Home > Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why
Jay Asher

“Sir?” she repeats. “How soon do you want it to get there?”

I rub two fingers, hard, over my left eyebrow.

The throbbing has become intense. “It doesn’t matter,” I say.

The clerk takes the package.

The same shoebox that sat on my porch less than twenty-four hours ago; rewrapped in a brown paper bag, sealed with clear packing tape, exactly as I had received it.

But now addressed with a new name. The next name on Hannah Baker’s list.

“Baker’s dozen,” I mumble.

Then I feel disgusted for even noticing it.

“Excuse me?”

I shake my head. “How much is it?”

She places the box on a rubber pad, then punches a sequence on her keypad.

I set my cup of gas-station coffee on the counter and glance at the screen. I pull a few bills from my wallet, dig some coins out of my pocket, and place my money on the counter.

“I don’t think the coffee’s kicked in yet,” she says.

“You’re missing a dollar.”

I hand over the extra dollar, then rub the sleep from my eyes. The coffee’s lukewarm when I take a sip, making it harder to gulp down. But I need to wake up somehow.

Or maybe not. Maybe it’s best to get through the day half-asleep. Maybe that’s the only way to get through today.

“It should arrive at this address tomorrow,” she says.

“Maybe the day after tomorrow.” Then she drops the box into a cart behind her.

I should have waited till after school. I should have given Jenny one final day of peace.

Though she doesn’t deserve it.

When she gets home tomorrow, or the next day, she’ll find a package on her doorstep. Or if her mom or dad or someone else gets there first, maybe she’ll find it on her bed. And she’ll be excited. I was excited. a package with no return address? Did they forget, or was it intentional? Maybe from a secret admirer?

“Do you want your receipt?” the clerk asks.

I shake my head.

A small printer clicks one out anyway. I watch her tear the slip across the serrated plastic and drop it into a wastebasket.

There’s only one post office in town. I wonder if the same clerk helped the other people on the list, those who got this package before me. Did they keep their receipts as sick souvenirs? Tuck them in their underwear drawers? Pin them up on corkboards?

I almost ask for my receipt back. I almost say, “I’m sorry, can I have it after all?”

As a reminder.

But if I wanted a reminder, I could’ve made copies of the tapes or saved the map. But I never want to hear those tapes again, though her voice will never leave my head. And the houses, the streets, and the high school will always be there to remind me.

It’s out of my control now.

The package is on its way. I leave the post office without the receipt.

Deep behind my left eyebrow, my head is still pounding.

Every swallow tastes sour, and the closer I get to school, the closer I come to collapsing.

I want to collapse. I want to fall on the sidewalk right there and drag myself into the ivy. Because just beyond the ivy the sidewalk curves, following the outside of the school parking lot. It cuts through the front lawn and into the main building. It leads through the front doors and turns into a hallway, which meanders between rows of lockers and classrooms on both sides, finally entering the always-open door to first period.

At the front of the room, facing the students, will be the desk of Mr. Porter. He’ll be the last to receive a package with no return address. And in the middle of the room, one desk to the left, will be the desk of Hannah Baker.

Empty.

YESTERDAY

ONE HOUR AFTER SCHOOl A shoebox-sized package is propped against the front door at an angle. Our front door has a tiny slot to shove mail through, but anything thicker than a bar of soap gets left outside.

A hurried scribble on the wrapping addresses the package to Clay Jensen, so I pick it up and head inside.

I take the package into the kitchen and set it on the counter. I slide open the junk drawer and pull out a pair of scissors. Then I run a scissor blade around the package and lift off its top. Inside the shoebox is a rolled-up tube of bubble-wrap. I unroll that and discover seven loose audiotapes.

Each tape has a dark blue number painted in the upper right-hand corner, possibly with nail polish. Each side has its own number. One and two on the first tape, three and four on the next, five and six, and so on. The last tape has a thirteen on one side, but nothing on the back.

Who would send me a shoebox full of audiotapes?

No one listens to tapes anymore. Do I even have a way to play them?

The garage! The stereo on the workbench. My dad bought it at a yard sale for almost nothing. It’s old, so he doesn’t care if it gets coated with sawdust or splattered with paint. And best of all, it plays tapes.

I drag a stool in front of the workbench, drop my backpack to the floor, then sit down. I press Eject on the player. A plastic door eases open and I slide in the first tape.

CASSETTE 1: SIDE A

Hello, boys and girls.

Hannah Baker here. Live and in stereo.

I don’t believe it.

No return engagements. No encore.

And this time, absolutely no requests.

No, I can’t believe it.

Hannah Baker killed herself.

I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.

What? No!

I’m not saying which tape brings you into the story. But fear not, if you received this lovely little box, your name will pop up…I promise.

Now, why would a dead girl lie?

Hey! That sounds like a joke. Why would a dead girl lie? Answer: Because she can’t stand up.

Is this some kind of twisted suicide note?

Go ahead. Laugh.

Oh well. I thought it was funny.

Before Hannah died, she recorded a bunch of tapes.

Why?

The rules are pretty simple.

There are only two. Rule number one: You listen.

Number two: You pass it on.

Hopefully, neither one will be easy for you.

“What’s that you’re playing?”

“Mom!”

I scramble for the stereo, hitting several buttons all at once.

“Mom, you scared me,” I say.

“It’s nothing.

a school project.”

My go-to answer for anything. Staying out late?

School project. Need extra money? School project. And now, the tapes of a girl. A girl who, two weeks ago, swallowed a handful of pills.

School project.

“Can I listen?” she asks.

“It’s not mine,” I say I scrape the toe of my shoe against the concrete floor.

“I’m helping a friend. It’s for history. It’s boring.”

“Well, that’s nice of you,” she says. She leans over my shoulder and lifts a dusty rag, one of my old cloth diapers, to remove a tape measure hidden underneath. Then she kisses my forehead. “I’ll leave you in peace.”

I wait till the door clicks shut, then I place a finger over the Play button. My fingers, my hands, my arms, my neck, everything feels hollow. Not enough strength to press a single button on a stereo.

I pick up the cloth diaper and drape it over the shoebox

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