There are two things I can’t stress enough
1. this is a true story, and
2. I am a math major who should not write creatively
The universe did not intend for me to write stories. But if there is anything I learned from my time at Sarah Lawerence College as one of three math majors, it’s that nothing in life goes according to plan. My name is Danny, and I was haunted by the living spirit of Lil Nas X.
Friday Sept 13, 2019 - Move-in Day (afternoon)
I walk into my suite. I’m sweating, but that’s normal for me. I just lugged a box of gaming gear up some stairs and I’m also nervous. I don’t know my roommates. They tried to message me on facebook but I avoided answering because I’ll have the entire year to socialize with them, and that’s longer than I prefer to socialize with anybody that is not a ti-83. That’s a graphing calculator, for the lay people who may be reading.
A tall lanky boy with bleached hair and painted nails rushes to the door and gives me a hug.
“You must be Danny! I’m Chase!”
I’m taken aback by his enthusiasm. I try to match it.
It’s not convincing, but he doesn’t notice. Chase is already dragging me into the common room and screaming for who I assume to be another roommate.
The far right bedroom door opens, releasing a billowing cloud of smoke. Hailey steps out and addresses me.
“I’m cleansing the apartment.”
She gestures to a burning plant in her hand.
“I’m a witch.”
Before I have a chance to process that statement, Chase chimes in eagerly.
“Tell Danny about Nas!”
That sounds normal.
“Is that our other roommate?”
Chase and Hailey smile at each other in a way that tells me the answer is not normal. I wonder if I should have gone to a CUNY. Hailey replies.
“Nas is a ghost.”
“He’s been talking to us!”
“Talking to you?”
“Don’t worry, he’s really nice.”
Chase tries to reassure me. Hailey walks past me and sits on a dorm regulation armchair. It’s covered with a rainbow mandala tapestry. She looks up at me from the chair.
“I should let you know. He lives in your room.”
Friday Sept 13, 2019 (night)
I tossed and turned in my dorm regulation XL Twin bed. I don’t even believe in ghosts or magic, but I couldn’t stop replaying what Hailey said in my mind. He lives in your room?? That doesn’t even make sense! Aren’t ghosts dead people? Maybe that’s insensitive to say. I’m ill equipped to navigate this.
Friday Sept 13, 2019 (night: later)
At some point, I must have fallen asleep because I just jolted awake. I look around my room, blue from the moonlight shining from the window next to my bed. I’m not sure why I woke up. I may as well pee since I’m awake already.
There’s a sheet of paper taped above the toilet- save the planet! please don’t flush for #1 I wonder if there is a way to communicate that without utilizing a full sheet of paper. I don’t flush the toilet, but I do wash my hands. I have boundaries. I shut the bathroom light and start down the hallway back to my room. It’s dark. My eyes are having a hard time adjusting to the change in light.
I open the door to my room and am greeted again by the soft blue light of the moon. I shut and lock my door, so I can sleep in my Cyberchase undies in peace.
I turn around and can not believe what I see. Is that a full person sitting on my bed? I rub my eyes, thinking it must be a trick of the light. I open my eyes again. Nothing has changed.
The figure on my bed bed chuckles knowingly, and tips their hat.
“Lil Nas X??”
I am dumbfounded.
He laughs again.
“No, I’m not dead. I just live here sometimes, in a sense.”
“You live in my college dorm?”
“Not exactly. Here.”
He pats a spot next to him on my bed.
I should probably be scared, but Lil Nas X is very cute and I’m a little star struck. I sit next to Lil Nas X. He speaks to me again.
“Hold my hand.”
I can’t believe Lil Nas X wants to hold my hand. I wipe my hand on my Cyberchase undies and put my hand on his.
My hand goes right through his hand on to the bed. I try again. I watch my hand go through his hand again. I get a shiver up my spine.
I paused, pondering my word choice.
“--A living ghost.”
“No, I’m a hologram. Like Tupac.”
This time, I laugh.
“I know what a hologram is, Lil Nas X.”
“Please, call me Nas.”
“Like the conscious rapper, Nas?”
Nas takes a breath in. Or whatever a breath is for a hologram.
“I knew that you’d know what a hologram is, Danny. You see, I have an agreement with Sarah Lawernce College. I asked res life to reserve this very dorm room for students like you- one of the three math students at this heavily arts leaning liberal arts college. Students that maybe, shut people out because they feel different, who don’t socialize because they are afraid of being rejected, people like--
“Yeah. Like you.”
“Aren’t you too busy to talk to people like me?”
“I mean yeah, 100%. I’m touring Europe right now. But through the magic of technology, I can travel here in seconds to tell you that you’re going to great here, Danny. You gotta believe in yourself and promise me you will open your heart to make new friends.”
I looked into Lil Nas X’s sparkling eyes. I don’t know why he’s doing this for me, but I feel like he gets it. And he cares. I think I’m in love a little bit.
“Ok. I promise.”
“You’re gonna kill it, friend.”
Nas leans in to give me a kiss on the cheek. He can’t because he’s a hologram, but he wanted to and that’s so cool.
“Will I ever see you again?”
“Next Friday the 13th.”
There’s a knock at the door. Nas sighs.
“That’s my cue.”
He tips his hat.
“Remember Danny-- Ride. ‘Til you can’t no more.”
And with that, he vanishes just as mysteriously as he appeared. Hailey and Chase knock again and call to me from behind the door.
“Who are you talking to?”
“Was it Nas?!?”
I take a breath in, the way a human does. I think about what Nas said, about opening my heart. I get up from my bed. I unlock the door and open it in my Cyberchase undies.
“I have so much to tell you guys. Do you like hot chocolate?”
“I have a vegan option.”
“Also, I LOVE CYBERCHASE!!!”
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