Home > Thirteen Reasons Why(8)

Thirteen Reasons Why(8)
Jay Asher

They watched them step off the road and onto the wet grass, slipping and tumbling over each other.

I keep walking till I reach the gutter, pressing the toes of my shoes against the curb. I step up onto the grass and just stand there. A simple, basic step. I don’t slip, and I can’t help wondering, had Justin and Zach made it to Hannah’s front door, would she have fallen for Zach instead of Justin a few months later?

Would Justin have been wiped out of the picture?

Would the rumors never have started?

Would Hannah still be alive?

The day your list came out wasn’t too traumatic.

I survived. I knew it was a joke.

And the people I saw standing in the halls, huddled around whoever had a copy, they knew it was a joke, too. One big, fat, happy joke.

But what happens when someone says you have the best ass in the freshman class? Let me tell you, Alex, because you’ll never know. It gives people—some people—

the go-ahead to treat you like you’re nothing but that specific body part.

Need an example? Fine. B-3

on your maps. Blue Spot Liquor.

It’s nearby.

I have no idea why it’s called that, but it’s only a block or so away from my first house. I used to walk there any time I had a sweet tooth. Which means, yes, I went there every day.

Blue Spot has always looked grimy from the sidewalk, so I’ve never actually gone inside.

Ninety-five percent of the time, Blue Spot was empty.

Just me and the man behind the register.

I don’t think a lot of people know it’s even there because it’s tiny and squished between two other stores, both of which have been closed since we moved here. From the sidewalk, Blue Spot looks like a posting board for cigarette and alcohol ads. And inside?

Well, it looks about the same.

I walk along the sidewalk in front of Hannah’s old house.

A driveway climbs up a gentle slope before disappearing beneath a weathered wooden garage door.

Hanging over the front of the counter, a wire rack holds all the best candies. Well, they’re my favorites anyway.

And the moment I open the door, the man at the register rings me up–cha-ching– Even before I pick up a candy bar, because he knows I never leave without one.

Someone once described the man behind the counter as having the face of a walnut.

And he does! Probably from smoking so much, but having the name Wally probably doesn’t help.

Ever since she arrived, Hannah rode a blue bike to school. I can almost picture her now.

Right here.

Backpack on, coasting down the driveway. Her front wheel turns and she pedals past me on the sidewalk. I watch her ride down a long stretch of sidewalk, passing trees, parked cars, and houses. I stand and watch her image disappear.

Again.

Then I turn slowly and walk away.

Honestly, in all the times I’ve been to Blue Spot, I don’t think I’ve heard Wally utter a single word. I’m trying to remember a single “hello” or “hey” or even a friendly grunt. But the only sound I ever heard him utter was because of you, Alex.

What a pal.

Alex!

That’s right.

Yesterday, someone shoved him in the halls. Someone shoved Alex into me. But who?

That day, as usual, a bell jingled over the door as I walked in. Cha-ching! went the register. I picked out a candy bar from the rack on the counter, but I can’t tell you which one because I don’t remember.

I caught Alex to keep him from falling. I asked if he was okay, but he just ignored me, picked up his backpack, and hurried down the hall. Did I do something to piss him off, I wondered. I couldn’t think of anything.

If I wanted to, I could tell you the name of the person who walked in while I searched my backpack for money. I do remember. But he was just one of many jerks I’ve run into over the years.

I don’t know, maybe I should expose all of them. But as far as your story goes, Alex, his action—his horrible, disgusting action—was just an aftereffect of yours.

Plus, he’s got a whole tape all to himself…

I wince. What happened in that store because of Alex’s list?

No, I don’t want to know.

And I don’t want to see Alex.

Not tomorrow. Not the day after that. I don’t want to see him or Justin. Or fat-ass Jackass Jimmy. God, who else is involved in this?

He threw open the door to Blue Spot. “Hey, Wally!” he said. And he said it with such arrogance, which sounded so natural coming from his mouth. I could tell it wasn’t the first time he said it that way, acting like Wally was beneath him. “Oh, Hannah, hey,” he said. “I didn’t see you there.”

Did I mention I was standing at the counter, visible to anyone the moment they opened the door?

I acknowledged him with a tiny smile, found my money, and dropped it into Wally’s wrinkled hand. Wally, as far as I could tell, didn’t respond to him in any way. Not an eye catch or a twitch or a smile—

his usual greeting for me.

I follow the sidewalk around a corner, away from the residential streets, on my way to Blue Spot.

It’s amazing how a town can change so much in one corner. The houses behind me weren’t big or fancy. Very middle class. But they sit back-to-back with the part of town that’s been slowly falling apart for years.

“Hey Wally, guess what?”

His breath came from just over my shoulder.

My backpack was resting on the counter while I zipped it shut. Wally’s eyes were focused down, just beyond the edge of the counter, near my waist, and I knew what was coming.

A cupped hand smacked my ass. And then, he said it.

“Best Ass in the Freshman Class, Wally. Standing right here in your store!”

There’s more than a few guys I can picture doing that.

The sarcasm. The arrogance.

Did it hurt? No. But that doesn’t matter, does it?

Because the question is, did he have the right to do it?

And the answer, I hope, is obvious.

I knocked his hand away with a quick backhand swipe that every girl should master.

And that’s when Wally emerged from his shell.

That’s when Wally made a sound. His mouth stayed shut, and it was nothing more than a quick click of the tongue, but that little noise took me by surprise. Inside, I knew, Wally was a ball of rage.

And there it is. The neon sign of Blue Spot Liquor.

On this block, only two stores remain open: Blue Spot Liquor and Restless Video across the street. Blue Spot looks just as grimy as the last time I walked by it. Even the cigarette and alcohol ads look the same. Like wallpaper in the front window.

A brass bell jingles when I open the door. The same bell Hannah listened to whenever she came in for a candy fix.

Instead of letting it swing shut behind me, I hold the edge of the door and slowly push it shut, watching it ring the bell again.

“Can I help you?”

Without looking, I already know it’s not Wally.

But why am I disappointed?

I didn’t come to see Wally.

He asks again, a little louder, “Can I help you?”

I can’t bring myself to look toward the front counter. Not yet. I don’t want to imagine her standing there.

At the back of the store, behind a wall of see-through doors, are the refrigerated drinks. And even though I’m not thirsty, I go there. I open one of the doors and take an orange soda, the first plastic bottle I touch. Then I walk to the front of the store and pull out my wallet.

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