Home > Thirteen Reasons Why(10)

Thirteen Reasons Why(10)
Jay Asher

I remember she was replaced by Mr. Porter. It was supposed to be a temporary position, but he’s still at it.

An English teacher as well as a guidance counselor.

Which is very unfortunate, as it turns out. But that is for a later tape.

An icy sweat breaks across my forehead. Mr. Porter?

Does he have something to do with this?

The world around me tilts and spins. I grab onto the trunk of a skinny sidewalk tree.

If she had told me the real purpose of our get-together was to introduce me to another new student, I wouldn’t have gone. I mean, what if we had nothing in common? Or what if I thought we had nothing in common but she, the other student, thought we did? Or what if the opposite happened and I thought we could become friends but she didn’t?

So many things could have gone so horribly wrong.

I press my forehead against the smooth bark and try to calm my breathing.

But the other girl was Jessica Davis, and she didn’t want to be there any more than I did.

We both expected Ms.

Antilly to spew a bunch of psychobabble at us. What it means—what it takes—to be a great student. How this school is made up of the best and the brightest in the state.

How everyone is given the same opportunities to succeed if they’re willing to try.

But instead, she gave each of us a buddy.

I close my eyes. I don’t want to see it, but it’s so clear.

When rumors of Hannah’s unexplained absence began spreading through school, Mr. Porter asked our class why he kept hearing her name mentioned in the halls. He looked nervous. Almost sick. Like he knew the answer but wanted someone to convince him otherwise.

Then a girl whispered, “Someone saw an ambulance leaving her house.”

The moment Ms. Antilly told us why we were there, Jessica and I turned to each other.

Her lips parted as if she wanted to say something. But what could she say with me sitting right there? She felt blindsided. Confused. Lied to.

I know that’s how she felt because I felt the same way.

And I’ll never forget Ms.

Antilly’s reaction. Two short, drawn-out words. “Or…not.”

I squeeze my eyes tight, trying hard to remember that day as clearly as possible.

Was it pain on Mr. Porter’s face? Or was it fear? He just stood there, staring at Hannah’s desk. Through her desk. And no one said a word, but we looked around.

At each other.

Then he left. Mr. Porter walked out of class and didn’t come back for a week.

Why? Did he know? Did he know because of something he’d done?

And here, to the best of my memory, is what we said.

Me: I’m sorry, Ms. Antilly. I just didn’t think that’s why you called me in here.

Jessica: Me, neither. I wouldn’t have come. I mean, I’m sure Hillary and I have things in common, and I’m sure she’s a great person, but…

Me: It’s Hannah.

Jessica:

I called you Hillary, didn’t I? Sorry.

Me: It’s okay. I just thought you should know my name if we’re going to be such fabulous friends.

And then the three of us laughed. Jessica and I had very similar laughs, which made us laugh even harder.

Ms. Antilly’s laugh wasn’t quite as heartfelt…more of a nervous laugh…but still a laugh. She claimed to have never tried matching up friends before, and was doubtful she ever would again.

But guess what. After the meeting, Jessica and I did hang out.

Very sneaky, Ms. Antilly.

Veeeeeery sneaky.

We left campus and, at first, the conversation felt awkward. But it was nice having someone to talk to other than my parents.

A city bus pulls up to the curb in front of me. Silver with blue stripes.

We walked past my turnoff, but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to stop our conversation, but I also didn’t want to invite her over because we really didn’t know each other yet. So we continued walking until we reached downtown. I found out later that she did the same thing, walked past the street where she lived in order to keep talking with me.

So where did we go? E-7 on your map. Monet’s Garden Café & Coffeehouse.

The bus door wheezes open.

Neither of us were coffee drinkers, but it seemed like a nice place to chat.

Through the foggy windows I see that almost all the seats are empty.

We both got hot chocolate.

She ordered it thinking it would be funny. But me? I always order hot chocolate.

I’ve never ridden a city bus.

Never had a reason to. But it’s getting darker and colder every minute.

It doesn’t cost anything to ride the bus at night, so I hop on. I move right by the driver without either of us saying a word to each other. She doesn’t even look at me.

I make my way down the center aisle, buttoning my jacket against the cold, giving each button more attention than required. Any excuse to avert my eyes from the other passengers. I know how I must look to them. Confused.

Guilty. In the process of being crushed.

I choose a bench that, as long as no one else boards, is situated between three or four empty seats all around. The blue vinyl cushion is ripped down the middle, with the yellow stuffing inside about to burst out. I slide over to the window.

The glass is cold, but resting my head against it helps relax

me.

I honestly don’t remember much of what we said that afternoon. Do you, Jessica?

Because when I close my eyes, everything happens in a kind of montage. Laughing.

Trying hard not to spill our drinks. Waving our hands while we talk.

I close my eyes. The glass cools one side of my overheated face. I don’t care where this bus is going. I’ll ride it for hours if I’m allowed to. I’ll just sit here and listen to the tapes. And maybe, without trying, I’ll fall asleep.

Then, at one point, you lean across the table. “I think that guy’s checking you out,” you whispered.

I knew exactly who you were talking about because I’d been watching him, as well. But he wasn’t checking me out.

“He’s checking you out,” I said.

In a contest of who’s-got-the-biggest-balls, all of you listening should know that Jessica wins.

“Excuse me,” she said to Alex, in case you haven’t figured out the name of the mystery man, “but which one of us are you checking out?”

And a few months later, after Hannah and Justin Foley break up, after the rumors begin, Alex writes a list.

Who’s hot. Who’s not. But there, at Monet’s, no one knew where that meeting would lead.

I want to push Stop on the Walkman and rewind their whole conversation.

To rewind into the past and warn them. Or prevent them from even meeting.

But I can’t. You can’t rewrite the past.

Alex blushed. I’m talking an all-the-blood-in-his-body-rushing-up-to-his-face kind of blushed. And when he opened his mouth to deny it, Jessica cut him off.

“Don’t lie. Which one of us were you checking out?”

Through the frosty glass, downtown’s streetlamps and neon lights slide by. Most of the shops are closed for the night. But the restaurants and bars remain open.

At that moment I would have paid dearly for Jessica’s friendship. She was the most outgoing, honest, tell-it-like-it-is girl I’d ever met.

Silently, I thanked Ms.

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