Everyone talks about that Juilliard-Columbia Exchange student who died in his 13th hour of practicing on Halloween night many moons ago. But no one had seen his ghost before Sarah Faith Thompson ventured down to the Schapiro basement a few nights ago.
I wander through Schapiro’s recently-renovated lobby, headphones on, and head down the stairs to the piano practice rooms. The graduate students of theater are of course still down there at 11 o-clock at night, lying on the couches and dramatically reading their lines to each other. I roll my eyes, look forward with a sense of purpose, and continue past the lockers.
I turn. I face the hallway without entering. Something feels off, but maybe it’s that the caffeine and chemicals from my 5-Hour Energy are kicking in. The bright fluorescent lights flicker as I continue forward. Damn, Columbia needs to invest more money in its facilities, I think to myself. Choosing the practice room at the end of the hallway, I sit down at the piano and open up my book of Chopin.
A ghoulish moan rises above my tinkering. I rush to the tiny window on the door, hoping it is just some frisky musical theater students, and see the overhead lights again flickering. A figure appears at the end of the hallway. He’s hunched over, arms extended, hands moving spasmodically. With a mouth slightly ajar, he stares directly down the hallway and begins shuffling toward my practice room.
The ghost of the Juilliard-Columbia Exchange student past! Oh no! The lights fail, and I clutch my knees and rock on the ground, having gotten very good at this because it’s midterm season. The door squeeeeaks open. A cold breeze raises the hair on my arms. I tense up, expecting death or maniacal laughing or something to possess my body.
But no. The piano begins to play.