Home > Thirteen Reasons Why(7)

Thirteen Reasons Why(7)
Jay Asher

She had us watch one of her famously dull documentaries.

What it was on, I don’t recall.

But the narrator did have a thick British accent. And I remember picking at an old piece of tape stuck on my desk to keep from falling asleep. To me, the narrator’s voice was nothing more than background noise.

Well, the narrator’s voice…

and the whispers.

When I looked up, the whispers stopped. Any eyes looking at me turned away.

But I saw that paper getting passed around. A single sheet making its way up and down the aisles. Eventually, it made its way to the desk behind me —to Jimmy Long’s desk—

which groaned as his body weight shifted.

Any of you who were in class that morning, tell me:

Jimmy was taking a sneaky-peek over the back of my chair, wasn’t he? That’s all I could picture as he whispered, “You bet it is.”

I grip my knees tighter.

Jackass Jimmy.

Someone whispered, “You idiot, Jackass.”

I turned around, but I was not in a whispering mood.

“You bet what is?”

Jimmy, who’ll drink up the attention any girl gives him, gave a halfsmile and glanced down at the paper on his desk. Again came the “idiot”

whisper—this time repeated across the room as if no one wanted me in on the joke.

When I first saw that list, given to me in history class, there were a few names I didn’t recognize. A few new students I hadn’t met yet or wasn’t sure I had their names right. But Hannah, I knew her name. And I laughed when I saw it. She was building quite a reputation in a short amount of time.

Only now do I realize, that her reputation started in Justin Foley’s imagination.

I tilted my head so I could read the upside-down title of the paper: FRESHMAN CLASS—

WHO’S HOT / WHO’S NOT.

Jimmy’s desk groaned again as he sat back, and I knew Ms. Strumm was coming, but I had to find my name. I didn’t care why I was on the list. At the time, I don’t think I even cared which side of the list I was on. There’s just something about having everyone agree on something —something about you—that opens a cage of butterflies in your stomach. And as Ms.

Strumm walked up the aisle, ready to grab that list before I found my name, the butterflies went berserk.

Where is my name? Where?

Got it!

Later that day, passing Hannah in the halls, I took a look back as she walked by.

And I had to agree. She definitely belonged in that category.

Ms. Strumm snatched the list away and I turned back to the front of the room. After a few minutes, gaining the nerve to look, I snuck a peek to the other side of the room.

As expected, Jessica Davis looked pissed.

Why? Because right next to my name, but in the other column, was hers.

Her pencil tapped against her notebook at Morse code–

speed and her face was burning red.

My only thought? Thank God I don’t know Morse code.

Truth is, Jessica Davis is so much prettier than I am.

Write up a list of every body part and you’ll have a row of checkmarks the whole way down for each time her body beats mine.

I disagree, Hannah. All the way down.

Everyone knows Worst Ass in the Freshman Class was a lie. You can’t even consider it stretching the truth. But I’m sure no one cared why Jessica ended up on that side of your list, Alex.

Well, no one except you…

and me…and Jessica makes three.

And a lot more than that, I’m guessing, are about to find out.

Maybe some people think you were right in choosing me. I don’t think so. But let me put it this way, I don’t think my ass—as you call it—

was the deciding factor. I think the deciding factor…

was revenge.

I tear the blades of grass out of the gutter and stand up to leave. As I start walking, I rub the blades between my fingers till they fall away.

But this tape is not about your motivation, Alex.

Though that is coming up.

This tape is about how people change when they see your name on a stupid list. This tape is about…

A pause in her speech. I reach into my jacket and turn the volume up.

She’s uncrinkling a piece of paper.

Smoothing it out.

Okay. I just looked over every name—every story—

that completes these tapes.

And guess what. Every single event documented here may never have happened had you, Alex, not written my name on that list. It’s that simple.

You needed a name to put down opposite Jessica’s. And since everyone at school already had a perverted image of me after Justin’s little number, I was the perfect choice, wasn’t I?

And the snowball keeps a-rollin’. Thanks, Justin.

Alex’s list was a joke. a bad one, true. But he had no idea it would affect her like this. This isn’t fair.

And what about me? What did I do? How will Hannah say that I scarred her?

Because I have no idea. And after people hear about it, what are they going to think when they see me? Some of them, at least two of them, already know why I’m on here.

Do they see me differently now?

No. They can’t. Because my name does not belong with theirs. I should not be on this list I’m sure of it.

I did nothing wrong!

So to back up a bit, this tape isn’t about why you did what you did, Alex. It’s about the repercussions of what you did. More specifically, it’s about the repercussions to me. It’s about those things you didn’t plan—things you couldn’t plan.

God. I don’t believe it.

The first red star. Hannah’s old house. There it is.

But I don’t believe it.

This house was my destination one other time.

After a party. An elderly couple lives there now. And one night, about a month ago, the husband was driving his car a few blocks away, talking to his wife on the phone when he hit another car.

I shut my eyes and shake my head against the memory.

I don’t want to see it. But I can’t help it. The man was hysterical. Crying. “I need to call her! I need to call my wife!”

His phone had disappeared somewhere in the crash. We tried using mine to call her back, but his wife’s phone kept ringing. She was confused, too afraid to click over. She wanted to stay on the line, the line her husband had called her on.

She had a bad heart, he said.

She needed to know he was okay.

I called the police, using my phone, and told the man I would continue trying to reach his wife. But he told me I needed to tell her. She needed to know he was okay.

Their house wasn’t far.

A tiny crowd had gathered, some of them taking care of the person in the other car. He was from our school. a senior. And he was in much worse shape than the old man. I shouted for a few of them to wait with my guy till an ambulance arrived. Then I left, racing toward his house to calm his wife. But I didn’t know I was also racing toward a house Hannah once lived in.

This house.

But this time, I walk. Like Justin and Zach, I walk down the center of the road toward East Floral Canyon where two streets meet like an upside-down T, just as Hannah described it.

The curtains in the bay window are shut for the night.

But the summer before our freshman year, Hannah stood there with Kat. The two of them looked out, to where I am now, and they watched two boys walk up the street.

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