By Mabry Griffin '18
With Halloween just around the corner and the number of horror movie marathons increasing daily, I thought I’d tell you a story about something truly scary: NCS. Immediately thoughts of fellowship applications, all-nighters, and the rush of anxiety you get when you realize you messed up the color-coding of your notes rush through your head. I know…it can be terrifying enough on its own. Alas, here I am to tell you a tale of a truly blood-curdling experience: the time I saw a ghost in the hallowed halls of the place to which we’ve sold our intellectual soul, also known as NCS.
Let me set the scene for you. It was a dark and stormy night, and I had just returned to Hearst to grab my favorite sweatshirts, all bearing some sort of logo (Harvard, Princeton, Yale, UPenn, Dartmouth, Brown, Cornell, and Stanford), that I had recklessly left behind before going to sit in the stairwell of the athletic center for thirty minutes so as to not have to do any cardio in personal fitness. In either a post Five Hour Energy shot crash induced haze or the avoidance of confusion from being told “HOLD” when I’m standing still on the sidewalk, I found myself walking to Hearst instead of Woodley, when I had actually left my most prized possessions in the physics lab. After a quick blackout from being so exhausted and knowing it was only Monday, I regained consciousness on my hand and knees with my hand reaching out and clutching the doorknob to an exit from the stairwell with a stone-cold grip. Using my last reserves of energy I twist the handle and fall into an unfamiliar hallway, almost immediately realizing my rookie mistake. I am on the fifth floor of Hearst.
Taking note of my surroundings, I see that the communications offices are nowhere to be seen. The light streaming in through the numerous windows guides my attention toward the end of the hallway where an apparition is lounging in a purple chaise adorned with diamonds and rubies. Feeling a magnetic pull toward this esoteric being, I crawl along the hallway toward the south end, only pausing to take note of the “1D forever” and “Smash the patriarchy” on the walls. By some power I am still unable to identify, I mustered up the strength to raise my head and look the being in the eyes. The being…was Phoebe Hearst.
Looking down at me in her off-the-shoulder gown, which she believed to be perfectly in dress code, she whispered in an angelic voice, the sound of which I had only heard rumors about, “Oh no, baby. What is you doing?” Her powerful words seemed to have a severe effect on me as I started to bawl. “Phoebe!” I cried breathlessly. “I am an utter wreck! I can’t seem to find any of my prestigious sweatshirts that I have collected over the years that are supposed to intimidate my classmates! I got an A- on my paper, when I know that if I had not signed the honor code “The Notorious B.I.G.” then I would’ve gotten an A! I have no energy whatsoever and I only have the amount of homework NCS assigns to blame for it because I don’t think the fact that I decided to watch Scandal for two hours last night has anything to do with it! And last, but not least, I am completely famished and am worried about breaking school rules due to being hangry if I hear an STA boy say ‘chirp’ one more time! Help me!”
“There, there, my woman for the world.” She replied maternally. “I have something that will fix all your problems.”
I watched her as she pulled out a plate from behind her back and placed it down in front of me. I lost my breath. My world had new meaning. Wars were ended in that moment because of the boon she gave to me.
“But Phoebe” I managed to sputter out. “I am not worthy.”
“Shhhh, my child.” She said confidently. “This plate, right here, is an answer to all of the Close’s problems. 1SSA VI8E.”
And so taking her words of wisdom to heart, I started to eat my emotions the only way a National Cathedral School student knows how: through chicken and rice.