Alma speaks

Alma speaks

There are too many statues on campus, and you definitely have too many suppressed emotions swirling in your head. Let the marble speak for you.

You walk through campus, and they are watching you.

You can feel their eyes following you as you pass, tracing your path from Kent to Lerner and back to Butler. You can sense their ears trained on the pattern of your footsteps, the music in your headphones, the chewing of your gum.  You can hear them whispering in a language you don’t understand.

You head past Havermeyer, and the lion stares. He’s challenging you. He wants to test your ferocity, or your bravery, or perhaps your knowledge of ancient Greek.  You could be just imagining it, but for a moment, you’re certain that he’s about to rear back on his hind legs and let out a ground-shattering roar.  The last time you tried to roar, you were seven, and it came out more high-pitched than intimidating.

You cut across Lewisohn Lawn, and Pan leers at you.  He knows, somehow, that you tried to hit on that girl at the party last night with a pick-up line your dad told you as a joke five years ago.  He knows that you knocked into someone’s arm and spilled vodka all over your shirt.  And he probably also knows that you haven’t been able to jerk off since you did that pig dissection in bio last week.  You duck your head and scurry past, face burning.

You find yourself somehow in front of Mudd, and Le Marteleur (or the Hammer Man, as you like to call him, because you’ve never felt particularly confident in your French) stares you down.  The last time you walked past here, you made a joke about his weird hat to your friend, and you’re sure he knows.  His expression looks angrier than it did before – his eyes more narrowed, the angle of his elbow sharper.  He must suspect that you considered going into engineering, but decided something like economics would be easier.  He must suspect that you haven’t got the mettle.  You keep moving.

You wander towards Uris Hall, and find that the odd, spiral-shaped sculpture has been waiting for you.  It thrums with a strange kind of energy, as though enchanted by a sorceress, or a particularly pissed-off Medieval Studies major.  As you walk from one side of the building to the other, the shape seems to shift, curls snaking upward.  You shuffle quickly out of its range.

You climb the stairs up to Revson Plaza and, almost immediately, your vision is taken up by the massive coil of limbs on top of the law school building.  The figure is massive, at least twice your size, and he seems to side-eye you furiously, as though you needed any more reason to believe that he could take you down with one hit.  Once I finish off this Pegasus, you’re next, he seems to snarl.  You once heard that this statue is considered to be a metaphor for college – and that the Pegasus is a metaphor for clueless freshmen.  You frantically try to look anywhere else.

You turn, and find yourself staring up at the tightrope walker.  Not only is this man able to walk steadily on a line a couple of centimeters thick, he carries another on his back – like a student in a freshmen bio lab, bearing the brunt of the labor for a group of two.  The tightrope walker knows you keep saying you’ll start going to Dodge in the mornings, but never follow through.  The tightrope walker knows you haven’t been to Riverside Park since that one day during the first week of classes.  The tightrope walker wants to jump down from his perch and remind you first-hand the value of a good core workout.  You move on.

You turn once more, and you are face to face with the eye.  The other statues all knew something – your grades, your failures, your flaws – but this one knows everything.  This cylinder of bronze stares straight into your soul, and finds you wanting.  You wonder, for a moment – if you stuck your arm through its center, would you grasp the ether of another universe?

You take a step back.  This eye is too powerful.  You need to get out of its range.  But even as you take one step back, then two, then three, it stays on you.  Five steps, ten, twenty – you still aren’t out of its range.  It can see your hopes.  Your dreams.  Your darkest fears.

You run.  Faster than you have ever run before.  Down the steps, past buildings, narrowly missing trees But you can’t shake its omniscient gaze – it knows everything, knows your insecurities and fears and the reading you didn’t do and the test questions you guessed on and the professor you’re scared of and that feeling that sunk into your stomach when that girl on your floor said she liked your shirt because did she really like it or was she just trying to be nice because she feels bad or did she say that ironically because she hates you does she hate you does everyone hate you –

You finally find yourself, somehow, back on Low Plaza.  Alma Mater gazes down at you.  Her arms are raised to the dreary autumn sky, the book on her lap open to a page that surely must have the answers to all of the questions she could ask you.  You look up at her with tears in your eyes, silently begging her to tell you how you’re supposed to survive college.

And then, for one, glorious moment, you hear a voice in your head.  It thunders, mighty and powerful as hurricane.  It can only be Alma herself.

The answer to number twenty-one on your midterm next week will be C, she tells you.

You can’t help it – you burst into tears.  You fall at her feet, embracing her skirts.  People are likely staring, but you can’t bring yourself to care.  Thank you, you tell her.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

When you stand back up, you hear her voice in your head once more:

It was nothing.  Now, go home and read some Homer.

Spooky Alma via Bwog