“Excuse me, do you know where Mather Memorial is?”
“Excuse me, ma’am, do you happen to know where Mather Memorial is?”
“Well. It should be on Mather Quad.”
“Hey, do you know where Mather Memorial is?”
“Well, do you have five dollars?”
Mather Memorial was a building betwixt the Church of the Covenant and another pretty building constructed of beautiful stones. No one really knew where or what Mather Memorial was, and no one seemed to care. It was a psychology/sociology building made in the 1900’s and lasted through the 2000’s, back when buildings were made out of the earth, back in the olden days.
Kyra was the first to find it. She told Nick who told Ryley who told Beast who didn’t tell me. I found out though, and the night they went out to “party,” I stuck along like an enthusiastic freshman. They walked in a cult-like formation, as if they were held together by invisible string. I gave them their space. I mean, they were upperclassmen, and I was the jumpy freshman.
We passed Peter B. Lewis on the street parallel to Euclid and then headed left. It was dark, and I could feel the night walk with us, listening in to their conversations, just as I was.
“You know what’s really funny?” Kyra said, her hands hidden in her pockets. “The building just happens to be by my favorite sitting place – that little area with tables and benches.”
“The weed area?” Beast asked.
“Nah, man, that’s Hessler,” Nick replied. “And only you would go and investigate a boring building, Ky.”
She turned around and walked backwards. “No, it’s actually really cool. It’s so eerie, ya’ll are gonna love it.”
The group took a sharp left down the lane, Clark Hall to our right. The church was in front of us, and to our left was Mather Memorial. It was grand, to be honest. I mean, how did anyone miss it? It stood like a king with a cylinder shape in the center and a horn on each side. Its body enveloped this large piece of grass, embracing it greedily.
“Did you ever think that maybe…this building doesn’t want to be found?” Ryley asked.
Kyra shot her a look. “Well, too bad. I found it. Tough nuts.” She motioned us to the right entrance of the building. “I think there’s a radio station in the basement!”
“You are way too excited for this,” Beast said. He moved like he was dragging trucks behind him, exhausted but relentless. He was on the football team.
“Uh, can you tell me where you found the keys to this building?” Ryley said, watching Kyra open the door. Ryley was often questioning everyone around her.
“Can you tell me why you’re so scared?” Kyra bit back.
One time someone compared her to a wolf. She bit them, too.
The building was spooky as hell. And I’m hoping that hell isn’t even this creepy. When the door closed behind us, we stood in a hallway that was maybe four times Beast’s height. It was so silent that our heavy breathing was evident. I walked a little bit closer to Beast – even though I was pretty sure he was the last person who would protect me.
“So what’s the building’s story?” Nick asked.
Kyra shrugged. “Don’t know. I just wanted to show you guys something.”
We climbed up to the second floor. On my right was a sign that said “Thank you for not smoking,” even though I could smell the odor of cigarettes hanging in the air like spider webs.
When we got up to the second floor, Kyra led us to where I assumed was the middle of the building. Two intimidating doors stood like guards, so high above our heads we had to look up. And there, Kyra pointed straight at a circular object.
“You see that?”
“Yes,” Nick said in a bright voice, “It’s a circle!”
Everyone looked at him. I could just feel Kyra pierce her lips. “I think it’s a bell – one of those old ones people use to have.”
I narrowed my eyes, standing on my tiptoes like I could see better that way. “And what’s under that?”
Kyra smiled at me. “Two faces. On the left is an angry old man, the right is a young guy.”
“I seriously need new friends,” Beast muttered to himself.
“Flora Mather was a pretty awesome woman.”
All heads turned toward me. I blinked back…had I just said that?
“How did you know that?” Ryley asked.
I shrugged. “She was the wife of Samuel Mather, and she did a lot of religious and educational work. This building was in tribute to her after her death.” I stopped, glad that I could only see a silhouette of their stunned faces.
After two minutes of them gawking at me like a naked statue, Ryley shifted closer to the door, her arms folded. “It’s sad no one really knows of this building.”
“Let’s throw a party,” Nick said.
We all dismissed the idea in our heads, but nodded encouragingly.
Kyra was the only one who was still studying me. “What do you think we should do, freshman?”
Their eyes in the dark were so clear, with the moonlight peering in through the pretty windows from the staircase. And all I could think of was how lonely this building must have felt, so out of touch with the world, so abandoned. There were still offices here, no doubt, but the life out of the building was completely sucked out.
And it hit me all at once while we stood there in the hallway: why did any of us care so much?
I felt a smile crawl slowly across my lips.
Mather Memorial became our place. At night, we would go to the building and sit in a different class, thinking of all the women who used to sit in the exact spot, since the building was originally built to educate women. It was the place we studied (there was this small room at the end of the hallway on the first floor filled with books and a window that looked out onto the street), the place we told secrets and let them live with the dust, and the place we listened to history and hoped we were leaving ours.
I didn’t really know why they first agreed to keep this place our secret, anyway. I thought the upperclassmen had hated me, forgotten me and weren’t really too enthusiastic about my weird personality.
“You’re always observing,” Kyra told me once. “It’s hella creepy.”
One day I was walking into Mather Memorial in the daylight when I caught the inscription on the building. Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies… Flora Mather must’ve been the Beyoncé of the 1900’s.
Don’t think I’m telling you this story because I want you to go to that building. I’m not. It’s my place, ya know, where I had good old times. When class wasn’t in session, anyway. The whole building still lives in 1911 with grace and pride. You can feel it once you walk in. Look around you. I think the building reflects a lot about us.
I think it’s a building not to be forgotten.