Home > Thirteen Reasons Why(9)

Thirteen Reasons Why(9)
Jay Asher

A wire rack loaded with candy bars hangs from the front counter. These are the ones Hannah liked.

My left eye begins to twitch.

“Is that all?” he asks.

I place the soda on the counter and look down, rubbing my eye. The pain begins somewhere above my eye, but it goes deeper.

Behind my eyebrow.

a pinching I’ve never felt before.

“There’s more behind you,” the clerk says. He must think I’m looking at the candy.

I grab a Butterfinger from the rack and place it next to my drink. I put a few dollars on the counter and slide them over to him.

Cha-ching!

He slides back a couple of coins and I notice a plastic nametag stuck to the register.

“Does he still work here?” I ask.

“Wally?” The clerk exhales through his nose. “Day shift.”

When I leave, the brass bell jingles.

I swung my backpack over my shoulder and probably whispered, “Excuse me,” but when I moved around him, I purposely avoided his eyes.

I had the door in sight, ready to leave, when he grabbed my wrist and spun me around.

He said my name, and when I looked into his eyes the joking was gone.

I yanked my arm, but his grip was tight.

Across the street, the neon sign of Restless Video flickers erratically.

I know who Hannah’s talking about now. I’ve seen his wrist-grabbing stunt before. It always makes me want to grab him by the shirt and push him until he lets the girl go.

But instead, every time, I pretend not to notice.

What could I do, anyway?

Then the jerk let go and put his hand on my shoulder.

“I’m only playing, Hannah.

Just relax.”

Okay, let’s dissect what just happened. I thought about it the entire walk home from Blue Spot, which is probably why I don’t remember which candy bar I bought that day.

I sit on the chipped curb

outside of Blue Spot, setting the orange soda next to me and balancing the Butterfinger on my knee. Not that I have an appetite for anything sweet.

So why did I buy it? Was it only because Hannah used to buy candy from the same rack? And why does that matter? I went to the first red star. And the second. I don’t need to go everywhere or do everything she says.

First his words—then his actions.

Statement number one: “I’m only playing, Hannah.”

Translation: Your ass is my play-toy. You might think you have final say over what happens to your ass, but you don’t. At least, not as long as “I’m only playing.”

I tap one end of the candy bar, making it teeter-totter on my knee.

Statement number two:

“Just relax.”

Translation:

Come on, Hannah, all I did was touch you with no indication that you wanted me to touch you.

If it’ll make you feel better, go ahead, you can touch me wherever you’d like.

Now let’s talk about his actions, shall we?

Action number one:

Grabbing my ass.

Interpretation: Let me back up and say that this guy had never grabbed my ass before.

So why now? My pants weren’t anything special.

They weren’t overly tight.

Sure, they were slung a little low and he probably got a hip shot, but he didn’t grab my hips. He grabbed my ass.

I’m starting to understand.

I’m starting to see what Hannah means. And that opens up a black hole in the pit of my stomach.

Best Lips. That was another category on the list.

Alex, am I saying your list gave him permission to grab

my ass? No. I’m saying it gave him an excuse. And an excuse was all this guy needed.

It wasn’t till that list came out that I even noticed Angela Romero’s lips. But after that, I became fascinated by them.

When I watched her give speeches during class, I had no idea what words came out of her mouth. I just watched those lips move up and down.

Mesmerized when she said things like “slippery slope,” which, behind her lips, exposed the underside of her tongue.

Action number two: He grabbed my wrist then put his hand on my shoulder.

You know, I’m not even going to interpret this. I’m just going to tell you why it pissed me off. I’ve had my butt grabbed before—no big deal—but this time it was grabbed because someone else wrote my name on a list.

And when this guy saw me upset, did he apologize? No.

Instead, he got aggressive.

Then, in the most condescending way, he told me to relax. Then he put his hand on my shoulder, as if by touching me he’d somehow comfort me.

Here’s a tip. If you touch a girl, even as a joke, and she pushes you off, leave…her…

alone. Don’t touch her.

Anywhere! Just stop. Your touch does nothing but sicken her.

The rest of Angela was nowhere near as mesmerizing as her lips. Not bad, just not mesmerizing.

Then, last summer at a friend’s house, we played spin the bottle after a bunch of us admitted we were spin-the-bottle virgins. And I refused to let the game end till my spin landed on Angela. Or till her spin landed on me. When that happened, I pressed my lips, agonizingly slowly and precisely, against hers.

There are some sick and twisted people out there, Alex

—and maybe I’m one of them —but the point is, when you hold people up for ridicule, you have to take responsibility when other people act on it.

Later on, Angela and I made out on her back porch. I just couldn’t get enough of those lips.

All because of a list.

Actually, that’s not right.

You didn’t hold me up for ridicule, did you? My name was in the Hot column. You wrote Jessica’s name in the Not column. You held Jessica up for ridicule. And that’s where our snowball picks up speed.

Jessica, my dear…you’re next.

I pop open the Walkman and pull out the first tape.

In the smallest pocket of my backpack, I find the next tape.

The one with a blue number three written in the corner. I drop that into the deck and snap the door shut.

CASSETTE 2: SIDE A

Before Hannah’s voice kicks in, there’s a pause.

Step-by-step. That’s how we’ll get through this. One foot in front of the other.

Across the street, behind the buildings, the sun continues its fall. All the streetlamps are on, up and down the block. I grab the Butterfinger from my knee, the soda from beside me, and stand up.

We’ve already finished one tape—both sides—so stick with me. Things get better, or worse, depending on your point of view.

There’s a trash can, an oil drum spray-painted blue, near the front door of Blue Spot Liquor. I drop the unwrapped Butterfinger into it, unable to imagine my stomach holding down anything solid, and walk away.

I know it may sound like it, but I wasn’t completely alone the beginning of my freshman year. Two other freshmen, both featured here on Hannah Baker’s Greatest Hits, were also new to the area. Alex Standall and Jessica Davis. And while we never became close friends, we did rely on each other those first few weeks of school.

I twist the top off my orange soda. It hisses and I take a sip.

With one week left of summer vacation, Ms. Antilly called me at home to see if I’d meet her at school. A little new-student orientation, she said.

In case you don’t remember, Ms. Antilly was the guidance counselor for students with last names beginning a through G. Later that year, she moved to another school district.

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