The specimen

The eukaryote writhed on the dish. I can only describe its movements as anguished. How it moved despite the pressure of the slide, I couldn’t say, but it flattened, spreading into transparency, seeking to divorce itself from its own organelles, or at least to escape the beam spotlighting it from below. Its membrane shuddered in an unmistakably sorrowful seizure. I pulled back from the eyepiece, aware that recognizing emotion at a cellular level was an unsanctioned scientific endeavor. I rubbed a strained eye while I made lab notes, knowing as I wrote that they had become a diary rather than a mere log: subjective and empathetic, and as such, fatally flawed. I knew what they would say: that I was projecting human qualities upon a form devoid of such potential. Or even that I had turned the microscope’s gaze upon myself, looking into a mirror instead of a lens—that it was I who writhed, macroscopic, whose diary I kept. After all, humans are eukaryotes too.

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