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Interrupting thoughts


June 3, 2020

By Mikayla More O'Ferrall

confusing scales.jpg

The lights are off.

Push, click, tap, thrum-umm-umm, the laptop stirs and finally awakens with a back-lit screen. I take my place at the desk heaved and heaped with printer, microscope, and envelopes. Salmonid scale work always starts this way nowadays, but never does it remain so austere. Yet still I desperately try and keep it just so, a sempiternal rhythm to lose myself in. Blanketed, orange-pekoe in hand, I exhale briskly. Here we go.

With a rap-click-tap of the mouse that opens all necessary programs, I begin to conduct my scale symphony.

The lights are off.

The envelope sections twang as they lose their staples with a wave of my left hand, the microscope adjusts itself with a flutter of my right. Data from each photographed steelhead scale is neatly sorted into column and row with a brief and beautiful rattle. And so, it continues. The hour passes in cadencing composition but then... Stalking its way into my consciousness sounds a “tik-crik-pik-crank”. The symphony shatters. My attention turns to the source of the imposing reverberation, the thought of which breaks the surface of my mind.

The symmetric sound of time trickling onward voices its tenacity, as the dial of the light-timer sitting under the desk turns roughly in place, quivering against the resolve of its measurement.

The lights are off.

I blink, and the memory of the music I once made slips away like a dream upon awakening. Maybe emails will help. I open a tab and begin to type. My mind focuses on the sound of the timer, still cranking away as my fingers type quick sentences. Exclamation mark. I type further. Period. Another sentence. Period. I stop, and my stomach twists. Period. At the end of almost every sentence lies that guileless, dreary dot. Head in hands, I try to breathe through this newest interrupting thought; this anxiety that resounds in my mind. But there it is again. And now, that feeling.

The sinking certain fear that over the course of the stillness, slowly I too will become still, and gently those exclamation marks will lose their leaping half to leave only a static dot at the end of every sentence.

The lights are off.

This isn’t me. Tik-crik-pik-crank. I change the periods to exclamation marks and hit send; professionalism be damned. I close the tab and open back up the microscope software ready to start my symphony anew. I regard my instruments. Tik-crik-pik-crank. Tentatively, I work to the sound of the timer. Now, when I conduct my symphony, the music is changed. It is incomparable to what it was before. Though it has all the other components it once did, it now has a persistence to it that it formerly lacked. Different, I think, but not bad. With tender expectancy, I await the newest member to join the symphony, the next instrument, the next interrupting thought. And yet still, I think, despite this flutter of optimism, the lights remain off.

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