoved her study papers away from her. It was beyond her normal bedtime and the words in front of her had begun to spin like the Milky Way galaxy. When she looked up, the steady center of her vision contained one of her five rats, Violet.
Violet was almost like a dog in the way that she was content to lie still and watch her mother. Violet was almost like a human child in the way she appeared to try and read Angie’s textbooks with her. Her beady black eyes contained far more intelligence and emotion than any reasonable person would’ve given her credit for.
Earlier, Angie had considered trying to teach Violet the philosophical concepts she was about to be tested on, but knew in her heart that Violet not only already knew all of the information, but understood it on a level humans never would.
Rats, even the domesticated ones, only live for about two to three years on average. For Angie, this was devastating. She looked at Violet, whose second birthday was almost too soon, and she felt her heartbeat tick up. A small lump formed in the back of her throat. Violet stretched and yawned. This was all old news to her. This was just life, this was how it was all meant to happen.
Hence, the universe is stored in the rat.
“Have you ever seen those pictures that compared a brain cell to a galaxy? They looked so similar,” Angie said to Violet. The little black-hooded rat settled further into her spot in the cage, overlooking her mother’s studies.
Angie thought of the size of a rat’s brain in comparison to the universe. The universe was infinite, and Violet’s little brain was infinitesimal. Angie’s brain was infinitesimal, but Violet seemed far more accepting of this information. All she cared about was food and her mischief. Angie became sure that Violet’s approach to nihilism was far healthier than most.
Angie reconsidered her earlier dismissal. Rats were perfect examples of philosophical concepts. Maybe that’s why humans studied rats so extensively.
“Humans are jealous of rats,” Angie concluded aloud. A burst of squeaks sounded off behind Violet as her sister, Lavender, and a
newer male rat, Copper, play-fought after Lavender tried to groom him too harshly. The other two rats in the cage awoke and began to move around.
“I believe that’s entropy,” Angie said, and could’ve sworn she saw
Violet nod. In an instant Angie was struck breathless.
In her small bedroom, Angie was not alone. She was drowning in the total acceptance and understanding shown by such a small creature. Nobody could convince her otherwise.
“I love you, too,” Angie said, which is perhaps the most important thought she’d had all night.
Rose Malana (she/her) is a registered nurse working in mental health. She enjoys writing, eating cheesy foods, and a loving, mutually-antagonistic relationship with her rescue beagles, Cherry and Addi.