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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Jackson

In Which Our Hero Makes Decisive Summer Plans

By Elizabeth Jackson

It had to be said that Verily held no love for the heat. Particularly the stifling New York City brand of summer heat which unfailingly frizzed his laboriously swooped coiffure. This dread of perspiration-inducing August, combined with a deep belief that he could no longer deny those beyond Morningside Heights the privilege of his acquaintance, led Verily to conclude that an expedition was in order.

“AMARE!” Verily bellowed through her solidly closed door, knocking with the speed of an anxious woodpecker.

“WHAT!” she roared back, curls askew, after having opened said door.

“I am going VOYAGING!” Verily announced, striding past Amare into her bedchamber.

“Did you just enter my room at three a.m.? On a Wednesday? Without asking?”

“Amare old chap, there is simply no reason to go about emphasizing each alternate word or phrase in a question. It’s a very irritating linguistic quirk. Now, on to important things. I’ve realized that I am doing a disservice to the many poor souls who have yet to become acquainted with me by restricting my talents only to the northern Manhattan area. Therefore, a spot of travel is in order! I intend to make my way to Oxford, to join my esteemed Blue and White colleague, Dominy Gallo. Gallivanting with her through the halls of the Bodleian library, I shall finally begin my translation of The Iliad, rivaling Fagles in delicacy and renown!”

By the end of this monologue, Amare’s eyes had closed. She stood leaning against her door frame, head slumped forward.

“LADY!” Verily yelled, shaking Amare’s shoulder, “There is no time to waste! Let us prepare!”

“You see, the word ‘us’ confuses me a little,” Amare said archly, “why am I involved in this preparation?”

“Amare, why must you be so tiresome? It will be fun, and you are constantly nattering on about how I need to have more fun.”

Without waiting for agreement, Verily seated himself in Amare’s desk chair, flipping open her laptop and waiting expectantly for the login information.

Resignedly, Amare typed in her password and said wearily, “Are there any actual summer programs for you to do?”

“What are these mortal limitations of which you speak? If there is no such program, I will make one! Anyway, to prepare for my translation work, I need you to go to every bookshop in our fair metropolis and purchase every copy of The Iliad that you can find.”

“What??? Even the duplicates?”

Illustration by Betel Tadesse

“Of course! One cannot trust modern printing presses. One slip of the finger and typographical errors abound. I must be able to review each and every copy to truly ensure the legitimacy of the translation. Really, you mustn’t question these preparations, use your cellular device and make a list of every relevant establishment.”

Amare had only just pulled out her phone before Verily leapt from her desk chair and knocked it out of her hand and onto the bed. “No! We must plan a going away party!” he declared.

“Aren’t there other things to plan?” Amare asked, “Passport? Housing?”

“Mere details!” Verily replied, “The real priority is a going away soiree!”

Amare buried her face in her pillow, sensing a very long debate was afoot.

“What should the theme of my send-off be?” Verily asked eagerly, striking poses in Amare’s full-length mirror. “Renaissance? Regency? A salute to Broadway?”

“As long as we don’t have to dress like you,” Amare groaned into the mattress.

“You’re a genius!” Verily gasped, “This Friday, everyone in attendance shall dress in their finest Veritas garb!”

With that, Verily dashed out of Amare’s room, preparing to print invitations and scatter them like rose petals along College Walk.

The following Friday

The fateful evening arrived, and Verily stood at attention just inside his doorway. He had decorated his quarters in anticipation of a true rager, purchasing a suit of armor to add a festive air and stringing medallions engraved with his own face along his windowsill.

Guests began filtering in (an hour late, but, given the sentimental circumstances, Verily decided to let their tardiness slide). Their entrance treated Verily to a review of his past fashion triumphs – a lavender cape, a Venetian mask (worn to get into the operatic spirit when his Music Hum class covered Don Giovanni), a sober burgundy velvet doublet. These partygoers had clearly embraced the spirit of the event – allowing Verily to reminisce about the sartorial selections defining his time thus far at Columbia. There were those, however, who seemed to take the theme in a spirit of mockery – Alias Alibi, of course, appeared dripping wet in an homage to Verily’s unwanted sojourn into one of the Low Plaza fountains. Deimos Diem appeared lugging an amplifier – a blatantly unsubtle reference to Verily’s sub-optimal trivia performance.

Some people were uncharacteristically forlorn as they entered, heartily clasping Verily’s hand and telling him they would miss him, wishing him well with long, sustained gazes. Verily was appropriately moved.

In lieu of gifts, he had asked each guest to prepare a few words in his honor – a favorite memory, a remark on his brilliance, a pithy, well placed quote. After attendees had milled around for a while, sampled the braised mutton, indulged in an old-fashioned or two, Verily began setting the mood for speechifying – beginning with soft trumpet music and lights dimmed to the point of tasteful darkness.

Always one to take a cue, Alias Alibi emerged from the pack of guests, clearing his throat. “It would be my honor to kick off today’s festivities with several thoughts that I think really capture our pal Verily.”

Pleasantly surprised by Alias’s eagerness, Verily inclined his head and raised a glass, mentally debating whether a hug or a sober handshake would be more appropriate at the conclusion of the remarks.

“Light,” Alias began dramatically, “travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until they speak.”

Giggles emitted from the assembled company. Verily himself chuckled. A roast to begin – a classic move indeed.

Alias continued, “Verily, as we know, does not struggle to dispense morsels of insight on a regular basis. He has confidence in spades, so much in fact, that were I tempted to kill myself, I would need only to climb up his ego and jump to his I.Q.”

The room exploded in laughter. Verily shrewdly observed that this situation was well on its way to being out of hand, and that a bit of celebration CPR was in order. Wrenching the amplifier out of Deimos Diem’s hand, Verily thundered “And now we should commence the karaoke portion of this evening!”

“Only goodbye-themed songs!” someone yelled out, “Goodbye to You!” “Good Riddance!” “Bye Bye Bye!” “So Long, Farewell!” came a chorus of suggestions. Clearly, these people had turned on him.

“WAIT!” screeched a voice from the back, “the writing at the bottom of these invitations says he’s only leaving for the summer? I missed a St. A’s party for this?”

Miraculously, at this announcement, even the most sympathetic of Verily’s attendees appeared to have successfully dried their tears.

Those in the room abruptly rounded on Verily, who tried his best to look the part of the suave host. “Friends, compatriots, any time away from this fair campus is to be lamented, and I thought you would all want the opportunity to wish me well on my travels under any circumstances.”

Verily was then forced to duck as a gravy-soaked piece of mutton sailed past his left ear and splattered onto the suit of armor. A torrent of victuals followed, from carefully roasted rosemary potatoes to crumbling slices of mulberry pie. Abandoning hope, Verily sprinted for the exit, calling over his shoulder “Adieu! Adieu! Adieu! Remember me!”


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