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The last mouse left in the experiment has failed to figure out the pattern of activity that releases the food pellets

over the course of what seems like a week but is in fact fifteen years, far longer than the typical lifespan of a mouse, but of course

 

many factors are involved, not the least of which is a feeling of nausea provoked by the oppressive observation

the mouse is subjected to, and which in turn fills its head nonproductively with images of itself from others’ perspectives.

 

Eventually the mouse’s longevity earns it a nickname among the technicians, but this gets vetoed right away

by members of the board, who know that midstream changes might impact data—in fact, they worry they’ve already done so.

 

It doesn’t necessarily hurt the mouse to pick it up by its tail, but it’s not too respectful either, and to my mind the mouse’s

refusal to align its behavior to that of other mice or to expectations of science earns it what in layman’s terms we call a special place.

 

When I point this out to the others, they seem not to notice, as if I were standing on the distant side of a thick glass wall,

but it’s really just a window, and I’ve been pressing my face against it like this all semester, reversing the progress of clouds.