Home > Thirteen Reasons Why(11)

Thirteen Reasons Why(11)
Jay Asher

Antilly for introducing us.

Alex stuttered and Jessica leaned over, letting her fingers fall gracefully onto his table.

“Look, we saw you watching us,” she said.

“We’re both new to this town and we’d like to know who you were staring at. It’s important.”

Alex stammered. “I just…I heard…it’s just, I’m new here, too.”

I think Jessica and I both said something along the lines of, “Oh.” And then it was our turn to blush. Poor Alex just wanted to be a part of our conversation. So we let him. And I think we talked for at least another hour—

probably more. Just three people, happy that the first day of school wouldn’t be spent wandering the halls alone. Or eating lunch alone.

Getting lost alone.

Not that it matters, but where is this bus going? Does it leave our town for another one? Or does it loop endlessly through these streets?

Maybe I should’ve checked before getting on.

That afternoon at Monet’s was a relief for all three of us. How many nights had I fallen asleep terrified, thinking of that first day of school? Too many. And after Monet’s? None. Now, I was excited.

And just so you know, I never thought of Jessica or Alex as friends. Not even at the beginning when I would’ve loved two automatic friendships.

And I know they felt the same way, because we talked about it. We talked about our past friends and why those people had become our friends. We talked about what we were searching for in new friends at our new school.

But those first few weeks, until we each peeled away, Monet’s Garden was our safe haven. If one of us had a hard time fitting in or meeting people, we’d go to Monet’s.

Back in the garden, at the far table to the right.

I’m not sure who started it, but whoever had the most exhausting day would lay a hand in the center of the table and say, “Olly-olly-oxen-free.” The other two would lay their hands on top and lean in. Then we’d listen, sipping drinks with our free hands. Jessica and I always drank hot chocolate. Over time, Alex made his way through the entire menu.

I’ve only been to Monet’s a few times, but I think it’s on the street the bus is going down now.

Yes, we were cheesy. And I’m sorry if this episode’s making you sick. If it helps, it’s almost too sweet for me.

But Monet’s truly filled whatever void needed filling at the time. For all of us.

But don’t worry…it didn’t last.

I slide across the bench to the aisle, then stand up in the moving bus.

The first to drop out was Alex. We were friendly when we saw each other in the halls, but it never went beyond that.

At least, with me it didn’t.

Bracing my hands against the backrests, I make my way to the front of the shifting bus.

Now down to the two of us, Jessica and me, the whole thing changed pretty fast. The talks became chitchat and not much more.

“When’s the next stop?” I ask. I feel the words leave my throat, but they’re barely whispers above Hannah’s voice and the engine.

The driver looks at me in the rearview mirror.

Then Jessica stopped going, and though I went to Monet’s a few more times hoping one of them might wander in, eventually I stopped going, too.

Until…

“Only other people here are asleep,” the driver says. I watch her lips carefully to make sure I understand. “I can stop wherever you’d like.”

See, the cool thing about Jessica’s story is that so much of it happens in one spot, making life much easier for those of you following the stars.

The bus passes Monet’s.

“Here’s good,” I say.

Yes, I met Jessica for the first time in Ms. Antilly’s office. But we got to know each other at Monet’s.

I hold myself steady as the bus decelerates and pulls to the curb.

And we got to know Alex at Monet’s. And then…and then this happened.

The door wheezes open.

At school one day, Jessica walked up to me in the halls.

“We need to talk,” she said.

She didn’t say where or why, but I knew she meant Monet’s…and I thought I knew why.

I descend the stairs and step from the gutter up onto the curb.

I readjust the headphones and start walking back half a block.

When I got there, Jessica was sitting slumped in a chair, arms dangling by her sides like she’d been waiting a long time. And maybe she had. Maybe she hoped I would skip my last class to join her.

So I sat down and slid my hand into the middle of the table. “Olly-olly-oxen-free?”

She lifted one of her hands and slapped a paper on the table. Then she pushed it across and spun it around for me to read. But I didn’t need it spun around, because the first time I read that paper it was upside down on Jimmy’s desk: WHO’S HOT / WHO’S NOT.

I knew which side of the list I was on—according to Alex.

And my so-called opposite was sitting across from me.

At our safe haven, no less.

Mine…hers…and Alex’s.

“Who cares?” I told her. “It doesn’t mean anything.”

I swallow hard. When I read that list, I passed it down the aisle without a thought. At the time, it seemed kind of funny.

“Hannah,” she said, “I don’t care that he picked you over me.”

I knew exactly where that conversation was headed and I was not going to let her take us there.

And now? How do I see it now?

I should’ve grabbed every copy I could find and thrown them all away.

“He did not choose me over you, Jessica,” I said. “He chose me to get back at you and you know that. He knew my name would hurt you more than anyone else’s.”

She closed her eyes and said my name in almost a whisper.

“Hannah.”

Do you remember that, Jessica? Because I do.

When someone says your name like that, when they won’t even look you in the eyes, there is nothing more you can do or say. Their mind is made up.

“Hannah,” you said. “I know the rumors.”

“You can’t know rumors,” I said. And maybe I was being a little sensitive, but I had hoped—silly me—that there would be no more rumors when my family moved here.

That I had left the rumors and gossip behind me…for good.

“You can hear rumors,” I said, “but you can’t know them.”

Again, you said my name.

“Hannah.”

Yes, I knew the rumors. And I swore to you that I hadn’t seen Alex one time outside of school. But you wouldn’t believe me.

And why should you believe me? Why would anyone not believe a rumor that fits so nicely with an old rumor?

Huh, Justin? Why?

Jessica could have heard so many rumors about Alex and Hannah. But none of them were true.

For Jessica, it was easier to think of me as Bad Hannah than as the Hannah she got to know at Monet’s. It was easier to accept. Easier to understand.

For her, the rumors needed to be true.

I remember a bunch of guys joking with Alex in the locker room.

“Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, Baker’s man.” Then someone asked him, “Pat that muffin, Baker’s man?” and everyone knew what was being said.

When the row cleared out, only Alex and I remained. a tiny wrench of jealousy twisted up my insides. Ever since Kat’s going-away party, I couldn’t get Hannah out of my mind. But I couldn’t bring myself to ask if what they had said was true. Because if it was, I didn’t want to hear it.

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