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Thirteen Reasons Why

Jay Asher

TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY A NOVEL BY JAY ASHER

Thirteen Reasons Why RAZORBILL Pu !ishe" y the Pen#uin $rou% Pen#uin Youn# Rea"ers $rou% 3&' Hu"son Street( Ne) Yor*( Ne) Yor* 1++1&( ,SA Pen#uin $rou% -,SA. In/0( 31' Hu"son Street( Ne) Yor*( Ne) Yor* 1++1&( ,SA Pen#uin $rou% -2ana"a.( 3+ E#!inton A4enue East( Suite 1++( Toronto( Ontario( 2ana"a 5&P 6Y3 -a "i4ision o7 Pearson Pen#uin 2ana"a In/0. Pen#uin Boo*s Lt"( 8+ Stran"( Lon"on W26R +RL( En#!an" Pen#uin Ire!an"( 6' St Ste%hen9s $reen( :u !in 6( Ire!an" -a "i4ision o7 Pen#uin Boo*s Lt". Pen#uin $rou% -Austra!ia.( 6'+ 2a; er)e!! Roa"( 2a; er)e!!( Vi/toria 316&( Austra!ia -a "i4ision o7 Pearson Austra!ia $rou% Pty Lt". Pen#uin Boo*s In"ia P4t Lt"( 11 2o;;unity 2entre( Pan/hshee! Par*( Ne) :e!hi < 11+ +11( In"ia Pen#uin $rou% -NZ.( =1 A%o!!o :ri4e( 5airan#i Bay( Au/*!an" 1311( Ne) Zea!an" -a "i4ision o7 Pearson Ne) Zea!an" Lt". Pen#uin Boo*s -South A7ri/a. -Pty. Lt"( 6& Stur"ee A4enue( Rose an*( Johannes ur# 613=( South A7ri/a Pen#uin Boo*s Lt"( Re#istere" O77i/es> 8+ Stran"( Lon"on W26R +RL( En#!an" ISBN> 1?&63'?='11?@ 2o%yri#ht 6++1 A Jay Asher A!! ri#hts reser4e" Li rary o7 2on#ress 2ata!o#in#?in?Pu !i/ation :ata is a4ai!a !e The s/annin#( u%!oa"in#( an" "istri ution o7 this oo* 4ia the Internet or 4ia any other ;eans )ithout the %er;ission o7 the %u !isher is i!!e#a! an" %unisha !e y !a)0 P!ease %ur/hase on!y authoriBe" e!e/troni/ e"itions( an" "o not %arti/i%ate in or en/oura#e e!e/troni/ %ira/y o7 /o%yri#hte" ;ateria!s0 Your su%%ort o7 the author9s ri#hts is a%%re/iate"0 The %u !isher "oes not ha4e any /ontro! o4er an" "oes not assu;e any res%onsi i!ity 7or author or thir"?%arty We sites or their /ontent0

Cor Joan 5arie 2ONTENTS YESTER:AY 2ASSETTE 1> SI:E A 2ASSETTE 1> SI:E B 2ASSETTE 6> SI:E A 2ASSETTE 6> SI:E B 2ASSETTE 3> SI:E A 2ASSETTE 3> SI:E B 2ASSETTE &> SI:E A 2ASSETTE &> SI:E B 2ASSETTE '> SI:E A 2ASSETTE '> SI:E B 2ASSETTE => SI:E A 2ASSETTE => SI:E B 2ASSETTE 1> SI:E A 2ASSETTE 1> SI:E B THE NE@T :AY 13 INSPIRATIONS DSirEF she re%eats0 DHo) soon "o you )ant it to #et thereEF I ru t)o 7in#ers( har"( o4er ;y !e7t eye ro)0 The thro in# has e/o;e intense0 DIt "oesn9t ;atter(F I say0

The /!er* ta*es the %a/*a#e0 The sa;e shoe oG that sat on ;y %or/h !ess than t)enty?7our hours a#oH re)ra%%e" in a ro)n %a%er a#( sea!e" )ith /!ear %a/*in# ta%e( eGa/t!y as I ha" re/ei4e" it0 But no) a""resse" )ith a ne) na;e0 The neGt na;e on Hannah Ba*er9s !ist0

DBa*er9s "oBen(F I ;u; !e0 Then I 7ee! "is#uste" 7or e4en noti/in# it0 DEG/use ;eEF I sha*e ;y hea"0 DHo) ;u/h is itEF She %!a/es the oG on a ru er %a"( then %un/hes a seIuen/e on her *ey%a"0 I set ;y /u% o7 #as?station /o77ee on the /ounter an" #!an/e at the s/reen0 I %u!! a 7e) i!!s 7ro; ;y

)a!!et( "i# so;e /oins out o7 ;y %o/*et( an" %!a/e ;y ;oney on the /ounter0 DI "on9t thin* the /o77ee9s *i/*e" in yet(F she says0 DYou9re ;issin# a "o!!ar0F I han" o4er the eGtra "o!!ar( then ru the s!ee% 7ro; ;y eyes0 The /o77ee9s !u*e)ar; )hen I ta*e a si%(

;a*in# it har"er to #u!% "o)n0 But I nee" to )a*e u% so;eho)0 Or ;ay e not0 5ay e it9s est to #et throu#h the "ay ha!7?as!ee%0 5ay e that9s the on!y )ay to #et throu#h to"ay0 DIt shou!" arri4e at this a""ress to;orro)(F she says0 D5ay e the "ay a7ter to;orro)0F Then she "ro%s the oG into a /art ehin" her0 I shou!" ha4e )aite" ti!! a7ter s/hoo!0 I shou!" ha4e #i4en Jenny one 7ina! "ay o7 %ea/e0 Thou#h she "oesn9t "eser4e it0 When she #ets ho;e to;orro)( or the neGt "ay( she9!! 7in" a %a/*a#e on her "oorste%0 Or i7 her ;o; or "a" or so;eone e!se #ets there 7irst( ;ay e she9!! 7in" it on her e"0 An" she9!! e eG/ite"0 I )as eG/ite"0 A %a/*a#e )ith no return a""ressE :i" they 7or#et( or )as it intentiona!E 5ay e 7ro; a se/ret a";irerE D:o you )ant your re/ei%tEF the /!er* as*s0 I sha*e ;y hea"0 A s;a!! %rinter /!i/*s one out any)ay0 I )at/h her tear the s!i% a/ross the serrate" %!asti/ an" "ro% it

into a )aste as*et0 There9s on!y one %ost o77i/e in to)n0 I )on"er i7 the sa;e /!er* he!%e" the other %eo%!e on the !ist( those )ho #ot this %a/*a#e e7ore ;e0 :i" they *ee% their re/ei%ts as si/* sou4enirsE Tu/* the; in their un"er)ear "ra)ersE Pin the; u% on /or* oar"sE I a!;ost as* 7or ;y re/ei%t a/*0 I a!;ost say( DI9; sorry( /an I ha4e it a7ter a!!EF As a re;in"er0 But i7 I )ante" a re;in"er( I /ou!"94e ;a"e /o%ies o7 the ta%es or sa4e" the ;a%0 But I ne4er )ant to

hear those ta%es a#ain( thou#h her 4oi/e )i!! ne4er !ea4e ;y hea"0 An" the houses( the streets( an" the hi#h s/hoo! )i!! a!)ays e there to re;in" ;e0 It9s out o7 ;y /ontro! no)0 The %a/*a#e is on its )ay0 I !ea4e the %ost o77i/e )ithout the re/ei%t0 :ee% ehin" ;y !e7t eye ro)( ;y hea" is sti!! %oun"in#0 E4ery s)a!!o) tastes sour( an" the /!oser I #et to s/hoo!( the /!oser I /o;e to /o!!a%sin#0 I )ant to /o!!a%se0 I )ant to 7a!! on the si"e)a!* ri#ht there an" "ra# ;yse!7 into the i4y0 Be/ause Just eyon" the i4y the si"e)a!* /ur4es( 7o!!o)in# the outsi"e o7 the s/hoo! %ar*in# !ot0 It /uts throu#h the 7ront !a)n an" into the ;ain ui!"in#0 It !ea"s throu#h the 7ront "oors an" turns into a ha!!)ay( )hi/h ;ean"ers et)een ro)s o7 !o/*ers an" /!assroo;s on oth si"es( 7ina!!y enterin# the a!)ays?o%en "oor to 7irst %erio"0 At the 7ront o7 the roo;( 7a/in# the stu"ents( )i!! e the "es* o7 5r0 Porter0 He9!! e the !ast to re/ei4e a %a/*a#e )ith no return a""ress0 An" in the ;i""!e o7 the roo;( one "es* to the !e7t( )i!! e the "es* o7 Hannah Ba*er0 E;%ty0 YESTER:AY ONE HO,R ACTER S2HOOL A shoe oG?siBe" %a/*a#e is %ro%%e" a#ainst the 7ront "oor at an an#!e0 Our 7ront "oor has a tiny s!ot to sho4e ;ai! throu#h( ut anythin# thi/*er than a ar o7 soa% #ets !e7t outsi"e0 A hurrie" s/ri !e on the )ra%%in# a""resses the %a/*a#e to 2!ay Jensen( so I %i/* it u% an" hea" insi"e0 I ta*e the %a/*a#e into the *it/hen an" set it on the /ounter0 I s!i"e o%en the Jun* "ra)er an" %u!! out a %air o7 s/issors0 Then I run a s/issor !a"e aroun" the %a/*a#e an" !i7t o77 its to%0 Insi"e the shoe oG is a ro!!e"?u% tu e o7 u !e?)ra%0 I unro!! that an" "is/o4er se4en !oose au"iota%es0 Ea/h ta%e has a "ar* !ue nu; er %ainte" in the u%%er ri#ht?han" /orner( %ossi !y )ith nai! %o!ish0 Ea/h si"e has its o)n nu; er0 One an" t)o on the 7irst ta%e( three an" 7our on the neGt( 7i4e an" siG( an" so on0 The !ast ta%e has a thirteen on one si"e( ut nothin# on the a/*0 Who )ou!" sen" ;e a shoe oG 7u!! o7 au"iota%esE No one !istens to ta%es any;ore0 :o I e4en ha4e a )ay to %!ay the;E The #ara#eK The stereo on the )or* en/h0 5y "a" ou#ht it at a yar" sa!e 7or a!;ost nothin#0 It9s o!"( so he "oesn9t /are i7 it #ets /oate" )ith sa)"ust or s%!attere" )ith %aint0 An" est o7 a!!( it %!ays ta%es0 I "ra# a stoo! in 7ront o7 the )or* en/h( "ro% ;y a/*%a/* to the 7!oor( then sit "o)n0 I %ress EJe/t on the %!ayer0 A %!asti/ "oor eases o%en an" I s!i"e in the 7irst ta%e0

2ASSETTE 1> SI:E A He!!o( oys an" #ir!s0 Hannah Ba*er here0 Li4e an" in stereo0 I "on9t e!ie4e it0 No return en#a#e;ents0 No en/ore0 An" this ti;e( a so!ute!y no reIuests0 No( I /an9t e!ie4e it0 Hannah Ba*er *i!!e" herse!70

I ho%e you9re rea"y( e/ause I9; a out to te!! you the story o7 ;y !i7e0 5ore s%e/i7i/a!!y( )hy ;y !i7e en"e"0 An" i7 you9re !istenin# to these ta%es( you9re one o7 the reasons )hy0 WhatE NoK I9; not sayin# )hi/h ta%e rin#s you into the story0 But 7ear not( i7 you re/ei4e" this !o4e!y !itt!e oG( your na;e )i!! %o% u%LI %ro;ise0

No)( )hy )ou!" a "ea" #ir! !ieE HeyK That soun"s !i*e a Jo*e0 Why )ou!" a "ea" #ir! !ieE Ans)er> Be/ause she /an9t stan" u%0 Is this so;e *in" o7 t)iste" sui/i"e noteE $o ahea"0 Lau#h0 Oh )e!!0 I thou#ht it )as 7unny0 Be7ore Hannah "ie"( she re/or"e" a un/h o7 ta%es0 WhyE The ru!es are %retty si;%!e0 There are on!y t)o0 Ru!e nu; er one> You !isten0 Nu; er t)o> You %ass it

on0 Ho%e7u!!y( neither one )i!! e easy 7or you0 DWhat9s that you9re %!ayin#EF D5o;KF I s/ra; !e 7or the stereo( hittin# se4era! uttons a!! at on/e0

D5o;( you s/are" ;e(F I say0 DIt9s nothin#0 A s/hoo! %roJe/t0F 5y #o?to ans)er 7or anythin#0 Stayin# out !ateE S/hoo! %roJe/t0 Nee" eGtra ;oneyE S/hoo! %roJe/t0

An" no)( the ta%es o7 a #ir!0 A #ir! )ho( t)o )ee*s a#o( s)a!!o)e" a han"7u! o7 %i!!s0 S/hoo! %roJe/t0 D2an I !istenEF she as*s0

DIt9s not ;ine(F I say I s/ra%e the toe o7 ;y shoe a#ainst the /on/rete 7!oor0 DI9; he!%in# a 7rien"0 It9s 7or

history0 It9s orin#0F DWe!!( that9s ni/e o7 you(F she says0 She !eans o4er ;y shou!"er an" !i7ts a "usty ra#( one o7 ;y o!" /!oth

"ia%ers( to re;o4e a ta%e ;easure hi""en un"erneath0 Then she *isses ;y 7orehea"0 DI9!! !ea4e you in %ea/e0F I )ait ti!! the "oor /!i/*s shut( then I %!a/e a 7in#er o4er the P!ay utton0 5y 7in#ers( ;y han"s( ;y ar;s(

;y ne/*( e4erythin# 7ee!s ho!!o)0 Not enou#h stren#th to %ress a sin#!e utton on a stereo0 I %i/* u% the /!oth "ia%er an" "ra%e it o4er the shoe oG to hi"e it 7ro; ;y eyes0 I )ish I9" ne4er seen that oG or the se4en ta%es insi"e it0 Hittin# P!ay that 7irst ti;e )as easy0 A %ie/e o7 /a*e0 I ha" no i"ea )hat I )as a out to hear0 But this ti;e( it9s one o7 the ;ost 7ri#htenin# thin#s I94e e4er "one0 I turn the 4o!u;e "o)n an" %ress P!ay0 Lone> You !isten0 Nu; er t)o> You %ass it on0 Ho%e7u!!y( neither one )i!! e easy 7or you0 When you9re "one !istenin# to a!! thirteen si"esM e/ause there are thirteen si"es to e4ery storyMre)in" the ta%es( %ut the; a/* in the oG( an" %ass the; on to )hoe4er 7o!!o)s your !itt!e ta!e0 An" you( !u/*y nu; er thirteen( you /an ta*e the ta%es strai#ht to he!!0 :e%en"in# on your re!i#ion( ;ay e I9!! see you there0 In /ase you9re te;%te" to rea* the ru!es( un"erstan" that I "i" ;a*e a /o%y o7 these ta%es0 Those /o%ies )i!! e re!ease" in a 4ery %u !i/ ;anner i7 this %a/*a#e "oesn9t ;a*e it throu#h a!! o7 you0 This )as not a s%ur?o7?the?;o;ent "e/ision0 :o not ta*e ;e 7or #rante"La#ain0 No0 There9s no )ay she /ou!" thin* that0 You are ein# )at/he"0 5y sto;a/h sIueeBes in on itse!7( rea"y to ;a*e ;e thro) u% i7 I !et it0 Near y( a %!asti/ u/*et sits u%si"e?"o)n on a 7ootstoo!0 In t)o stri"es( i7 I nee" to( I /an rea/h the han"!e an" 7!i% it o4er0 I har"!y *ne) Hannah Ba*er0 I ;ean( I )ante" to0 I )ante" to *no) her ;ore than I ha" the /han/e0 O4er the su;;er( )e )or*e" to#ether at the ;o4ie theater0 An" not !on# a#o( at a %arty( )e ;a"e out0 But )e ne4er ha" the /han/e to #et /!oser0 An" not on/e "i" I ta*e her 7or #rante"0 Not on/e0 These ta%es shou!"n9t e here0 Not )ith ;e0 It has to e a ;ista*e0 Or a terri !e Jo*e0

I %u!! the trash /an a/ross the 7!oor0 A!thou#h I /he/*e" it on/e a!rea"y( I /he/* the )ra%%in# a#ain0 A

return a""ress has #ot to e here so;e)here0 5ay e I9; Just o4er!oo*in# it0 Hannah Ba*er9s sui/i"e ta%es are #ettin# %asse" aroun"0 So;eone ;a"e a /o%y an" sent the; to ;e as

a Jo*e0 To;orro) at s/hoo!( so;eone )i!! !au#h )hen they see ;e( or they9!! s;ir* an" !oo* a)ay0 An" then I9!! *no)0 An" thenE What )i!! I "o thenE I "on9t *no)0 I a!;ost 7or#ot0 I7 you9re on ;y !ist( you shou!"94e re/ei4e" a ;a%0 I !et the )ra%%in# 7a!! a/* in the trash0 I9; on the !ist0 A 7e) )ee*s a#o( Just "ays e7ore Hannah too* the %i!!s( so;eone s!i%%e" an en4e!o%e throu#h the 4ent

o7 ;y !o/*er0 The outsi"e o7 the en4e!o%e sai">SAVE THISMYO,9LL NEE: IT in re" 7e!t?ti% ;ar*er0

Insi"e )as a 7o!"e" u% ;a% o7 the /ity0 A out a "oBen re" stars ;ar*e" "i77erent areas aroun" to)n0

In e!e;entary s/hoo!( )e use" those sa;e /ha; er o7 /o;;er/e ;a%s to !earn a out north( south( east( an" )est0 Tiny !ue nu; ers s/attere" aroun" the ;a% ;at/he" u% )ith usiness na;es !iste" in the ;ar#ins0 I *e%t Hannah9s ;a% in ;y a/*%a/*0 I ;eant to sho) it aroun" s/hoo! to see i7 anyone e!se #ot one0 To see i7 anyone *ne) )hat it ;eant0 But o4er ti;e( it s!i" eneath ;y teGt oo*s an" note oo*s an" I 7or#ot a!! a out it0 Ti!! no)0 Throu#hout the ta%es( I9!! e ;entionin# se4era! s%ots aroun" our e!o4e" /ity 7or you to 4isit0 I /an9t 7or/e you to #o there( ut i7 you9" !i*e a !itt!e ;ore insi#ht( Just hea" 7or the stars0 Or( i7 you9" !i*e( Just thro) the ;a%s a)ay an" I9!! ne4er *no)0 As Hannah s%ea*s throu#h the "usty s%ea*ers( I 7ee! the )ei#ht o7 ;y a/*%a/* %ressin# a#ainst ;y !e#0 Insi"e( /rushe" so;e)here at the otto;( is her ;a%0 Or ;ay e I )i!!0 I9; not a/tua!!y sure ho) this )ho!e "ea" thin# )or*s0 Who *no)s( ;ay e I9; stan"in# ehin" you ri#ht no)0

I !ean 7or)ar"( %ro%%in# ;y e! o)s on the )or* en/h0 I !et ;y 7a/e 7a!! into ;y han"s an" I s!i"e ;y 7in#ers a/* into uneG%e/te"!y "a;% hair0 I9; sorry0 That )asn9t 7air0 Rea"y( 5r0 Co!eyE Justin Co!ey0 A senior0 He )as Hannah9s 7irst *iss0 But )hy "o I *no) thatE Justin( honey( you )ere ;y 4ery 7irst *iss0 5y 4ery 7irst han" to ho!"0 But you )ere nothin# ;ore than an a4era#e #uy0 An" I "on9t say that to e ;eanMI "on9t0 There )as Just so;ethin# a out you that ;a"e ;e nee" to e your #ir!7rien"0 To this "ay I "on9t *no) eGa/t!y )hat that )as0 But it )as thereLan" it )as a;aBin#!y stron#0 You "on9t *no) this( ut t)o years a#o )hen I )as a 7resh;an an" you )ere a so%ho;ore( I use" to 7o!!o) you aroun"0 Cor siGth %erio"( I )or*e" in the atten"an/e o77i/e( so I *ne) e4ery one o7 your /!asses0 I e4en %hoto/o%ie" your s/he"u!e( )hi/h I9; sure I sti!! ha4e here so;e)here0 An" )hen they #o throu#h ;y e!on#in#s( they9!! %ro a !y toss it a)ay thin*in# a 7resh;an /rush has no re!e4an/e0 But "oes itE Cor ;e( yes( it "oes0 I )ent a/* as 7ar as you to 7in" an intro"u/tion to ;y story0 An" this rea!!y is )here it e#ins0 So )here a; I on this !ist( a;on# these storiesE Se/on"E Thir"E :oes it #et )orse as it #oes a!on#E She sai" !u/*y nu; er thirteen /ou!" ta*e the ta%es to he!!0 When you rea/h the en" o7 these ta%es( Justin( I ho%e you9!! un"erstan" your ro!e in a!! o7 this0 Be/ause it ;ay see; !i*e a s;a!! ro!e no)( ut it ;atters0 In the en"( e4erythin# ;atters0 Betraya!0 It9s one o7 the )orst 7ee!in#s0 I *no) you "i"n9t ;ean to !et ;e "o)n0 In 7a/t( ;ost o7 you !istenin# %ro a !y ha" no i"ea )hat you )ere "oin#M)hat you )ere tru!y "oin#0 What )as I "oin#( HannahE Be/ause I honest!y ha4e no i"ea0 That ni#ht( i7 it9s the ni#ht I9; thin*in# o7( )as Just as stran#e 7or ;e as it )as 7or you0 5ay e ;ore so( sin/e I sti!! ha4e no i"ea )hat the he!! ha%%ene"0 Our 7irst re" star /an e 7oun" at 2?&0 Ta*e your 7in#er o4er to 2 an" "ro% it "o)n to &0 That9s ri#ht( !i*e Batt!eshi%0 When you9re "one )ith this ta%e( you shou!" #o there0 We on!y !i4e" in that house a short )hi!e( the su;;er e7ore ;y 7resh;an year( ut it9s )here )e !i4e" )hen )e 7irst /a;e to to)n0

An" it9s )here I 7irst sa) you( Justin0 5ay e you9!! re;e; er0 You )ere in !o4e )ith ;y 7rien" Nat0 S/hoo! )as sti!! t)o ;onths a)ay( an" Nat )as the on!y %erson I *ne) e/ause she !i4e" ri#ht neGt "oor0 She to!" ;e you )ere a!! o4er her the %re4ious year0 Not !itera!!y a!! o4er herMJust starin# an" a//i"enta!!y u;%in# into her in the ha!!s0 I ;ean( those )ere a//i"ents( ri#htE Nat to!" ;e that at the en"?o7?s/hoo! "an/e( you 7ina!!y 7oun" the ner4e to "o ;ore than stare an" u;% into her0 The t)o o7 you "an/e" e4ery s!o) son# to#ether0 An" soon( she to!" ;e( she )as #oin# to !et you *iss her0 The 4ery 7irst *iss o7 her !i7e0 What an honorK The stories ;ust e a"0 Rea!!y a"0 That9s the on!y reason the ta%es are %assin# on 7ro; one %erson to the neGt0 Out o7 7ear0 Why )ou!" you )ant to ;ai! out a un/h o7 ta%es !a;in# you in a sui/i"eE You )ou!"n9t0 But Hannah )ants us( those o7 us on the !ist( to hear )hat she has to say0 An" )e9!! "o )hat she says( %assin# the ta%es on( i7 on!y to *ee% the; a)ay 7ro; %eo%!e not on the !ist0 DThe !ist0F It soun"s !i*e a se/ret /!u 0 An eG/!usi4e /!u 0 An" 7or so;e reason( I9; in it0 I )ante" to see )hat you !oo*e" !i*e( Justin( so )e /a!!e" you 7ro; ;y house an" to!" you to /o;e o4er0 We /a!!e" 7ro; ;y house e/ause Nat "i"n9t )ant you to *no) )here she !i4e"L)e!!( not yetLe4en thou#h her house )as ri#ht neGt "oor0 You )ere %!ayin# a!!MI "on9t *no) i7 it )as as*et a!!( ase a!!( or )hatM ut you /ou!"n9t /o;e o4er unti! !ater0 So )e )aite"0 Bas*et a!!0 A !ot o7 us %!aye" that su;;er( ho%in# to ;a*e JV as 7resh;en0 Justin( on!y a so%ho;ore( ha" a s%ot )aitin# 7or hi; on 4arsity0 So a !ot o7 us %!aye" a!! )ith hi; in ho%es o7 %i/*in# u% s*i!!s o4er the su;;er0 An" so;e o7 us "i"0 Whi!e so;e o7 us( un7ortunate!y( "i" not0 We sat in ;y 7ront ay )in"o)( ta!*in# 7or hours( )hen a!! o7 a su""en you an" one o7 your 7rien"sMhi( Za/hKM/a;e )a!*in# u% the street0 Za/hE Za/h :e;%seyE The on!y ti;e I94e seen Za/h )ith Hannah( e4en ;o;entari!y( )as the ni#ht I 7irst ;et her0 T)o streets ;eet in 7ront o7 ;y o!" house !i*e an u%si"e?"o)nT(so you )ere )a!*in# u% the ;i""!e o7

the roa" to)ar" us0 Wait0 Wait0 I nee" to thin*0 I %i/* at a s%e/* o7 "ry oran#e %aint on the )or* en/h0 Why a; I !istenin# to thisE I ;ean( )hy %ut ;yse!7 throu#h thisE Why not Just %o% the ta%e out o7 the stereo an" thro) the entire oG o7 the; in the trashE I s)a!!o) har"0 Tears stin# at the /orners o7 ;y eyes0 Be/ause it9s Hannah9s 4oi/e0 A 4oi/e I thou#ht I9" ne4er hear a#ain0 I /an9t thro) that a)ay0 An" e/ause o7 the ru!es0 I !oo* at the shoe oG hi""en eneath the /!oth "ia%er0 Hannah sai" she ;a"e a /o%y o7 ea/h o7 these ta%es0 But )hat i7 she "i"n9tE 5ay e i7 the ta%es sto%( i7 I "on9t %ass the; on( that9s it0 It9s o4er0 Nothin# ha%%ens0 But )hat i7 there9s so;ethin# on these ta%es that /ou!" hurt ;eE What i7 it9s not a tri/*E Then a se/on" set o7 ta%es )i!! e re!ease"0 That9s )hat she sai"0 An" e4eryone )i!! hear )hat9s on the;0 The s%ot o7 %aint 7!a*es o77 !i*e a s/a 0 Who9s )i!!in# to test her !u77E You ste%%e" out o7 the #utter an" %!ante" one 7oot on the !a)n0 5y "a" ha" the s%rin*!ers runnin# a!! ;ornin# so the #rass )as )et an" your 7oot s!i" 7or)ar"( sen"in# you into a s%!it0 Za/h ha" een starin# at the )in"o)( tryin# to #et a etter 4ie) o7 Nat9s ne) 7rien"Myours tru!yMan" he tri%%e" o4er you( !an"in# esi"e you on the /ur 0 You %ushe" hi; o77 an" stoo" u%0 Then he stoo" u%( an" you oth !oo*e" at ea/h other( not sure o7 )hat to "o0 An" your "e/isionE You ran a/* "o)n the street )hi!e Nat an" I !au#he" !i*e /raBy in the Pa#e 3

)in"o)0 I re;e; er that0 Nat thou#ht it )as so 7unny0 She to!" ;e a out it at her #oin#?a)ay %arty that su;;er0 The %arty )here I 7irst sa) Hannah Ba*er0 $o"0 I thou#ht she )as so %retty0 An" ne) to this to)n( that9s )hat rea!!y #ot ;e0 Aroun" the o%%osite seG( es%e/ia!!y a/* then( ;y ton#ue t)iste" into *nots e4en a Boy S/out )ou!" )a!* a)ay 7ro;0 But aroun" her I /ou!" e the ne) an" i;%ro4e" 2!ay Jensen( hi#h s/hoo! 7resh;an0

Nat ;o4e" a)ay e7ore the start o7 s/hoo!( an" I 7e!! in !o4e )ith the oy she !e7t ehin"0 An" it )asn9t !on# unti! that oy starte" sho)in# an interest in ;e0 Whi/h ;i#ht ha4e ha" so;ethin# to "o )ith the 7a/t that I see;e" to a!)ays e aroun"0 We "i"n9t share any /!asses( ut our /!assroo;s 7or %erio"s one( 7our( an" 7i4e )ere at !east /!ose to ea/h other0 O*ay( so %erio" 7i4e )as a stret/h( an" so;eti;es I )ou!"n9t #et there unti! a7ter you9" !e7t( ut %erio"s one an" 7our )ere at !east in the sa;e ha!!0 At Nat9s %arty( e4eryone hun# aroun" the outsi"e %atio e4en thou#h the te;%erature )as 7reeBin#0 It )as %ro a !y the /o!"est ni#ht o7 the year0 An" I( o7 /ourse( 7or#ot ;y Ja/*et at ho;e0 A7ter a )hi!e( I ;ana#e" to say he!!o0 An" a !itt!e )hi!e !ater( you ;ana#e" to say it a/*0 Then( one "ay( I )a!*e" y you )ithout sayin# a )or"0 I *ne) you /ou!"n9t han"!e that( an" it !e" to our 4ery 7irst ;u!ti)or" /on4ersation0 No( that9s not ri#ht0 I !e7t ;y Ja/*et at ho;e e/ause I )ante" e4eryone to see ;y ne) shirt0 What an i"iot I )as0 DHeyKF you sai"0 DAren9t you #oin# to say he!!oEF I s;i!e"( too* a reath( then turne" aroun"0 DWhy shou!" IEF DBe/ause you a!)ays say he!!o0F I as*e" )hy you thou#ht you )ere su/h an eG%ert on ;e0 I sai" you %ro a !y "i"n9t *no) anythin#

a out ;e0 At Nat9s %arty( I ent "o)n to tie ;y shoe "urin# ;y 7irst /on4ersation )ith Hannah Ba*er0 An" I /ou!"n9t "o it0 I /ou!"n9t tie ;y stu%i" shoe!a/e e/ause ;y 7in#ers )ere too nu; 7ro; the /o!"0 To Hannah9s /re"it( she o77ere" to tie it 7or ;e0 O7 /ourse( I )ou!"n9t !et her0 Instea"( I )aite" ti!! Za/h inserte" hi;se!7 into our a)*)ar" /on4ersation e7ore snea*in# insi"e to tha) ;y 7in#ers eneath runnin# )ater0 So e; arrassin#0 Ear!ier( )hen I as*e" ;y ;o; ho) to #et a oy9s attention( she sai"( DP!ay har" to #et0F So that9s )hat I )as "oin#0 An" sure enou#h( it )or*e"0 You starte" han#in# aroun" ;y /!asses )aitin# 7or ;e0 It see;e" !i*e )ee*s )ent y e7ore you 7ina!!y as*e" 7or ;y nu; er0 But I *ne) you e4entua!!y )ou!"( Pa#e 1+

so I %ra/ti/e" sayin# it out !ou"0 Rea! /a!; an" /on7i"ent !i*e I "i"n9t rea!!y /are0 Li*e I #a4e it out a hun"re" ti;es a "ay0 Yes( oys at ;y o!" s/hoo! ha" as*e" 7or ;y nu; er0 But here( at ;y ne) s/hoo!( you )ere the 7irst0

No0 That9s not true0 But you )ere the 7irst to a/tua!!y #et ;y nu; er0 It9s not that I "i"n9t )ant to #i4e it out e7ore0 I )as Just /autious0 Ne) to)n0 Ne) s/hoo!0 An" this ti;e( I )as #oin# to e in /ontro! o7 ho) %eo%!e sa) ;e0 A7ter a!!( ho) o7ten "o )e #et a se/on" /han/eE

Be7ore you( Justin( )hene4er anyone as*e"( I9" say a!! the ri#ht nu; ers u% unti! the 4ery !ast one0 An" then I9" #et s/are" an" ;ess u%Lsort o7 a//i"enta!!y on %ur%ose0 I hea4e ;y a/*%a/* onto ;y !a% an" unBi% the !ar#est %o/*et0 I )as #ettin# )ay too eG/ite" )at/hin# you )rite "o)n ;y nu; er0 Lu/*i!y( you )ere )ay too ner4ous to noti/e0 When I 7ina!!y s%at out that !ast nu; erMthe /orre/t nu; erKMI s;i!e" so i#0

5ean)hi!e( your han" )as sha*in# so a"!y that I thou#ht you )ere #oin# to s/re) it u%0 An" I )as not #oin# to !et that ha%%en0 I %u!! out her ;a% an" un7o!" it on the )or* en/h0 I %ointe" at the nu; er you )ere )ritin#0 DThat shou!" e a se4en(F I sai"0 DIt is a se4en0F I use a )oo"en ru!er to s;ooth out the /reases0 DOh0 We!!( as !on# as you *no) it9s a se4en0F DI "o(F you sai"0 But you s/rat/he" it out any)ay an" ;a"e an e4en sha*ier se4en0 I stret/he" the /u77 o7 ;y s!ee4e into ;y %a!; an" a!;ost rea/he" o4er to )i%e the s)eat 7ro; your 7orehea"Lso;ethin# ;y ;other )ou!"94e "one0 But than*7u!!y( I "i"n9t "o that0 You ne4er )ou!"94e as*e" another #ir! 7or her nu; er a#ain0

Throu#h the si"e #ara#e "oor( 5o; /a!!s ;y na;e0 I !o)er the 4o!u;e( rea"y to hit Sto% i7 it o%ens0 DYesEF By the ti;e I #ot ho;e( you9" a!rea"y /a!!e"0 T)i/e0 DI )ant you to *ee% )or*in#(F 5o; says( D ut I nee" to *no) i7 you9re ha4in# "inner )ith us0F 5y ;o; as*e" )ho you )ere( an" I sai" )e ha" a /!ass to#ether0 You )ere %ro a !y Just /a!!in# )ith

a ho;e)or* Iuestion0 An" she sai" that9s eGa/t!y )hat you ha" to!" her0 I !oo* "o)n at the 7irst re" star0 2?&0 I *no) )here that is0 But shou!" I #o thereE

Pa#e 11

I /ou!"n9t e!ie4e it0 Justin( you !ie" to ;y ;o;0 So )hy "i" that ;a*e ;e so ha%%yE DNo(F I say0 DI9; hea"in# to a 7rien"9s house0 Cor his %roJe/t0F Be/ause our !ies ;at/he"0 It )as a si#n0 DThat9s 7ine(F 5o; says0 DI9!! *ee% so;e in the 7ri"#e an" you /an heat it u% !ater0F 5y ;o; as*e" )hat /!ass )e ha" an" I sai" ;ath( )hi/h )asn9t a tota! !ie0 We oth ha" ;ath0 Just not

to#ether0 An" not the sa;e ty%e0 D$oo"(F 5o; sai"0 DThat9s )hat he to!" ;e0F I a//use" her o7 not trustin# her o)n "au#hter( #ra

e" the s!i% o7 %a%er )ith your nu; er 7ro; her

han"( an" ran u%stairs0 I9!! #o there0 To the 7irst star0 But e7ore that( )hen this si"e o7 the ta%e is o4er( I9!! #o to Tony9s0 Tony ne4er u%#ra"e" his /ar stereo so he sti!! %!ays ta%es0 That )ay( he says( he9s in /ontro! o7 the

;usi/0 I7 he #i4es so;eone a ri"e an" they rin# their o)n ;usi/( too a"0 DThe 7or;at9s not

/o;%ati !e(F he te!!s the;0 When you ans)ere" the %hone( I sai"( DJustinE It9s Hannah0 5y ;o; sai" you /a!!e" )ith a ;ath %ro !e;0F Tony "ri4es an o!" 5ustan# han"e" "o)n 7ro; his rother( )ho #ot it 7ro; his "a"( )ho %ro a !y #ot it 7ro; his "a"0 At s/hoo! there are 7e) !o4es that /o;%are to the one et)een Tony an" his /ar0 5ore #ir!s ha4e "u;%e" hi; out o7 /ar en4y than ;y !i%s ha4e e4en *isse"0 You )ere /on7use"( ut e4entua!!y you re;e; ere" !yin# to ;y ;o; an"( !i*e a #oo" oy( you a%o!o#iBe"0 Whi!e Tony "oesn9t /!assi7y as a /!ose 7rien"( )e ha4e )or*e" on a /ou%!e o7 assi#n;ents to#ether so I *no) )here he !i4es0 An" ;ost i;%ortant o7 a!!( he o)ns an o!" Wa!*;an that %!ays ta%es0 A ye!!o) one )ith a s*inny %!asti/ hea"set that I9; sure he9!! !et ;e orro)0 I9!! ta*e a 7e) ta%es )ith ;e an" !isten to the; as I )a!* throu#h Hannah9s o!" nei#h orhoo"( )hi/h is on!y a !o/* or so 7ro; Tony9s0 DSo( Justin( )hat9s the ;ath %ro !e;EF I as*e"0 You )eren9t #ettin# o77 that easy0 Or ;ay e I9!! ta*e the ta%es so;e)here e!se0 So;e)here %ri4ate0 Be/ause I /an9t !isten here0 Not that 5o; or :a" )i!! re/o#niBe the 4oi/e in the s%ea*ers( ut I nee" roo;0 Roo; to reathe0

An" you "i"n9t ;iss a eat0 You to!" ;e Train A )as !ea4in# your house at 3>&'P50 Train B )as !ea4in# ;y house ten ;inutes !ater0 You /ou!"n9t see this( Justin( ut I a/tua!!y raise" ;y han" !i*e I )as in s/hoo! rather than sittin# on the

e"#e o7 ;y e"0 DPi/* ;e( 5r0 Co!ey0 Pi/* ;e(F I sai"0 DI *no) the ans)er0F When you /a!!e" ;y na;e( DYes( 5iss Ba*erEF I thre) 5o;9s har"?to?#et ru!e ri#ht out the )in"o)0 I Pa#e 16

to!" you the t)o trains ;et at Eisenho)er Par* at the otto; o7 the ro/*et s!i"e0 What "i" Hannah see in hi;E I ne4er #ot that0 E4en she a";its she )as una !e to %ut her 7in#er on it0 But 7or an a4era#e?!oo*in# #uy( so ;any #ir!s are into Justin0 Sure( he is *in" o7 ta!!0 An" ;ay e they 7in" hi; intri#uin#0 He9s a!)ays !oo*in# out )in"o)s( /onte;%!atin# so;ethin#0 A !on# %ause at your en" o7 the !ine( Justin0 An" I ;ean a !ooooooon# %ause0 DSo( )hen "o the trains ;eetEF you as*e"0 DCi7teen ;inutes(F I sai"0 You sai" 7i7teen ;inutes see;e" a)7u!!y s!o) 7or t)o trains #oin# 7u!! s%ee"0 Whoa0 S!o) "o)n( Hannah0 I *no) )hat you9re a!! thin*in#0 Hannah Ba*er is a s!ut0 Oo%s0 :i" you /at/h thatE I sai"( DHannah Ba*eris0F2an9t say that any;ore0 She sto%s ta!*in#0 I "ra# the stoo! /!oser to the )or* en/h0 The t)o s%in"!es in the ta%e "e/*( hi""en ehin" a s;o*y %!asti/ )in"o)( %u!! the ta%e 7ro; one si"e to the other0 A #ent!e hiss /o;es throu#h the s%ea*er0 A so7t stati/ hu;0 What is she thin*in#E At that ;o;ent( are her eyes shutE Is she /ryin#E Is her 7in#er on the Sto% utton(

ho%in# 7or the stren#th to %ress itE What is she "oin#E I /an9t hearK Wron#0 Her 4oi/e is an#ry0 A!;ost tre; !in#0 Hannah Ba*er is not( an" ne4er )as( a s!ut0 Whi/h e#s the Iuestion( What ha4e you hear"E I si;%!y )ante" a *iss0 I )as a 7resh;an #ir! )ho ha" ne4er een *isse"0 Ne4er0 But I !i*e" a oy( he !i*e" ;e( an" I )as #oin# to *iss hi;0 That9s the storyMthe )ho!e storyMri#ht there0 What )as the other storyE Be/ause I "i" hear so;ethin#0 The 7e) ni#hts !ea"in# u% to our ;eetin# in the %ar*( I9" ha" the sa;e "rea;0 EGa/t!y the sa;e0 Cro; e#innin# to en"0 An" 7or your !istenin# %!easure( here it is0 But 7irst( a !itt!e a/*#roun"0 5y o!" to)n ha" a %ar* si;i!ar to Eisenho)er Par* in one )ay0 They oth ha" that ro/*et shi%0 I9; sure it )as ;a"e y the sa;e /o;%any e/ause they !oo*e" i"enti/a!0 A re" nose %oints to the s*y0 5eta! ars run 7ro; the nose a!! the )ay "o)n to #reen 7ins ho!"in# the shi% o77 the #roun"0 Bet)een the nose an" the 7ins are three %!at7or;s( /onne/te" y three !a""ers0 On the to% !e4e! is a steerin# )hee!0 On the ;i" !e4e! is a s!i"e that !ea"s "o)n to the %!ay#roun"0 Pa#e 13

On ;any ni#hts !ea"in# u% to ;y 7irst "ay o7 s/hoo! here( I9" /!i; to the to% o7 that ro/*et an" !et ;y hea" 7a!! a/* a#ainst the steerin# )hee!0 The ni#ht reeBe !o)in# throu#h the ars /a!;e" ;e0 I9" Just /!ose ;y eyes an" thin* o7 ho;e0 I /!i; e" u% there on/e( on!y on/e( )hen I )as 7i4e0 I s/rea;e" an" /rie" ;y hea" o77 an" )ou!" not /o;e "o)n 7or anythin#0 But :a" )as too i# to 7it throu#h the ho!es0 So he /a!!e" the 7ire "e%art;ent( an" they sent a 7e;a!e 7ire7i#hter u% to #et ;e0 They ;ust94e ha" a !ot o7 those res/ues e/ause( a 7e) )ee*s a#o( the /ity announ/e" %!ans to tear the ro/*et s!i"e "o)n0 I thin* that9s the reason( in ;y "rea;s( ;y 7irst *iss too* %!a/e at the ro/*et shi%0 It re;in"e" ;e o7 inno/en/e0 An" I )ante" ;y 7irst *iss to e Just that0 Inno/ent0 5ay e that9s )hy she "i"n9t re"?star the %ar*0 The ro/*et ;i#ht e #one e7ore the ta%es ;a*e it

throu#h the entire !ist0 So a/* to ;y "rea;s( )hi/h starte" the "ay you e#an )aitin# outsi"e ;y /!assroo; "oor0 The "ay I *ne) you !i*e" ;e0 Hannah too* o77 her shirt an" !et Justin %ut his han"s u% her ra0 That9s it0 That9s )hat I hear" ha%%ene" in the %ar* that ni#ht0 But )ait0 Why )ou!" she "o that in the ;i""!e o7 a %ar*E The "rea; starts )ith ;e at the to% o7 the ro/*et( ho!"in# on to the steerin# )hee!0 It9s sti!! a %!ay#roun" ro/*et( not a rea! one( ut e4ery ti;e I turn the )hee! to the !e7t( the trees in the %ar* !i7t u% their roots an" si"este% it to the !e7t0 When I turn the )hee! to the ri#ht( they si"este% it to the ri#ht0 Then I hear your 4oi/e /a!!in# u% 7ro; the #roun"0 DHannahK HannahK Sto% %!ayin# )ith the trees an" /o;e see ;e0F So I !ea4e the steerin# )hee! an" /!i; throu#h the ho!e in the to% %!at7or;0 But )hen I rea/h the neGt %!at7or;( ;y 7eet ha4e #ro)n so hu#e they )on9t 7it throu#h the neGt ho!e0 Bi# 7eetE Serious!yE I9; not into "rea; ana!ysis( ut ;ay e she )as )on"erin# i7 Justin ha" a i# one0 I %o*e ;y hea" throu#h the ars an" shout( D5y 7eet are too i#0 :o you sti!! )ant ;e to /o;e "o)nEF DI !o4e i# 7eet(F you shout a/*0 D2o;e "o)n the s!i"e an" see ;e0 I9!! /at/h you0F So I sit on the s!i"e an" %ush o770 But the )in" resistan/e on ;y 7eet ;a*es ;e #o so s!o)0 In the ti;e it ta*es ;e to rea/h the otto; o7 the s!i"e( I94e noti/e" that your 7eet are eGtre;e!y s;a!!0 A!;ost noneGistent0 I *ne) itK You )a!* to the en" o7 the s!i"e )ith your ar;s out( rea"y to /at/h ;e0 An" )ou!"n9t you *no) it( )hen I Ju;% o77( ;y hu#e 7eet "on9t ste% on your !itt!e 7eet0 DSeeE We )ere ;a"e 7or ea/h other(F you say0 Then you !ean in to *iss ;e0 Your !i%s #ettin# /!oserLan" /!oserLan"LI )a*e u%0 Pa#e 1&

E4ery ni#ht 7or a )ee* I )o*e u% in the eGa/t sa;e a out?to? e?*isse" s%ot0 But no)( Justin( I )ou!"

7ina!!y e ;eetin# you0 At that %ar*0 At the otto; o7 that s!i"e0 An" "a;n it( you )ere #oin# to *iss the he!! out o7 ;e )hether you !i*e" it or not0 Hannah( i7 you *isse" a/* then !i*e you *isse" at the %arty( trust ;e( he !i*e" it0 I to!" you to ;eet ;e there in 7i7teen ;inutes0 O7 /ourse( I on!y sai" that to ;a*e sure I #ot there e7ore you0 By the ti;e you )a!*e" into the %ar*( I )ante" to e insi"e that ro/*et an" a!! the )ay u%( Just !i*e in ;y "rea;s0 An" that9s ho) it ha%%ene"L;inus the "an/in# trees an" 7un*y 7eet0 Cro; ;y 4ie)%oint at the to% o7 the ro/*et( I sa) you /o;e in at the 7ar en" o7 the %ar*0 You /he/*e" your )at/h e4ery 7e) ste%s an" )a!*e" o4er to the s!i"e( !oo*in# a!! aroun"( ut ne4er u%0 So I s%un the steerin# )hee! as har" as I /ou!" to ;a*e it ratt!e0 You too* a ste% a/*( !oo*e" u%( an" /a!!e" ;y na;e0 But "on9t )orry( e4en thou#h I )ante" to !i4e out ;y "rea;( I "i"n9t eG%e/t you to *no) e4ery sin#!e !ine an" te!! ;e to sto% %!ayin# )ith the trees an" /o;e "o)n0 DBe ri#ht "o)n(F I sai"0 But you to!" ;e to sto%0 You9" /!i; u% to )here I )as0 So I shoute" a/*( DNoK Let ;e ta*e the s!i"e0F Then you re%eate" those ;a#i/a!( "rea;!i*e )or"s( DI9!! /at/h you0F :e7inite!y eats ;y 7irst *iss0 Se4enth #ra"e( An"rea Wi!!ia;s( ehin" the #y; a7ter s/hoo!0 She /a;e o4er to ;y ta !e at !un/h( )his%ere" the %ro%osition in ;y ear( an" I ha" a har"?on 7or the rest o7 the "ay0 When the *iss )as o4er( three stra) erry?!i%?#!oss se/on"s !ater( she turne" an" ran a)ay0 I %ee*e" aroun" the #y; an" )at/he" t)o o7 her 7rien"s ea/h han" her a 7i4e?"o!!ar i!!0 I /ou!"n9t e!ie4e itK 5y !i%s )ere a ten?"o!!ar et0 Was that #oo" or a"E Pro a !y a"( I "e/i"e"0 But I94e !o4e" stra) erry !i% #!oss e4er sin/e0 I /ou!"n9t he!% s;i!in# as I /!i; e" "o)n the to% !a""er0 I sat ;yse!7 on the s!i"eM;y heart ra/in#0 This

)as it0 A!! ;y 7rien"s a/* ho;e ha" their 7irst *isses in ;i""!e s/hoo!0 5ine )as )aitin# 7or ;e at the otto; o7 a s!i"e( eGa/t!y as I )ante" it0 A!! I ha" to "o )as %ush o770 An" I "i"0

I *no) it "i"n9t rea!!y ha%%en !i*e this( ut )hen I !oo* a/*( it a!! ha%%ens in s!o) ;otion0 The %ush0 The s!i"e0 5y hair 7!yin# ehin" ;e0 You raisin# your ar;s to /at/h ;e0 5e raisin# ;ine so you /ou!"0 So )hen "i" you "e/i"e to *iss ;e( JustinE Was it "urin# your )a!* to the %ar*E Or "i" it si;%!y ha%%en )hen I s!i" into your ar;sE O*ay( )ho out there )ants to *no) ;y 4ery 7irst thou#ht "urin# ;y 4ery 7irst *issE Here it is> Pa#e 1'

So;e o"y9s een eatin# /hi!i"o#s0 Ni/e one( Justin0 I9; sorry0 It )asn9t that a"( ut it )as the 7irst thin# I thou#ht0 I9!! ta*e stra) erry !i% #!oss any "ay0 I )as so anGious a out )hat *in" o7 *iss it )ou!" eM e/ause ;y 7rien"s a/* ho;e "es/ri e" so ;any ty%esMan" it turne" out to e the eauti7u! *in"0 You "i"n9t sho4e your ton#ue "o)n ;y throat0 You "i"n9t #ra ;y utt0 We Just he!" our !i%s to#etherLan" *isse"0 An" that9s it0 Wait0 Sto%0 :on9t re)in"0 There9s no nee" to #o a/* e/ause you "i"n9t ;iss a thin#0 Let ;e re%eat ;yse!70 ThatLisLa!!LthatLha%%ene"0

Why( "i" you hear so;ethin# e!seE A shi4er ra/es u% ;y s%ine0 Yes( I "i"0 We a!! "i"0 We!!( you9re ri#ht0 So;ethin# "i" ha%%en0 Justin #ra

e" ;y han"( )e )a!*e" o4er to the s)in#s( an"

)e s)un#0 Then he *isse" ;e a#ain the 4ery sa;e )ay0 ThenE An" then( HannahE What ha%%ene" thenE ThenL)e !e7t0 He )ent one )ay0 I )ent the other0 Oh0 So sorry0 You )ante" so;ethin# seGier( "i"n9t youE You )ante" to hear ho) ;y it/hy !itt!e 7in#ers

starte" %!ayin# )ith his Bi%%er0 You )ante" to hearL

We!!( )hat "i" you )ant to hearE Be/ause I94e hear" so ;any stories that I "on9t *no) )hi/h one is the

;ost %o%u!ar0 But I "o *no) )hi/h is the !east %o%u!ar0 The truth0 No)( the truth is the one you )on9t 7or#et0 I /an sti!! see Justin hu""!e" a;on# his 7rien"s at s/hoo!0 I re;e; er Hannah )a!*in# y( an" the )ho!e

#rou% sto%%e" ta!*in#0 They a4erte" their eyes0 An" )hen she %asse"( they starte" !au#hin#0 But )hy "o I re;e; er thisE Be/ause I )ante" to ta!* to Hannah so ;any ti;es a7ter Nat9s #oin#?a)ay %arty( ut I )as too shy0

Too a7rai"0 Wat/hin# Justin an" his 7rien"s that "ay( I #ot the sense that there )as ;ore to her than I

*ne)0 Then( !ater( I hear" a out her #ettin# 7e!t u% at the ro/*et s!i"e0 An" she )as so ne) to s/hoo! that the ru;ors o4ersha"o)e" e4erythin# e!se I *ne) a out her0 Pa#e 1=

Hannah )as eyon" ;e( I 7i#ure"0 Too eG%erien/e" to e4en thin* a out ;e0 So than* you( Justin0 Sin/ere!y0 5y 4ery 7irst *iss )as )on"er7u!0 An" 7or the ;onth or so that )e !aste"( an" e4ery)here that )e )ent( the *isses )ere )on"er7u!0 You )ere )on"er7u!0 But then you starte" ra##in#0 A )ee* )ent y an" I hear" nothin#0 But e4entua!!y( as they a!)ays )i!!( the ru;ors rea/he" ;e0 An" e4eryone *no)s you /an9t "is%ro4e a ru;or0 I *no)0 I *no) )hat you9re thin*in#0 As I )as te!!in# the story( I )as thin*in# the sa;e thin# ;yse!70 A *issE A ru;or ase" on a *iss ;a"e you "o this to yourse!7E No0 A ru;or ase" on a *iss ruine" a ;e;ory that I ho%e" )ou!" e s%e/ia!0 A ru;or ase" on a *iss starte" a re%utation that other %eo%!e e!ie4e" in an" rea/te" to0 An" so;eti;es( a ru;or ase" on a *iss has a sno) a!! e77e/t0 A ru;or( ase" on a *iss( is Just the e#innin#0

Turn the ta%e o4er 7or ;ore0 I rea/h 7or the stereo( rea"y to %ress Sto%0 An" Justin( honey( sti/* aroun"0 You9re not #oin# to e!ie4e )here your na;e %o%s u% neGt0 I ho!" ;y 7in#er o4er the utton( !istenin# to the so7t hu; in the s%ea*ers( the 7aint sIuea* o7 the s%in"!es )in"in# the ta%e( )aitin# 7or her 4oi/e to return0 But it "oesn9t0 The story is o4er0 When I #et to Tony9s( his 5ustan# is %ar*e" a#ainst the /ur in 7ront o7 his house0 The hoo" is %ro%%e" o%en( an" he an" his "a" are !eanin# o4er the en#ine0 Tony ho!"s a s;a!! 7!ash!i#ht )hi!e his "a" ti#htens so;ethin# "ee% insi"e )ith a )ren/h0 D:i" it rea* "o)n(F I as*( Dor is this Just 7or 7unEF Tony #!an/es o4er his shou!"er an"( )hen he sees ;e( "ro%s the 7!ash!i#ht into the en#ine0 D:a;n0F His "a" stan"s u% an" )i%es his oi!y han"s a/ross the 7ront o7 his #rease"?u% T?shirt0 DAre you *i""in#E

It9s a!)ays 7un0F He !oo*s at Tony an" )in*s0 DIt9s e4en ;ore 7un )hen it9s so;ethin# serious0F

S/o)!in#( Tony rea/hes in 7or the 7!ash!i#ht0 D:a"( you re;e; er 2!ay0F

DSure(F his "a" says0 DO7 /ourse0 $oo" to see you a#ain0F He "oesn9t rea/h 7or)ar" to sha*e ;y han"0

An" )ith the a;ount o7 #rease s;eare" onto his shirt( I9; not o77en"e"0 But he9s 7a*in# it0 He "oesn9t re;e; er ;e0

Pa#e 11

DOh( hey(F his "a" says( DI "o re;e; er you0 You staye" 7or "inner on/e( ri#htE Bi# on the O%!ease9 an" Othan*?yous90F I s;i!e0 DA7ter you !e7t( Tony9s ;o; )as a7ter us 7or a )ee* to e ;ore %o!ite0F What /an I sayE Parents !i*e ;e0

DYeah( that9s hi;(F Tony says0 He #ra s a sho% ra# to /!ean his han"s0 DSo )hat9s #oin# on( 2!ayEF I re%eat his )or"s in ;y hea"0 What9s #oin# onE What9s #oin# onE Oh( )e!!( sin/e you as*e"( I #ot a un/h o7 ta%es in the ;ai! to"ay 7ro; a #ir! )ho *i!!e" herse!70 A%%arent!y( I ha" so;ethin# to "o )ith it0 I9; not sure )hat that is( so I )as )on"erin# i7 I /ou!" orro) your Wa!*;an to 7in" out0

DNot ;u/h(F I say0 His "a" as*s i7 I9" ;in" #ettin# in the /ar an" startin# it 7or the;0 DThe *ey9s in the i#nition0F I s!in# ;y a/*%a/* o4er to the %assen#er seat an" s!i"e in ehin" the )hee!0 DWait0 WaitKF his "a" ye!!s0 DTony( shine it o4er here0F Tony9s stan"in# esi"e the /ar0 Wat/hin# ;e0 When our eyes ;eet( they !o/* an" I /an9t %u!! a)ay0

:oes he *no)E :oes he *no) a out the ta%esE DTony(F his "a" re%eats0 DThe !i#ht0F Tony rea*s the stare an" !eans in )ith the 7!ash!i#ht0 In the s%a/e et)een the "ash an" the hoo"( his

#aBe s!i%s a/* an" 7orth 7ro; ;e to the en#ine0 What i7 he9s on the ta%esE What i7 his story is ri#ht e7ore ;ineE Is he the one )ho sent the; to ;eE $o"( I a; 7rea*in# out0 5ay e he "oesn9t *no)0 5ay e I Just !oo* #ui!ty o7 so;ethin# an" he9s %i/*in#

u% on that0 Whi!e I )ait 7or the /ue to start the /ar( I !oo* aroun"0 Behin" the %assen#er seat( on the 7!oor( is the

Wa!*;an0 It9s Just sittin# there0 The hea"%hones9 /or" is )ra%%e" ti#ht!y aroun" the %!ayer0 But )hat9s ;y eG/useE Why "o I nee" itE DTony( here( ta*e the )ren/h an" !et ;e ho!" the 7!ash!i#ht(F his "a" says0 DYou9re Ji##!in# it too ;u/h0F They s)a% 7!ash!i#ht 7or )ren/h an"( at that ;o;ent( I #ra 7or the Wa!*;an0 Just !i*e that0 Without

thin*in#0 The ;i""!e %o/*et o7 ;y a/*%a/* is o%en( so I stu77 it in there an" Bi% it shut0 DO*ay( 2!ay(F his "a" /a!!s0 DTurn it0F I turn the *ey an" the en#ine starts ri#ht u%0 Throu#h the #a% a o4e the "ash( I )at/h his "a"9s s;i!e0 Whate4er he9s "one( he9s satis7ie"0 DA !itt!e

7ine?tunin# to ;a*e her sin#(F he says o4er the en#ine0 DYou /an shut it o77 no)( 2!ay0F

Pa#e 18

Tony !o)ers the hoo" an" /!i/*s it shut0 DI9!! see you insi"e( :a"0F His "a" no"s( !i7ts a ;eta! too! oG 7ro; the street( un"!es u% so;e #reasy ra#s( then hea"s 7or the #ara#e0 I %u!! ;y a/*%a/* o4er ;y shou!"er an" ste% out o7 the /ar0 DThan*s(F Tony says0 DI7 you "i"n9t sho) u%( )e9" %ro a !y e out here a!! ni#ht0F I s!i% ;y ar; throu#h the other stra% an" a"Just the a/*%a/*0 DI nee"e" to #et out o7 the house(F I say0 D5y ;o; )as #ettin# on ;y ner4es0F Tony !oo*s at the #ara#e0 DTe!! ;e a out it(F he says0 DI nee" to start ;y ho;e)or* an" ;y "a" )ants to tin*er un"er the hoo" so;e ;ore0F The street!a;% o4erhea" 7!i/*ers on0 DSo( 2!ay(F he says( D)hat9" you /o;e out here 7orEF I 7ee! the )ei#ht o7 the Wa!*;an in ;y a/*%a/*0 DI )as Just )a!*in# y an" sa) you outsi"e0 Thou#ht I9" say hi0F His eyes stare a !itt!e too !on#( so I !oo* o4er at his /ar0 DI9; hea"in# to Rosie9s to see )hat9s u%(F he says0 D2an I #i4e you a !i7tEF DThan*s(F I say( D ut I9; on!y )a!*in# a 7e) !o/*s0F He sho4es his han"s into his %o/*ets0 DWhere you o77 toEF $o"( I ho%e he9s not on the !ist0 But )hat i7 he isE What i7 he a!rea"y !istene" to the ta%es an" *no)s eGa/t!y )hat9s #oin# on in ;y hea"E What i7 he *no)s eGa/t!y )here I9; #oin#E Or )orse( )hat i7 he hasn9t re/ei4e" the ta%es yetE What i7 they #et sent to hi; 7urther "o)n the !ineE I7 that9s the /ase( he9!! re;e; er this ;o;ent0 He9!! re;e; er ;y sta!!in#0 5y not )antin# to ti% hi; o77

or )arn hi;0 DNo)here(F I say0 I %ut ;y han"s in ;y %o/*ets( too0 DSo( you *no)( I #uess I9!! see you to;orro)0F He "oesn9t say a )or"0 Just )at/hes ;e turn to !ea4e0 At any ;o;ent I eG%e/t hi; to ye!!( DHeyK Where9s ;y Wa!*;anEF But he "oesn9t0 It9s a /!ean #eta)ay0 I ta*e a ri#ht at the 7irst /orner an" /ontinue )a!*in#0 I hear the /ar9s en#ine start an" the /run/h o7 #ra4e! as the )hee!s o7 his 5ustan# ro!! 7or)ar"0 Then he ste%s on the #as( /rosses the street ehin" ;e( an" *ee%s #oin#0 I s!i"e ;y a/*%a/* o77 ;y shou!"ers an" "o)n to the si"e)a!*0 I %u!! out the Wa!*;an0 I un)ra% the /or" an" s!i% the ye!!o) %!asti/ hea"%hones o4er ;y hea"( %ushin# the tiny s%ea*er nu s into ;y ears0 Insi"e ;y a/*%a/* are the 7irst 7our ta%es( )hi/h are one or t)o ;ore than I9!! %ro a !y ha4e ti;e to Pa#e 13

!isten to toni#ht0 The rest I !e7t at ho;e0 I unBi% the s;a!!est %o/*et an" re;o4e the 7irst ta%e0 Then I s!i"e it into the "e/*( B?si"e out( an" shut the %!asti/ "oor0 2ASSETTE 1> SI:E B

We!/o;e a/*0 An" than*s 7or han#in# out 7or %art t)o0 I )i##!e the Wa!*;an into ;y Ja/*et %o/*et an" turn u% the 4o!u;e0 I7 you9re !istenin# to this( one o7 t)o thin#s has Just ha%%ene"0 A> You9re Justin( an" a7ter hearin# your

!itt!e ta!e you )ant to hear )ho9s neGt0 Or B> You9re so;eone e!se an" you9re )aitin# to see i7 it9s you0 We!!L A !ine o7 hot s)eat rises a!on# ;y hair!ine0 A!eG Stan"a!!( it9s your turn0 A sin#!e ea" o7 s)eat s!i"es "o)n ;y te;%!e an" I )i%e it a)ay0 I9; sure you ha4e no i"ea )hy you9re on here( A!eG0 You %ro a !y thin* you "i" a #oo" thin#( ri#htE

You 4ote" ;e Best Ass in the Cresh;an 2!ass0 Ho) /ou!" anyone e an#ry at thatE Listen0 I sit on the /ur )ith ;y shoes in the #utter0 Near ;y hee!( a 7e) !a"es o7 #rass %o*e u% throu#h the

/e;ent0 Thou#h the sun has are!y starte" "i%%in# eneath the roo7to%s an" trees( street!a;%s are !it on

oth si"es o7 the roa"0 Cirst( A!eG( i7 you thin* I9; ein# si!!yMi7 you thin* I9; so;e stu%i" !itt!e #ir! )ho #ets her %anties in a un/h o4er the tiniest thin#s( ta*in# e4erythin# )ay too serious!y( no one9s ;a*in# you !isten0 Sure( I a; %ressurin# you )ith that se/on" set o7 ta%es( ut )ho /ares i7 %eo%!e aroun" to)n *no) )hat you thin* o7 ;y ass( ri#htE In the houses on this !o/*( an" in ;y house se4era! !o/*s a)ay( 7a;i!ies are 7inishin# u% their "inners0 Or they9re !oa"in# "ish)ashers0 Or startin# their ho;e)or*0 Cor those 7a;i!ies( toni#ht( e4erythin# is nor;a!0 I /an na;e a )ho!e !ist o7 %eo%!e )ho )ou!" /are0 I /an na;e a !ist o7 %eo%!e )ho )ou!" /are 4ery ;u/h i7 these ta%es #ot out0

So !et9s e#in( sha!! )eE 2ur!in# 7or)ar"( I hu# ;y !e#s an" !ay ;y 7orehea" on ;y *nees0 I re;e; er sittin# in se/on" %erio" the ;ornin# your !ist /a;e out0 5s0 Stru;; o 4ious!y ha" an

Pa#e 6+

a;aBin# )ee*en" e/ause she "i" a so!ute!y no %re% )or* )hatsoe4er0 She ha" us )at/h one o7 her 7a;ous!y "u!! "o/u;entaries0 What it )as on( I "on9t re/a!!0 But the narrator "i" ha4e a thi/* British a//ent0 An" I re;e; er %i/*in# at an o!" %ie/e o7 ta%e stu/* on ;y "es* to *ee% 7ro; 7a!!in# as!ee%0 To ;e( the narrator9s 4oi/e )as nothin# ;ore than a/*#roun" noise0 We!!( the narrator9s 4oi/eLan" the )his%ers0 When I !oo*e" u%( the )his%ers sto%%e"0 Any eyes !oo*in# at ;e turne" a)ay0 But I sa) that %a%er #ettin# %asse" aroun"0 A sin#!e sheet ;a*in# its )ay u% an" "o)n the ais!es0 E4entua!!y( it ;a"e its )ay to the "es* ehin" ;eMto Ji;;y Lon#9s "es*M)hi/h #roane" as his o"y )ei#ht shi7te"0 Any o7 you )ho )ere in /!ass that ;ornin#( te!! ;e> Ji;;y )as ta*in# a snea*y?%ee* o4er the a/* o7 ;y /hair( )asn9t heE That9s a!! I /ou!" %i/ture as he )his%ere"( DYou et it is0F I #ri% ;y *nees ti#hter0 Ja/*ass Ji;;y0

So;eone )his%ere"( DYou i"iot( Ja/*ass0F I turne" aroun"( ut I )as not in a )his%erin# ;oo"0 DYou et )hat isEF Ji;;y( )ho9!! "rin* u% the attention any #ir! #i4es hi;( #a4e a ha!7s;i!e an" #!an/e" "o)n at the %a%er on his "es*0 A#ain /a;e the Di"iotF )his%erMthis ti;e re%eate" a/ross the roo; as i7 no one )ante" ;e in on the Jo*e0 When I 7irst sa) that !ist( #i4en to ;e in history /!ass( there )ere a 7e) na;es I "i"n9t re/o#niBe0 A 7e) ne) stu"ents I ha"n9t ;et yet or )asn9t sure I ha" their na;es ri#ht0 But Hannah( I *ne) her na;e0 An" I !au#he" )hen I sa) it0 She )as ui!"in# Iuite a re%utation in a short a;ount o7 ti;e0 On!y no) "o I rea!iBe( that her re%utation starte" in Justin Co!ey9s i;a#ination0 I ti!te" ;y hea" so I /ou!" rea" the u%si"e?"o)n tit!e o7 the %a%er>CRESH5AN 2LASSMWHO9S HOT P WHO9S NOT0 Ji;;y9s "es* #roane" a#ain as he sat a/*( an" I *ne) 5s0 Stru;; )as /o;in#( ut I ha" to 7in" ;y na;e0 I "i"n9t /are )hy I )as on the !ist0 At the ti;e( I "on9t thin* I e4en /are" )hi/h si"e o7 the !ist I )as on0 There9s Just so;ethin# a out ha4in# e4eryone a#ree on so;ethin#Mso;ethin# a out youMthat o%ens a /a#e o7 utter7!ies in your sto;a/h0 An" as 5s0 Stru;; )a!*e" u% the ais!e( rea"y to #ra that !ist e7ore I 7oun" ;y na;e( the utter7!ies )ent erser*0 Where is ;y na;eE WhereE $ot itK Later that "ay( %assin# Hannah in the ha!!s( I too* a !oo* a/* as she )a!*e" y0 An" I ha" to a#ree0 She "e7inite!y e!on#e" in that /ate#ory0 5s0 Stru;; snat/he" the !ist a)ay an" I turne" a/* to the 7ront o7 the roo;0 A7ter a 7e) ;inutes( #ainin# the ner4e to !oo*( I snu/* a %ee* to the other si"e o7 the roo;0 As eG%e/te"( Jessi/a :a4is !oo*e" %isse"0 WhyE Be/ause ri#ht neGt to ;y na;e( ut in the other /o!u;n( )as hers0 Pa#e 61

Her %en/i! ta%%e" a#ainst her note oo* at 5orse /o"e<s%ee" an" her 7a/e )as urnin# re"0 5y on!y thou#htE Than* $o" I "on9t *no) 5orse /o"e0 Truth is( Jessi/a :a4is is so ;u/h %rettier than I a;0 Write u% a !ist o7 e4ery o"y %art an" you9!! ha4e a

ro) o7 /he/*;ar*s the )ho!e )ay "o)n 7or ea/h ti;e her o"y eats ;ine0 I "isa#ree( Hannah0 A!! the )ay "o)n0 E4eryone *no)s Worst Ass in the Cresh;an 2!ass )as a !ie0 You /an9t e4en /onsi"er it stret/hin# the

truth0 But I9; sure no one /are" )hy Jessi/a en"e" u% on that si"e o7 your !ist( A!eG0 We!!( no one eG/e%t youLan" ;eLan" Jessi/a ;a*es three0 An" a !ot ;ore than that( I9; #uessin#( are a out to 7in" out0 5ay e so;e %eo%!e thin* you )ere ri#ht in /hoosin# ;e0 I "on9t thin* so0 But !et ;e %ut it this )ay( I

"on9t thin* ;y assMas you /a!! itM)as the "e/i"in# 7a/tor0 I thin* the "e/i"in# 7a/torL)as re4en#e0

I tear the !a"es o7 #rass out o7 the #utter an" stan" u% to !ea4e0 As I start )a!*in#( I ru the !a"es et)een ;y 7in#ers ti!! they 7a!! a)ay0 But this ta%e is not a out your ;oti4ation( A!eG0 Thou#h that is /o;in# u%0 This ta%e is a out ho) %eo%!e /han#e )hen they see your na;e on a stu%i" !ist0 This ta%e is a outL A %ause in her s%ee/h0 I rea/h into ;y Ja/*et an" turn the 4o!u;e u%0 She9s un/rin*!in# a %ie/e o7 %a%er0 S;oothin# it out0 O*ay0 I Just !oo*e" o4er e4ery na;eMe4ery storyMthat /o;%!etes these ta%es0 An" #uess )hat0 E4ery sin#!e e4ent "o/u;ente" here ;ay ne4er ha4e ha%%ene" ha" you( A!eG( not )ritten ;y na;e on that !ist0 It9s that si;%!e0 You nee"e" a na;e to %ut "o)n o%%osite Jessi/a9s0 An" sin/e e4eryone at s/hoo! a!rea"y ha" a %er4erte" i;a#e o7 ;e a7ter Justin9s !itt!e nu; er( I )as the %er7e/t /hoi/e( )asn9t IE An" the sno) a!! *ee%s a?ro!!in90 Than*s( Justin0 A!eG9s !ist )as a Jo*e0 A a" one( true0 But he ha" no i"ea it )ou!" a77e/t her !i*e this0 This isn9t 7air0 An" )hat a out ;eE What "i" I "oE Ho) )i!! Hannah say that I s/arre" herE Be/ause I ha4e no i"ea0 An" a7ter %eo%!e hear a out it( )hat are they #oin# to thin* )hen they see ;eE So;e o7 the;( at !east t)o o7 the;( a!rea"y *no) )hy I9; on here0 :o they see ;e "i77erent!y no)E No0 They /an9t0 Be/ause ;y na;e "oes not e!on# )ith theirs0 I shou!" not e on this !ist I9; sure o7 it0

I "i" nothin# )ron#K So to a/* u% a it( this ta%e isn9t a out )hy you "i" )hat you "i"( A!eG0 It9s a out the re%er/ussions o7 )hat you "i"0 5ore s%e/i7i/a!!y( it9s a out the re%er/ussions to ;e0 It9s a out those thin#s you "i"n9t %!anMthin#s you /ou!"n9t %!an0

Pa#e 66

$o"0 I "on9t e!ie4e it0 The 7irst re" star0 Hannah9s o!" house0 There it is0 But I "on9t e!ie4e it0 This house )as ;y "estination one other ti;e0 A7ter a %arty0 An e!"er!y /ou%!e !i4es there no)0 An" one ni#ht( a out a ;onth a#o( the hus an" )as "ri4in# his /ar a 7e) !o/*s a)ay( ta!*in# to his )i7e on the %hone )hen he hit another /ar0 I shut ;y eyes an" sha*e ;y hea" a#ainst the ;e;ory0 I "on9t )ant to see it0 But I /an9t he!% it0 The ;an )as hysteri/a!0 2ryin#0 DI nee" to /a!! herK I nee" to /a!! ;y )i7eKF His %hone ha" "isa%%eare" so;e)here in the /rash0 We trie" usin# ;ine to /a!! her a/*( ut his )i7e9s %hone *e%t rin#in#0 She )as /on7use"( too a7rai" to /!i/* o4er0 She )ante" to stay on the !ine( the !ine her hus an" ha" /a!!e" her on0 She ha" a a" heart( he sai"0 She nee"e" to *no) he )as o*ay0 I /a!!e" the %o!i/e( usin# ;y %hone( an" to!" the ;an I )ou!" /ontinue tryin# to rea/h his )i7e0 But he to!" ;e I nee"e" to te!! her0 She nee"e" to *no) he )as o*ay0 Their house )asn9t 7ar0 A tiny /ro)" ha" #athere"( so;e o7 the; ta*in# /are o7 the %erson in the other /ar0 He )as 7ro; our s/hoo!0 A senior0 An" he )as in ;u/h )orse sha%e than the o!" ;an0 I shoute" 7or a 7e) o7 the; to )ait )ith ;y #uy ti!! an a; u!an/e arri4e"0 Then I !e7t( ra/in# to)ar" his house to /a!; his )i7e0 But I "i"n9t *no) I )as a!so ra/in# to)ar" a house Hannah on/e !i4e" in0 This house0 But this ti;e( I )a!*0 Li*e Justin an" Za/h( I )a!* "o)n the /enter o7 the roa" to)ar" East C!ora! 2anyon )here t)o streets ;eet !i*e an u%si"e?"o)nT ( Just as Hannah "es/ri e" it0 The /urtains in the ay )in"o) are shut 7or the ni#ht0 But the su;;er e7ore our 7resh;an year( Hannah stoo" there )ith Nat0 The t)o o7 the; !oo*e" out( to )here I a; no)( an" they )at/he" t)o oys )a!* u% the street0 They )at/he" the; ste% o77 the roa" an" onto the )et #rass( s!i%%in# an" tu; !in# o4er ea/h other0 I *ee% )a!*in# ti!! I rea/h the #utter( %ressin# the toes o7 ;y shoes a#ainst the /ur 0 I ste% u% onto the #rass an" Just stan" there0 A si;%!e( asi/ ste%0 I "on9t s!i%( an" I /an9t he!% )on"erin#( ha" Justin an" Za/h ;a"e it to Hannah9s 7ront "oor( )ou!" she ha4e 7a!!en 7or Za/h instea" o7 Justin a 7e) ;onths !aterE Wou!" Justin ha4e een )i%e" out o7 the %i/tureE Wou!" the ru;ors ne4er ha4e starte"E Wou!" Hannah sti!! e a!i4eE

The "ay your !ist /a;e out )asn9t too trau;ati/0 I sur4i4e"0 I *ne) it )as a Jo*e0 An" the %eo%!e I sa) stan"in# in the ha!!s( hu""!e" aroun" )hoe4er ha" a /o%y( they *ne) it )as a Jo*e( too0 One i#( 7at( ha%%y Jo*e0 But )hat ha%%ens )hen so;eone says you ha4e the est ass in the 7resh;an /!assE Let ;e te!! you( Pa#e 63

A!eG( e/ause you9!! ne4er *no)0 It #i4es %eo%!eMso;e %eo%!eMthe #o?ahea" to treat you !i*e you9re nothin# ut that s%e/i7i/ o"y %art0 Nee" an eGa;%!eE Cine0 B?3 on your ;a%s0 B!ue S%ot LiIuor0

It9s near y0 I ha4e no i"ea )hy it9s /a!!e" that( ut it9s on!y a !o/* or so a)ay 7ro; ;y 7irst house0 I use" to )a!* there any ti;e I ha" a s)eet tooth0 Whi/h ;eans( yes( I )ent there e4ery "ay0

B!ue S%ot has a!)ays !oo*e" #ri;y 7ro; the si"e)a!*( so I94e ne4er a/tua!!y #one insi"e0 Ninety?7i4e %er/ent o7 the ti;e( B!ue S%ot )as e;%ty0 Just ;e an" the ;an ehin" the re#ister0 I "on9t thin* a !ot o7 %eo%!e *no) it9s e4en there e/ause it9s tiny an" sIuishe" et)een t)o other

stores( oth o7 )hi/h ha4e een /!ose" sin/e )e ;o4e" here0 Cro; the si"e)a!*( B!ue S%ot !oo*s !i*e a

%ostin# oar" 7or /i#arette an" a!/oho! a"s0 An" insi"eE We!!( it !oo*s a out the sa;e0 I )a!* a!on# the si"e)a!* in 7ront o7 Hannah9s o!" house0 A "ri4e)ay /!i; s u% a #ent!e s!o%e e7ore "isa%%earin# eneath a )eathere" )oo"en #ara#e "oor0 Han#in# o4er the 7ront o7 the /ounter( a )ire ra/* ho!"s a!! the est /an"ies0 We!!( they9re ;y 7a4orites any)ay0 An" the ;o;ent I o%en the "oor( the ;an at the re#ister rin#s ;e u%</ha?/hin#<E4en e7ore I %i/* u% a /an"y ar( e/ause he *no)s I ne4er !ea4e )ithout one0 So;eone on/e "es/ri e" the ;an ehin" the /ounter as ha4in# the 7a/e o7 a )a!nut0 An" he "oesK Pro a !y 7ro; s;o*in# so ;u/h( ut ha4in# the na;e Wa!!y %ro a !y "oesn9t he!%0 E4er sin/e she arri4e"( Hannah ro"e a !ue i*e to s/hoo!0 I /an a!;ost %i/ture her no)0 Ri#ht here0 Ba/*%a/* on( /oastin# "o)n the "ri4e)ay0 Her 7ront )hee! turns an" she %e"a!s %ast ;e on the si"e)a!*0 I )at/h her ri"e "o)n a !on# stret/h o7 si"e)a!*( %assin# trees( %ar*e" /ars( an" houses0 I

stan" an" )at/h her i;a#e "isa%%ear0 A#ain0 Then I turn s!o)!y an" )a!* a)ay0 Honest!y( in a!! the ti;es I94e een to B!ue S%ot( I "on9t thin* I94e hear" Wa!!y utter a sin#!e )or"0 I9;

tryin# to re;e; er a sin#!e Dhe!!oF or DheyF or e4en a 7rien"!y #runt0 But the on!y soun" I e4er hear" hi; utter )as e/ause o7 you( A!eG0 What a %a!0 A!eGK That9s ri#ht0 Yester"ay( so;eone sho4e" hi; in the ha!!s0 So;eone sho4e" A!eG into ;e0 But )hoE

That "ay( as usua!( a e!! Jin#!e" o4er the "oor as I )a!*e" in02ha?/hin#K)ent the re#ister0 I %i/*e" out a

/an"y ar 7ro; the ra/* on the /ounter( ut I /an9t te!! you )hi/h one e/ause I "on9t re;e; er0 I /au#ht A!eG to *ee% hi; 7ro; 7a!!in#0 I as*e" i7 he )as o*ay( ut he Just i#nore" ;e( %i/*e" u% his a/*%a/*( an" hurrie" "o)n the ha!!0 :i" I "o so;ethin# to %iss hi; o77( I )on"ere"0 I /ou!"n9t thin* o7

Pa#e 6&

anythin#0 I7 I )ante" to( I /ou!" te!! you the na;e o7 the %erson )ho )a!*e" in )hi!e I sear/he" ;y a/*%a/* 7or ;oney0 I "o re;e; er0 But he )as Just one o7 ;any Jer*s I94e run into o4er the years0 I "on9t *no)( ;ay e I shou!" eG%ose a!! o7 the;0 But as 7ar as your story #oes( A!eG( his a/tionMhis horri !e( "is#ustin# a/tionM)as Just an a7tere77e/t o7 yours0 P!us( he9s #ot a )ho!e ta%e a!! to hi;se!7L I )in/e0 What ha%%ene" in that store e/ause o7 A!eG9s !istE No( I "on9t )ant to *no)0 An" I "on9t )ant to see A!eG0 Not to;orro)0 Not the "ay a7ter that0 I "on9t )ant to see hi; or Justin0 Or 7at?ass Ja/*ass Ji;;y0 $o"( )ho e!se is in4o!4e" in thisE

He thre) o%en the "oor to B!ue S%ot0 DHey( Wa!!yKF he sai"0 An" he sai" it )ith su/h arro#an/e( )hi/h soun"e" so natura! /o;in# 7ro; his ;outh0 I /ou!" te!! it )asn9t the 7irst ti;e he sai" it that )ay( a/tin# !i*e Wa!!y )as eneath hi;0 DOh( Hannah( hey(F he sai"0 DI "i"n9t see you there0F :i" I ;ention I )as stan"in# at the /ounter( 4isi !e to anyone the ;o;ent they o%ene" the "oorE I a/*no)!e"#e" hi; )ith a tiny s;i!e( 7oun" ;y ;oney( an" "ro%%e" it into Wa!!y9s )rin*!e" han"0 Wa!!y( as 7ar as I /ou!" te!!( "i"n9t res%on" to hi; in any )ay0 Not an eye /at/h or a t)it/h or a s;i!eMhis usua! #reetin# 7or ;e0 I 7o!!o) the si"e)a!* aroun" a /orner( a)ay 7ro; the resi"entia! streets( on ;y )ay to B!ue S%ot0 It9s a;aBin# ho) a to)n /an /han#e so ;u/h in one /orner0 The houses ehin" ;e )eren9t i# or 7an/y0 Very ;i""!e /!ass0 But they sit a/*?to? a/* )ith the %art o7 to)n that9s een s!o)!y 7a!!in# a%art 7or years0 DHey Wa!!y( #uess )hatEF His reath /a;e 7ro; Just o4er ;y shou!"er0 5y a/*%a/* )as restin# on the /ounter )hi!e I Bi%%e" it shut0 Wa!!y9s eyes )ere 7o/use" "o)n( Just eyon" the e"#e o7 the /ounter( near ;y )aist( an" I *ne) )hat )as /o;in#0 A /u%%e" han" s;a/*e" ;y ass0 An" then( he sai" it0 DBest Ass in the Cresh;an 2!ass( Wa!!y0 Stan"in# ri#ht here in your storeKF There9s ;ore than a 7e) #uys I /an %i/ture "oin# that0 The sar/as;0 The arro#an/e0 :i" it hurtE No0 But that "oesn9t ;atter( "oes itE Be/ause the Iuestion is( "i" he ha4e the ri#ht to "o itE An" the ans)er( I ho%e( is o 4ious0 I *no/*e" his han" a)ay )ith a Iui/* a/*han" s)i%e that e4ery #ir! shou!" ;aster0 An" that9s )hen Wa!!y e;er#e" 7ro; his she!!0 That9s )hen Wa!!y ;a"e a soun"0 His ;outh staye" shut( an" it )as nothin# ;ore than a Iui/* /!i/* o7 the ton#ue( ut that !itt!e noise too* ;e y sur%rise0 Insi"e( I *ne)( Wa!!y )as a a!! o7 ra#e0 An" there it is0 The neon si#n o7 B!ue S%ot LiIuor0 Pa#e 6'

On this !o/*( on!y t)o stores re;ain o%en> B!ue S%ot LiIuor an" Rest!ess Vi"eo a/ross the street0 B!ue S%ot !oo*s Just as #ri;y as the !ast ti;e I )a!*e" y it0 E4en the /i#arette an" a!/oho! a"s !oo* the sa;e0 Li*e )a!!%a%er in the 7ront )in"o)0 A rass e!! Jin#!es )hen I o%en the "oor0 The sa;e e!! Hannah !istene" to )hene4er she /a;e in 7or a /an"y 7iG0 Instea" o7 !ettin# it s)in# shut ehin" ;e( I ho!" the e"#e o7 the "oor an" s!o)!y %ush it shut( )at/hin# it rin# the e!! a#ain0 D2an I he!% youEF Without !oo*in#( I a!rea"y *no) it9s not Wa!!y0 But )hy a; I "isa%%ointe"E I "i"n9t /o;e to see Wa!!y0 He as*s a#ain( a !itt!e !ou"er( D2an I he!% youEF I /an9t rin# ;yse!7 to !oo* to)ar" the 7ront /ounter0 Not yet0 I "on9t )ant to i;a#ine her stan"in# there0 At the a/* o7 the store( ehin" a )a!! o7 see?throu#h "oors( are the re7ri#erate" "rin*s0 An" e4en

thou#h I9; not thirsty( I #o there0 I o%en one o7 the "oors an" ta*e an oran#e so"a( the 7irst %!asti/ ott!e I tou/h0 Then I )a!* to the 7ront o7 the store an" %u!! out ;y )a!!et0 A )ire ra/* !oa"e" )ith /an"y ars han#s 7ro; the 7ront /ounter0 These are the ones Hannah !i*e"0 5y !e7t eye e#ins to t)it/h0

DIs that a!!EF he as*s0 I %!a/e the so"a on the /ounter an" !oo* "o)n( ru in# ;y eye0 The %ain e#ins so;e)here a o4e ;y eye( ut it #oes "ee%er0 Behin" ;y eye ro)0 A %in/hin# I94e ne4er 7e!t e7ore0

DThere9s ;ore ehin" you(F the /!er* says0 He ;ust thin* I9; !oo*in# at the /an"y0

I #ra a Butter7in#er 7ro; the ra/* an" %!a/e it neGt to ;y "rin*0 I %ut a 7e) "o!!ars on the /ounter an" s!i"e the; o4er to hi;0 2ha?/hin#K He s!i"es a/* a /ou%!e o7 /oins an" I noti/e a %!asti/ na;eta# stu/* to the re#ister0 D:oes he sti!! )or* hereEF I as*0 DWa!!yEF The /!er* eGha!es throu#h his nose0 D:ay shi7t0F When I !ea4e( the rass e!! Jin#!es0 I s)un# ;y a/*%a/* o4er ;y shou!"er an" %ro a !y )his%ere"( DEG/use ;e(F ut )hen I ;o4e" Pa#e 6=

aroun" hi;( I %ur%ose!y a4oi"e" his eyes0 I ha" the "oor in si#ht( rea"y to !ea4e( )hen he #ra e" ;y )rist an" s%un ;e aroun"0

He sai" ;y na;e( an" )hen I !oo*e" into his eyes the Jo*in# )as #one0 I yan*e" ;y ar;( ut his #ri% )as ti#ht0 A/ross the street( the neon si#n o7 Rest!ess Vi"eo 7!i/*ers errati/a!!y0 I *no) )ho Hannah9s ta!*in# a out no)0 I94e seen his )rist?#ra )ant to #ra hi; y the shirt an" %ush hi; unti! he !ets the #ir! #o0 But instea"( e4ery ti;e( I %reten" not to noti/e0 What /ou!" I "o( any)ayE Then the Jer* !et #o an" %ut his han" on ;y shou!"er0 DI9; on!y %!ayin#( Hannah0 Just re!aG0F O*ay( !et9s "isse/t )hat Just ha%%ene"0 I thou#ht a out it the entire )a!* ho;e 7ro; B!ue S%ot( )hi/h is %ro a !y )hy I "on9t re;e; er )hi/h /an"y ar I ou#ht that "ay0 I sit on the /hi%%e" /ur outsi"e o7 B!ue S%ot( settin# the oran#e so"a neGt to ;e an" a!an/in# the Butter7in#er on ;y *nee0 Not that I ha4e an a%%etite 7or anythin# s)eet0 So )hy "i" I uy itE Was it on!y e/ause Hannah use" to uy /an"y 7ro; the sa;e ra/*E An" )hy "oes that ;atterE I )ent to the 7irst re" star0 An" the se/on"0 I "on9t nee" to #o e4ery)here or "o e4erythin# she says0 Cirst his )or"sMthen his a/tions0 State;ent nu; er one> DI9; on!y %!ayin#( Hannah0F Trans!ation> Your ass is ;y %!ay?toy0 You ;i#ht thin* you ha4e 7ina! say o4er )hat ha%%ens to your ass( ut you "on9t0 At !east( not as !on# as DI9; on!y %!ayin#0F I ta% one en" o7 the /an"y ar( ;a*in# it teeter?totter on ;y *nee0 in# stunt e7ore0 It a!)ays ;a*es ;e

State;ent nu; er t)o> DJust re!aG0F Trans!ation> 2o;e on( Hannah( a!! I "i" )as tou/h you )ith no in"i/ation that you )ante" ;e to tou/h you0 I7 it9!! ;a*e you 7ee! etter( #o ahea"( you /an tou/h ;e )here4er you9" !i*e0 No) !et9s ta!* a out his a/tions( sha!! )eE A/tion nu; er one> $ra in# ;y ass0

Inter%retation> Let ;e a/* u% an" say that this #uy ha" ne4er #ra e" ;y ass e7ore0 So )hy no)E 5y %ants )eren9t anythin# s%e/ia!0 They )eren9t o4er!y ti#ht0 Sure( they )ere s!un# a !itt!e !o) an" he %ro a !y #ot a hi% shot( ut he "i"n9t #ra ;y hi%s0 He #ra e" ;y ass0 Pa#e 61

I9; startin# to un"erstan"0 I9; startin# to see )hat Hannah ;eans0 An" that o%ens u% a !a/* ho!e in the %it o7 ;y sto;a/h0 Best Li%s0 That )as another /ate#ory on the !ist0 A!eG( a; I sayin# your !ist #a4e hi; %er;ission to #ra ;y assE No0 I9; sayin# it #a4e hi; an eG/use0 An" an eG/use )as a!! this #uy nee"e"0 It )asn9t ti!! that !ist /a;e out that I e4en noti/e" An#e!a Ro;ero9s !i%s0 But a7ter that( I e/a;e 7as/inate" y the;0 When I )at/he" her #i4e s%ee/hes "urin# /!ass( I ha" no i"ea )hat )or"s /a;e out o7 her ;outh0 I Just )at/he" those !i%s ;o4e u% an" "o)n0 5es;eriBe" )hen she sai" thin#s !i*e Ds!i%%ery s!o%e(F )hi/h( ehin" her !i%s( eG%ose" the un"ersi"e o7 her ton#ue0 A/tion nu; er t)o> He #ra e" ;y )rist then %ut his han" on ;y shou!"er0

You *no)( I9; not e4en #oin# to inter%ret this0 I9; Just #oin# to te!! you )hy it %isse" ;e o770 I94e ha" ;y utt #ra e" e7oreMno i# "ea!M ut this ti;e it )as #ra e" e/ause so;eone e!se )rote ;y na;e on a !ist0 An" )hen this #uy sa) ;e u%set( "i" he a%o!o#iBeE No0 Instea"( he #ot a##ressi4e0 Then( in the ;ost /on"es/en"in# )ay( he to!" ;e to re!aG0 Then he %ut his han" on ;y shou!"er( as i7 y tou/hin# ;e he9" so;eho) /o;7ort ;e0 Here9s a ti%0 I7 you tou/h a #ir!( e4en as a Jo*e( an" she %ushes you o77( !ea4eLherLa!one0 :on9t tou/h her0 Any)hereK Just sto%0 Your tou/h "oes nothin# ut si/*en her0

The rest o7 An#e!a )as no)here near as ;es;eriBin# as her !i%s0 Not a"( Just not ;es;eriBin#0 Then( !ast su;;er at a 7rien"9s house( )e %!aye" s%in the ott!e a7ter a un/h o7 us a";itte" )e )ere s%in?the? ott!e 4ir#ins0 An" I re7use" to !et the #a;e en" ti!! ;y s%in !an"e" on An#e!a0 Or ti!! her s%in !an"e" on ;e0 When that ha%%ene"( I %resse" ;y !i%s( a#oniBin#!y s!o)!y an" %re/ise!y( a#ainst hers0 There are so;e si/* an" t)iste" %eo%!e out there( A!eGMan" ;ay e I9; one o7 the;M ut the %oint is( )hen you ho!" %eo%!e u% 7or ri"i/u!e( you ha4e to ta*e res%onsi i!ity )hen other %eo%!e a/t on it0 Later on( An#e!a an" I ;a"e out on her a/* %or/h0 I Just /ou!"n9t #et enou#h o7 those !i%s0 A!! e/ause o7 a !ist0 A/tua!!y( that9s not ri#ht0 You "i"n9t ho!" ;e u% 7or ri"i/u!e( "i" youE 5y na;e )as in the Hot /o!u;n0 You )rote Jessi/a9s na;e in the Not /o!u;n0 You he!" Jessi/a u% 7or ri"i/u!e0 An" that9s )here our sno) a!! %i/*s u% s%ee"0 Jessi/a( ;y "earLyou9re neGt0 I %o% o%en the Wa!*;an an" %u!! out the 7irst ta%e0 In the s;a!!est %o/*et o7 ;y a/*%a/*( I 7in" the neGt ta%e0 The one )ith a !ue nu; er three )ritten in the /orner0 I "ro% that into the "e/* an" sna% the "oor shut0 2ASSETTE 6> SI:E A Pa#e 68

Be7ore Hannah9s 4oi/e *i/*s in( there9s a %ause0 Ste%? y?ste%0 That9s ho) )e9!! #et throu#h this0 One 7oot in 7ront o7 the other0 A/ross the street( ehin" the ui!"in#s( the sun /ontinues its 7a!!0 A!! the street!a;%s are on( u% an" "o)n

the !o/*0 I #ra the Butter7in#er 7ro; ;y *nee( the so"a 7ro; esi"e ;e( an" stan" u%0 We94e a!rea"y 7inishe" one ta%eM oth si"esMso sti/* )ith ;e0 Thin#s #et etter( or )orse( "e%en"in# on your %oint o7 4ie)0 There9s a trash /an( an oi! "ru; s%ray?%ainte" !ue( near the 7ront "oor o7 B!ue S%ot LiIuor0 I "ro% the

un)ra%%e" Butter7in#er into it( una !e to i;a#ine ;y sto;a/h ho!"in# "o)n anythin# so!i"( an" )a!* a)ay0

I *no) it ;ay soun" !i*e it( ut I )asn9t /o;%!ete!y a!one the e#innin# o7 ;y 7resh;an year0 T)o other 7resh;en( oth 7eature" here on Hannah Ba*er9s $reatest Hits( )ere a!so ne) to the area0 A!eG Stan"a!! an" Jessi/a :a4is0 An" )hi!e )e ne4er e/a;e /!ose 7rien"s( )e "i" re!y on ea/h other those 7irst 7e) )ee*s o7 s/hoo!0 I t)ist the to% o77 ;y oran#e so"a0 It hisses an" I ta*e a si%0 With one )ee* !e7t o7 su;;er 4a/ation( 5s0 Anti!!y /a!!e" ;e at ho;e to see i7 I9" ;eet her at s/hoo!0 A !itt!e ne)?stu"ent orientation( she sai"0 In /ase you "on9t re;e; er( 5s0 Anti!!y )as the #ui"an/e /ounse!or 7or stu"ents )ith !ast na;es e#innin#Athrou#h $0Later that year( she ;o4e" to another s/hoo! "istri/t0 I re;e; er she )as re%!a/e" y 5r0 Porter0 It )as su%%ose" to e a te;%orary %osition( ut he9s sti!! at it0 An En#!ish tea/her as )e!! as a #ui"an/e /ounse!or0 Whi/h is 4ery un7ortunate( as it turns out0 But that is 7or a !ater ta%e0 An i/y s)eat rea*s a/ross ;y 7orehea"0 5r0 PorterE :oes he ha4e so;ethin# to "o )ith thisE The )or!" aroun" ;e ti!ts an" s%ins0 I #ra onto the trun* o7 a s*inny si"e)a!* tree0 I7 she ha" to!" ;e the rea! %ur%ose o7 our #et?to#ether )as to intro"u/e ;e to another ne) stu"ent( I )ou!"n9t ha4e #one0 I ;ean( )hat i7 )e ha" nothin# in /o;;onE Or )hat i7 I thou#ht )e ha" nothin# in /o;;on ut she( the other stu"ent( thou#ht )e "i"E Or )hat i7 the o%%osite ha%%ene" an" I thou#ht )e /ou!" e/o;e 7rien"s ut she "i"n9tE So ;any thin#s /ou!" ha4e #one so horri !y )ron#0 I %ress ;y 7orehea" a#ainst the s;ooth ar* an" try to /a!; ;y reathin#0 But the other #ir! )as Jessi/a :a4is( an" she "i"n9t )ant to e there any ;ore than I "i"0 We oth eG%e/te" 5s0 Anti!!y to s%e) a un/h o7 %sy/ho a !e at us0 What it ;eansM)hat it

Pa#e 63

ta*esMto e a #reat stu"ent0 Ho) this s/hoo! is ;a"e u% o7 the est an" the ri#htest in the state0 Ho) e4eryone is #i4en the sa;e o%%ortunities to su//ee" i7 they9re )i!!in# to try0 But instea"( she #a4e ea/h o7 us a u""y0 I /!ose ;y eyes0 I "on9t )ant to see it( ut it9s so /!ear0 When ru;ors o7 Hannah9s uneG%!aine" a sen/e e#an s%rea"in# throu#h s/hoo!( 5r0 Porter as*e" our /!ass )hy he *e%t hearin# her na;e ;entione" in the ha!!s0 He !oo*e" ner4ous0 A!;ost si/*0 Li*e he *ne) the ans)er ut )ante" so;eone to /on4in/e

hi; other)ise0 Then a #ir! )his%ere"( DSo;eone sa) an a; u!an/e !ea4in# her house0F The ;o;ent 5s0 Anti!!y to!" us )hy )e )ere there( Jessi/a an" I turne" to ea/h other0 Her !i%s %arte" as i7 she )ante" to say so;ethin#0 But )hat /ou!" she say )ith ;e sittin# ri#ht thereE She 7e!t !in"si"e"0 2on7use"0 Lie" to0 I *no) that9s ho) she 7e!t e/ause I 7e!t the sa;e )ay0 An" I9!! ne4er 7or#et 5s0 Anti!!y9s rea/tion0 T)o short( "ra)n?out )or"s0 DOrLnot0F I sIueeBe ;y eyes ti#ht( tryin# har" to re;e; er that "ay as /!ear!y as %ossi !e0 Was it %ain on 5r0 Porter9s 7a/eE Or )as it 7earE He Just stoo" there( starin# at Hannah9s "es*0 Throu#h her "es*0 An" no one sai" a )or"( ut )e !oo*e" aroun"0 At ea/h other0 Then he !e7t0 5r0 Porter )a!*e" out o7 /!ass an" "i"n9t /o;e a/* 7or a )ee*0 WhyE :i" he *no)E :i" he *no) e/ause o7 so;ethin# he9" "oneE An" here( to the est o7 ;y ;e;ory( is )hat )e sai"0 5e> I9; sorry( 5s0 Anti!!y0 I Just "i"n9t thin* that9s )hy you /a!!e" ;e in here0 Jessi/a> 5e( neither0 I )ou!"n9t ha4e /o;e0 I ;ean( I9; sure Hi!!ary an" I ha4e thin#s in /o;;on( an" I9; sure she9s a #reat %erson( utL 5e> It9s Hannah0 Jessi/a> I /a!!e" you Hi!!ary( "i"n9t IE Sorry0 5e> It9s o*ay0 I Just thou#ht you shou!" *no) ;y na;e i7 )e9re #oin# to e su/h 7a u!ous 7rien"s0 An" then the three o7 us !au#he"0 Jessi/a an" I ha" 4ery si;i!ar !au#hs( )hi/h ;a"e us !au#h e4en har"er0 5s0 Anti!!y9s !au#h )asn9t Iuite as heart7e!tL;ore o7 a ner4ous !au#hL ut sti!! a !au#h0 She /!ai;e" to ha4e ne4er trie" ;at/hin# u% 7rien"s e7ore( an" )as "ou t7u! she e4er )ou!" a#ain0 But #uess )hat0 A7ter the ;eetin#( Jessi/a an" I "i" han# out0

Very snea*y( 5s0 Anti!!y0 Veeeeeery snea*y0 We !e7t /a;%us an"( at 7irst( the /on4ersation 7e!t a)*)ar"0 But it )as ni/e ha4in# so;eone to ta!* to Pa#e 3+

other than ;y %arents0 A /ity us %u!!s u% to the /ur in 7ront o7 ;e0 Si!4er )ith !ue stri%es0 We )a!*e" %ast ;y turno77( ut I "i"n9t say anythin#0 I "i"n9t )ant to sto% our /on4ersation( ut I a!so "i"n9t )ant to in4ite her o4er e/ause )e rea!!y "i"n9t *no) ea/h other yet0 So )e /ontinue" )a!*in# unti! )e rea/he" "o)nto)n0 I 7oun" out !ater that she "i" the sa;e thin#( )a!*e" %ast the street )here she !i4e" in or"er to *ee% ta!*in# )ith ;e0 So )here "i" )e #oE E?1 on your ;a%0 5onet9s $ar"en 2a7Q R 2o77eehouse0 The us "oor )heeBes o%en0 Neither o7 us )ere /o77ee "rin*ers( ut it see;e" !i*e a ni/e %!a/e to /hat0 Throu#h the 7o##y )in"o)s I see that a!;ost a!! the seats are e;%ty0 We oth #ot hot /ho/o!ate0 She or"ere" it thin*in# it )ou!" e 7unny0 But ;eE I a!)ays or"er hot /ho/o!ate0 I94e ne4er ri""en a /ity us0 Ne4er ha" a reason to0 But it9s #ettin# "ar*er an" /o!"er e4ery ;inute0 It "oesn9t /ost anythin# to ri"e the us at ni#ht( so I ho% on0 I ;o4e ri#ht y the "ri4er )ithout either o7 us sayin# a )or" to ea/h other0 She "oesn9t e4en !oo* at ;e0 I ;a*e ;y )ay "o)n the /enter ais!e( uttonin# ;y Ja/*et a#ainst the /o!"( #i4in# ea/h utton ;ore attention than reIuire"0 Any eG/use to a4ert ;y eyes 7ro; the other %assen#ers0 I *no) ho) I ;ust !oo* to the;0 2on7use"0 $ui!ty0 In the %ro/ess o7 ein# /rushe"0 I /hoose a en/h that( as !on# as no one e!se oar"s( is situate" et)een three or 7our e;%ty seats a!! aroun"0 The !ue 4iny! /ushion is ri%%e" "o)n the ;i""!e( )ith the ye!!o) stu77in# insi"e a out to urst out0 I s!i"e o4er to the )in"o)0 The #!ass is /o!"( ut restin# ;y hea" a#ainst it he!%s re!aG ;e0

I honest!y "on9t re;e; er ;u/h o7 )hat )e sai" that a7ternoon0 :o you( Jessi/aE Be/ause )hen I /!ose ;y eyes( e4erythin# ha%%ens in a *in" o7 ;onta#e0 Lau#hin#0 Tryin# har" not to s%i!! our "rin*s0 Wa4in# our han"s )hi!e )e ta!*0 I /!ose ;y eyes0 The #!ass /oo!s one si"e o7 ;y o4erheate" 7a/e0 I "on9t /are )here this us is #oin#0 I9!! ri"e it 7or hours i7 I9; a!!o)e" to0 I9!! Just sit here an" !isten to the ta%es0 An" ;ay e( )ithout tryin#( I9!! 7a!! as!ee%0 Then( at one %oint( you !ean a/ross the ta !e0 DI thin* that #uy9s /he/*in# you out(F you )his%ere"0 I *ne) eGa/t!y )ho you )ere ta!*in# a out e/ause I9" een )at/hin# hi;( as )e!!0 But he )asn9t /he/*in# ;e out0 Pa#e 31

DHe9s /he/*in# you out(F I sai"0 In a /ontest o7 )ho9s?#ot?the? i##est? a!!s( a!! o7 you !istenin# shou!" *no) that Jessi/a )ins0 DEG/use ;e(F she sai" to A!eG( in /ase you ha4en9t 7i#ure" out the na;e o7 the ;ystery ;an( D ut )hi/h

one o7 us are you /he/*in# outEF An" a 7e) ;onths !ater( a7ter Hannah an" Justin Co!ey rea* u%( a7ter the ru;ors e#in( A!eG )rites a !ist0 Who9s hot0 Who9s not0 But there( at 5onet9s( no one *ne) )here that ;eetin# )ou!" !ea"0 I )ant to %ush Sto% on the Wa!*;an an" re)in" their )ho!e /on4ersation0 To re)in" into the %ast an"

)arn the;0 Or %re4ent the; 7ro; e4en ;eetin#0 But I /an9t0 You /an9t re)rite the %ast0 A!eG !ushe"0 I9; ta!*in# an a!!?the? !oo"?in?his? o"y?rushin#?u%?to?his?7a/e *in" o7 !ushe"0 An"

)hen he o%ene" his ;outh to "eny it( Jessi/a /ut hi; o770 D:on9t !ie0 Whi/h one o7 us )ere you /he/*in# outEF Throu#h the 7rosty #!ass( "o)nto)n9s street!a;%s an" neon !i#hts s!i"e y0 5ost o7 the sho%s are /!ose"

7or the ni#ht0 But the restaurants an" ars re;ain o%en0

At that ;o;ent I )ou!" ha4e %ai" "ear!y 7or Jessi/a9s 7rien"shi%0 She )as the ;ost out#oin#( honest( te!!?it?!i*e?it?is #ir! I9" e4er ;et0

Si!ent!y( I than*e" 5s0 Anti!!y 7or intro"u/in# us0 A!eG stuttere" an" Jessi/a !eane" o4er( !ettin# her 7in#ers 7a!! #ra/e7u!!y onto his ta !e0 DLoo*( )e sa) you )at/hin# us(F she sai"0 DWe9re oth ne) to this to)n an" )e9" !i*e to *no) )ho

you )ere starin# at0 It9s i;%ortant0F A!eG sta;;ere"0 DI JustLI hear"Lit9s Just( I9; ne) here( too0F I thin* Jessi/a an" I oth sai" so;ethin# a!on# the !ines o7( DOh0F An" then it )as our turn to !ush0 Poor

A!eG Just )ante" to e a %art o7 our /on4ersation0 So )e !et hi;0 An" I thin* )e ta!*e" 7or at !east another hourM%ro a !y ;ore0 Just three %eo%!e( ha%%y that the 7irst "ay o7 s/hoo! )ou!"n9t e s%ent )an"erin# the ha!!s a!one0 Or eatin# !un/h a!one0 $ettin# !ost a!one0 Not that it ;atters( ut )here is this us #oin#E :oes it !ea4e our to)n 7or another oneE Or "oes it !oo% en"!ess!y throu#h these streetsE 5ay e I shou!"94e /he/*e" e7ore #ettin# on0 That a7ternoon at 5onet9s )as a re!ie7 7or a!! three o7 us0 Ho) ;any ni#hts ha" I 7a!!en as!ee% terri7ie"( thin*in# o7 that 7irst "ay o7 s/hoo!E Too ;any0 An" a7ter 5onet9sE None0 No)( I )as eG/ite"0

An" Just so you *no)( I ne4er thou#ht o7 Jessi/a or A!eG as 7rien"s0 Not e4en at the e#innin# )hen I )ou!"94e !o4e" t)o auto;ati/ 7rien"shi%s0 Pa#e 36

An" I *no) they 7e!t the sa;e )ay( e/ause )e ta!*e" a out it0 We ta!*e" a out our %ast 7rien"s an" )hy those %eo%!e ha" e/o;e our 7rien"s0 We ta!*e" a out )hat )e )ere sear/hin# 7or in ne) 7rien"s at our ne) s/hoo!0 But those 7irst 7e) )ee*s( unti! )e ea/h %ee!e" a)ay( 5onet9s $ar"en )as our sa7e ha4en0 I7 one o7 us ha" a har" ti;e 7ittin# in or ;eetin# %eo%!e( )e9" #o to 5onet9s0 Ba/* in the #ar"en( at the 7ar ta !e to the ri#ht0 I9; not sure )ho starte" it( ut )hoe4er ha" the ;ost eGhaustin# "ay )ou!" !ay a han" in the /enter o7 the ta !e an" say( DO!!y?o!!y?oGen?7ree0F The other t)o )ou!" !ay their han"s on to% an" !ean in0 Then )e9" !isten( si%%in# "rin*s )ith our 7ree han"s0 Jessi/a an" I a!)ays "ran* hot /ho/o!ate0 O4er ti;e( A!eG ;a"e his )ay throu#h the entire ;enu0 I94e on!y een to 5onet9s a 7e) ti;es( ut I thin* it9s on the street the us is #oin# "o)n no)0

Yes( )e )ere /heesy0 An" I9; sorry i7 this e%iso"e9s ;a*in# you si/*0 I7 it he!%s( it9s a!;ost too s)eet 7or ;e0 But 5onet9s tru!y 7i!!e" )hate4er 4oi" nee"e" 7i!!in# at the ti;e0 Cor a!! o7 us0 But "on9t )orryLit "i"n9t !ast0 I s!i"e a/ross the en/h to the ais!e( then stan" u% in the ;o4in# us0 The 7irst to "ro% out )as A!eG0 We )ere 7rien"!y )hen )e sa) ea/h other in the ha!!s( ut it ne4er )ent eyon" that0 At !east( )ith ;e it "i"n9t0 Bra/in# ;y han"s a#ainst the a/*rests( I ;a*e ;y )ay to the 7ront o7 the shi7tin# us0 No) "o)n to the t)o o7 us( Jessi/a an" ;e( the )ho!e thin# /han#e" %retty 7ast0 The ta!*s e/a;e /hit/hat an" not ;u/h ;ore0 DWhen9s the neGt sto%EF I as*0 I 7ee! the )or"s !ea4e ;y throat( ut they9re are!y )his%ers a o4e Hannah9s 4oi/e an" the en#ine0 The "ri4er !oo*s at ;e in the rear4ie) ;irror0 Then Jessi/a sto%%e" #oin#( an" thou#h I )ent to 5onet9s a 7e) ;ore ti;es ho%in# one o7 the; ;i#ht )an"er in( e4entua!!y I sto%%e" #oin#( too0 ,nti!L DOn!y other %eo%!e here are as!ee%(F the "ri4er says0 I )at/h her !i%s /are7u!!y to ;a*e sure I un"erstan"0 DI /an sto% )here4er you9" !i*e0F See( the /oo! thin# a out Jessi/a9s story is that so ;u/h o7 it ha%%ens in one s%ot( ;a*in# !i7e ;u/h easier 7or those o7 you 7o!!o)in# the stars0 The us %asses 5onet9s0 DHere9s #oo"(F I say0 Pa#e 33

Yes( I ;et Jessi/a 7or the 7irst ti;e in 5s0 Anti!!y9s o77i/e0 But )e #ot to *no) ea/h other at 5onet9s0 I ho!" ;yse!7 stea"y as the us "e/e!erates an" %u!!s to the /ur 0 An" )e #ot to *no) A!eG at 5onet9s0 An" thenLan" then this ha%%ene"0 The "oor )heeBes o%en0 At s/hoo! one "ay( Jessi/a )a!*e" u% to ;e in the ha!!s0 DWe nee" to ta!*(F she sai"0 She "i"n9t say

)here or )hy( ut I *ne) she ;eant 5onet9sLan" I thou#ht I *ne) )hy0 I "es/en" the stairs an" ste% 7ro; the #utter u% onto the /ur 0 I rea"Just the hea"%hones an" start )a!*in# a/* ha!7 a !o/*0 When I #ot there( Jessi/a )as sittin# s!u;%e" in a /hair( ar;s "an#!in# y her si"es !i*e she9" een

)aitin# a !on# ti;e0 An" ;ay e she ha"0 5ay e she ho%e" I )ou!" s*i% ;y !ast /!ass to Join her0 So I sat "o)n an" s!i" ;y han" into the ;i""!e o7 the ta !e0 DO!!y?o!!y?oGen?7reeEF She !i7te" one o7 her han"s an" s!a%%e" a %a%er on the ta !e0 Then she %ushe" it a/ross an" s%un it

aroun" 7or ;e to rea"0 But I "i"n9t nee" it s%un aroun"( e/ause the 7irst ti;e I rea" that %a%er it )as

u%si"e "o)n on Ji;;y9s "es*>WHO9S HOT P WHO9S NOT0 I *ne) )hi/h si"e o7 the !ist I )as onMa//or"in# to A!eG0 An" ;y so?/a!!e" o%%osite )as sittin# a/ross 7ro; ;e0 At our sa7e ha4en( no !ess0 5ineLhersLan" A!eG9s0 DWho /aresEF I to!" her0 DIt "oesn9t ;ean anythin#0F I s)a!!o) har"0 When I rea" that !ist( I %asse" it "o)n the ais!e )ithout a thou#ht0 At the ti;e( it see;e"

*in" o7 7unny0 DHannah(F she sai"( DI "on9t /are that he %i/*e" you o4er ;e0F I *ne) eGa/t!y )here that /on4ersation )as hea"e" an" I )as not #oin# to !et her ta*e us there0 An" no)E Ho) "o I see it no)E I shou!"94e #ra e" e4ery /o%y I /ou!" 7in" an" thro)n the; a!! a)ay0 DHe "i" not /hoose ;e o4er you( Jessi/a(F I sai"0 DHe /hose ;e to #et a/* at you an" you *no) that0

He *ne) ;y na;e )ou!" hurt you ;ore than anyone e!se9s0F She /!ose" her eyes an" sai" ;y na;e in a!;ost a )his%er0 DHannah0F :o you re;e; er that( Jessi/aE Be/ause I "o0 When so;eone says your na;e !i*e that( )hen they )on9t e4en !oo* you in the eyes( there is nothin#

;ore you /an "o or say0 Their ;in" is ;a"e u%0 DHannah(F you sai"0 DI *no) the ru;ors0F

Pa#e 3&

DYou /an9t *no) ru;ors(F I sai"0 An" ;ay e I )as ein# a !itt!e sensiti4e( ut I ha" ho%e"Msi!!y ;eMthat there )ou!" e no ;ore ru;ors )hen ;y 7a;i!y ;o4e" here0 That I ha" !e7t the ru;ors an" #ossi% ehin" ;eL7or #oo"0 DYou /an hear ru;ors(F I sai"( D ut you /an9t *no) the;0F A#ain( you sai" ;y na;e0 DHannah0F Yes( I *ne) the ru;ors0 An" I s)ore to you that I ha"n9t seen A!eG one ti;e outsi"e o7 s/hoo!0 But you )ou!"n9t e!ie4e ;e0 An" )hy shou!" you e!ie4e ;eE Why )ou!" anyone not e!ie4e a ru;or that 7its so ni/e!y )ith an o!" ru;orE Huh( JustinE WhyE Jessi/a /ou!" ha4e hear" so ;any ru;ors a out A!eG an" Hannah0 But none o7 the; )ere true0 Cor Jessi/a( it )as easier to thin* o7 ;e as Ba" Hannah than as the Hannah she #ot to *no) at 5onet9s0 It )as easier to a//e%t0 Easier to un"erstan"0 Cor her( the ru;ors nee"e" to e true0 I re;e; er a un/h o7 #uys Jo*in# )ith A!eG in the !o/*er roo;0 DPat?a?/a*e( %at?a?/a*e( Ba*er9s ;an0F Then so;eone as*e" hi;( DPat that ;u77in( Ba*er9s ;anEF an" e4eryone *ne) )hat )as ein# sai"0 When the ro) /!eare" out( on!y A!eG an" I re;aine"0 A tiny )ren/h o7 Jea!ousy t)iste" u% ;y insi"es0 E4er sin/e Nat9s #oin#?a)ay %arty( I /ou!"n9t #et Hannah out o7 ;y ;in"0 But I /ou!"n9t rin# ;yse!7 to as* i7 )hat they ha" sai" )as true0 Be/ause i7 it )as( I "i"n9t )ant to hear it0 Ti#htenin# his shoe!a/es( an" )ithout !oo*in# at ;e( A!eG "enie" the ru;or0 DJust so you *no)0F DCine(F I sai"0 DCine( Jessi/a0 Than* you 7or he!%in# ;e the 7irst 7e) )ee*s o7 s/hoo!0 It ;eant a !ot0 An"

I9; sorry A!eG s/re)e" that u% )ith this stu%i" !itt!e !ist o7 his( ut he "i"0F I to!" her I *ne) a!! a out their re!ationshi%0 On that 7irst "ay at 5onet9s( he ha" een /he/*in# one o7 us out0 An" it )asn9t ;e0 An" yes( that ;a"e ;e Jea!ous0 An" i7 it he!%e" her #et o4er it( I a//e%te" any !a;e she )ante" to %ut on ;e 7or the t)o o7 the; rea*in# u%0 ButLitL)asLnotLtrueK I rea/h 5onet9s0 T)o #uys stan" outsi"e( !eanin# a#ainst the )a!!0 One s;o*es a /i#arette an" the other is urro)e" "ee% into his Ja/*et0 But a!! Jessi/a hear" )as ;e a//e%tin# !a;e0 She rose u% esi"e her /hairM#!arin# "o)n at ;eMan" s)un#0 So te!! ;e( Jessi/a( )hi/h "i" you ;ean to "oE Pun/h ;e( or s/rat/h ;eE Be/ause it 7e!t !i*e a !itt!e it o7 oth0 Li*e you /ou!"n9t rea!!y "e/i"e0 An" )hat )as it you /a!!e" ;eE Not that it ;atters( ut Just 7or the re/or"0 Be/ause I )as too usy !i7tin# ;y han" an" "u/*in#M ut you #ot ;eKMan" I ;isse" )hat you sai"0 Pa#e 3'

That tiny s/ar you94e a!! seen a o4e ;y eye ro)( that9s the sha%e o7 Jessi/a9s 7in#ernai!L)hi/h I %!u/*e" out ;yse!70 I noti/e" that s/ar a 7e) )ee*s a#o0 At the %arty0 A tiny 7!a) on a %retty 7a/e0 An" I to!" her ho) /ute it )as0 5inutes !ater( she starte" 7rea*in# out0 Or ;ay e you94e ne4er seen it0 But I see it e4ery ;ornin# )hen I #et rea"y 7or s/hoo!0 D$oo" ;ornin#( Hannah(F it says0 An" e4ery ni#ht )hen I #et rea"y 7or e"0 DS!ee% ti#ht0F I %ush o%en the hea4y )oo"?an"?#!ass "oor to 5onet9s0 War; air rushes out to #ra ;e an" e4eryone turns( u%set at the %erson !ettin# in the /o!"0 I s!in* insi"e an" shut the "oor ehin" ;e0

But it9s ;ore than Just a s/rat/h0 It9s a %un/h in the sto;a/h an" a s!a% in the 7a/e0 It9s a *ni7e in ;y a/* e/ause you )ou!" rather e!ie4e so;e ;a"e?u% ru;or than )hat you *ne) to e true0 Jessi/a( ;y "ear( I9" rea!!y !o4e to *no) i7 you "ra##e" yourse!7 to ;y 7unera!0 An" i7 you "i"( "i" you noti/e your s/arE An" )hat a out youMthe rest o7 youM"i" you noti/e the s/ars you !e7t ehin"E No0 Pro a !y not0 That )asn9t %ossi !e0 Be/ause ;ost o7 the; /an9t e seen )ith the na*e" eye0 Be/ause there )as no 7unera!( Hannah0 2ASSETTE 6> SI:E B In honor o7 Hannah( I shou!" or"er a hot /ho/o!ate0 At 5onet9s( they ser4e the; )ith tiny ;arsh;a!!o)s 7!oatin# on to%0 The on!y /o77ee sho% I *no) o7 that "oes that0 But )hen the #ir! as*s( I say /o77ee( e/ause I9; /hea%0 The hot /ho/o!ate /osts a )ho!e "o!!ar ;ore0 She s!i"es an e;%ty ;u# a/ross the /ounter an" %oints to the %our?it?yourse!7 ar0 I %our in Just enou#h ha!7?an"?ha!7 to /oat the otto; o7 the ;u#0 The rest I 7i!! )ith Hairy 2hest B!en" e/ause it soun"s hi#h!y /a77einate" an" ;ay e I /an stay u% !ate to 7inish the ta%es0 I thin* I nee" to 7inish the;( an" 7inish the; toni#ht0 But shou!" IE In one ni#htE Or shou!" I 7in" ;y story( !isten to it( then Just enou#h o7 the neGt ta%e to see )ho I9; su%%ose" to %ass the; o77 toE DWhat9re you !istenin# toEF It9s the #ir! 7ro; ehin" the /ounter0 She9s esi"e ;e no)( ti!tin# the stain!ess stee! /ontainers o7 ha!7?an"?ha!7( !o) 7at( an" soy0 She9s /he/*in# to see i7 they9re 7u!!0 A /ou%!e o7 !a/* !ines( a tattoo( stret/h u% 7ro; her /o!!ar an" "isa%%ear into her short( /ro%%e" hair0 I #!an/e "o)n at the ye!!o) hea"%hones han#in# aroun" ;y ne/*0 DJust so;e ta%es0F Pa#e 3=

D2assette ta%esEF She %i/*s u% the soy an" ho!"s it a#ainst her sto;a/h0 DInterestin#0 Anyone I94e hear" o7EF I sha*e ;y hea" no an" "ro% three /u es o7 su#ar into ;y /o77ee0 She /ra"!es the soy )ith her other ar; then %uts out her han"0 DWe )ent to s/hoo! to#ether( t)o years a#o0 You9re 2!ay( ri#htEF I %ut "o)n the ;u# then s!i"e ;y han" into hers0 Her %a!; is )ar; an" so7t0 DWe ha" one /!ass to#ether(F she says( D ut )e "i"n9t ta!* ;u/h0F She !oo*s a !itt!e 7a;i!iar0 5ay e her hair9s "i77erent0 DYou )ou!"n9t re/o#niBe ;e(F she says0 DI94e /han#e" a !ot sin/e hi#h s/hoo!0F She ro!!s her hea4i!y ;a"e?u% eyes0 DThan* $o"0F I %!a/e a )oo"en stirrer into ;y /o77ee an" ;iG it0 DWhi/h /!ass "i" )e ha4eEF DWoo" Sho%0F I sti!! "on9t re;e; er her0 DThe on!y thin# I #ot out o7 that /!ass )ere s%!inters(F she says0 DOh( an" I ;a"e a %iano en/h0 Sti!! no %iano( ut at !east I94e #ot the en/h0 :o you re;e; er )hat you ;a"eEF I stir ;y /o77ee0 DA s%i/e ra/*0F The /rea;er ;iGes in an" the /o77ee turns a !i#ht ro)n )ith so;e "ar* /o77ee #roun"s risin# to the sur7a/e0 DI a!)ays thou#ht you )ere the ni/est #uy(F she says0 DIn s/hoo!( e4eryone thou#ht so0 Nin" o7 Iuiet( ut that9s o*ay0 Ba/* then( %eo%!e thou#ht I ta!*e" too ;u/h0F A /usto;er /!ears his throat at the /ounter0 We oth #!an/e at hi;( ut he "oesn9t !oo* a)ay 7ro; the "rin* !ist0 She turns a/* to ;e an" )e sha*e han"s a#ain0 DWe!!( ;ay e I9!! see you aroun"( )hen there9s ;ore ti;e to ta!*0F Then she )a!*s a/* ehin" the /ounter0 That9s ;e0 Ni/e $uy 2!ay0

Wou!" she sti!! say that i7 she hear" these ta%esE I hea" to the a/* o7 5onet9s( to)ar" the /!ose" "oor that !ea"s to the %atio0 A!on# the )ay( ta !es 7u!! o7 %eo%!e stret/h their !e#s or ti!t a/* their /hairs to 7or; an o sta/!e /ourse that e#s ;e to s%i!! ;y "rin*0 A "ro% o7 )ar; /o77ee s%i!!s onto ;y 7in#er0 I )at/h it s!i"e a/ross ;y *nu/*!es an" "ri% to the 7!oor0 I ru the toe o7 ;y shoe o4er the s%ot ti!! it "isa%%ears0 An" I re/a!!( ear!ier to"ay( )at/hin# a s!i% o7 %a%er 7a!! outsi"e the shoe store0 Pa#e 31

A7ter Hannah9s sui/i"e( ut e7ore the shoe oG o7 ta%es arri4e"( I 7oun" ;yse!7 )a!*in# y Hannah9s ;o; an" "a"9s shoe store ;any ti;es0 It )as that store that rou#ht her to to)n in the 7irst %!a/e0 A7ter thirty years in usiness( the o)ner o7 the store )as !oo*in# to se!! an" retire0 An" Hannah9s %arents )ere !oo*in# to ;o4e0 I9; not sure )hy I )a!*e" y there so ;any ti;es0 5ay e I )as sear/hin# 7or a /onne/tion to her( so;e /onne/tion outsi"e o7 s/hoo!( an" it9s the on!y one I /ou!" thin* o70 Loo*in# 7or ans)ers to Iuestions I "i"n9t *no) ho) to as*0 A out her !i7e0 A out e4erythin#0 I ha" no i"ea the ta%es )ere on their )ay to eG%!ain it a!!0 The "ay a7ter her sui/i"e )as the 7irst ti;e I 7oun" ;yse!7 at their store( stan"in# outsi"e the 7ront "oor0 The !i#hts )ere out0 A sin#!e sheet o7 %a%er ta%e" to the 7ront )in"o) sai"(WELL BE OPEN SOON in thi/* !a/* ;ar*er0 It )as )ritten in a hurry( I 7i#ure"0 They Just 7or#ot the a%ostro%he0 On the #!ass "oor( a "e!i4ery %erson ha" !e7t a se!7?a"hesi4e note0 A;on# a !ist o7 other o%tions( DWi!! try a#ain to;orro)F )as /he/*e"0 A 7e) "ays !ater( I )ent a/*0 E4en ;ore notes )ere stu/* to the #!ass0 On ;y )ay ho;e 7ro; s/hoo! ear!ier to"ay( I )ent y the store one ;ore ti;e0 As I rea" the "ates an" notes on ea/h %ie/e o7 %a%er( the o!"est note e/a;e unstu/* an" 7!uttere" to the #roun"( restin# esi"e ;y shoe0 I %i/*e" it u% an" sear/he" the "oor 7or the ;ost re/ent note0 Then I !i7te" a /orner o7 that note an" stu/* the o!"er one eneath it0

They9!! e a/* soon( I thou#ht0 They ;ust ha4e ta*en her ho;e 7or the uria!0 Ba/* to her o!" to)n0 ,n!i*e o!" a#e or /an/er( no one anti/i%ates a sui/i"e0 They si;%!y !e7t )ithout a /han/e to #et thin#s in or"er0 I o%en the %atio "oor at 5onet9s( /are7u! not to s%i!! any ;ore o7 ;y /o77ee0 Aroun" the #ar"en( to *ee% the at;os%here re!aGe"( the !i#hts are *e%t !o)0 E4ery ta !e( in/!u"in# Hannah9s in the 7ar a/* /orner( is o//u%ie"0 Three #uys in ase a!! /a%s sit there( hun/he" o4er teGt oo*s an" note oo*s( none o7 the; ta!*in#0 I #o a/* insi"e an" sit at a s;a!! ta !e near a )in"o)0 It o4er!oo*s the #ar"en( ut Hannah9s ta !e is hi""en y a ri/* /o!u;n /ho*e" )ith i4y0 I ta*e a "ee% reath0 As the stories #o y( one y one( I 7in" ;yse!7 re!ie4e" )hen ;y na;e isn9t ;entione"0 Co!!o)e" y a 7ear o7 )hat she hasn9t yet sai"( o7 )hat she9s #oin# to say( )hen ;y turn /o;es0 Be/ause ;y turn is /o;in#0 I *no) that0 An" I )ant it to e o4er )ith0 What "i" I "o to you( HannahE Pa#e 38

Whi!e I )ait 7or her 7irst )or"s( I stare out the )in"o)0 It9s "ar*er outsi"e than in here0 When I %u!! ;y #aBe a/* an" 7o/us ;y eyes( I /an see ;y o)n re7!e/tion in the #!ass0 An" I !oo* a)ay0 I #!an/e "o)n at the Wa!*;an on the ta !e0 There9s sti!! no soun"( ut the P!ay utton is %resse"0 5ay e the ta%e "i"n9t !o/* in %!a/e0 So I hit Sto%0 Then P!ay a#ain0 Nothin#0 I ro!! ;y thu; o4er the 4o!u;e "ia!0 The stati/ in the hea"%hones #ets !ou"er so I turn it a/* "o)n0 An" I )ait0

ShhKLi7 you9re ta!*in# in the !i rary0 Her 4oi/e( it9s a )his%er0 ShhKLin a ;o4ie theater or /hur/h0 I !isten /!oser0 So;eti;es there9s no one aroun" to te!! you to e IuietLto e 4ery( 4ery Iuiet0 So;eti;es you nee" to e Iuiet )hen you9re a!! a!one0 Li*e ;e( ri#ht no)0 ShhK At the /ro)"e" ta !es that 7i!! the rest o7 the roo;( %eo%!e ta!*0 But the on!y )or"s I un"erstan" are Hannah9s0 The other )or"s e/o;e a ;u77!e" a/*#roun" noise o//asiona!!y ti%%e" y a shar% !au#h0 Cor eGa;%!e( you9" etter e IuietMeGtre;e!y IuietMi7 you9re #oin# to e a Pee%in# To;0 Be/ause )hat i7 they hear"E I !et out a reath o7 air0 It9s not ;e0 Sti!! not ;e0 What i7 sheL)hat i7 IL7oun" outE $uess )hat( Ty!er :o)nE I 7oun" out0 I !ean a/* in ;y /hair an" /!ose ;y eyes0 I 7ee! sorry 7or you( Ty!er0 I "o0 E4eryone e!se on these ta%es( so 7ar( ;ust 7ee! a !itt!e re!ie4e"0 They /a;e o77 as !iars or Jer*s or inse/ure %eo%!e !ashin# out at others0 But your story( Ty!erLit9s *in" o7 /ree%y0 Pa#e 33

I ta*e ;y 7irst si% o7 /o77ee0 A Pee%in# To;E Ty!erE I ne4er *ne)0 An" I 7ee! a !itt!e /ree%y te!!in# it( too0 WhyE Be/ause I9; tryin# to #et /!oser to you( Ty!er0 I9; tryin# to

un"erstan" the eG/ite;ent o7 starin# throu#h so;eone9s e"roo; )in"o)0 Wat/hin# so;eone )ho

"oesn9t *no) they9re ein# )at/he"0 Tryin# to /at/h the; in the a/t o7L What )ere you tryin# to /at/h ;e in the a/t o7( Ty!erE An" )ere you "isa%%ointe"E Or %!easant!y sur%rise"E O*ay( a sho) o7 han"s( %!ease0 Who *no)s )here I a;E I set "o)n ;y /o77ee( !ean 7or)ar"( an" try to i;a#ine her re/or"in# this0 Where is sheE Who *no)s )here I9; stan"in# ri#ht no)E Then I #et it an" sha*e ;y hea"( 7ee!in# so e; arrasse" 7or hi;0 I7 you sai"( DOutsi"e Ty!er9s )in"o)(F you9re ri#ht0 An" that9s A?& on your ;a%s0 Ty!er9s not ho;e ri#ht no)L ut his %arents are0 An" I rea!!y ho%e they "on9t /o;e outsi"e0

Cortunate!y( there9s a ta!!( thi/* ush Just e!o) his )in"o)( si;i!ar to ;y o)n )in"o)( so I9; 7ee!in# %retty sa7e0 Ho) are you 7ee!in#( Ty!erE I /an9t i;a#ine )hat it )as !i*e 7or hi; to ;ai! out these ta%es0 To *no) he )as sen"in# his se/ret into the )or!"0

There9s a ;eetin# o7 the year oo* sta77 toni#ht( )hi/h I *no) in4o!4es a !ot o7 %iBBa an" #ossi%0 So I *no) you )on9t e ho;e unti! a7ter it #ets a!! ni/e an" "ar*0 Whi/h( as an a;ateur Pee%in# To;( I a%%re/iate 4ery ;u/h0 So than* you( Ty!er0 Than*s 7or ;a*in# this so easy0 When Ty!er hear" this( )as he sittin# here at 5onet9s( tryin# to !oo* /a!; )hi!e s)eatin# u% a stor;E Or )as he !yin# in e" starin# u#?eye" out his )in"o)E Let9s ta*e a %ee* insi"e e7ore you #et ho;e( sha!! )eE The ha!!)ay !i#ht9s on so I /an see in %retty

)e!!0 An" yes( I see eGa/t!y )hat I eG%e/te"Mthere9s a un/h o7 /a;era eIui%;ent !yin# aroun"0 You94e #ot Iuite a /o!!e/tion here( Ty!er0 A !ens 7or e4ery o//asion0 In/!u"in# ni#ht4ision0 Ty!er )on a state)i"e /ontest )ith that !ens0 Cirst%!a/e in the hu;or /ate#ory0 An

o!" ;an )a!*in# his "o# at ni#ht0 The "o# sto%%e" to %ee on a tree an" Ty!er sna%%e" the %i/ture0 Ni#ht4ision ;a"e it !oo* !i*e a #reen !aser ea; !astin# out o7 the "o#9s /rot/h0 Pa#e &+

I *no)( I *no)0 I /an hear you no)0 DThose are 7or the year oo*( Hannah0 I9; the stu"ent?!i7e %hoto#ra%her0F An" I9; sure that9s )hy your %arents )ere 7ine s%en"in# that *in" o7 /ash0 But is that the on!y )ay you use this stu77E 2an"i" shots o7 the stu"ent o"yE Ah( yes0 2an"i" shots o7 the stu"ent o"y0 Be7ore /o;in# out here( I too* the initiati4e to !oo* u% D/an"i"F in the "i/tionary0 It9s one o7 those )or"s )ith ;any "e7initions( ut there9s one that9s ;ost a%%ro%riate0 An" here it is( ;e;oriBe" 7or your %!easure> Re!atin# to %hoto#ra%hy o7 su Je/ts a/tin# natura!!y or s%ontaneous!y )ithout ein# %ose"0 So te!! ;e( Ty!er( those ni#hts you stoo" outsi"e ;y )in"o)( )as I s%ontaneous enou#h 7or youE :i" you /at/h ;e in a!! ;y natura!( un%ose"L Wait0 :i" you hear thatE I sit u% an" !ean ;y e! o)s on the ta !e0 A /ar /o;in# u% the roa"0 I /u% ;y han"s o4er oth ears0 Is it you( Ty!erE It sure is #ettin# /!ose0 An" there are the hea"!i#hts0 I /an hear it( Just un"er Hannah9s 4oi/e0 The en#ine0 5y heart "e7inite!y thin*s it9s you0 5y $o"( it9s %oun"in#0 The /ar9s turnin# u% the "ri4e)ay0 Behin" her 4oi/e( tires ro!! a/ross %a4e;ent0 The en#ine i"!es0 It9s you( Ty!er0 It9s you0 You ha4en9t sto%%e" the en#ine so I9; #oin# to *ee% ta!*in#0 An" yes( this is eG/itin#0 I /an "e7inite!y see the thri!!0 It ;ust ha4e een terri7yin# 7or hi; to hear this0 An" it ;ust e he!! *no)in# he9s not the on!y one0 O*ay( !isteners( rea"yE 2ar "oorLan"L ShhK

A !on# %ause0 Her reathin# is so7t0 2ontro!!e"0 A "oor s!a;s0 Neys0 Cootste%s0 Another "oor un!o/*s0 O*ay( Ty!er0 Here9s the %!ay? y?%!ay0 You9re insi"e the house )ith the "oor shut0 You9re either /he/*in# in )ith 5o; an" :a"( sayin# e4erythin# )ent #reat an" this is #oin# to e the est year oo* e4er( or they "i"n9t uy enou#h %iBBa an" you9re hea"in# strai#ht 7or the *it/hen0 As )e )ait( I9; #oin# to #o a/* an" te!! e4eryone ho) this a!! e#an0 An" i7 I9; )ron# )ith the ti;e!ine( Ty!er( 7in" the other %eo%!e on these ta%es an" !et the; *no) that you starte" %ee%in# )ay e7ore I /au#ht you0 Pa#e &1

You9!! "o that( ri#htE A!! o7 youE You9!! 7i!! in the #a%sE Be/ause e4ery story I9; te!!in# !ea4es so ;any unans)ere" Iuestions0 ,nans)ere"E I )ou!"94e ans)ere" any Iuestion( Hannah0 But you ne4er as*e"0 Cor eGa;%!e( ho) !on# )ere you sta!*in# ;e( Ty!erE Ho) "i" you *no) ;y %arents )ere out o7 to)n that )ee*E Instea" o7 as*in# Iuestions( that ni#ht at the %arty( you starte" ye!!in# at ;e0 O*ay( /on7ession ti;e0 The ru!e aroun" ;y house )hen the %arents are a)ay is that I9; not a!!o)e" to "ate0 Their 7ee!in#( thou#h they )on9t rin# the;se!4es to say it( is that I ;i#ht enJoy the "ate too ;u/h an" as* the oy to /o;e insi"e0 In %re4ious stories( I to!" you that the ru;ors you94e a!! hear" a out ;e )eren9t true0 An" they9re not0 But I ne4er /!ai;e" to e a $oo"y T)o?Shoes0 I "i" #o out )hen ;y %arents )eren9t ho;e( ut on!y e/ause I /ou!" stay out as !on# as I )ante"0 An" as you *no)( Ty!er( on the ni#ht this a!! e#an( the oy I )ent out )ith )a!*e" ;e a!! the )ay to ;y 7ront "oor0 He stoo" there )hi!e I %u!!e" out ;y *eys to un!o/* the "oorLthen he !e7t0 I9; a7rai" to !oo*( ut I )on"er i7 %eo%!e in 5onet9s are starin# at ;e0 2an they te!!( ase" on ;y rea/tions( that it9s not ;usi/ I9; !istenin# toE Or ;ay e no one9s noti/e"0 Why )ou!" theyE Why shou!" they /are )hat I9; !istenin# toE

Ty!er9s e"roo; !i#ht is sti!! o77( so either he9s ha4in# a "etai!e" /on4ersation )ith his %arents or he9s sti!! hun#ry0 Cine( ha4e it your )ay( Ty!er0 I9!! Just *ee% ta!*in# a out you0 Were you ho%in# I9" in4ite the #uy inE Or )ou!" that ha4e ;a"e you Jea!ousE I stir ;y /o77ee )ith the )oo"en sti/*0 Either )ay( a7ter I )ent insi"eMa!oneKMI )ashe" ;y 7a/e an" rushe" ;y teeth0 An" the ;o;ent I ste%%e" into ;y roo;L2!i/*0 We a!! *no) the soun" a /a;era ;a*es )hen it sna%s a %i/ture0 E4en so;e o7 the "i#ita!s "o it 7or nosta!#ia9s sa*e0 An" I a!)ays *ee% ;y )in"o) o%en( a out an in/h or t)o( to !et in 7resh air0 Whi/h is ho) I *ne) so;eone )as stan"in# outsi"e0 But I "enie" it0 It )as )ay too /ree%y to a";it to ;yse!7 on the 4ery 7irst ni#ht o7 ;y %arents9 4a/ation0 I )as on!y 7rea*in# ;yse!7 out( I sai"0 Just #ettin# use" to ein# a!one0 Sti!!( I )asn9t "u; enou#h to /han#e in 7ront o7 the )in"o)0 So I sat "o)n on ;y e"02!i/*0 Su/h an i"iot( Ty!er0 In ;i""!e s/hoo!( so;e %eo%!e thou#ht you )ere ;enta!!y /ha!!en#e"0 But you )eren9t0 You )ere Just an i"iot0 Or ;ay e it )asn9t a /!i/*( I to!" ;yse!70 5ay e it )as a /rea*0 5y e" has a )oo"en 7ra;e that /rea*s a !itt!e0 That )as it0 It ha" to e a /rea*0 Pa#e &6

I %u!!e" the !an*ets o4er ;y o"y an" un"resse" eneath the;0 Then I %ut on ;y %aJa;as( "oin# e4erythin# as s!o)!y as %ossi !e( a7rai" )hoe4er )as outsi"e ;i#ht sna% another %i/ture0 A7ter a!!( I )asn9t tota!!y sure )hat a Pee%in# To; #ot o77 on0 But )aitManother %i/ture )ou!" %ro4e he )as there( ri#htE Then I /ou!" /a!! the %o!i/e an"L But the truth is( I "i"n9t *no) )hat to ho%e 7or0 5y %arents )eren9t ho;e0 I )as a!one0 I 7i#ure" i#norin# hi; )as ;y est o%tion0 An" e4en thou#h he )as outsi"e( I )as too a7rai" o7 )hat ;i#ht ha%%en i7 he sa) ;e rea/hin# 7or the %hone0 Stu%i"E Yes0 But "i" it ;a*e senseE YesLat the ti;e0 You shou!"94e /a!!e" the /o%s( Hannah0 It ;i#ht ha4e sto%%e" this sno) a!! 7ro; %i/*in# u% s%ee"0 The

one you *ee% ta!*in# a out0 The one that ran o4er a!! o7 us0 So )hy )as it so easy 7or Ty!er to see into ;y roo; to e#in )ithE Is that )hat you9re as*in#E :o I a!)ays s!ee% )ith ;y sha"es )i"e o%enE $oo" Iuestion( 4i/ti;? !a;ers0 But it )asn9t that easy0 The )in"o) !in"s )ere *e%t at an an#!e eGa/t!y as I !i*e" the;0 On /!ear ni#hts( )ith ;y hea" on the %i!!o)( I /ou!" 7a!! as!ee% !oo*in# at the stars0 An" on stor;y ni#hts I /ou!" )at/h !i#htnin# !i#ht u% the /!ou"s0 I94e "one that( 7a!!en as!ee% !oo*in# outsi"e0 But 7ro; the se/on" 7!oor( I "on9t nee" to )orry a out %eo%!e seein# in0 When ;y "a" 7oun" out I *e%t the !in"s o%enMe4en a /ra/*Mhe )a!*e" out to the si"e)a!* to ;a*e sure no one /ou!" see ;e 7ro; the street0 An" they /ou!"n9t0 So he )a!*e" 7ro; the si"e)a!*( strai#ht a/ross the yar"( u% to ;y )in"o)0 An" )hat "i" he 7in"E That un!ess they )ere %retty ta!! an" stan"in# ri#ht outsi"e ;y )in"o) on their ti%toes( I )as in4isi !e0 So ho) !on# "i" you stan" !i*e that( Ty!erE It ;ust ha4e een %retty un/o;7orta !e0 An" i7 you )ere )i!!in# to #o throu#h a!! that trou !e Just to #et a %ee* at ;e( I ho%e you #ot at !east so;ethin# out o7 it0 He "i"0 But not )hat he )ante"0 Instea"( he #ot this0 Ha" I *no)n it )as Ty!er at the ti;e( ha" I snu/* un"er the !in"s an" !oo*e" u% to see his 7a/e( I )ou!"94e run outsi"e an" e; arrasse" the he!! out o7 hi;0 In 7a/t( that rin#s u% the ;ost interestin# %art o7L WaitK Here you /o;e0 We9!! sa4e that story 7or !ater0 I %ush ;y ;u# o7 /o77ee( not e4en ha!7 7inishe"( to the 7ar en" o7 the ta !e0 Let ;e "es/ri e Ty!er9s )in"o) 7or the rest o7 you0 The sha"es are a!! the )ay "o)n( yet I /an see in0 They9re ;a"e o7 a; oo( or 7a*e a; oo( an" et)een ea/h sti/* are 4aryin# a;ounts o7 s%a/e0 I7 I stan" on ;y ti%toes( !i*e Ty!er( I /an rea/h a 7air!y )i"e?o%en #a% an" see in0 O*ay( he9s turnin# on the !i#ht an"Lhe shuts the "oor0 He9sLhe9s sittin# on the e"0 He9s yan*in# o77

Pa#e &3

his shoes an"Lno) his so/*s0 I #roan0 P!ease "on9t "o anythin# stu%i"( Ty!er0 It9s your roo;( you /an "o )hat you )ant( ut "on9t e; arrass yourse!7 any;ore0 5ay e I shou!" )arn hi;0 $i4e hi; a /han/e to hi"e0 To un"ress un"erneath the /o4ers0 5ay e I shou!" ta% on the )in"o)0 Or %oun" or *i/* on the )a!!0 5ay e I shou!" #i4e hi; the sa;e %aranoia he #a4e ;e0 She9s #ettin# !ou"er0 :oes she )ant to #et /au#htE A7ter a!!( that9s )hy I9; here( ri#htE Re4en#eE No0 Re4en#e )ou!" ha4e een 7un0 Re4en#e( in a t)iste" )ay( )ou!" ha4e #i4en ;e so;e sense o7 satis7a/tion0 But this( stan"in# outsi"e Ty!er9s )in"o)( satis7ies nothin#0 5y ;in" is ;a"e u%0 So )hyE Why a; I hereE We!!( )hat ha4e I sai"E I Just sai" I9; not here 7or ;e0 An" i7 you %ass the ta%es on( no one ut those o7 you on the !ist )i!! e4er hear )hat I9; sayin#0 So )hy a; I hereE Te!! us0 P!ease( Hannah0 Te!! ;e )hy I9; !istenin# to this0 Why ;eE I9; not here to )at/h you( Ty!er0 2a!; "o)n0 I "on9t /are )hat you9re "oin#0 In 7a/t( I9; not e4en )at/hin# you ri#ht no)0 5y a/*9s a#ainst the )a!! an" I9; starin# at the street0 It9s one o7 those streets )ith trees on either si"e( their ran/hes ;eetin# hi#h a o4e !i*e 7in#erti%s tou/hin#0 Soun"s %oeti/( "oesn9t itE I e4en )rote a %oe; on/e /o;%arin# streets !i*e this to ;y 7a4orite /hi!"hoo" rhy;e> Here is the /hur/h( here is the stee%!e( o%en it u%Lya""a( ya""a( ya""a0 One o7 you e4en rea" that %oe; I )rote0 We9!! ta!* a out that !ater0 A#ain( it9s not ;e0 I "i"n9t e4en *no) Hannah )rote %oetry0

But I9; ta!*in# a out Ty!er no)0 An" I9; sti!! on Ty!er9s street0 His "ar* an" e;%ty street0 He Just "oesn9t *no) I9; hereLyet0 So !et9s )ra% this u% e7ore he #oes to e"0 At s/hoo! the neGt "ay( a7ter Ty!er9s 4isit to ;y )in"o)( I to!" a #ir! )ho sat in 7ront o7 ;e )hat ha%%ene"0 This #ir!9s *no)n 7or ein# a #oo" !istener( an" sy;%atheti/( an" I )ante" so;eone to e a7rai" 7or ;e0 I )ante" so;eone to 4a!i"ate ;y 7ears0 We!!( she )as "e7inite!y not the #ir! 7or that Jo 0 This #ir!9s #ot a t)iste" si"e that 4ery 7e) o7 you *no) a out0 DA Pee%in# To;EF she sai"0 DYou ;ean( a rea! oneEF DI thin* so(F I to!" her0 DI a!)ays )on"ere" )hat that9" e !i*e(F she sai"0 DHa4in# a Pee%in# To; is *in" o7LI "on9t *no)LseGy0F Pa#e &&

:e7inite!y t)iste"0 But )ho is sheE An" )hy "o I /areE She s;i!e" an" raise" an eye ro)0 D:o you thin* he9!! /o;e a/*EF Honest!y( the thou#ht o7 hi; /o;in# a/* ne4er o//urre" to ;e0 But no) it )as 7rea*in# ;e out0 DWhat

i7 he "oesEF I as*e"0 DThen you9!! ha4e to te!! ;e a out it(F she sai"0 An" then she turne" a/* aroun"( en"in# our /on4ersation0 No)( this #ir! an" I ha" ne4er hun# out0 We too* a !ot o7 the sa;e e!e/ti4es( )e )ere ni/e to ea/h other

in /!ass( an" so;eti;es )e ta!*e" a out han#in# out( ut )e ne4er "i"0 Here( I thou#ht( )as a #o!"en o%%ortunity0 I ta%%e" her on the shou!"er an" to!" her that ;y %arents )ere out o7 to)n0 Ho) )ou!" she !i*e to

/o;e o4er an" /at/h a Pee%in# To;E A7ter s/hoo! I )ent ho;e )ith her to #ra her stu770 Then she /a;e o4er to ;y house0 Sin/e it )as a

)ee*ni#ht an" she )as %ro a !y #oin# to e out !ate( she to!" her %arents )e )ere )or*in# on a s/hoo! %roJe/t0 $o"0 :oes e4eryone use that eG/useE We 7inishe" our ho;e)or* at the "inin# roo; ta !e( )aitin# 7or it to #et "ar* outsi"e0 Her /ar )as %ar*e" out 7ront as ait0 T)o #ir!s0 Irresisti !e( ri#htE I sIuir; a !itt!e( shi7tin# in ;y seat0 We ;o4e" into ;y e"roo; an" sat /ross?!e##e" on the e"( 7a/in# ea/h other( ta!*in# a out e4erythin# i;a#ina !e0 To /at/h our Pee%in# To;( )e *ne) )e nee"e" to *ee% the ta!*in# Iuiet0 We nee"e" to hear that 7irstL2!i/*0 Her ;outh "ro%%e" o%en0 Her eyes( I94e ne4er seen the; that ha%%y0 She )his%ere" 7or ;e to *ee% ta!*in#0 DPreten" you "i"n9t hear0 Just %!ay a!on#0F I no""e"0 Then she /o4ere" her ;outh an" a"?!i e"0 DOh ;y $o"K You !et hi; tou/h you )hereEF We D#ossi%e"F 7or a /ou%!e ;inutes( tryin# to ho!" a/* any ina%%ro%riate !au#hterMthe *in" that )ou!"94e #i4en us a)ay0 But the /!i/*in# sto%%e" an" )e )ere runnin# out o7 thin#s to #ossi% a out0

DYou *no) )hat I /ou!" useEF she as*e"0 DA ni/e( "ee%( a/* ;assa#e0F DYou9re e4i!(F I )his%ere"0 Pa#e &'

She )in*e" at ;e( then #ot u% on her *nees an" )or*e" her han"s 7or)ar" !i*e a /at stret/hin# unti! she )as a!! the )ay "o)n on ;y e"02!i/*0 I sin/ere!y ho%e you urne" or erase" those %i/tures( Ty!er0 Be/ause i7 they #et out( e4en i7 it9s not your 7au!t( I9" hate to thin* )hat ;i#ht ha%%en to you0 I stra""!e" her a/*02!i/*0 Pushe" asi"e her hair02!i/*0 An" e#an ru in# her shou!"ers02!i/*0 2!i/*0 She turne" a)ay 7ro; the )in"o) an" )his%ere"( DYou *no) )hat it ;eans i7 he sto%s ta*in# %i/tures(

ri#htEF I to!" her I "i"n9t0

DIt ;eans he9s "oin# so;ethin# e!se0F2!i/*0 DOh )e!!(F she sai"0 I *e%t ru in# her shou!"ers0 In 7a/t( I thou#ht I )as "oin# a %retty #oo" Jo

e/ause she sto%%e"

ta!*in# an" her !i%s /ur!e" into a eauti7u! s;i!e0 But then she )his%ere" a ne) i"ea0 A )ay to /at/h this

%er4ert in the a/t0 I to!" her no0 One o7 us shou!" Just !ea4e the roo;( say )e nee" to use the athroo;( an" /a!! the /o%s0 We /ou!" en" it ri#ht there0 But that "i"n9t ha%%en0 DNo )ay(F she sai"0 DI9; not !ea4in# unti! I 7in" out i7 I *no) hi;0 What i7 he #oes to our s/hoo!EF DWhat i7 he "oesEF I as*e"0 She to!" ;e to 7o!!o) her !ea"( then she ro!!e" out 7ro; un"er ;y !e#s0 A//or"in# to her %!an( )hen she

sai" Dthree(F I )as to /har#e the )in"o)0 But I thou#ht the Pee%in# To; ;i#ht ha4e !e7tM;i#ht ha4e #otten s/are"M e/ause there ha"n9t een a /!i/* sin/e I /!i; e" o77 o7 her0 DIt9s ti;e 7or so;e o"y !otion(F she sai"02!i/*0 That soun" sent ;y an#er throu#h the roo70 O*ay0 I /an %!ay this #a;e( I thou#ht0 DLoo* in ;y to% "ra)er0F

She %ointe" to the "ra)er nearest the )in"o) an" I no""e"0 Beneath ;y ar;s( ;y shirt is s!i#ht!y "a;%0 I shi7t un/o;7orta !y in ;y seat a#ain0 But( $o"( I /an9t sto% !istenin#0 She %u!!e" o%en the "ra)er( !oo*e" insi"e( an" /o4ere" her ;outh0

Pa#e &=

WhatE There )as nothin# in ;y "ra)er )orthy o7 a rea/tion !i*e that0 There )as nothin# in ;y )ho!e roo; )orthy o7 that0 DI "i"n9t *no) you )ere into this(F she sai"( ni/e an" !ou"0 DWe shou!" use itLto#ether0F

D,;( o*ay(F I sai"0 She rea/he" into the "ra)er( %ushe" so;e thin#s aroun"( then /o4ere" her ;outh a#ain0 DHannahEF she

sai"0 DHo) ;any o7 these "o you ha4eE You are "e7inite!y a nau#hty #ir!0F2!i/*0 2!i/*0

Very /!e4er( I thou#ht0 DWhy "on9t you /ount the;EF So she "i"0 DLet9s see( no)0 Here9s oneLan" t)oLF I s!i" one 7oot o77 the e"0 DLthreeKF I Ju;%e" at the )in"o) an" yan*e" the /or"0 The !in"s 7!e) u%0 I !oo*e" 7or your 7a/e ut you )ere

;o4in# so 7ast0 The other #ir!( she )asn9t !oo*in# at your 7a/e( Ty!er0 DOh ;y $o"KF she s/rea;e"0 DHe9s /ra;;in# his "i/* in his %ants0F Ty!er( )here4er you are( I a; so sorry0 You "eser4e this( ut I9; sorry0 So )ho )ere youE I sa) your hei#ht an" your hair( ut I /ou!"n9t see your 7a/e /!ear!y enou#h0 Sti!!( you #a4e yourse!7 u%( Ty!er0 The neGt "ay at s/hoo! I as*e" so ;any %eo%!e the eGa/t sa;e

Iuestion( Where )ere you !ast ni#htE So;e sai" they )ere at ho;e or at a 7rien"9s house0 Or at the ;o4ies0 None o7 your usiness0 But you( Ty!er( you ha" the ;ost "e7ensi4eMan" interestin#Mres%onse o7 a!!0 DWhat( ;eE No)here0F An" 7or so;e reason( te!!in# ;e you )ere no)here ;a"e your eyes t)it/h an" your 7orehea" rea* into

a s)eat0 You are su/h an i"iot( Ty!er0 Hey( at !east you9re ori#ina!0 An" at !east you sto%%e" /o;in# aroun" ;y house0 But your %resen/e(

Ty!er( that ne4er !e7t0 A7ter your 4isits( I t)iste" ;y !in"s shut e4ery ni#ht0 I !o/*e" out the stars an" I ne4er sa) !i#htnin# a#ain0 Ea/h ni#ht( I si;%!y turne" out the !i#hts an" )ent to e"0 Why "i"n9t you !ea4e ;e a!one( Ty!erE 5y house0 5y e"roo;0 They )ere su%%ose" to e sa7e 7or ;e0 Sa7e 7ro; e4erythin# outsi"e0 But you )ere the one )ho too* that a)ay0 We!!Lnot a!! o7 it0 Pa#e &1

Her 4oi/e tre; !es0 But you too* a)ay )hat )as !e7t0 She %auses0 An" )ithin that si!en/e I rea!iBe ho) intense!y I94e een starin# at nothin#0 Starin# in the

"ire/tion o7 ;y ;u# on the 7ar en" o7 the ta !e0 But not at it0 I )ant to( ut I9; too inti;i"ate" to !oo* at the %eo%!e aroun" ;e0 They ha4e to e )at/hin# ;e no)0 Tryin# to un"erstan" the %aine" !oo* on ;y 7a/e0 Tryin# to 7i#ure out )ho this %oor *i" is( !istenin# to out"ate" au"iota%es0 So ho) i;%ortant is your se/urity( Ty!erE What a out your %ri4a/yE 5ay e it9s not as i;%ortant to you as it )as 7or ;e( ut that9s not 7or you to "e/i"e0 I !oo* throu#h the )in"o)( %ast ;y re7!e/tion( to the are!y !it %atio #ar"en0 I /an9t te!! i7 anyone9s sti!! there( eyon" the ri/*?an"?i4y /o!u;n( sittin# at her ta !e0 A ta !e that( at one ti;e( )as Hannah9s other sa7e %!a/e0 So )ho )as this ;ystery #ir! 7eature" in your story( Ty!erE Who s;i!e" so eauti7u!!y )hen I ru e" her a/*E Who he!%e" ;e eG%ose youE Shou!" I te!!E That "e%en"s0 What "i" she e4er "o to ;eE Cor the ans)erLinsert ta%e three0 But I9; rea"y 7or it to e ;e( Hannah0 I9; rea"y to #et this o4er )ith0 Oh( an" Ty!er( I9; stan"in# outsi"e your )in"o) a#ain0 I )a!*e" a)ay to 7inish your story( ut your e"roo; !i#ht has een out 7or so;e ti;eLso I9; a/* no)0 There9s a !on# %ause0 A rust!in# o7 !ea4es0 Nno/*?*no/*( Ty!er0 I hear it0 She ta%s on the )in"o)0 T)i/e0 :on9t )orry0 You9!! 7in" out soon enou#h0 I s!i% o77 the hea"%hones( )ra% the ye!!o) /or" ti#ht!y aroun" the Wa!*;an( an" tu/* it in ;y Ja/*et %o/*et0 A/ross the roo;( 5onet9s oo*she!7 is !oa"e" )ith o!" oo*s0 :is/ar"s( ;ost!y0 Pa%er a/* )esterns( Ne) A#e( s/i?7i0 2are7u!!y )ea4in# throu#h the /ro)"e" ta !es( I )a!* o4er to it0 A ;assi4e thesaurus sits esi"e a "i/tionary that9s ;issin# its har"/o4er s%ine0 :o)n the eG%ose" %a%er

Pa#e &8

s%ine so;eone )rote:I2TIONARY in hea4y !a/* in*0 Sta/*e" on the sa;e she!7( ea/h in a "i77erent /o!or( are 7i4e oo*s0 They9re a%%roGi;ate!y the sa;e siBe as year oo*s( ut %ur/hase" 7or their !an* %a#es0 S/ri !e oo*s( they /a!! the;0 Ea/h year( a ne) one is a""e" an" %eo%!e s/ra)! )hate4er they )ant insi"e0 They ;ar* s%e/ia! o//asions( )rite horri !e %oetry( s*et/h thin#s that are eauti7u! or #rotesIue( or Just rant0 Ea/h oo* has a s/ra% o7 "u/t ta%e on the s%ine )ith a year )ritten on it0 I %u!! out the one 7ro; our 7resh;an year0 With a!! the ti;e Hannah s%ent at 5onet9s( ;ay e she )rote so;ethin# in here0 Li*e a %oe;0 Or ;ay e she ha" other ta!ents I "i"n9t *no) a out0 5ay e she *ne) ho) to "ra)0 I9; Just !oo*in# 7or so;ethin# a%art 7ro; the u#!iness o7 these ta%es0 I nee" that ri#ht no)0 I nee" to see her in a "i77erent )ay0 Sin/e ;ost %eo%!e "ate their entries( I 7!i% to)ar" the a/*0 To Se%te; er0 An" there it is0 To *ee% the %a#e( I shut the oo* on ;y in"eG 7in#er an" ta*e it a/* to ;y ta !e0 I ta*e a s!o) si% o7 !u*e)ar; /o77ee( reo%en the oo*( an" rea" the )or"s s/ri !e" in re" in* near the to%> E4eryone nee"s an o!!y?o!!y?oGen?7ree0 It9s si#ne" )ith three sets o7 initia!s> J0:0 A0S0 H0B0 Jessi/a :a4is0 A!eG Stan"a!!0 Hannah Ba*er0 Be!o) the initia!s( %resse" into the /rease et)een the %a#es( so;eone stu/* an u%si"e?"o)n %hoto#ra%h0 I %u!! it out( 7!i% it o4er( then s%in it ri#htsi"e u%0 It9s Hannah0 $o"( I !o4e her s;i!e0 An" her hair( it9s sti!! !on#0 One o7 her ar;s is )ra%%e" aroun" the )aist o7 another stu"ent0 2ourtney 2ri;sen0 An" ehin" the; is a /ro)" o7 stu"ents0 E4eryone9s either ho!"in# a ott!e( a /an( or a re" %!asti/ /u%0 It9s "ar* at the %arty an" 2ourtney "oesn9t !oo* ha%%y0 But she "oesn9t !oo* ;a"( either0 She !oo*s ner4ous( I thin*0 WhyE 2ASSETTE 3> SI:E A 2ourtney 2ri;sen0 What a %retty na;e0 An" yes( a 4ery %retty #ir!( as )e!!0 Pretty hair0 Pretty s;i!e0 Per7e/t s*in0 An" you9re a!so 4ery ni/e0 E4eryone says so0

I stare at the %i/ture in the s/ri !e oo*0 Hannah9s ar; aroun" 2ourtney9s )aist at so;e ran"o; %arty0 Hannah is ha%%y0 2ourtney is ner4ous0 But I ha4e no i"ea )hy0 Yes( 2ourtney( you9re s)eet to e4eryone you ;eet in the ha!!s0 You9re s)eet to e4eryone as they )a!* )ith you to your /ar a7ter s/hoo!0 Pa#e &3

I si% ;y /o77ee( )hi/h is #ettin# /o!"0 You9re "e7inite!y one o7 the ;ost %o%u!ar #ir!s in s/hoo!0 An" youLareLJustLsoLs)eet0 Ri#htE Wron#0 I %oun" a/* the /o77ee to e;%ty the ;u#0 Yes( ;y "ear !isteners( 2ourtney is ni/e to )ho;e4er she /o;es in /onta/t )ith or )ho;e4er she9s

ta!*in# to0 An" yet( as* yourse!4esMis it a!! a sho)E I /arry ;y ;u# to the %our?it?yourse!7 ar 7or a re7i!!0 I thin* it is0 No)( !et ;e te!! you )hy0 Cirst o77( to e4eryone !istenin#( I "ou t Ty!er )i!! !et you see the %i/tures he too* o7 ;e #i4in# 2ourtney a

a/*ru 0 The /ontainer o7 ha!7?n?ha!7 s!i%s 7ro; ;y #ri% an" /!atters to the /ounter0 I /at/h it e7ore it 7a!!s to the

7!oor( then !oo* o4er ;y shou!"er0 The #ir! ehin" the re#ister ti%s her hea" a/* an" !au#hs0 2ourtney9s the one 7ro; Hannah9s roo;E Hannah ta*es an eGtra?!on# %ause0 She *no)s that in7o nee"s to sin* in0 I7 you ha4e seen those %i/tures( !u/*y you0 I9; sure they9re 4ery seGy0 But as you no) *no)( they9re

a!so 4ery %ose"0 Pose"0 What an interestin# )or" to su; u% 2ourtney9s ta!e0 Be/ause )hen you9re %ose"( you *no)

so;eone9s )at/hin#0 You %ut on your 4ery est s;i!e0 You !et your s)eetest %ersona!ity shine0 ,n!i*e 2ourtney9s %hoto in the s/ri !e oo*0 An" in hi#h s/hoo!( %eo%!e are a!)ays )at/hin# so there9s a!)ays a reason to %ose0 I %ress the to% o7 the urn an" a strea; o7 "ar* /o77ee s%i!!s into the ;u#0 I "on9t thin* you "o this intentiona!!y( 2ourtney0 An" that9s )hy I %ut you on these ta%es0 To !et you

*no) that )hat you "o a77e/ts others0 5ore s%e/i7i/a!!y( it a77e/te" ;e0

2ourtney "oes /o;e o77 as #enuine!y s)eet0 Hearin# her story here( on these ta%es( ;ust ha4e *i!!e" her0 A shi4er /ra)!s u% ;y a/*0 DNi!!e" her0F A %hrase I )i!! no) "ro% 7ro; ;y 4o/a u!ary0 2ourtney 2ri;sen0 The na;e soun"s a!;ost too %er7e/t0 An" as I sai"( you !oo* %er7e/t( too0 The on!y

thin# !e7tLis to e %er7e/t0 With ;y /o77ee( /rea;( an" su#ar /u es ;iGe"( I return to ;y ta !e0 So that9s )here I #i4e you /re"it0 You /ou!" ha4e ta*en the it/h route an" sti!! ha" a!! the 7rien"s an"

Pa#e '+

oy7rien"s you /ou!" han"!e0 But instea" you too* the s)eet route( so e4eryone )ou!" !i*e you an" not a sou! )ou!" hate you0 Let ;e e 4ery /!ear0 I "o not hate you( 2ourtney0 In 7a/t( I "on9t e4en "is!i*e you0 But 7or a ti;e( I thou#ht you an" I )ere e/o;in# 7rien"s0 I "on9t re;e; er that0 I "on9t thin* I e4er sa) the; han#in# out0 It turns out you )ere Just #roo;in# ;e to e another ta!!y ;ar* un"er Peo%!e Who Thin* 2ourtney

2ri;sen Is a Rea!!y Neat $ir!0 Another #uarantee" 4ote 7or 5ost Li*e" in the senior year oo*0 An" on/e you "i" it to ;e( an" I rea!iBe" it( I )at/he" you "o it to others0 Here( 2ourtney( is your /ontri ution to the antho!o#y o7 ;y !i7e0 :i" you !i*e thatE The antho!o#y o7 ;y !i7eE I Just ;a"e it u%0 I %u!! ;y a/*%a/* onto ;y !a% an" unBi% the !ar#est %o/*et0 The "ay a7ter Ty!er too* the /an"i" shots o7 our stu"ent o"ies e#an !i*e any other0 The e!! to 7irst

%erio" ran# an" 2ourtney( as usua!( ran in a /ou%!e se/on"s !ate0 Not that it ;attere"( e/ause 5rs0 :i!!ar" )asn9t there yet( either0 A!so not unusua!0

I re;o4e Hannah9s ;a% an" un7o!" it on the s;a!! ta !e0 When you )ere "one /hattin# to the %erson in 7ront o7 you( 2ourtney( I ta%%e" you on the shou!"er0 The ;o;ent you !oo*e" into ;y eyes( )e oth e#an !au#hin#0 We s%o*e a un/h o7 t)o?or three?)or" senten/es ut I "on9t re;e; er )ho sai" )hat( e/ause )hate4er you sai" )ere ;y thou#hts( as )e!!0

DSo )eir"0F DI *no)0F DWhat the he!!EF D2an you i;a#ineEF DSo 7unny0F Then( )hen 5rs0 :i!!ar" 7ina!!y /a;e in( you turne" aroun" to 7a/e the 7ront o7 the roo;0 An" )hen

/!ass )as o4er( you !e7t0 I sear/h the ;a% 7or the re" star at Ty!er9s house0 Part o7 ;e 7ee!s stran#e a out *ee%in# su/h a /!ose tra/* o7 Hannah9s story0 Li*e I9; o sesse"0 Too o sesse"0 Whi!e another %art o7 ;e )ants to "eny the o session0 It )asn9t unti! I ste%%e" into the ha!! on ;y )ay to se/on" %erio" that I thou#ht( Wait a se/0 She "i"n9t Pa#e '1

say #oo"? ye0 I9; Just "oin# )hat she as*e"0 That9s not o session0 It9s res%e/t0 I9; !i4in# out her !ast reIuests0 :i" you say #oo"? ye on any other "ayE No( not o7ten0 But a7ter the %re4ious ni#ht( this ti;e it 7e!t intentiona!0 I #uess I thou#ht that a7ter )hat )e9" eG%erien/e" !ess than t)enty?7our hours e7ore( )e )ou!" no) e ;ore than Just /asua! a/Iuaintan/es0 A?&0 A re" star on Ty!er9s house0 But that( e4i"ent!y( is )hat )e9" e/o;e on/e a#ain0 We sai" he!!o in the ha!!s an" so;eti;es you sai" #oo"? ye to ;e a7ter /!ass( ut ne4er ;ore than you sai" it to anyone e!se0

,nti! the ni#ht o7 the %arty0 ,nti! the ni#ht you nee"e" ;e a#ain0

I nee" a ;o;ent to /at/h u%0 I /an9t !isten any;ore ti!! I "o that0

I s!i% o77 the hea"%hones an" han# the; aroun" ;y ne/*0 The #ir! I too* Woo" Sho% )ith )a!*s aroun" )ith a %!asti/ tu ( #atherin# ;u#s an" %!ates 7ro; e;%ty ta !es0 I !oo* a)ay to)ar" the "ar* )in"o) )hen she /!ears the %!a/e neGt to ;e0 Her re7!e/tion #!an/es ;y )ay se4era! ti;es( ut I "on9t turn aroun"0 When she !ea4es( I si% ;y /o77ee an" try ;y har"est not to thin*0 I Just )ait0 Ci7teen ;inutes !ater( a us "ri4es y the 7ront "oor o7 5onet9s an" the )aitin# is o4er0 I #ra the ;a%( toss ;y a/*%a/* o4er ;y shou!"er( an" run out the "oor0 The us is sto%%e" at the 7ar /orner0 I ra/e "o)n the si"e)a!*( u% the us ste%s( an" 7in" an e;%ty seat near the ;i""!e0 The "ri4er !oo*s at ;e in the rear4ie) ;irror0 DI9; ahea" o7 s/he"u!e(F he says0 DWe9!! e sittin# here a /ou%!e ;inutes0F I no"( %ress the hea"%hones into ;y ears( an" !oo* out the )in"o)0 Let ;e te!! you that there is a ;u/h i##er( ;ore i;%ortant %arty !ater in the ta%es0 Is that itE Is that )here I /o;e inE But this is the %arty that rin#s 2ourtney into the ;iG0 I )as at s/hoo!( a/*%a/* on ;y shou!"er( hea"in# out o7 7irst %erio" )hen you #ra DHannah( )ait u%(F you sai"0 DHo) are youEF

e" ;y han"0

Pa#e '6

Your s;i!e( your teethL7!a)!ess0 I %ro a !y sai"( DCine(F or( D$oo"0 Ho) are youEF But truth7u!!y( I "i"n9t /are( 2ourtney0 E4ery ti;e our eyes /au#ht ea/h other in a /ro)"e" ha!! an" I )at/he" your #aBe Ju;% to so;eone e!se( I !ost a !itt!e ;ore res%e/t 7or you0 An" so;eti;es I )on"ere" ho) ;any %eo%!e in that one ha!!)ay 7e!t the sa;e0 You )ent on to as* i7 I9" hear" a out the %arty !ater that ni#ht0 I sai" that I ha"( ut that I "i"n9t 7ee! !i*e #oin# an" )an"erin# aroun" !oo*in# 7or so;eone to ta!* to0 Or I "i"n9t 7ee! !i*e )an"erin# aroun" !oo*in# 7or so;eone to sa4e ;e 7ro; ta!*in# to so;eone e!se0 DWe shou!" #o to#ether(F you sai"0 An" you ti!te" your hea" to the si"e( 7!ashe" your s;i!e( an"M thou#h I9; %ro a !y i;a#inin# thisMI thin* I e4en sa) you at your eyes0

Yeah( that9s 2ourtney0 No one /an resist her( an" she 7!irts )ith e4eryone0 DWhyEF I as*e"0 DWhy shou!" )e #o to a %arty to#etherEF That o 4ious!y too* you y sur%rise0 I ;ean( you are )ho you are an" e4eryone )ants to #o to a %arty )ith you0 To at !east e seen enterin# a %arty )ith you0 E4eryoneK Boys0 $ir!s0 It "oesn9t ;atter0 That9s the *in" o7 a";iration %eo%!e ha4e 7or you0 Ha4eE Or ha"E Be/ause I ha4e a 7ee!in# that9s a out to /han#e0 5ost o7 the;( un7ortunate!y( "on9t rea!iBe ho) /are7u!!y you %!an that i;a#e0 You re%eate" ;y Iuestion0 DWhy shou!" )e #o to a %arty to#etherE Hannah( so )e /an han# out0F I as*e" )hy you )ante" to han# out a7ter i#norin# ;e 7or so !on#0 But o7 /ourse( you "enie" i#norin# ;e at a!!0 You sai" I ;ust ha4e ;isrea" thin#s0 An" the %arty )ou!" e a #oo" /han/e to #et to *no) ea/h other etter0 An" a!thou#h I )as sti!! sus%i/ious( you are )ho you are an" e4eryone )ants to #o to a %arty )ith you0 But you *ne)( Hannah0 You *ne)( ut you sti!! )ent0 WhyE D$reatKF you sai"0 D2an you "ri4eEF An" ;y heart tu; !e" a it0 But I %u!!e" it a/* u% an" i#nore" ;y sus%i/ions on/e a#ain0 DSure( 2ourtney(F I sai"0 DWhat ti;eEF You 7!i%%e" o%en your note oo* an" ri%%e" out a %ie/e o7 %a%er0 In tiny !ue !etters you )rote your a""ress( the ti;e( an" your initia!s> 2020 You han"e" ;e the %a%er( sai"( DThis is #oin# to e #reatKF then #athere" u% your stu77 an" !e7t0 The us "oor s!i"es shut an" )e %u!! a)ay 7ro; the /ur 0 $uess )hat( 2ourtneyE On your )ay out the "oor( you 7or#ot to say #oo"? ye0 So here9s ;y theory as to )hy you )ante" to #o to a %arty )ith ;e> You *ne) I )as %isse" at ein# Pa#e '3

i#nore" y you0 At the 4ery !east( you *ne) I )as hurt0 An" that )as not #oo" 7or your 7!a)!ess re%utation0 That ha" to e 7iGe"0 :?& on your ;a%( e4ery o"y0 2ourtney9s house0 I reo%en the ;a%0 When I %u!!e" u% to the /ur ( your 7ront "oor 7!e) o%en0 Out you /a;e( oun"in# o77 the %or/h an" "o)n the )a!*)ay0 Your ;o;( e7ore shuttin# the 7ront "oor( ent "o)n to #et a #oo" !oo* insi"e ;y /ar0 :on9t )orry( 5rs0 2ri;sen( I thou#ht0 No oys in here0 No a!/oho!0 No "ru#s0 No 7un0 Why "o I 7ee! so /o;%e!!e" to 7o!!o) her ;a%E I "on9t nee" to0 I9; !istenin# to the ta%es( e4ery sin#!e one( 7ront an" a/*( an" that shou!" e enou#h0 But it9s not0 You o%ene" the %assen#er "oor( sat "o)n( an" u/*!e" u%0 DThan*s 7or the !i7t(F you sai"0 I9; not 7o!!o)in# the ;a% e/ause she )ants ;e to0 I9; 7o!!o)in# it e/ause I nee" to un"erstan"0 Whate4er it ta*es( I nee" to tru!y un"erstan" )hat ha%%ene" to her0 A !i7tE A!rea"y ha4in# "ou ts a out )hy you in4ite" ;e( that )as not the he!!o I )ante" to hear0 :?&0 It9s on!y a han"7u! o7 !o/*s 7ro; Ty!er9s house0 I )ante" to e )ron# a out you( 2ourtney0 I "i"0 I )ante" you to see it as ;e %i/*in# you u% so )e /ou!" #o to a %arty to#ether0 An" that is 4ery "i77erent 7ro; ;e #i4in# you a !i7t0 At that ;o;ent( I *ne) ho) the %arty )ou!" %!ay out 7or us0 But ho) it en"e"E We!!( that )as a sur%rise0 ThatL)as )eir"0 Bo!te" to the a/* o7 ea/h seat( ehin" a sIuare sheet o7 P!eGi#!as( is a ;a% o7 a!! the /ity9s us routes0 Cro; )here I /au#ht this one( the us )i!! "ri4e y 2ourtney9s house( turn !e7t a !o/* e7ore Ty!er9s( then sto%0 We %ar*e" t)o an" a ha!7 !o/*s a)ay( )hi/h )as a/tua!!y the /!osest s%ot )e /ou!" #et0 I ha4e one o7

those /ar stereos that /ontinues %!ayin# e4en a7ter I shut o77 the en#ine0 It )on9t sto% unti! so;eone o%ens a "oor0 But that ni#ht( )hen I o%ene" the "oor( the ;usi/ "i"n9t sto%Lit Just soun"e" "istant0 DOh ;y $o"(F you sai"0 DI thin* that ;usi/9s /o;in# 7ro; the %artyKF :i" I ;ention )e )ere t)o an" a ha!7 !o/*s a)ayE That9s ho) !ou" it )as0 That %arty )as a so!ute!y e##in# 7or a %o!i/e 4isit0 Whi/h is )hy I "on9t #o to ;any %arties0 I9; so /!ose to ein# 4a!e"i/torian0 One ;ista*e /ou!" ;ess it a!! u% 7or ;e0 We too* our %!a/e in the strea; o7 stu"ents hea"in# to the %artyM!i*e Joinin# a un/h o7 sa!;on hea"in# u%strea; to ;ate0 When )e #ot there( t)o 7oot a!! %!ayersMne4er to e seen at a %arty )ithout Pa#e '&

their JerseysMstoo" on o%%osite si"es o7 the #ate /o!!e/tin# eer ;oney0 So I rea/he" into ;y %o/*et 7or so;e /ash0 O4er the !ou" ;usi/( you shoute" to ;e( D:on9t )orry a out it0F We #ot to the #ate an" one o7 they #uys sai"( DT)o u/*s a /u%0F Then he rea!iBe" )ho he )as ta!*in# to0 DOh0 Hey( 2ourtney0 Here you #o0F An" he han"e" you a re" %!asti/ /u%0

T)o u/*sE That9s itE They ;ust /har#e #ir!s "i77erent!y0 You no""e" your hea" in ;y "ire/tion0 The #uy s;i!e"( then han"e" ;e a /u%0 But )hen I #ra

e" 7or

it( he "i"n9t !et #o0 He to!" ;e his re%!a/e;ent )as /o;in# any ;inute an" that )e shou!" han# out0 I s;i!e" at hi;( ut you #ra e" ;e y the ar; an" %u!!e" ;e throu#h the #ate0 D:on9t(F you sai"0 DTrust ;e0F I as*e" )hy( ut you )ere s/annin# the /ro)" an" "i"n9t hear ;e0 I "on9t re;e; er any stories o7 2ourtney an" any 7oot a!! %!ayers0 Bas*et a!! %!ayers( yes0 5any o7 the;0 But 7oot a!!E None0 Then you sai" )e shou!" s%!it u%0 An" "o you )ant to *no) ;y 7irst thou#ht )hen you sai" that( 2ourtneyE $ee( that sure "i"n9t ta*e !on#0 You sai" there )ere a 7e) %eo%!e you nee"e" to see an" that )e shou!" ;eet u% !ater0 I !ie" an" sai"

there )ere so;e %eo%!e I nee"e" to see( too0 Then you to!" ;e not to !ea4e )ithout you0 DYou9re ;y ri"e( re;e; erEF Ho) /ou!" I 7or#et( 2ourtneyE The us turns onto 2ourtney9s street( )ith Cor Sa!e si#ns %oste" in a out a thir" o7 the yar"s0 When )e %ass 2ourtney9s house( I ha!7 eG%e/t to see a re" star s%ray?%ainte" on the 7ront "oor0 But the %or/h is urie" in "ar*ness0 No %or/h !i#ht0 No !i#hts in any )in"o) at a!!0 But you s;i!e" at ;e0 An" 7ina!!y( you sai" the ;a#i/ )or"0 D$oo"? ye0F An" #oo"? ye )as eGa/t!y )hat you ;eant0 D5iss your sto%( 2!ayEF An i/y /hi!! shoots u% ;y s%ine0 A 4oi/e0 A #ir!9s 4oi/e0 But not 7ro; the hea"%hones0

So;eone /a!!e" ;y na;e0 But 7ro; )hereE

A/ross the ais!e( the "ar* e!t o7 )in"o)s a/ts !i*e a ;irror0 I see the re7!e/tion o7 a #ir! sittin# ehin" ;e0 5ay e ;y a#e0 But "o I *no) herE I turn ;y o"y aroun" an" !oo* o4er the a/*rest0 Pa#e ''

S*ye 5i!!er0 5y ei#hth?#ra"e /rush0 She s;i!es( or ;ay e it9s ;ore o7 a s;ir*( e/ause she *no)s she start!e" the he!! out o7 ;e0 S*ye9s a!)ays een %retty( ut she a/ts !i*e the thou#ht9s ne4er /rosse" her ;in"0 Es%e/ia!!y the %ast /ou%!e o7 years0 She "resses in "u!!( !oose /!othin# e4ery "ay0 A!;ost uryin# herse!7 )ithin the;0 Toni#ht( it9s a u!*y #ray s)eatshirt an" ;at/hin# %ants0 I %u!! the hea"%hones 7ro; ;y ears0 DHey( S*ye0F D5iss your houseEF she as*s0 5ore )or"s than she9s s%o*en to ;e in a !on# ti;e0 5ore )or"s than

I94e hear" her s%ea* to anyone in a !on# ti;e0 DHe9!! sto% i7 you as* hi; to0F I sha*e ;y hea"0 No0 Not ;y house0 The us ta*es a !e7t at the neGt interse/tion an" %u!!s u% to the /ur 0 The "oor s!i"es o%en an" the "ri4er

ye!!s a/*( DAnyoneEF

I !oo* to the 7ront o7 the us( into the rear4ie) ;irror( an" /at/h the "ri4er9s eye0 Then I turn a/* to S*ye0 DWhere are you #oin#EF I as*0

The s;ir* returns0 Her eyes stay 7o/use" on ;ine0 She9s tryin# so har" to ;a*e ;e 7ee! un/o;7orta !e0 An" it9s )or*in#0 DI9; not #oin# any)here(F she 7ina!!y says0 Why "oes she "o thisE What ha%%ene" et)een ei#hth #ra"e an" no)E Why "oes she insist on ein#

an out/astE What /han#e"E No one *no)s0 One "ay( at !east it see;e" that 7ast( she Just sto%%e"

)antin# to e a %art o7 anythin#0 But this is ;y sto% an" I shou!" #et o770 It9s ha!7)ay et)een t)o o7 the re" stars> Ty!er9s house an" 2ourtney9s0

Or instea"( I /ou!" stay an" ta!* )ith S*ye0 To e ;ore eGa/t( I /ou!" stay an"try to ta!* )ith her0 An a!;ost #uarantee" one?)ay /on4ersation0 DSee you to;orro)(F she says0 An" that9s it0 The /on4ersation9s o4er0 Part o7 ;e( I a";it( is re!ie4e"0

DSee you !ater(F I say0 I !i7t ;y a/*%a/* o4er ;y shou!"er an" )a!* to the 7ront o7 the us0 I than* the "ri4er an" return to the /o!" air outsi"e0 The "oor shuts ehin" ;e0 The us %u!!s a)ay0 S*ye9s )in"o) %asses )ith her hea" restin# a#ainst the #!ass an" her eyes shut0

I %u!! ;y a/*%a/* onto oth shou!"ers an" ti#hten the stra%s0 A!one on/e a#ain( I start )a!*in#0 To

Ty!er9s house0 O*ay( ut ho) )i!! I *no) )hi/h one it isE This is the !o/*( I *no) that( an" it9s this si"e o7 the !o/*( ut Hannah #a4e no a""ress0

Pa#e '=

I7 his e"roo; !i#ht9s on( ;ay e I9!! see the a; oo shutters0

With ea/h house I )a!* y( tryin# not to stare too !on#( I !oo* 7or those shutters0 5ay e I9!! #et !u/*y0 5ay e there )i!! e a si#n %oste" in his yar"0PEEPIN$ TO5M2O5E INSI:E 0 I /an9t sti7!e a !au#h at ;y o)n !a;e Jo*e0 With Hannah9s )or"s rea"y at the %ush o7 a utton( it 7ee!s )ron# to s;i!e !i*e this0 But it a!so 7ee!s ni/e0 It 7ee!s !i*e the 7irst ti;e I94e s;i!e" in ;onths( thou#h it9s on!y een hours0 Then( t)o houses a)ay( I see it0 I sto% s;i!in#0 The e"roo; !i#ht is on an" the a; oo shutters are "o)n0 A s%i"er)e o7 si!4er "u/t ta%e ho!"s the 7ra/ture" )in"o) to#ether0 Was it a ro/*E :i" so;eone thro) a ro/* at Ty!er9s )in"o)E Was it so;eone )ho *ne)E So;eone 7ro; the !istE As I #et /!oser I /an a!;ost %i/ture her( Hannah( stan"in# esi"e his )in"o) )his%erin# into a re/or"er0 Wor"s too so7t 7or ;e to hear at this "istan/e0 But in the en"( the )or"s rea/h ;e0 A sIuare he"#e "i4i"es Ty!er9s 7ront yar" 7ro; the neGt0 I )a!* to)ar" it to shie!" ;yse!7 7ro; 4ie)0 Be/ause he has to e )at/hin#0 Loo*in# out0 Waitin# 7or so;eone to ust his )in"o) )i"e o%en0 DYou )ant to thro) so;ethin#EF The i/y /hi!! /o;es s!i/in# a/*0 I s%in aroun"( rea"y to hit so;eone an" run0 DHo!" itK It9s ;e0F 5ar/us 2oo!ey( 7ro; s/hoo!0 I !ean 7or)ar"( restin# ;y han"s on ;y *nees0 EGhauste"0 DWhat are you "oin# hereEF I as*0 5ar/us ho!"s a 7ist?siBe" ro/* Just e!o) ;y eyes0 DTa*e it(F he says0

I !oo* u% at hi;0 DWhyEF DYou9!! 7ee! etter( 2!ay0 Honest0F I !oo* o4er at the )in"o)0 At the "u/t ta%e0 Then I !oo* "o)n an" /!ose ;y eyes( sha*in# ;y hea"0 DLet ;e #uess( 5ar/us0 You9re on the ta%es0F He "oesn9t ans)er0 He "oesn9t nee" to0 When I !oo* u%( the /orners o7 his eyes stru##!e to ho!" a/* a s;i!e0 An" in that stru##!e( I /an te!! he9s not asha;e"0 Pa#e '1

I no" to Ty!er9s )in"o)0 D:i" you "o thatEF He %ushes the ro/* into ;y han"0 DYou9" e the 7irst to say no( 2!ay0F 5y heart starts ra/in#0 Not 7ro; 5ar/us stan"in# here( or Ty!er stan"in# so;e)here insi"e( or the hea4y ro/* in ;y han"( ut 7ro; )hat he Just to!" ;e0 DYou9re the thir" to /o;e out here(F he says0 DP!us ;e0F I try to %i/ture anyone other than 5ar/us( so;eone e!se on the !ist( thro)in# a ro/* at Ty!er9s )in"o)0 But I /an9t0 It "oesn9t ;a*e sense0 We9re a!! on the !ist0 A!! o7 us0 We9re a!! #ui!ty o7 so;ethin#0 Why is Ty!er any "i77erent than the rest o7 usE I stare "o)n at the ro/* in ;y han"0 DWhy are you "oin# thisEF I as*0 He no"s o4er his shou!"er( "o)n the !o/*0 DThat9s ;y house "o)n there0 With the !i#ht on0 I94e een )at/hin# Ty!er9s house to see )ho /o;es aroun"0F I /an9t i;a#ine )hat Ty!er to!" his %arents0 :i" he %!ea" )ith the; not to re%!a/e the )in"o) e/ause ;ore ;i#ht e /o;in#E An" )hat "i" they sayE :i" they as* ho) he *ne)E :i" they as* )hyE DThe 7irst )as A!eG(F 5ar/us says0 He "oesn9t soun" the !east it asha;e" to e te!!in# ;e this0 DWe )ere han#in# out at ;y house )hen( out o7 no)here( he )ante" ;e to %oint out Ty!er9s house0 I "i"n9t

*no) )hy( it9s not !i*e they )ere 7rien"s( ut he rea!!y )ante" to *no)0F DSo( )hat( you Just #a4e hi; a ro/* to thro) at his )in"o)EF DNo0 It )as his i"ea0 I "i"n9t e4en *no) the ta%es eGiste" yet0F I toss the ro/* u% a 7e) in/hes then /at/h its )ei#ht in ;y other han"0 E4en e7ore the %re4ious ro/*s )ea*ene" it( the )in"o) )ou!" stan" no /han/e a#ainst this0 So )hy "i" 5ar/us /hoose this ro/* 7or ;eE He9s hear" the rest o7 the ta%es( ut he )ants ;e to e the one to 7inish o77 the )in"o)0 WhyE I toss the ro/* a/* to ;y other han"0 Beyon" his shou!"er I /an see the %or/h !i#ht at 5ar/us9s house0 I shou!" ;a*e hi; te!! ;e )hi/h )in"o) is his0 I shou!" te!! hi; this ro/* is #oin# throu#h one o7 his house9s )in"o)s( an" he ;i#ht as )e!! te!! ;e )hi/h one is his so I "on9t s/are the he!! out o7 his !itt!e sister0 I #ri% the ro/* har"0 Har"er0 But there9s no )ay to *ee% ;y 4oi/e 7ro; sha*in#0 DYou9re a "i/*( 5ar/us0F DWhatEF DYou9re on the ta%es( too(F I say0 DRi#htEF DSo are you( 2!ay0F 5y 4oi/e sha*es 7ro; oth ra#e an" an atte;%t to ho!" a/* tears0 DWhat ;a*es us so "i77erent 7ro; hi;EF Pa#e '8

DHe9s a Pee%in# To;(F 5ar/us says0 DHe9s a 7rea*0 He !oo*e" in Hannah9s )in"o)( so )hy not rea* hisEF DAn" youEF I as*0 DWhat "i" you "oEF

Cor a ;o;ent( his eyes stare throu#h ;e0 Then he !in*s0 DNothin#0 It9s ri"i/u!ous(F he says0 DI "on9t e!on# on those ta%es0 Hannah Just )ante" an eG/use to *i!! herse!70F

I !et the ro/* "ro% onto the si"e)a!*0 It )as either that or s;ash it in his 7a/e ri#ht there0 D$et the he!! a)ay 7ro; ;e(F I te!! hi;0 DIt9s ;y street( 2!ay0F 5y 7in#ers /!ose an" ti#hten into a 7ist0 I !oo* "o)n at the ro/*( a/hin# to %i/* it a/* u%0 But I turn a)ay0 Cast0 I )a!* the 7u!! !en#th o7 the si"e)a!* in 7ront o7 Ty!er9s house )ithout !oo*in# at

the )in"o)0 I /an9t !et ;yse!7 thin*0 I %u!! the hea"%hones 7ro; ;y ne/* an" %!a/e the; a/* in ;y ears0 I rea/h into ;y %o/*et an" hit P!ay0 Was I "isa%%ointe" )hen you sai" #oo"? ye to ;e( 2ourtneyE Not ;u/h0 It9s har" to e "isa%%ointe" )hen )hat you eG%e/te" turns out to e true0 Nee% )a!*in#( 2!ay0 But "i" I 7ee! use"E A so!ute!y0 An" yet the )ho!e ti;e 2ourtney )as usin# ;e( she %ro a !y thou#ht she )as %o!ishin# u% her i;a#e in

;y eyes0 2an you sayL a/*7ireE That %arty turne" into a ni#ht o7 7irsts 7or ;e0 I sa) ;y 4ery 7irst 7ist7i#htM)hi/h )as horri !e0 I ha4e no i"ea )hat it )as a out( ut it starte" ri#ht ehin" ;e0 T)o #uys )ere shoutin#( an" )hen I turne" aroun"( their /hests )ere a out an in/h a%art0 A /ro)" e#an to 7or;( e##in# the; on0 The ;o e/a;e a thi/* )a!!( not a out to !et the situation "ie "o)n0 A!! they nee"e" )as 7or one /hest to /!ose the #a%( e4en a//i"enta!!y( an" it )as on0 An" that9s )hat ha%%ene"0 The u;% o7 a /hest turne" into a sho4e( )hi/h( ri#ht a)ay( e/a;e a 7ist %oun"in# a Ja)0 A7ter t)o ;ore %un/hes( I turne" a)ay an" %ushe" throu#h the )a!! o7 %eo%!e( )hi/h( y that ti;e( )as 7our o"ies "ee%0 So;e in the a/* )ere stan"in# on ti%toes 7or a etter 4ie)0 :is#ustin#0 Pa#e '3

I ran insi"e( sear/hin# 7or a athroo; to hi"e in0 I "i"n9t 7ee! %hysi/a!!y si/*0 But ;enta!!yL;y ;in" )as t)istin# in so ;any )ays0 The on!y thin# I /ou!" thin* o7 )as that I nee"e" to 4o;it0 I %u!! out ;y ;a% an" !oo* 7or the nearest star that isn9t 2ourtney9s0 I9; not #oin# there0 I9; not !istenin# to Hannah ta!* a out her )hi!e I stare at her "ar*( e;%ty house0

I9; on to the neGt thin#0 In Hea!th( )e on/e sa) a "o/u;entary on ;i#raines0 One o7 the ;en inter4ie)e" use" to 7a!! on his *nees an" an# his hea" a#ainst the 7!oor( o4er an" o4er "urin# atta/*s0 This "i4erte" the %ain 7ro; "ee% insi"e his rain( )here he /ou!"n9t rea/h it( to a %ain outsi"e that he ha" /ontro! o4er0 An" in a )ay( y 4o;itin#( that9s )hat I ho%e" to "o0 The eGa/t !o/ations o7 the re" stars are har" to see i7 I "on9t sto% )a!*in#( i7 I "on9t stan" sti!! eneath a street!a;%0 But I /an9t sto% )a!*in#0 Not e4en 7or a ;o;ent0 Wat/hin# those #uys %u;;e! ea/h other so no one )ou!" sus%e/t the; o7 ein# )ea* )as too ;u/h 7or ;e0 Their re%utations )ere ;ore i;%ortant than their 7a/es0 An" 2ourtney9s re%utation )as ;ore i;%ortant than ;y re%utation0 :i" anyone at that %arty a/tua!!y e!ie4e she rou#ht ;e there as a 7rien"E Or "i" they si;%!y thin* I )as her !atest /harity /aseE I #uess I9!! ne4er *no)0 I re7o!" the ;a% an" tu/* it un"er ;y ar;0 ,n7ortunate!y( the on!y athroo; I 7oun" )as o//u%ie"Lso I )ent a/* outsi"e0 The 7ist7i#ht )as o4er( e4erythin# ha" returne" to nor;a!( an" I nee"e" to !ea4e0 The te;%erature /ontinues to 7a!! an" I ti#hten ;y ar;s aroun" ;y /hest as I )a!*0 When I a%%roa/he" the #ate( the sa;e #ate )here I entere" the %arty( #uess )ho )as stan"in# there a!! y hi;se!70 Ty!er :o)nL7u!!y eIui%%e" )ith his /a;era0 It9s ti;e to !ea4e Ty!er a!one( Hannah0 When he sa) ;e( the !oo* on his 7a/e )as %ri/e!ess0 An" %iti7u!0 He /rosse" his ar;s( tryin# to shie!" the /a;era 7ro; ;y 4ie)0 But )hy )ou!" he "o thatE E4eryone *no)s he9s on the year oo* sta770 But I as*e" any)ay0 DWhat9s that 7or( Ty!erEF

DWhatE OhLthisE ,;Lyear oo*0F An" then( 7ro; ehin" ;e( so;eone /a!!e" ;y na;e0 I9; not #oin# to te!! you )ho e/ause it "oesn9t ;atter0 Li*e the %erson )ho #ra e" ;y ass at B!ue S%ot LiIuor( )hat he )as a out to say )as Just an a7tere77e/t o7 so;eone e!se9s a/tionsMso;eone e!se9s /a!!ousness0 D2ourtney sai" I shou!" ta!* to you(F he sai"0 Pa#e =+

I eGha!e Iui/*!y0 A7ter this( your re%utation is ruine"( 2ourtney0

I !oo*e" ehin" hi;0 At the 7ar en" o7 the yar"( three si!4er *e#s sat in the ;i""!e o7 an in7!ata !e %oo! 7u!! o7 i/e0 Besi"e the %oo!( 2ourtney )as ta!*in# to three oys 7ro; another s/hoo!0 The oy stan"in# in 7ront o7 ;e too* a s!o) si% 7ro; his eer0 DShe says you9re 7un to han# out )ith0F An" I starte" to so7ten0 I starte" !ettin# ;y #uar" "o)n0 Sure( ;ay e I )as ri#ht an" 2ourtney )as on!y

/on/erne" )ith sa4in# her i;a#e0 5ay e she thou#ht that y sen"in# a /ute oy o4er to ta!* to ;e I9" 7or#et a!! a out her i#norin# ;e at the %arty0 Yes( he )as *in" o7 /ute0 An" o*ay( ;ay e I )as )i!!in# to ha4e a !itt!e se!e/ti4e a;nesia0

But so;ethin# ha%%ene"( Hannah0 WhatE A7ter )e s%o*e 7or a )hi!e( this #uy sai" he ha" a /on7ession to ;a*e0 2ourtney "i"n9t a/tua!!y sen" hi; o4er to ta!* to ;e0 But he "i" o4erhear her ta!*in# a out ;e an" that9s )hy he /a;e an" 7oun" ;e0

I as*e" hi; )hat 2ourtney sai"( an" he Just s;i!e" an" !oo*e" "o)n at the #rass0 I )as throu#h )ith these #a;esK I "e;an"e" to *no) )hat she sai" a out ;e0 DThat you9re 7un to han# out )ith(F he re%eate"0 I starte" re ui!"in# ;y #uar"( ri/* y ri/*0 DCunLho)EF He shru##e"0 DHo)EF Rea"y 7or this( e4eryoneE Our s)eet !itt!e 5iss 2ri;sen to!" this #uy( an" )hoe4er e!se )as stan"in#

)ithin earshot( that I94e #ot a 7e) sur%rises urie" in ;y "resser "ra)ers0 5y reath sto%s !i*e I94e een su/*er %un/he" in the sto;a/h0

She ;a"e that u%K 2ourtney /o;%!ete!y ;a"e that u%0 An" out o7 the /orner o7 ;y eye( I )at/he" Ty!er :o)n start )a!*in# a)ay0 By no)( the tears )ere )e!!in# u%0 D:i" she say )hat )as in thereEF I as*e"0 A#ain( he s;i!e"0 5y 7a/e 7e!t so hot( ;y han"s starte" sha*in#( an" I as*e" hi; )hy he e!ie4e" her0 D:o you e!ie4e

e4erythin# %eo%!e say a out ;eEF He to!" ;e to /a!; "o)n( that it "i"n9t ;atter0 DYesKF I to!" hi;0 DIt "oes ;atter0F

Pa#e =1

I !e7t hi; to ha4e a !itt!e /on4ersation o4er y the *e# %oo!0 But on ;y )ay there( I ha" a etter i"ea0 I ran u% to Ty!er an" stoo" in 7ront o7 hi;0 DYou )ant a %i/tureEF I sai"0 DCo!!o) ;e0F Then I #ra e" his ar; an" !e" hi; a/ross the yar"0 The %i/tureK The one 7ro; the s/ri !e oo*0

Ty!er %roteste" the )ho!e )ay( thin*in# I )ante" hi; to ta*e a %i/ture o7 the *e# %oo!0 DThey9!! ne4er %rint it(F he sai"0 DYou *no)( un"era#e "rin*in#EF Ri#ht0 Why )ou!" they )ant a year oo* that sho)e" a/tua! stu"ent !i7eE DNot that(F I sai"0 DI )ant you to ta*e a %i/ture o7 ;e0 5e an" 2ourtney0F I s)ear( at that ;o;ent his 7orehea" )as #!istenin#0 5e an" the a/*ru #ir!( to#ether a#ain0 I as*e" i7 he )as a!! ri#ht0 DYeah( no( sure( 7ine0F An" that9s an eGa/t Iuote0 In the %i/ture( Hannah9s ar; is )ra%%e" aroun" 2ourtney9s )aist0 Hannah9s !au#hin#( ut 2ourtney isn9t0 She9s ner4ous0 An" no) I *no) )hy0 2ourtney )as in the ;i""!e o7 ha4in# her /u% 7i!!e"( an" I to!" Ty!er to )ait ri#ht there0 When 2ourtney

sa) ;e( she as*e" i7 I )as ha4in# 7un0 DSo;eone )ants to ta*e your %i/ture(F I sai"0 Then I #ra

e" her y the ar; an" %u!!e" her o4er to

Ty!er0 I to!" her to %ut "o)n her /u% or the year oo* )ou!"n9t e a !e to use it0 Ty!er %ut it in the s/ri !e oo* at 5onet9s0 He )ante" us to see it0

This )as not a %art o7 her %!an0 She on!y in4ite" ;e to the %arty to /!ear her eauti7u! na;e a7ter i#norin# ;e 7or so !on#0 A %er;anent %hoto#ra%h !in*in# us to one another )as not su%%ose" to ha%%en0 2ourtney trie" to %u!! out o7 ;y #ri%0 DILI "on9t )ant to(F she sai"0 I )hir!e" aroun" to 7a/e her0 DWhy not( 2ourtneyE Why "i" you in4ite ;e hereE P!ease "on9t te!! ;e I )as Just a /hau77eur0 I ;ean( I thou#ht )e )ere e/o;in# 7rien"s0F He ;ust ha4e %ut it in the s/ri !e oo* e/ause he *ne) )e )ou!" ne4er 7in" it in the year oo*0 He )ou!" ne4er turn it in0 Not a7ter !earnin# )hat the %hoto#ra%h rea!!y ;eant0 DWe are 7rien"s(F she sai"0 DThen %ut "o)n your "rin*(F I sai"0 DIt9s ti;e 7or a %i/ture0F Ty!er ai;e" the /a;era an" 7o/use" his !ens( )aitin# 7or our eauti7u!( natura! s;i!es0 2ourtney !o)ere" the "rin* to her si"e0 I %ut ;y ar; aroun" her )aist an" to!" her( DI7 you e4er )ant to orro) anythin# 7ro; ;y "resser( 2ourtney( a!! you nee" to "o is as*0F Pa#e =6

DRea"yEF Ty!er sai"0 I !eane" 7or)ar"( %reten"in# so;eone ha" Just to!" ;e the 7unniest Jo*e in the )or!"02!i/*0 Then I to!" the; I )as !ea4in# e/ause the %arty su/*e"0 2ourtney e##e" ;e to stay0 She to!" ;e to e reasona !e0 An" ;ay e I )as ein# a !itt!e insensiti4e0 I

;ean( she )asn9t rea"y to !ea4e0 Ho) )ou!" she #et ho;e i7 her /hau77eur "i"n9t )ait aroun" 7or herE DCin" another ri"e(F I sai"0 An" I !e7t0 Part o7 ;e )ante" to /ry 7or ein# so ri#ht a out her in4itation0 Instea"( on the !on# )a!* a/* to ;y

/ar( I starte" !au#hin#0 An" I shoute" into the trees( DWhat is #oin# onEF An" then so;eone /a!!e" ;y na;e0 DWhat "o you )ant( Ty!erEF He to!" ;e I )as ri#ht a out the %arty0 DThe %arty "oes su/*0F DNo( Ty!er0 It "oesn9t(F I sai"0 Then I as*e" )hy he )as 7o!!o)in# ;e0 His eyes "ro%%e" to his /a;era an" he 7i""!e" )ith the !ens0 He nee"e" a ri"e ho;e( he sai"0 At that( I rea!!y starte" !au#hin#0 Not s%e/i7i/a!!y at )hat he sai"( ut at the a sur"ity o7 the )ho!e ni#ht0

:i" he rea!!y ha4e no /!ue that I *ne) a out his ni#ht %ro)!in#Ma out his no/turna! ;issionsE Or "i" he sin/ere!y ho%e I "i"n9t *no)E Be/ause as !on# as I "i"n9t *no)( )e /ou!" e 7rien"s( ri#htE DCine(F I sai"0 DBut )e9re not sto%%in# any)here0F A 7e) ti;es on the ri"e ho;e he trie" ta!*in# to ;e0 But ea/h ti;e I /ut hi; o770 I "i" not )ant to a/t !i*e e4erythin# )as o*ay( e/ause it )asn9t0

An" a7ter I "ro%%e" hi; o77( I too* the !on#est %ossi !e route ho;e0 I ha4e a 7ee!in# I9!! e "oin# the sa;e0 I eG%!ore" a!!eys an" hi""en roa"s I ne4er *ne) eGiste"0 I "is/o4ere" nei#h orhoo"s entire!y ne) to

;e0 An" 7ina!!yLI "is/o4ere" I )as si/* o7 this to)n an" e4erythin# in it0 I9; startin# to #et there( too( Hannah0 NeGt si"e0 2ASSETTE 3> SI:E B

Ho) ;any o7 you re;e; er the Oh 5y :o!!ar Va!entinesE Ho) ;any o7 us )ou!" rather 7or#etE

Pa#e =3

Those )ere 7un( )eren9t theyE You 7i!! out a sur4ey( a /o;%uter ana!yBes your ans)ers( then it /ross?re7eren/es )ith the other sur4eys0 Cor Just a u/*( you #et the na;e an" nu; er o7 your one true sou! ;ate0 Cor 7i4e u/*s( you #et your to% 7i4e0 An" heyK A!! %ro/ee"s #o to a )orthy /ause0 2heer 2a;%0 2heer 2a;%0

Ea/h ;ornin# o4er the !ou"s%ea*er /a;e the /heery announ/e;ents0 D:on9t 7or#et( there9s on!y 7our

;ore "ays to turn in your sur4eys0 On!y 7our ;ore !one!y "ays unti! your true !o4e is re4ea!e"0F An" e4ery ;ornin#( a ne) %e%%y /heer!ea"er /ontinue" the /ount"o)n0 DOn!y three ;ore "aysL0 On!y t)o ;ore "aysL0 Just one ;ore "ayL0 To"ay9s the "ayKF Cor e4ery 7oot o7 si"e)a!* I %ut et)een Ty!er9s house( 5ar/us( an" ;e( the ;us/!es in ;y shou!"ers re!aG a !itt!e ;ore0 Then the )ho!e sIua" o7 /heer!ea"ers san#( DOh ;y "o!!ar( Oh ;y "o!!ar( Oh ;y "o!?!ar Va!entineKF This( o7 /ourse( )as 7o!!o)e" y )hoo%s an" ho!!ers an" /heers0 I a!)ays i;a#ine" the; "oin# *i/*s an" s%!its an" tossin# their %o;?%o;s aroun" the atten"an/e o77i/e0 I )a!*e" y the atten"an/e o77i/e on/e( on an erran" 7or a tea/her( an" that9s eGa/t!y )hat they )ere "oin#0 An" yes( I "i" 7i!! out ;y sur4ey0 I94e een a su/*er 7or sur4eys ;y )ho!e !i7e0 I7 you e4er /au#ht ;e rea"in# one o7 those teen ;a#aBines( I s)ear( it )asn9t 7or the ;a*eu% ti%s0 It )as 7or the sur4eys0 Be/ause you ne4er )ore ;a*eu%( Hannah0 You "i"n9t nee" it0 Cine( so;e o7 the hair an" ;a*eu% ti%s )ere he!%7u!0 You )ore ;a*eu%E But I on!y %i/*e" the ;a#aBines u% 7or the sur4eys0 The ti%s )ere a onus0 :o you re;e; er those /areer sur4eys )e ha" to 7i!! out 7resh;an year( the ones that )ere su%%ose" to he!% us /hoose e!e/ti4esE A//or"in# to ;y sur4ey( I9" ;a*e a )on"er7u! !u; erJa/*0 An" i7 that /areer "i"n9t )or* out( I /ou!" use ;y 7a!! a/* /areer as an astronaut0

An astronaut or a !u; erJa/*E Serious!yE Than*s 7or the he!%0 I "on9t re;e; er ;y 7a!! a/* /areer( ut I #ot the !u; erJa/*( too0 I trie" 7i#urin# out )hy the test sa) that as ;y est /areer %ath0 True( I ;ar*e" "o)n that I !i*e" the out"oors( ut )ho "oesn9tE It "oesn9t ;ean I !i*e /uttin# "o)n trees0

The Va!entine sur4ey )as a t)o?%arter0 Cirst( you "es/ri e" yourse!70 Hair /o!or0 Eye /o!or0 Hei#ht0 Bo"y ty%e0 Ca4orite ty%e o7 ;usi/ an" ;o4ie0 Then you %ut a /he/* esi"e your to% three thin#s to "o on )ee*en"s0 Whi/h is 7unny( e/ause )hoe4er "esi#ne" the !ist 7or#ot to ;ention "rin*in# an" seGM)hi/h )ou!"94e een the ;ost a//urate res%onse 7or ;ost o7 our stu"ent o"y0

Pa#e =&

In a!!( there )ere a out t)enty Iuestions0 An" I *no)( ase" on )ho a%%eare" on ;y !ist( that not e4eryone ans)ere" honest!y0 In the ;i""!e o7 the si"e)a!*( eneath a street!a;%( is a "ar* #reen ;eta! en/h0 At one ti;e( ;ay e this )as a us sto%0 But no)( it9s Just a en/h to re!aG on0 Cor o!" %eo%!e( or anyone( too tire" to )a!*0 Cor ;e0 Cor %art t)o o7 the sur4ey( it )as your turn to "es/ri e )hat you )ere !oo*in# 7or in a sou! ;ate0 Their hei#ht0 Their o"y ty%e0 I7 they9re ath!eti/ or not0 Shy or out#oin#0 I sit on the /o!" ;eta! an" !ean 7or)ar"( "ro%%in# ;y hea" into ;y han"s0 On!y a han"7u! o7 !o/*s 7ro; ho;e( an" I "on9t *no) )here to #o0 As I 7i!!e" ;ine out( I 7oun" ;yse!7 "es/ri in# a /ertain so;eone at our s/hoo!0 I shou!"94e ans)ere" ;y sur4ey serious!y0 You9" thin* that i7 ;y ans)ers a!! "es/ri e" one %erson( that %erson )ou!"94e at !east a%%eare" in ;y to% 7i4e0 But that %erson ;ust ha4e een i;;une to the /heer!ea"ers an" their /heers e/ause he "i"n9t en" u% on ;y !ist any)here0 An" no( I9; not te!!in# you his na;eLyet0 Cor 7un( I 7i!!e" ;ine out as Ho!"en 2au!7ie!" 7ro;The 2at/her in the Rye ( that se;ester9s reIuire" rea"in# an" the 7irst %erson to /o;e to ;in"0

Ho!"en0 What a horri !e 7irst "ate that "e%resse" !oner )ou!" ;a*e0 The ;o;ent the sur4eys )ere "istri ute"( in thir"?%erio" history( I u !e" in ;y ans)ers0 There sure )ere so;e )eir" na;es on ;y !ist0 EGa/t!y the sort o7 %eo%!e I9" eG%e/t to 7a!! 7or a Ho!"en

2au!7ie!"0 It )as your ty%i/a! "ay in 2oa/h Patri/*9s history /!ass0 :e/i%her a un/h o7 notes s/ri

!e" on the

oar" %ro a !y 7i4e ;inutes e7ore /!ass starte"( then /o%y the; "o)n in your note oo*0 I7 you 7inish e7ore the en" o7 /!ass( rea" %a#es ei#ht throu#h one ninety?7our in your teGt oo*Lan" "on9t 7a!! as!ee%0 An" no ta!*in#0 Ho) )as I to *no) e4ery sin#!e one o7 those #ir!s )ou!" /a!! ;eE I assu;e" e4eryone at s/hoo! sa) the

sur4ey as a Jo*e0 Just a 7un"?raiser 7or 2heer 2a;%0 A7ter /!ass( I )a!*e" strai#ht to the stu"ent o"y o77i/e0 At the en" o7 the /ounter( /!osest to the "oor(

)as the "ro%?o77 oGMa !ar#e shoe oG )ith a s!it /ut in the to% an" "e/orate" )ith /utout %in* an" re" hearts0 The re" hearts ha"OH 5Y :OLLAR VALENTINE K )ritten on the;0 The %in* ones ha" #reen "o!!ar si#ns0 I 7o!"e" ;y sur4ey in ha!7( s!i%%e" it into the oG( then turne" aroun" to !ea4e0 But 5s0 Benson( s;i!ey as usua!( )as stan"in# ri#ht there0 Pa#e ='

DHannah Ba*erEF she sai"0 DI "i"n9t *no) you an" 2ourtney 2ri;sen )ere 7rien"s0F The !oo* on ;y 7a/e ;ust ha4e eG%resse" eGa/t!y )hat I )as thin*in#( e/ause ri#ht a)ay( she a/*%e"a!e"0 DAt !east( that9s )hat I 7i#ure"0 That9s )hat it !oo*e" !i*e0 I ;ean( you are 7rien"s( aren9t

youEF That !a"y is eyon" nosy0 5y 7irst thou#ht )as o7 Ty!er stan"in# outsi"e ;y )in"o)Lan" I )as 7uriousK Was he a/tua!!y sho)in#

o77 those Pee%in# To; %hotosE To 5s0 BensonE No0 5s0 Benson to!" ;e she ha" "e!i4ere" so;e /he/*s to the year oo* roo; that ;ornin#0 Ta%e" to

the )a!!s )ere sa;%!e shots that ;i#ht a%%ear in the year oo*0 One %arti/u!ar %hoto )as o7 2ourtney an" ;e0 You #uesse" it0 The one 7ro; the %arty( )ith ;y ar; aroun" her )aist( !oo*in# !i*e I )as ha4in# the

ti;e o7 ;y !i7e0 Suite an a/tress( Hannah0 I to!" her( DNo( )e9re Just a/Iuaintan/es0F DWe!!( it9s a rea!!y 7un %i/ture(F 5s0 Benson sai"0 An" this( these neGt )or"s( I re;e; er eGa/t!y> DThe

)on"er7u! thin# a out a year oo* %hoto is that e4eryone shares the ;o;ent )ith youL7ore4er0F It soun"e" !i*e so;ethin# she9" sai" a ;i!!ion ti;es e7ore0 An" e7ore( I %ro a !y )ou!" ha4e a#ree"0

But not )ith that %hoto0 Anyone !oo*in# at that %hoto )ou!" "e7inite!y not e sharin# our ;o;ent0 They /ou!" not /o;e /!ose to i;a#inin# ;y thou#hts in that %i/ture0 Or 2ourtney9s0 Or Ty!er9s0

E4erythin# a out it )as 7a!se0 Ri#ht then( in that o77i/e( )ith the rea!iBation that no one *ne) the truth a out ;y !i7e( ;y thou#hts a out

the )or!" )ere sha*en0 Li*e "ri4in# a!on# a u;%y roa" an" !osin# /ontro! o7 the steerin# )hee!( tossin# youMJust a ta"Mo77 the roa"0 The )hee!s *i/* u% so;e "irt( ut you9re a !e to %u!! it a/*0 Yet no ;atter ho) ti#ht!y you #ri% the )hee!( no ;atter ho) har" you try to "ri4e strai#ht( so;ethin# *ee%s Jer*in# you to the si"e0

You ha4e so !itt!e /ontro! o4er anythin# any;ore0 An" at so;e %oint( the stru##!e e/o;es too ;u/hMtoo tirin#Man" you /onsi"er !ettin# #o0 A!!o)in# tra#e"yLor )hate4erLto ha%%en0 Pressin# ;y 7in#erti%s har" a#ainst ;y hair!ine( ;y thu; s a#ainst ;y te;%!es( I sIueeBe0 In that %i/ture( I9; sure 2ourtney )as )earin# a eauti7u! s;i!e0 Ca*e( ut eauti7u!0 She )asn9t0 But you /ou!"n9t *no) that0 See( 2ourtney thou#ht she /ou!" Jer* ;e aroun" )here4er she )ante"0 But I "i"n9t !et that ha%%en0 I Jer*e" ;yse!7 a/* on the roa" Just !on# enou#h to %ush her o77Li7 on!y 7or a ;o;ent0 But no)E The sur4ey0 Cor Va!entine9s :ay0 Was this Just another /han/e to #et thro)n o77 the roa"E Pa#e ==

Was this sur4ey( 7or the #uys )ho 7oun" ;y na;e on their !ist( #oin# to e the eG/use they nee"e" to as* ;e outE

An" )ou!" they e eGtra eG/ite" a out "oin# that e/ause o7 the ru;ors they9" hear"E I !oo*e" at the s!it in the to% o7 the shoe oG( too thin to sIueeBe ;y 7in#ers throu#h0 But I /ou!" !i7t o77 the to% an" ta*e out ;y sur4ey0 It9" e so easy0 5s0 Benson )ou!" as* )hy an" I /ou!" %reten" I )as e; arrasse" a out 7i!!in# out a !o4e sur4ey0 She9" un"erstan"0

OrLI /ou!" )ait an" see0 I7 I ha" een s;art( i7 I ha" een honest )ith ;y sur4ey( I )ou!" ha4e "es/ri e" Hannah0 An" ;ay e

)e )ou!" ha4e ta!*e"0 Serious!y ta!*e"0 Not Just Jo*in# aroun" !i*e !ast su;;er at the ;o4ie theater0 But I "i"n9t "o that0 I )asn9t thin*in# that )ay0 Wou!" ;ost stu"ents( as I eG%e/te"( #et their !ist an" Just ha4e a #oo" !au#h( thin*in# nothin# o7 itE Or

)ou!" they use itE I7 Hannah9s na;e an" nu; er ha" sho)n u% on ;y !ist( )ou!" I ha4e /a!!e" herE I s!ou/h "o)n into the /o!" en/h( !eanin# ;y hea" a/*0 Car a/*( !i*e the ti% o7 ;y s%ine ;i#ht urst

i7 I *ee% #oin#0

Very !itt!e( I to!" ;yse!7( /ou!" #o )ron#0 The sur4ey )as a Jo*e0 No one9s #oin# to use it0 2a!; "o)n( Hannah0 You are not settin# yourse!7 u%0 But i7 I )as ri#htMi7 I /a!!e" it /orre/t!yMi7 I )i!!in#!y #a4e so;eone an eG/use to test those ru;ors a out ;eL)e!!LI "on9t *no)0 5ay e I9" shru# it o770 5ay e I9" #et %isse"0 Or ;ay e I )ou!" !et #o an" #i4e u%0 This ti;e( 7or the 7irst ti;e( I sa) the %ossi i!ities in #i4in# u%0 I e4en 7oun" ho%e in it0 E4er sin/e Nat9s #oin#?a)ay %arty( I /ou!"n9t sto% thin*in# a out Hannah0 Ho) she !oo*e"0 Ho) she a/te"0 Ho) it ne4er ;at/he" u% )ith )hat I hear"0 But I )as too a7rai" to 7in" out 7or sure0 Too a7rai" she ;i#ht !au#h i7 I as*e" her out0 Just too a7rai"0 So )hat )ere ;y o%tionsE I /ou!" !ea4e the o77i/e a %essi;ist an" ta*e ;y sur4ey )ith ;e0 Or I /ou!" !ea4e it as an o%ti;ist an" ho%e 7or the est0 In the en"( I )a!*e" out o7 that o77i/e )ith ;y sur4ey sti!! in the oG( unsure o7 )hat I )as0 An o%ti;istE A %essi;istE

Neither0 A 7oo!0 I /!ose ;y eyes( /on/entratin# on the /oo! air 7!oatin# aroun" ;e0 When I )ent into the ;o4ie theater !ast su;;er 7or a Jo a%%!i/ation( I %reten"e" to e sur%rise" that

Hannah )or*e" there0 But she )as the )ho!e reason I a%%!ie"0

Pa#e =1

DTo"ay9s the "ayKF the /heer!ea"er sai"L/heer7u!!y( o7 /ourse0 DPi/* u% your Oh 5y :o!!ar Va!entines at the stu"ent o"y o77i/e to"ay0F On ;y 7irst "ay at )or*( they %!a/e" ;e in the /on/ession stan" )ith Hannah0 She sho)e" ;e ho) to %u;% D utterF to%%in# into the %o%/orn0

She sai" that i7 so;eone I ha" a /rush on /a;e in( I shou!"n9t %ut utter in the otto; ha!7 o7 the tu 0 That )ay( ha!7)ay throu#h the ;o4ie( they9" /o;e a/* out as*in# 7or ;ore0 An" then there )ou!"n9t e so ;any %eo%!e aroun" an" )e /ou!" ta!*0 But I ne4er "i" that0 Be/ause it )as Hannah I )as intereste" in0 An" the thou#ht that she "i" that 7or other #uys ;a"e ;e Jea!ous0 I ha"n9t "e/i"e" yet i7 I )ante" to 7in" out )ho the sur4ey ;at/he" ;e u% )ith0 With ;y !u/*( it9" e a 7e!!o) !u; erJa/*0 But )hen I )a!*e" y the o77i/e an" 7oun" no one stan"in# in !ine( I thou#htL)hat the he!!0 I )ent u% to the /ounter an" starte" sayin# ;y na;e( ut the /heer!ea"er at the /o;%uter /ut ;e o770 DThan*s 7or su%%ortin# the /heer!ea"ers( Hannah0F She ti!te" her hea" to one si"e an" s;i!e"0 DThat soun"e" "u; ( ri#htE But I9; su%%ose" to say it to e4eryone0F It )as %ro a !y the sa;e /heer!ea"er )ho #a4e ;e ;y sur4ey resu!ts0 She ty%e" ;y na;e into the /o;%uter( hit Enter( then as*e" ho) ;any na;es I )ante"0 One( or 7i4eE I %!a/e" a 7i4e?"o!!ar i!! on the /ounter0 She hit the nu; er Ci4e *ey an" a %rinter on ;y si"e o7 the /ounter s%it out ;y !ist0 She to!" ;e they %ut the %rinter on our si"e so the /heer!ea"ers )ou!"n9t e te;%te" to %ee* at our na;es0 So %eo%!e )ou!"n9t 7ee! e; arrasse" y )ho they #ot0 I to!" her that )as a #oo" i"ea an" starte" !oo*in# o4er ;y !ist0 DSo(F the /heer!ea"er sai"( D)ho9" you #etEF :e7inite!y the /heer!ea"er )ho he!%e" ;e0 She )as Jo*in#( o7 /ourse0 No she )asn9t0 Ha!7?Jo*in#0 I %!a/e" ;y !ist on the /ounter 7or her to see0 DNot a"(F she sai"0 DOoh( I !i*e this one0F I a#ree" that it )asn9t a a" !ist0 But not )on"er7u!( either0 She !i7te" her shou!"ers an" /a!!e" ;y !ist a shru##er0 Then she !et ;e in on a !itt!e se/ret0 It )asn9t the

;ost s/ienti7i/ o7 sur4eys0 EG/e%t 7or %eo%!e see*in# a "e%resse" !oner !i*e Ho!"en 2au!7ie!"0 Cor that( the sur4ey "eser4e" a

Pa#e =8

No e! PriBe0 We oth a#ree" that t)o na;es on the !ist ;at/he" ;e 7air!y )e!!0 Another na;e( one that I )as %!ease" )ith( rou#ht an entire!y "i77erent rea/tion out o7 her0 DNo(F she sai"0 Her eG%ression( her %osture( !ost a!! its /heeriness0 DTrust ;eLno0F Is he on one o7 your ta%es( HannahE Is that )ho this ta%e is a outE Be/ause I "on9t thin* this ta%e is a out the /heer!ea"er0 DBut he9s /ute(F I sai"0 DOn the outsi"e(F she to!" ;e0 She %u!!e" out a sta/* o7 7i4es 7ro; the re#ister( %ut ;ine on to%( then )ent throu#h the sta/* turnin# ea/h i!! the sa;e )ay0 I "i"n9t %ush the su Je/t( ut I shou!" ha4e0 An" in a /ou%!e ;ore ta%es you9!! *no) )hy0 Whi/h re;in"s ;e( I ha4en9t to!" you )ho our ;ain ;an on this ta%e is0 Cortunate!y( this is the %er7e/t ti;e to intro"u/e hi; e/ause that9s eGa/t!y )hen he sho)e" u%0 A#ain( not ;e0 So;ethin# starte" uBBin#0 A %honeE I !oo*e" at the /heer!ea"er( ut she shoo* her hea"0 So I s)un# ;y a/*%a/* onto the /ounter( 7ishe" out ;y %hone( an" ans)ere" it0 DHannah Ba*er(F the /a!!er sai"0 D$oo" to see you0F I !oo*e" at the /heer!ea"er an" shru##e"0 DWho is thisEF I as*e"0 D$uess ho) I #ot your nu; er(F he sai"0 I to!" hi; that I hate" #uessin# #a;es( so he to!" ;e0 DI %ai" 7or it0F DYou %ai" 7or ;y %hone nu; erEF The /heer!ea"er s/oo%e" her han" o4er her ;outh an" %ointe" at the %rintoutMthe Oh 5y :o!!ar

Va!entinesK No )ay( I thou#ht0 So;eone )as a/tua!!y /a!!in# e/ause ;y na;e )as on their !istE Nin" o7 eG/itin#( yes0 But *in" o7 )eir" at the sa;e ti;e0 The /heer!ea"er tou/he" the na;es )e oth thou#ht )ere #oo" ;at/hes( ut I shoo* ;y hea" no0 I *ne) those 4oi/es )e!! enou#h to *no) it )asn9t either o7 the;0 It a!so )asn9t the one she )arne" ;e a out0 I rea" the other t)o na;es on ;y !ist out !ou"0 DIt !oo*s !i*e you ;a"e ;y !ist(F the /a!!er sai"( D ut I "i"n9t ;a*e yours0F Pa#e =3

A/tua!!y( you "i" ;a*e her !ist0 A "i77erent !ist0 One I9; sure you "on9t !i*e ein# on0 I as*e" hi; )here on his !ist ;y na;e %o%%e" u%0 A#ain( he to!" ;e to #uess( then Iui/*!y a""e" that he )as Jo*in#0 DRea"y 7or thisEF he as*e"0 DYou9re

;y nu; er one( Hannah0F

I ;outhe" his ans)erMnu; er oneKMan" the /heer!ea"er ho%%e" u% an" "o)n0

DThis is so /oo!(F she )his%ere"0

The /a!!er then as*e" )hat I )as "oin# 7or Va!entine9s :ay0

D:e%en"s(F I to!" hi;0 DWho are youEF

But he "i"n9t ans)er0 He "i"n9t nee" to0 Be/ause at that ;o;ent( I sa) hi;Lstan"in# ri#ht outsi"e the

o77i/e )in"o)0 5ar/us 2oo!ey0

He!!o( 5ar/us0

I #rit ;y teeth0 5ar/us0 I shou!"94e hit hi; )ith the ro/* )hen I ha" the /han/e0

5ar/us( as you *no)( is one o7 the i##est #oo7?o77s at s/hoo!0 Not a s!a/*er #oo7?o77( ut a #oo"

#oo7?o770

$uess a#ain0

He9s a/tua!!y 7unny0 An en"!ess nu; er o7 %ain7u!!y "u!! /!asses ha4e een res/ue" y a %er7e/t!y ti;e"

2oo!ey %un0 So natura!!y( I "i"n9t ta*e his )or"s at 7a/e 4a!ue0

E4en thou#h he on!y stoo" a 7e) 7eet a)ay( se%arate" y a )in"o)( I *e%t ta!*in# to hi; throu#h the %hone0 DYou9re !yin#(F I sai"0 DI a; not on your !ist0F His nor;a!!y #oo7y s;ir*( at that ;o;ent( !oo*e" *in" o7 seGy0 DWhatMyou "on9t thin* I9; e4er seriousEF he as*e"0 Then he %resse" his !ist a#ainst the )in"o)0 E4en thou#h I stoo" too 7ar a)ay to a/tua!!y rea" it( I assu;e" he9" on!y ho!" it u% to %ro4e that ;y na;e "i" in 7a/t ho!" his to% s%ot0 Sti!!( I thou#ht he ;ust94e een *i""in# a out #ettin# to#ether 7or Va!entine9s :ay0 So I thou#ht I9" ;a*e hi; sIuir; a it0 DCine(F I sai"0 DWhenEF The /heer!ea"er /o4ere" her 7a/e )ith oth han"s( ut throu#h her 7in#ers I )at/he" her s*in !ush0 I "on9t *no)( )ithout her as an au"ien/e e##in# ;e on( I "ou t I )ou!" ha4e a#ree" to #o out )ith hi; that 7ast0 But I )as %!ayin# it u%0 $i4in# her so;ethin# to ra# a out at /heer %ra/ti/e0 No) it )as 5ar/us9s turn to !ush0 DOhLu;LO*ayL)e!!LHo) a out Rosie9sE You *no)( 7or i/e /rea;0F

E?'0 I sa) that star on the ;a% )hi!e ri"in# the us0 I *ne) rou#h!y )here it )as( Just not )hi/h store Pa#e 1+

s%e/i7i/a!!y0 But I shou!"94e #uesse"0 The est i/e /rea; an" the #reasiest ur#ers an" 7ries aroun"0 Rosie9s :iner0 5y )or"s /a;e out sar/asti/0 DI/e /rea;EF But I "i"n9t ;ean the; that )ay0 An i/e /rea; "ate Just soun"e" soL/ute0 So I a#ree" to ;eet hi; there a7ter s/hoo!0 An" )ith that( )e hun# u%0 The /heer!ea"er s!a%%e" her han"s on the /ounter0 DYou ha4e a so!ute!y #ot to !et ;e ra# a out this0F I ;a"e her %ro;ise not to te!! anyone unti! the neGt "ay( Just in /ase0 DCine(F she sai"0 But she ;a"e ;e %ro;ise to s%i!! e4ery !ast "etai! a7ter)ar"0 So;e o7 you ;ay *no) the /heer!ea"er I94e een ta!*in# a out( ut I9; not sayin# her na;e0 She )as

4ery s)eet an" eG/ite" 7or ;e0 She "i" nothin# )ron#0 Honest!y0 No sar/as; there0 :on9t strain yourse!4es rea"in# into ;y )or"s0 Be7ore( I thou#ht I *ne) )ho the /heer!ea"er )as0 But no)( re;e; erin# the "ay )e a!! 7oun" out

a out Hannah( I9; sure o7 it0 Jenny NurtB0 We ha" Bio!o#y to#ether0 By then( I9" a!rea"y hear"0 But that9s )hen she 7oun" out( s/a!%e! in han"( an earth)or; s!i/e" "o)n the ;i""!e an" %inne" o%en e7ore her0 She %ut "o)n the s/a!%e! an" 7e!! into a !on#( stunne" si!en/e0 Then she #ot u% an"( )ithout sto%%in# y the tea/her9s "es* 7or a %ass( )a!*e" out o7 the roo;0 I *e%t !oo*in# 7or her the rest o7 that "ay( %uBB!e" y her rea/tion0 Li*e ;ost %eo%!e( I ha" no /!ue o7 her ran"o; /onne/tion to Hannah Ba*er0 :i" I te!! the /heer!ea"er a out )hat ha%%ene" at Rosie9sE No0 Instea"( I a4oi"e" her 7or as !on# as I /ou!"0 An" you9re a out to 7in" out )hy0 O7 /ourse( I /ou!"n9t a4oi" her 7ore4er0 Whi/h is )hy( in a !itt!e )hi!e( she9!! ;a*e another a%%earan/e on these ta%esL ut )ith a na;e0 The /o!" air isn9t the on!y reason I9; shi4erin# any;ore0 With e4ery si"e o7 e4ery ta%e( an o!" ;e;ory #ets turne" u%si"e "o)n0 A re%utation t)ists into so;eone I "on9t re/o#niBe0 I 7e!t !i*e /ryin# )hen I )at/he" Jenny )a!* out o7 Bio!o#y0 E4ery ti;e I sa) a rea/tion !i*e that( )ith

her( )ith 5r0 Porter( it thre) ;e a/* to the ;o;ent I 7oun" out a out Hannah ;yse!70 When I "i" /ry0 When instea"( I shou!" ha4e een an#ry at the;0 So i7 you )ant the 7u!! Hannah eG%erien/e( #o to Rosie9s 7or yourse!70 $o"0 I hate not *no)in# )hat to e!ie4e any;ore0 I hate not *no)in# )hat9s rea!0 E?' on your ;a%0 Sit "o)n on one o7 the stoo!s at the /ounter0 In a ;inute( I9!! te!! you )hat to "o a7ter seatin# yourse!70 But 7irst( a !itt!e a/*#roun" on ;e an" Rosie9s0 I ha" ne4er #one there e7ore that "ay0 I *no)( it see;s /raBy0 E4eryone9s een to Rosie9s0 It9s the /oo!( Iuir*y %!a/e to han# out0 But as 7ar as I *ne)( no one e4er )ent there a!one0 An" e4ery ti;e Pa#e 11

so;eone in4ite" ;e( 7or so;e reason or another( I )as usy0 Ca;i!y 4isitin# 7ro; out o7 to)n0 Too ;u/h ho;e)or*0 A!)ays so;ethin#0 To ;e( Rosie9s ha" an aura a out it0 A ;ystery0 In the stories I hear"( it see;e" !i*e thin#s )ere a!)ays ha%%enin# there0 A!eG Stan"a!!( his 7irst )ee* in to)n( ha" his 7irst 7i#ht outsi"e Rosie9s 7ront "oor0 He to!" ;e an" Jessi/a a out it "urin# our 5onet9s $ar"en 2a7Q %erio"0 When I hear" a out that 7i#ht( it /a;e as a"4i/e not to ;ess )ith the ne) *i"0 A!eG *ne) ho) to thro)( as )e!! as ta*e( a %un/h0 A #ir!( )hose na;e I )i!! not re%eat( ha" her 7irst un"er?the? ra eG%erien/e at Rosie9s )hi!e ;a*in# out et)een the %in a!! ;a/hines0 2ourtney 2ri;sen0 E4eryone *ne) a out that0 An" it9s not !i*e 2ourtney trie" to hi"e it0 With a!! the stories( it see;e" that Rosie turne" a !in" eye to anythin# #oin# on as !on# as /ones )ere ein# 7i!!e" an" ur#ers )ere ein# 7!i%%e"0 So I )ante" to #o( ut I )as not a out to #o a!one an" !oo* !i*e a "or*0 5ar/us 2oo!ey #a4e ;e the eG/use I nee"e"0 An" it Just so ha%%ene" that I )as 7ree0 Cree( ut not stu%i"0 I )as a !itt!e )ary o7 5ar/us0 A !itt!e sus%i/ious0 But not o7 hi; so ;u/h as the %eo%!e he hun# out )ith0 Peo%!e !i*e A!eG Stan"a!!0

A7ter %ee!in# a)ay 7ro; our o!!y?o!!y?oGen?7ree #rou% at 5onet9s( A!eG starte" han#in# out )ith 5ar/us0 An" a7ter the !itt!e stunt A!eG %u!!e" )ith the DWho9s Hot P Who9s NotF !ist( I "i"n9t trust hi;0 So )hy )ou!" I trust so;eone he han#s out )ithE You shou!"n9t0 WhyE Be/ause that9s eGa/t!y )hat I )ante" 7or ;e0 I )ante" %eo%!e to trust ;e( "es%ite anythin# they9" hear"0 An" ;ore than that( I )ante" the; to *no) ;e0 Not the stu77 they thou#ht they *ne) a out ;e0 No( the rea! ;e0 I )ante" the; to #et %ast the ru;ors0 To see eyon" the re!ationshi%s I on/e ha"( or ;ay e sti!! ha" ut that they "i"n9t a#ree )ith0 An" i7 I )ante" %eo%!e to treat ;e that )ay( then I ha" to "o the sa;e 7or the;( ri#htE So I )a!*e" into Rosie9s an" sat at the /ounter0 An" )hen you #o there( i7 you #o there( "on9t or"er ri#ht a)ay0 The %hone in ;y %o/*et starts 4i ratin#0 Just sit an" )ait0 An" )ait a !itt!e ;ore0 It9s 5o;0 Pa#e 16

I ans)er the %hone( ut e4en the si;%!est )or"s /at/h in ;y throat an" I say nothin#0 DHoneyEF Her 4oi/e is so7t0 DIs e4erythin# a!! ri#htEF I /!ose ;y eyes to /on/entrate( to s%ea* /a!;!y0 DI9; 7ine0F But "oes she hear itE D2!ay( honey( it9s #ettin# !ate0F She %auses0 DWhere are youEF DI 7or#ot to /a!!0 I9; sorry0F DIt9s o*ay0F She hears it( ut she )on9t as*0 D:o you )ant ;e to %i/* you u%EF I /an9t #o ho;e0 Not yet0 I a!;ost te!! her I nee" to stay ti!! I9; "one he!%in# Tony )ith his s/hoo!

%roJe/t0 But I9; a!;ost "one )ith this ta%e an" I on!y ha4e one ;ore )ith ;e0 D5o;E 2an you "o ;e a 7a4orEF No res%onse0 DI !e7t so;e ta%es on the )or* en/h0F

DCor your %roJe/tEF WaitK But )hat i7 she !istens to the;E What i7( to see )hat they are( she s!i"es a ta%e into the stereoE

What i7 it9s Hannah ta!*in# a out ;eE DIt9s o*ay0 Ne4er ;in"(F I say0 DI9!! #et the;0F DI /an rin# the; to you0F I "on9t ans)er0 The )or"s aren9t /au#ht in ;y throat( I Just "on9t *no) )hi/h ones to use0 DI9; hea"in# out any)ay(F she says0 DWe9re out o7 rea" an" I9; ;a*in# san")i/hes 7or to;orro)0F I eGha!e a tiny !au#h an" I s;i!e0 Whene4er I9; out !ate she ;a*es a san")i/h 7or ;y s/hoo! !un/h0 I

a!)ays %rotest an" te!! her not to( sayin# I9!! ;a*e ;y o)n )hen I #et ho;e0 But she !i*es it0 She says it re;in"s her o7 )hen I )as youn#er an" nee"e" her0 DJust te!! ;e )here you are(F she says0

Leanin# 7or)ar" on the ;eta! en/h( I say the 7irst thin# that /o;es to ;in"0 DI9; at Rosie9s0F DThe "inerE Are you #ettin# )or* "one thereEF She )aits 7or an ans)er( ut I "on9t ha4e one0 D:oesn9t it #et !ou"EF

The street is e;%ty0 No /ars0 No noise0 No /o;;otion in the a/*#roun"0 She *no)s I9; not te!!in# the truth0 DWhen are you #oin# to !ea4eEF I as*0

Pa#e 13

DAs soon as I #et the ta%es0F D$reat0F I start )a!*in#0 DI9!! see you soon0F

Listen to the /on4ersations aroun" you0 Are %eo%!e )on"erin# )hy you9re sittin# there a!oneE No) #!an/e o4er your shou!"er0 :i" a /on4ersation sto%E :i" their eyes turn a)ayE I9; sorry i7 this soun"s %atheti/( ut you *no) it9s true0 You94e ne4er #one there y yourse!7( ha4e youE

I ha4en9t0 It9s a tota!!y "i77erent eG%erien/e0 An" "ee% "o)n you *no) the reason you94e ne4er #one a!one is the reason I Just eG%!aine"0 But i7 you "o #o( an" you "on9t or"er anythin#( e4eryone9s #oin# to thin* the

sa;e thin# a out you that they thou#ht a out ;e0 That you9re )aitin# 7or so;eone0

So sit there0 An" e4ery 7e) ;inutes( #!an/e at the /!o/* on the )a!!0 The !on#er you )aitMan" this is

trueMthe s!o)er the han"s )i!! ;o4e0 Not to"ay0 When I #et there( ;y heart )i!! e ra/in# as I )at/h the han"s s%in /!oser an" /!oser to 5o; )a!*in# throu#h the "oor0

I start to run0

When 7i7teen ;inutes are u%( you ha4e ;y %er;ission to or"er a sha*e0 Be/ause 7i7teen ;inutes is ten ;inutes !on#er than it shou!" ta*e e4en the s!o)est %erson to )a!* there 7ro; s/hoo!0 So;e o"yLisn9t /o;in#0 No)( i7 you nee" a re/o;;en"ation( you /an9t #o )ron# )ith the anana?an"?%eanut? utter sha*e0 Then *ee% )aitin#( ho)e4er !on# it ta*es to 7inish your sha*e0 I7 thirty ;inutes #o y( start "i##in# in )ith

your s%oon so you /an #et the he!! out o7 there0 That9s )hat I "i"0

You9re an ass( 5ar/us0 You stoo" her u% )hen you ne4er e4en ha" to as* her out to e#in )ith0 It )as a 7un"?raiser 7or 2heer 2a;%0 I7 you "i"n9t )ant to ta*e it serious!y( you "i"n9t ha4e to0 Thirty ;inutes is a !on# ti;e to )ait 7or a Va!entine9s "ate0 Es%e/ia!!y insi"e Rosie9s :iner y yourse!70 It

a!so #i4es you %!enty o7 ti;e to )on"er )hat ha%%ene"0 :i" he 7or#etE Be/ause he see;e" sin/ere0 I ;ean( e4en the /heer!ea"er thou#ht he ;eant it( ri#htE

I *ee% runnin#0 2a!; "o)n( Hannah0 That9s )hat I *e%t te!!in# ;yse!70 You9re not settin# yourse!7 u% 7or a 7a!!0 2a!; "o)n0 :oes that soun" 7a;i!iar to anyone e!seE Isn9t that ho) I /on4in/e" ;yse!7 not to %u!! ;y sur4ey out o7 the oGE

O*ay( sto%0 Those )ere the thou#hts runnin# throu#h ;y hea" a7ter )aitin# thirty ;inutes 7or 5ar/us to sho) u%0 Whi/h %ro a !y "i"n9t %ut ;e in a #oo" 7ra;e o7 ;in" 7or )hen he 7ina!!y "i" sho) u%0

Pa#e 1&

5y runnin# s!o)s0 Not e/ause I9; out o7 reath or ;y !e#s are rea"y to /o!!a%se0 I9; not %hysi/a!!y tire"0 But I9; eGhauste"0

I7 5ar/us "i"n9t stan" her u%( then )hatE He sat "o)n on the stoo! neGt to ;e an" a%o!o#iBe"0 I to!" hi; that I9" a!;ost #i4en u% an" !e7t0 He !oo*e" at ;y e;%ty ;i!*sha*e #!ass an" a%o!o#iBe" a#ain0 But in his ;in"( he )asn9t !ate0 He )asn9t sure I )ou!" e4en e there0

An" I9; not #oin# to ho!" that a#ainst hi;0 A%%arent!y( he thou#ht )e )ere Jo*in# a out the "ate0 Or he assu;e" )e )ere Jo*in# a out the "ate0 But ha!7)ay ho;e( he sto%%e"( thou#ht a out it( an" hea"e" to Rosie9s Just in /ase0

An" that9s )hy you9re on this ta%e( 5ar/us0 You turne" aroun" Just in /ase0 Just in /ase I( Hannah Ba*erM5iss Re%utationM)as )aitin# 7or you0 An" sa"!y( I )as0 At the ti;e( I Just thou#ht it ;i#ht e 7un0 At the ti;e( I )as stu%i"0

There9s Rosie9s0 A/ross the street0 At the 7ar en" o7 the %ar*in# !ot0 See( )hen 5ar/us /a;e into Rosie9s( he )asn9t a!one0 No( 5ar/us /a;e into Rosie9s )ith a %!an0 Part o7 that %!an )as to ;o4e us a)ay 7ro; the /ounter to a ooth near the a/*0 Near the %in a!! ;a/hines0 With ;e on the insi"e0

5e( san")i/he" et)een hi;Lan" a )a!!0 The %ar*in# !ot is near!y e;%ty0 On!y a 7e) /ars "ire/t!y in 7ront o7 Rosie9s( ut none o7 the; are 5o;9s0 So I sto%0 I7 you )ant( i7 you9re sittin# at Rosie9s ri#ht no)( stay at the /ounter0 It9s ;ore /o;7orta !e there0 Be!ie4e ;e0 I stan" on the /ur ( reathin# "ee%( eGha!in# har"0 A re" han" 7!ashes at the interse/tion a/ross the street0 I "on9t *no) ho) ;u/h o7 his %!an )as thou#ht out0 5ay e he arri4e" )ith Just an en"#a;e0 A #oa!0 An" !i*e I sai"( 5ar/us is 7unny0 So there )e )ere( sittin# in a ooth )ith our a/*s to the rest o7 the "iner( !au#hin#0 At one %oint 5ar/us ha" ;e !au#hin# so har" that ;y sto;a/h hurt0 I !eane" o4er( tou/hin# ;y 7orehea" to his shou!"er( e##in# hi; to sto%0

The han" *ee%s 7!ashin#( ur#in# ;e to ;a*e u% ;y ;in"0 Te!!in# ;e to hurry0 I sti!! ha4e ti;e to run

a/ross the street( Ju;% the /ur ( an" ra/e throu#h the %ar*in# !ot to Rosie9s0 But I "on9t0 An" that9s )hen his han" tou/he" ;y *nee0 That9s )hen I *ne)0 The han" sto%s 7!ashin#0 A so!i"( ri#ht re" han"0 Pa#e 1'

An" I turn aroun"0 I /an9t #o in there0 Not yet0 I sto%%e" !au#hin#0 I near!y sto%%e" reathin#0 But I *e%t ;y 7orehea" a#ainst your shou!"er( 5ar/us0 There )as your han"( on ;y *nee0 Cro; out o7 no)here0 The sa;e )ay I )as #ra e" in the !iIuor store0 DWhat are you "oin#EF I )his%ere"0 D:o you )ant ;e to ;o4e itEF you as*e"0 I "i"n9t ans)er0 I %ress ;y han" a#ainst ;y sto;a/h0 It9s too ;u/h0 Too ;u/h to han"!e0 I9!! #o to Rosie9s0 In a ;inute0 An" ho%e7u!!y( I9!! #et there e7ore 5o;0 But 7irst( the theater )here Hannah an" I )or*e" 7or one su;;er0 A %!a/e )here she )as sa7e> the 2rest;ont0 An" I "i"n9t ;o4e a)ay 7ro; you( either0 It )as !i*e you an" your shou!"er )eren9t /onne/te" any;ore0 Your shou!"er )as Just a %ro% to rest ;y hea" a#ainst )hi!e I 7i#ure" thin#s out0 An" I /ou!"n9t !oo* a)ay as your 7in#erti%s /aresse" ;y *neeLan" starte" ;o4in# u%0 DWhy are you "oin# thatEF I as*e"0 It9s on!y a !o/* a)ay( an" ;ay e it9s not a re" star on her ;a%( ut it shou!"94e een0

It9s a re" star to ;e0 Your shou!"er rotate" an" I !i7te" ;y hea"( ut no) your ar; )as ehin" ;y a/* an" %u!!in# ;e /!ose0 An" your other han" )as tou/hin# ;y !e#0 5y u%%er thi#h0 I !oo*e" o4er the a/* o7 the ooth to the other ooths( to the /ounter( tryin# to /at/h so;eone9s eye0 An" a 7e) %eo%!e #!an/e" o4er( ut they a!! turne" a)ay0 Be!o) the ta !e( ;y 7in#ers )ere 7i#htin# to %ry your 7in#ers o770 To !oosen your #ri%0 To %ush you a)ay0 An" I "i"n9t )ant to ye!!Mit )asn9t to that !e4e! yetM ut ;y eyes )ere e##in# 7or he!%0 I sho4e ;y han"s in ;y %o/*ets( a!!e" into 7ists0 I )ant to s!a; the; into a )a!! or %un/h the; throu#h a store )in"o)0 I94e ne4er hit anythin# or anyone e7ore( an" a!rea"y( Just toni#ht( I94e )ante" to hit 5ar/us )ith that ro/*0 But e4eryone turne" a)ay0 No one as*e" i7 there )as a %ro !e;0 WhyE Were they ein# %o!iteE Was that it( Za/hE Were you Just ein# %o!iteE Pa#e 1=

Za/hE A#ainE With Justin on the 7irst ta%e( 7a!!in# on Hannah9s !a)n0 Then interru%tin# ;e an" Hannah at Nat9s #oin#?a)ay %arty0 I hate this0 I "on9t )ant to 7in" out ho) e4eryone 7its to#ether any;ore0 DSto% it(F I sai"0 An" I *no) you hear" ;e e/ause( )ith ;e !oo*in# o4er the a/*rest( ;y ;outh )as Just in/hes a)ay 7ro; your ear0 DSto% it0F The 2rest;ont0 I roun" the /orner an"( !ess than ha!7 a !o/* a)ay( there it is0 One o7 the 7e) !an";ar*s in to)n0 The !ast art "e/o theater in the state0 D:on9t )orry(F you sai"0 An" ;ay e you *ne) your ti;e )as short e/ause your han" i;;e"iate!y s!i" u% 7ro; ;y thi#h0 A!! the )ay u%0 So I ra;;e" oth o7 ;y han"s into your si"e( thro)in# you to the 7!oor0

No)( )hen so;eone 7a!!s out o7 a ooth( it9s *in" o7 7unny0 It Just is0 So you9" thin* %eo%!e )ou!"94e starte" !au#hin#0 ,n!ess( o7 /ourse( they *ne) it )asn9t an a//i"ent0 So they *ne) so;ethin# )as #oin# on in that ooth( they Just "i"n9t 7ee! !i*e he!%in#0 Than*s0 The )ra%aroun" ;arIuee stret/hin# o4er the si"e)a!*0 The ornate si#n rea/hin# to the s*y !i*e an e!e/tri/ %ea/o/* 7eather0 Ea/h !etter 7!i/*ers on one at a ti;e(2?R?E?S?T?5?O?N?T ( !i*e 7i!!in# in a /ross)or" %uBB!e )ith neon !etters0 Any)ay( you !e7t0 You "i"n9t stor; out0 Just /a!!e" ;e a tease( !ou" enou#h 7or e4eryone to hear( an" )a!*e" out0 So no)( !et9s a/* u%0 To ;e( sittin# at the /ounter( #ettin# rea"y to !ea4e0 To ;e( thin*in# 5ar/us )asn9t sho)in# u% e/ause he si;%!y "i"n9t /are0 An" I9!! te!! you )hat I )as thin*in# then0 Be/ause no)( it a%%!ies e4en ;ore0 I )a!* to)ar" the 2rest;ont0 The other stores I %ass are a!! /!ose" 7or the ni#ht0 A so!i" )a!! o7 "ar*ene" )in"o)s0 But then a trian#u!ar )e"#e /uts a)ay 7ro; the si"e)a!*( its )a!!s an" ;ar !e 7!oor the sa;e /o!ors as the neon si#n( %ointin# in to the !o y0 An" in the ;i""!e o7 the )e"#e( the oG o77i/e0 Li*e a to!! ooth( )ith )in"o)s on three si"es an" a "oor in the rear0 That9s )here I )or*e" on ;ost ni#hts0 Cor the !on#est ti;e( 7ro; a!;ost "ay one at this s/hoo!( it see;e" that I )as the on!y one )ho /are" a out ;e0 Put a!! o7 your heart into #ettin# that 7irst *issLon!y to ha4e it thro)n a/* in your 7a/e0 Ha4e the on!y t)o %eo%!e you tru!y trust turn a#ainst you0 Ha4e one o7 the; use you to #et a/* at the other( an" then e a//use" o7 etraya!0 Are you #ettin# it no)E A; I #oin# too 7astE Pa#e 11

We!!( *ee% u%K Let so;eone ta*e a)ay any sense o7 %ri4a/y or se/urity you ;i#ht sti!! %ossess0 Then ha4e so;eone use

that inse/urity to satis7y their o)n t)iste" /uriosity0

She %auses0 S!o)s "o)n a it0

Then /o;e to rea!iBe that you9re ;a*in# ;ountains out o7 ;o!ehi!!s0 Rea!iBe ho) %etty you94e e/o;e0 Sure( it ;ay 7ee! !i*e you /an9t #et a #ri% in this to)n0 It ;ay see; that e4ery ti;e so;eone o77ers you a han" u%( they Just !et #o an" you s!i% 7urther "o)n0 But you ;ust sto% ein# so %essi;isti/( Hannah( an" !earn to trust those aroun" you0 So I "o0 One ;ore ti;e0 The !ast ;o4ie o7 the ni#ht is %!ayin#( so the oG o77i/e is e;%ty0 I stan" on the s)ir!in# ;ar !e" 7!oor( surroun"e" y %osters o7 /o;in# attra/tions0 This )as ;y /han/e( at this theater( to rea/h Hannah0 It )as ;y /han/e an" I !et it s!i% a)ay0 An" thenL)e!!L/ertain thou#hts e#in /ree%in# aroun"0 Wi!! I e4er #et /ontro! o7 ;y !i7eE Wi!! I a!)ays e sho4e" a/* an" %ushe" aroun" y those I trustE I hate )hat you "i"( Hannah0 Wi!! ;y !i7e e4er #o )here I )ant it toE You "i"n9t ha4e to "o it an" I hate the 7a/t that you "i"0 The neGt "ay( 5ar/us( I "e/i"e" so;ethin#0 I "e/i"e" to 7in" out ho) %eo%!e at s/hoo! ;i#ht rea/t i7 one o7 the stu"ents ne4er /a;e a/*0 As the son# #oes( DYou are !ost an" #one 7ore4er( oh ;y "ar!in#( Va!entine0F I !ean a/* a#ainst a %oster !o/*e" ehin" a %!asti/ 7ra;e an" I /!ose ;y eyes0 I9; !istenin# to so;eone #i4e u%0 So;eone I *ne)0 So;eone I !i*e"0

I9; !istenin#0 But sti!!( I9; too !ate0 5y heart is %oun"in# an" I /an9t stan" sti!!0 I )a!* a/ross the ;ar !e 7!oor to the oG o77i/e0 A s;a!! si#n han#s y a /hain an" a tiny su/tion /u%02LOSE:MSEE YO, TO5ORROW K Cro; out here( it "oesn9t !oo* so /ra;%e"0 But in there( it 7e!t !i*e a 7ish o)!0 5y on!y intera/tion /a;e )hen %eo%!e s!i" ;oney o4er to ;y si"e o7 the #!ass an" I s!i" a/* their ti/*ets0 Or )hen a /o)or*er !et the;se!4es in throu#h the rear "oor0 Other than that( i7 I )asn9t se!!in# ti/*ets( I )as rea"in#0 Or starin# out o7 the 7ish o)!( into the !o Pa#e 18 y(

)at/hin# Hannah0 An" so;e ni#hts )ere )orse than others0 So;e ni#hts I )at/he" to ;a*e sure she uttere" the %o%/orn a!! the )ay throu#h0 Whi/h see;s si!!y no)( an" o sessi4e( ut that9s )hat I "i"0 Li*e the ni#ht Bry/e Wa!*er /a;e0 He arri4e" )ith his #ir!7rien"?o7?the?;o;ent an" )ante" ;e to /har#e her the un"er?t)e!4e rate0 DShe )on9t e )at/hin# the ;o4ie any)ay(F he sai"0 DYou *no) )hat I ;ean( 2!ayEF Then he !au#he"0 I "i"n9t *no) her0 She ;i#ht94e een a stu"ent 7ro; another s/hoo!0 One thin# )as /!ear( she "i"n9t see; to thin* it )as 7unny0 She %!a/e" her %urse on the /ounter0 DI9!! %ay 7or ;y o)n ti/*et( then0F Bry/e ;o4e" her %urse asi"e an" %ai" the 7u!! a;ount0 DJust re!aG(F he to!" her0 DIt )as a Jo*e0F A out ha!7)ay throu#h the ;o4ie( )hi!e I so!" ti/*ets 7or the neGt sho)( that #ir! /a;e tearin# out o7 the theater ho!"in# her )rist0 5ay e /ryin#0 An" Bry/e )as no)here to e seen0 I *e%t )at/hin# the !o y( )aitin# 7or hi; to sho)0 But he ne4er "i"0 He staye" ehin" to 7inish )at/hin# the ;o4ie he ha" %ai" 7or0 But )hen the ;o4ie )as o4er( he !eane" a#ainst the /on/ession /ounter( ta!*in# Hannah9s ear o77 as e4eryone e!se !e7t0 An" he staye" there )hi!e the ne) %eo%!e /a;e in0 Hannah 7i!!e" "rin* or"ers( han"e" out /an"y( #a4e a/* /han#e( an" !au#he" at Bry/e0 Lau#he" at )hate4er he sai"0 The entire ti;e( I )ante" to 7!i% the 2!ose" si#n o4er0 I )ante" to ;ar/h into the !o y an" as* hi; to !ea4e0 The ;o4ie )as o4er an" he "i"n9t nee" to e here any;ore0 But that )as Hannah9s Jo 0 She shou!" ha4e as*e" hi; to !ea4e0 No( she shou!" ha4e )ante" hi; to !ea4e0 A7ter se!!in# ;y !ast ti/*et an" turnin# o4er the si#n( I eGite" throu#h the oG o77i/e "oor( !o/*e" it ehin" ;e( an" )ent into the !o y0 To he!% Hannah /!ean u%0 To as* a out Bry/e0

DWhy "o you thin* that #ir! ran out o7 here !i*e thatEF I as*e"0 Hannah sto%%e" )i%in# the /ounter an" !oo*e" ;e strai#ht in the eye0 DI *no) )ho he is( 2!ay0 I *no) )hat he9s !i*e0 Be!ie4e ;e0F DI *no)(F I sai"0 I !oo*e" "o)n an" tou/he" a /ar%et stain )ith the toe o7 ;y shoe0 DI )as Just )on"erin#( then( )hy9" you *ee% ta!*in# to hi;EF She "i"n9t ans)er0 Not ri#ht a)ay0 But I /ou!"n9t raise ;y eyes to 7a/e her0 I "i"n9t )ant to see a !oo* o7 "isa%%oint;ent or 7rustration in her eyes0 I "i"n9t )ant to see those *in"s o7 e;otions "ire/te" at ;e0 E4entua!!y( she sai" the )or"s that ran throu#h ;y ;in" the rest o7 that ni#ht> DYou "on9t nee" to )at/h out 7or ;e( 2!ay0F But I "i"( Hannah0 An" I )ante" to0 I /ou!" ha4e he!%e" you0 But )hen I trie"( you %ushe" ;e a)ay0 I /an a!;ost hear Hannah9s 4oi/e s%ea*in# ;y neGt thou#ht 7or ;e0 DThen )hy "i"n9t you try har"erEF Pa#e 13

2ASSETTE &> SI:E A On ;y )ay a/*( the re" han" 7!ashes( ut I run throu#h the /ross)a!* any)ay0 The %ar*in# !ot ho!"s e4en 7e)er /ars than e7ore0 But sti!!( no 5o;9s0 A 7e) "oors "o)n 7ro; Rosie9s :iner( I sto% runnin#0 I !ean ;y a/* a#ainst a %et store )in"o)( tryin# to /at/h ;y reath0 Then I !ean 7or)ar"( han"s on ;y *nees( ho%in# to s!o) e4erythin# "o)n e7ore she arri4es0 I;%ossi !e0 Be/ause e4en thou#h ;y !e#s sto%%e" runnin#( ;y ;in" *ee%s #oin#0 I !et ;yse!7 s!i"e "o)n a#ainst the /o!" #!ass( *nees ent( tryin# so har" to ho!" a/* tears0 But ti;e9s runnin# out0 She9!! e here soon0 :ra)in# in a 7u!! reath( I %ush ;yse!7 u%( )a!* o4er to Rosie9s( an" %u!! o%en the "oor0 War; air rushes out( s;e!!in# !i*e a ;iGture o7 ha; ur#er #rease an" su#ar0 Insi"e( three o7 the 7i4e ooths a!on# the )a!! are ta*en0 One )ith a oy an" a #ir! "rin*in# ;i!*sha*es an" ;un/hin# %o%/orn 7ro; the 2rest;ont0 The other t)o are 7i!!e" )ith stu"ents stu"yin#0 TeGt oo*s /o4er the ta !eto%s( !ea4in# Just enou#h roo; 7or "rin*s an" a /ou%!e o7 as*ets o7 7ries0 Than*7u!!y( the ooth 7arthest a/* is o//u%ie"0 It9s not a Iuestion I nee" to /onsi"er( )hether to sit there or not0

Ta%e" to one o7 the %in a!! ;a/hines is a han"?s/ri stan"s in 7ront o7 the other ;a/hine( an#in# a)ay0 As Hannah su##este"( I sit at the e;%ty /ounter0

!e" Out o7 Or"er si#n0 A senior I sort o7 re/o#niBe

Behin" the /ounter( a ;an in a )hite a%ron sorts si!4er)are into t)o %!asti/ tu s0 He #i4es ;e a no"0 DWhene4er you9re rea"y0F I s!i"e a ;enu out 7ro; et)een t)o si!4er na%*in ho!"ers0 The 7ront o7 the ;enu te!!s a !en#thy story a out Rosie9s( )ith !a/*?an"?)hite %hotos s%annin# the !ast 7our "e/a"es0 I 7!i% it o4er( ut nothin# on the ;enu !oo*s #oo" to ;e0 Not no)0 Ci7teen ;inutes0 That9s ho) !on# Hannah sai" to )ait0 Ci7teen ;inutes an" then I shou!" or"er0 So;ethin# )as )ron# )hen 5o; /a!!e"0 So;ethin# )as )ron# )ith ;e( an" I *no) she hear" it in ;y 4oi/e0 But on her )ay o4er( )i!! she !isten to the ta%es to 7in" out )hyE I a; su/h an i"iot0 I shou!" ha4e to!" her I )ou!" #o #et the;0 But I "i"n9t "o that( so no) I ha4e to )ait an" 7in" out0 The oy )ho )as eatin# %o%/orn as*s 7or a *ey to the athroo;0 The ;an ehin" the /ounter %oints to the )a!!0 T)o *eys han# 7ro; rass hoo*s0 One *ey has a !ue %!asti/ "o# atta/he" to it0 The other( a %in* e!e%hant0 He #ra s the !ue "o# an" hea"s "o)n the ha!!0 A7ter storin# the %!asti/ tu s eneath the /ounter( the ;an uns/re)s the to%s to a "oBen sa!t an" %e%%er sha*ers( %ayin# no attention to ;e0 An" that9s 7ine0 D:i" you or"er yetEF Pa#e 8+

I s)i4e! aroun"0 5o; sits on the stoo! neGt to ;e an" %u!!s out a ;enu0 Besi"e her( on the /ounter( is Hannah9s shoe oG0 DAre you stayin#EF I as*0 I7 she stays( )e /an ta!*0 I "on9t ;in"0 It )ou!" e ni/e to 7ree ;y thou#hts 7or a )hi!e0 To ta*e a rea*0 She !oo*s ;e in the eyes an" s;i!es0 Then she %!a/es a han" o4er her sto;a/h an" 7or/es her s;i!e into a 7ro)n0 DThat9s a a" i"ea( I thin*0F DYou9re not 7at( 5o;0F

She s!i"es the oG o7 ta%es o4er to ;e0 DWhere9s your 7rien"E Weren9t you )or*in# )ith so;eoneEF Ri#ht0 A s/hoo! %roJe/t0 DHe ha" to( you *no)( he9s in the athroo;0F Her eyes !oo* %ast ;e( o4er ;y shou!"er( 7or Just a se/on"0 An" I ;i#ht e )ron#( ut I thin* she

/he/*e" to see i7 oth *eys )ere han#in# on the )a!!0 Than* $o" they )eren9t0 D:i" you rin# enou#h ;oneyEF she as*s0 DCorEF DCor so;ethin# to eat0F She re%!a/es her ;enu then ta%s a 7in#ernai! a#ainst ;y ;enu0 DThe /ho/o!ate

;a!te"s are to "ie 7or0F DYou94e eaten hereEF I9; a !itt!e sur%rise"0 I94e ne4er seen a"u!ts in Rosie9s e7ore0 5o; !au#hs0 She %!a/es a han" on to% o7 ;y hea" an" uses her thu; to s;ooth out the )rin*!es on

;y 7orehea"0 D:on9t !oo* so a;aBe"( 2!ay0 This %!a/e has een aroun" 7ore4er0F She %u!!s out a

ten?"o!!ar i!! an" !ays it on to% o7 the shoe oG0 DHa4e )hat you )ant( ut ha4e a ;a!te" sha*e 7or ;e0F When she stan"s( the athroo; "oor sIuea*s o%en0 I turn ;y hea" an" )at/h the #uy rehan# the !ue "o# *ey0 He a%o!o#iBes to his #ir!7rien" 7or ta*in# so !on# an" *isses her on the 7orehea" e7ore sittin# "o)n0 D2!ayEF 5o; says0 Be7ore turnin# a/* aroun"( I shut ;y eyes 7or Just a ;o;ent( an" reathe0 DYesEF She 7or/es a s;i!e0 D:on9t e out !on#0F But it9s a hurt s;i!e0 Cour ta%es re;ain0 Se4en stories0 An" sti!!( )here is ;y na;eE I !oo* into her eyes0 DIt ;i#ht e a )hi!e0F Then I !oo* "o)n0 At the ;enu0 DIt9s a s/hoo! %roJe/t0F She says nothin#( ut 7ro; the /orner o7 ;y eye I /an see her stan"in# there0 She !i7ts a han"0 I /!ose ;y

eyes an" 7ee! her 7in#ers tou/h the to% o7 ;y hea" then s!i"e "o)n to the a/* o7 ;y ne/*0

Pa#e 81

DBe /are7u!(F she says0 I no"0

An" she !ea4es0 I ta*e the to% o77 the shoe oG an" unro!! the u !e?)ra%0 The ta%es ha4en9t een tou/he"0

E4eryone9s 7a4orite /!assLo*ay( e4eryone9s 7a4oritereIuire"/!assLis Peer 2o;;uni/ations0 It9s *in" o7 the none!e/ti4e e!e/ti4e0 E4eryone )ou!" ta*e it e4en i7 it )asn9t reIuire" e/ause it9s su/h an easy A0 An" ;ost o7 the ti;e( it9s 7un0 I9" ta*e it Just 7or that0 There9s 4ery !itt!e ho;e)or*( an" "on9t 7or#et the onus %oints 7or /!ass %arti/i%ation0 I ;ean( they en/oura#e you to ye!! out in /!ass0 What9s not to !i*eE Rea/hin# "o)n( I #ra ;y a/*%a/* an" !i7t it onto the stoo! )here 5o; sat on!y ;o;ents a#o0 A7ter 7ee!in# ;ore an" ;ore !i*e an out/ast( Peer 2o;;uni/ations )as ;y sa7e ha4en at s/hoo!0 Whene4er I )a!*e" into that roo;( I 7e!t !i*e thro)in# o%en ;y ar;s an" shoutin#( DO!!y?o!!y?oGen?7reeKF I ro!! the three ta%es I94e a!rea"y hear" into the u !e?)ra% an" %!a/e the; a/* in the shoe oG0 Cinishe"0 :one0 Cor one %erio" ea/h "ay( you )ere not a!!o)e" to tou/h ;e or sni/*er ehin" ;y a/* no ;atter )hat the !atest ru;or0 5rs0 Bra"!ey "i" not a%%re/iate %eo%!e )ho sni/*ere"0 I unBi% the !ar#est %o/*et o7 ;y a/*%a/* an" sto) Hannah9s shoe oG insi"e it0 That )as ru!e nu; er one( "ay nu; er one0 I7 anyone sni/*ere" at )hat anyone e!se sai"( they o)e" 5rs0 Bra"!ey a Sni/*ers ar0 An" i7 it )as an eGtre;e!y ru"e sni/*er( you o)e" her a Nin# SiBe0 On the /ounter( sittin# esi"e the Wa!*;an an" a /ho/o!ate ;a!te" sha*e in honor o7 5o;( are the neGt three ta%es0 An" e4eryone %ai" u% )ithout ar#u;ent0 That9s the *in" o7 res%e/t %eo%!e ha" 7or 5rs0 Bra"!ey0 No one a//use" her o7 %i/*in# on the;( e/ause she ne4er "i"0 I7 she sai" you sni/*ere"( you "i"0 An" you *ne) it0 The neGt "ay( there )ou!" e a Sni/*ers ar )aitin# on her "es*0 An" i7 there )asn9tE I "on9t *no)0 There a!)ays )as0

I #ather the neGt t)o ta%es( !ue nai! %o!ish !a e!in# the; nine an" ten( e!e4en an" t)e!4e( an" hi"e the; in ;y insi"e Ja/*et %o/*et0 5rs0 Bra"!ey sai" Peer 2o;;uni/ations )as her 7a4orite /!ass to tea/hMor ;o"erate( as she /a!!e" it0 Pa#e 86

Ea/h "ay( )e ha" a rie7 rea"in# assi#n;ent 7u!! o7 statisti/s an" rea!?)or!" eGa;%!es0 Then( )e "is/usse"0 The !ast ta%e( the se4enth ta%e( has a thirteen on one si"e ut nothin# on the re4erse0 I s!i% this ta%e into the a/* %o/*et o7 ;y Jeans0 Bu!!ies0 :ru#s0 Se!7?i;a#e0 Re!ationshi%s0 E4erythin# )as 7air #a;e in Peer 2o;;uni/ations0 Whi/h( o7 /ourse( ;a"e a !ot o7 other tea/hers u%set0 It )as a )aste o7 ti;e( they sai"0 They )ante" to tea/h us /o!" har" 7a/ts0 They un"erstoo" /o!" har" 7a/ts0 Hea"!i#hts 7!ash a/ross Rosie9s 7ront )in"o) an" I sIuint )hi!e they %ass0 They )ante" to tea/h us the ;eanin# o7Gin re!ation to %i( as o%%ose" to he!%in# us etter un"erstan" ourse!4es an" ea/h other0 They )ante" us to *no) )hen the 5a#na 2arta )as si#ne"Mne4er ;in"

)hat it )asMas o%%ose" to "is/ussin# irth /ontro!0 We ha4e SeG E"0( ut that9s a Jo*e0 Whi/h ;eant that ea/h year( "urin# u"#et ;eetin#s( Peer 2o;;uni/ations )as on the /ho%%in# !o/*0

An" ea/h year( 5rs0 Bra"!ey an" the other tea/hers rou#ht a un/h o7 stu"ents to the s/hoo! oar"

)ith eGa;%!es o7 ho) )e ene7ite" 7ro; the /!ass0 O*ay( I /ou!" #o on !i*e this 7ore4er( "e7en"in# 5rs0 Bra"!ey0 But so;ethin# ha%%ene" in that /!ass( "i"n9t itE Other)ise( )hy )ou!" you e !istenin# to ;e ta!* a out itE

NeGt year( a7ter ;y !itt!e in/i"ent( I ho%e Peer 2o;;uni/ations /ontinues0 I *no)( I *no)0 You thou#ht I )as #oin# to say so;ethin# e!se( "i"n9t youE You thou#ht I )as #oin# to say that i7 the /!ass %!aye" a %art in ;y "e/ision( it shou!" e /ut0 But it shou!"n9t0 No one at s/hoo! *no)s )hat I9; a out to te!! you0 An" it )asn9t rea!!y the /!ass itse!7 that %!aye" a

%art0 E4en i7 I ne4er too* Peer 2o;;uni/ations( the out/o;e ;ay 4ery )e!! ha4e een the sa;e0 Or not0 I #uess that9s the %oint o7 it a!!0 No one *no)s 7or /ertain ho) ;u/h i;%a/t they ha4e on the !i4es o7

other %eo%!e0 O7tenti;es( )e ha4e no /!ue0 Yet )e %ush it Just the sa;e0 5o; )as ri#ht0 The sha*e is a;aBin#0 A %er7e/t !en" o7 i/e /rea; an" /ho/o!ate ;a!t0 An" I9; a Jer* 7or sittin# here( enJoyin# it0 At the a/* o7 5rs0 Bra"!ey9s roo; stoo" a )ire oo*ra/*0 The *in" you s%in0 The *in" that ho!"s

%a%er a/* no4e!s in the su%er;ar*et0 But this ra/* ne4er he!" any oo*s0 Instea"( at the e#innin# o7 the year( ea/h stu"ent re/ei4e" a %a%er !un/h a# to "e/orate )ith /rayons an" sti/*ers an" sta;%s0 Then )e o%ene" our a#s an" hun# the; to the ra/* )ith a /ou%!e o7 %ie/es o7 ta%e0 5rs0 Bra"!ey *ne) %eo%!e ha" a "i77i/u!t ti;e sayin# ni/e thin#s to ea/h other( so she "e4ise" a )ay 7or us to anony;ous!y say )hat )e 7e!t0 :i" you a";ire the )ay so?an"?so ta!*e" o%en!y a out his 7a;i!yE :ro% a note in his a# an" te!! hi;0 Pa#e 83

:o you un"erstan" so?an"?so9s /on/ern a out not %assin# historyE :ro% her a note0 Te!! her you9!! thin* a out her as you stu"y 7or the u%/o;in# test0 :i" you !i*e his %er7or;an/e in the s/hoo! %!ayE

:o you !i*e her ne) hair/utE She #ot a hair/ut0 In the %hoto at 5onet9s( Hannah9s hair )as !on#0 That9s ho) I a!)ays %i/ture it0 E4en no)0 But that9s not ho) it )as at the en"0

I7 you /an( te!! the; to their 7a/e0 But i7 you /an9t( "ro% the; a note an" they9!! 7ee! it Just the sa;e0 An" as 7ar as I *no)( no one e4er !e7t a ;ean or sar/asti/ note in anyone9s a#0 We ha" too ;u/h res%e/t 7or 5rs0 Bra"!ey to "o that0 So( Za/h :e;%sey( )hat9s your eG/useE WhatE What ha%%ene"E Oh $o"0 I !oo* u% to 7in" Tony stan"in# esi"e ;e( his 7in#er on the Pause utton0 DIs this ;y Wa!*;anEF I "on9t say anythin#( e/ause I /an9t rea" his eG%ression0 It9s not an#er( e4en thou#h I "i" stea! his

Wa!*;an0 2on7usionE 5ay e0 But i7 it is( it9s ;ore than that0 It9s the sa;e !oo* he #a4e )hen I he!%e" hi; )ith his

/ar0 When he )as )at/hin# ;e instea" o7 shinin# the 7!ash!i#ht 7or his "a"0 Worry0 2on/ern0 DTony( hey0F I %u!! the hea"%hones 7ro; ;y ears an" s!i% the; aroun" ;y ne/*0 The Wa!*;an0 Ri#ht( he as*e" a out

the Wa!*;an0 DIt is0 It )as in your /ar0 I sa) it )hen I )as he!%in# you0 Ear!ier to"ay0 I thin* I as*e" i7 I /ou!" orro) it0F I9; su/h an i"iot0 He rests a han" on to% o7 the /ounter an" sits on the stoo! neGt to ;e0 DI9; sorry( 2!ay(F he says0 He !oo*s into ;y eyes0 2an he te!! I9; a horri !e !iarE DI #et so 7rustrate" aroun" ;y "a" so;eti;es0 I9; sure you as*e" an" I Just 7or#ot0F

His #aBe 7a!!s to the ye!!o) hea"%hones aroun" ;y ne/*( then 7o!!o)s the !on# /or" to the ta%e "e/* on the /ounter0 I %ray that he "oesn9t as* )hat I9; !istenin# to0 Bet)een Tony an" ;y ;o;( I9; "oin# a !ot o7 !yin# to"ay0 An" i7 he "oes as*( I9!! nee" to "o it a#ain0 DJust return it )hen you9re "one(F he says0 He stan"s an" %!a/es a han" on ;y shou!"er0 DNee% it as Pa#e 8&

!on# as you nee"0F DThan*s0F DNo nee" to rush(F he says0 He #ra s a ;enu 7ro; et)een the na%*in ho!"ers( )a!*s to an e;%ty ooth ehin" ;e( an" sits "o)n0 :on9t )orry( Za/h0 You ne4er !e7t anythin# ;ean in ;y a#0 I *no) that0 But )hat you "i" "o( )as )orse0 Cro; )hat I *no)( Za/h9s a #oo" #uy0 Too shy 7or %eo%!e to e4en )ant to #ossi% a out0 An" !i*e ;e( he9s a!)ays ha" a thin# 7or Hannah Ba*er0

But 7irst( !et9s #o a/* a 7e) )ee*s0 Let9s #o a/*Lto Rosie9s0

5y sto;a/h %u!!s in ti#ht( !i*e )or*in# throu#h a 7ina! sit?u%0 I /!ose ;y eyes an" /on/entrate on rin#in# ;yse!7 a/* to nor;a!0 But I ha4en9t 7e!t nor;a! in hours0 E4en the !i"s o7 ;y eyes 7ee! )ar;0 Li*e ;y )ho!e o"y is 7i#htin# a si/*ness0

I Just sat there( in the ooth )here 5ar/us !e7t ;e( starin# into an e;%ty ;i!*sha*e #!ass0 His si"e o7 the en/h )as %ro a !y sti!! )ar; e/ause he9" !e7t on!y a ;inute a#o0 When u% )a!*e" Za/h0

An" "o)n he sat0 I o%en ;y eyes to the ro) o7 e;%ty stoo!s on this si"e o7 the /ounter0 On one o7 these stoo!s( ;ay e this one( Hannah sat )hen she 7irst arri4e"0 By herse!70 But then 5ar/us arri4e" an" too* her to a ooth0

5y #aBe 7o!!o)s the /ounter "o)n to the %in a!! ;a/hines at the 7ar en" o7 the "iner( then o4er to their

ooth0 E;%ty0 I %reten"e" not to noti/e hi;0 Not e/ause I ha" anythin# a#ainst hi;( ut e/ause ;y heart an" ;y trust )ere in the %ro/ess o7 /o!!a%sin#0 An" that /o!!a%se /reate" a 4a/uu; in ;y /hest0 Li*e e4ery ner4e in ;y o"y )as )itherin# in( %u!!in# a)ay 7ro; ;y 7in#ers an" toes0 Pu!!in# a/* an" "isa%%earin#0

5y eyes urn0 I rea/h 7or)ar" an" s!i"e a han" "o)n the 7roste" ;i!*sha*e #!ass0 I/e?/o!" "ro%!ets

/!in# to ;y s*in an" I run ;y )et 7in#ers a/ross ;y eye!i"s0 I sat0 An" I thou#ht0 An" the ;ore I thou#ht( /onne/tin# the e4ents in ;y !i7e( the ;ore ;y heart /o!!a%se"0

Za/h )as s)eet0 He )ent on !ettin# ;e i#nore hi; unti! it e/a;e a!;ost /o;i/a!0 I *ne) he )as there(

o7 /ourse0 He )as %ra/ti/a!!y starin# at ;e0 An" e4entua!!y( ;e!o"ra;ati/a!!y( he /!eare" his throat0 I !i7te" ;y han" onto the ta !e an" tou/he" the ase o7 ;y #!ass0 That )as the on!y si#n he )as #oin# to #et that I )as !istenin#0

I %u!! ;y #!ass /!oser an" turn the s%oon insi"e it in s!o) /ir/!es( so7tenin# )hate4er re;ains at the otto;0

Pa#e 8'

He as*e" i7 I )as a!! ri#ht( an" I 7or/e" ;yse!7 to no"0 But ;y eyes *e%t starin# at the #!assMthrou#h the #!assMat the s%oon0 An" I *e%t thin*in#( o4er an" o4er( Is this )hat it 7ee!s !i*e to #o insaneE DI9; sorry(F he sai"0 DCor )hate4er ha%%ene" Just no)0F I 7e!t ;y hea" /ontinue to no" as i7 it )as atta/he" to hea4y s%rin#s( ut I /ou!"n9t rin# ;yse!7 to te!! hi; that I a%%re/iate" his )or"s0

He o77ere" to uy ;e another ;i!*sha*e( ut I #a4e no res%onse0 Was I una !e to ta!*E Or "i" I Just not )ant to ta!*E I "on9t *no)0 Part o7 ;e thou#ht he )as hittin# on ;eMrea"y to use the 7a/t that I )as no) a!one to as* ;e out0 An" it9s not that I /o;%!ete!y e!ie4e" that( ut )hy shou!" I trust hi;E The )aitress "ro%%e" o77 ;y i!! an" too* the e;%ty #!ass a)ay0 Soon( #ettin# nothin# out o7 ;e( Za/h !e7t a 7e) u/*s on the ta !e an" returne" to his 7rien"s0 I *ee% stirrin# ;y ;a!te"0 There9s har"!y any !e7t( ut I "on9t )ant the #!ass ta*en a)ay0 It #i4es ;e a reason to sit here0 To stay here0

5y eyes e#an tearin# u%( ut I /ou!" not rea* ;y stare 7ro; the s;a!! )et /ir/!e )here the #!ass ha" een0 I7 I e4en trie" to utter a sin#!e )or"( I )ou!" ha4e !ost it0 Or ha" I a!rea"y !ost itE

I *ee% stirrin#0 I /an te!! you this( at that ta !e( the )orst thou#hts in the )or!" 7irst /a;e into ;y hea"0 It9s there that I 7irst starte" to /onsi"erLto /onsi"erLa )or" that I sti!! /annot say0

I *no) you trie" /o;in# to ;y res/ue( Za/h0 But )e a!! *no) that9s not )hy you9re on this ta%e0 So I94e #ot one Iuestion e7ore )e /ontinue0 When you try res/uin# so;eone an" "is/o4er they /an9t e rea/he"( )hy )ou!" you e4er thro) that a/* in their 7a/eE

Cor the %ast se4era! "ays or )ee*s or ho)e4er !on# it too* you to #et these ta%es( Za/h( you %ro a !y thou#ht no one )ou!" 7in" out0

I !o)er ;y 7a/e into ;y han"s0 Ho) ;any se/rets /an there e at one s/hoo!E You %ro a !y #ot si/* to your sto;a/h )hen you hear" )hat I "i"0 But the ;ore ti;e that )ent y( the

etter you 7e!t0 Be/ause the ;ore ti;e that )ent y( the ;ore !i*e!y your se/ret "ie" )ith ;e0 No one *ne)0 No one )ou!" e4er 7in" out0

But no) )e )i!!0 An" ;y sto;a/h #ets a !itt!e si/*er0

Let ;e as* you( Za/h( "i" you thin* I turne" you "o)n at Rosie9sE I ;ean( you ne4er #ot aroun" to as*in# ;e out( so I /ou!"n9t o77i/ia!!y turn you "o)n( ri#htE So )hat )as itE E; arrass;entE Let ;e #uess0 You to!" your 7rien"s to )at/h )hi!e you %ut the ;o4es on ;eLan" then I har"!y

res%on"e"0 Or )as it a "areE :i" they "are you to as* ;e outE Pa#e 8=

Peo%!e "i" that0 Re/ent!y so;eone "are" ;e to as* Hannah out0 He )or*e" )ith oth o7 us at the 2rest;ont0 He *ne) I !i*e" her an" that I ne4er 7oun" the ner4e to as* her out0 He a!so *ne) that 7or the %ast 7e) ;onths( Hannah har"!y s%o*e to anyone( ;a*in# it a "ou !e /ha!!en#e0 When I ro*e out o7 ;y "aBe( an" e7ore I !e7t( I !istene" in on you an" your 7rien"s0 They )ere teasin# you 7or not #ettin# that "ate you assure" the; )as in the a#0 I )i!! #i4e you /re"it )here it9s "ue( Za/h0 You /ou!" ha4e #one a/* to your 7rien"s an" sai"( DHannah9s a 7rea*0 Loo* at her0 She9s starin# into Ne4er!an"0F Instea"( you too* the teasin#0 But you ;ust ha4e a s!o) oi!( #ettin# ;ore an" ;ore an#ryMta*in# it ;ore an" ;ore %ersona!!yMthe !on#er you thou#ht a out ;y nonres%onsi4eness0 An" you /hose to #et a/* at ;e in the ;ost /hi!"ish o7 )ays0 You sto!e ;y %a%er a# notes o7 en/oura#e;ent0 Ho) %atheti/0 So )hat ti%%e" ;e o77E It9s si;%!e( rea!!y0 E4eryone e!se )as #ettin# notes0 E4eryoneK An" 7or the ;ost insi#ni7i/ant o7 thin#s0 Anyti;e so;eone e4en #ot a hair/ut they #ot a un/h o7 notes0 An" there )ere

%eo%!e in that /!ass I /onsi"ere" 7rien"s )ho )ou!" ha4e %ut so;ethin# in ;y a# a7ter I /ho%%e" o77 ;ost o7 ;y hair0 When she 7irst )a!*e" y ;e in the ha!!s( )ith her hair /ut so ;u/h shorter( I /ou!"n9t *ee% ;y ;outh 7ro; 7a!!in# o%en0 An" she !oo*e" a)ay0 Out o7 ha it( she trie" rushin# the hair out o7 her 7a/e an" ehin" her ears0 But it )as too short an" *e%t 7a!!in# 7or)ar"0 2o;e to thin* o7 it( I /ut ;y hair the 4ery "ay 5ar/us 2oo!ey an" I ;et at Rosie9s0 Wo)K That9s )eir"0 A!! those )arnin# si#ns they te!! us to )at/h out 7or( they9re true0 I )ent strai#ht 7ro; Rosie9s to #et ;y hair /ut0 I nee"e" a /han#e( Just !i*e they sai"( so I /han#e" ;y a%%earan/e0 The on!y thin# I sti!! ha" /ontro! o4er0 A;aBin#0 She %auses0 Si!en/e0 Just stati/( are!y au"i !e( in the hea"%hones0 I9; sure the s/hoo! ha" %sy/ho!o#ists /o;e in !oa"e" )ith han"outs( te!!in# you )hat to !oo* 7or in stu"ents )ho ;i#ht e /onsi"erin#L Another %ause0 No0 Li*e I sai" e7ore( I /an9t say it0 Sui/i"e0 Su/h a "is#ustin# )or"0 The neGt "ay( )hen I 7oun" ;y a# e;%ty( I *ne) so;ethin# )as u%0 At !east( I thou#ht so;ethin# )as u%0 The 7irst 7e) ;onths o7 /!ass I re/ei4e" ;ay e 7our or 7i4e notes0 But su""en!y( a7ter the te!!ta!e Pa#e 81

hair/utLnothin#0 So a7ter ;y hair/ut( I )aite" a )ee*0 Then t)o )ee*s0 Then three )ee*s0

Nothin#0 I %ush ;y #!ass a/ross the /ounter an" !oo* at the ;an "o)n y the re#ister0 D2an you ta*e thisEF It )as ti;e to 7in" out )hat )as #oin# on0 So I )rote ;yse!7 a note0 He shoots ;e a har" !oo* )hi!e /ountin# a/* /han#e0 The #ir! on this si"e o7 the re#ister a!so !oo*s at ;e0 She tou/hes her ears0 The hea"%hones0 I9; s%ea*in# too !ou"0 DSorry(F I )his%er0 Or ;ay e it "oesn9t /o;e out at a!!0 DHannah(F the note sai"0 DLi*e the ne) hair/ut0 Sorry I "i"n9t te!! you sooner0F An" 7or #oo" ;easure( I a""e" a %ur%!e s;i!ey 7a/e0 To a4oi" the ;aJor e; arrass;ent o7 #ettin# /au#ht !ea4in# ;yse!7 a note( I a!so )rote a note 7or the a# neGt to ;ine0 An" a7ter /!ass( I )a!*e" to the oo*ra/* an" ;a"e a sho) o7 "ro%%in# a note in that other a#0 Then I /asua!!y ran ;y han" aroun" the insi"e o7 ;y a#( %reten"in# to /he/* 7or notes0 An" I say D%reten"in#F e/ause I *ne) it )ou!" e e;%ty0 An" the neGt "ayE Nothin# in ;y a#0 The note )as #one0 5ay e it "i"n9t see; !i*e a i# "ea! to you( Za/h0 But no)( I ho%e you un"erstan"0 5y )or!" )as /o!!a%sin#0 I nee"e" those notes0 I nee"e" any ho%e those notes ;i#ht ha4e o77ere"0 An" youE You too* that ho%e a)ay0 You "e/i"e" I "i"n9t "eser4e to ha4e it0 The !on#er I !isten to these ta%es( the ;ore I 7ee! I *no) her0 Not the Hannah 7ro; the %ast 7e) years( ut the one 7ro; the %ast 7e) ;onths0 That9s the Hannah I9; e#innin# to un"erstan"0 Hannah at the en"0 The !ast ti;e I 7oun" ;yse!7 this /!ose to a %erson( a %erson s!o)!y "yin#( )as the ni#ht o7 the %arty0 The ni#ht I )at/he" t)o /ars /o!!i"e in a "ar* interse/tion0 Then( !i*e no)( I "i"n9t *no) they )ere "yin#0 Then( !i*e no)( there )ere a !ot o7 %eo%!e aroun"0 But )hat /ou!" they ha4e "oneE Those %eo%!e

stan"in# aroun" the /ar( tryin# to /a!; the "ri4er( )aitin# 7or an a; u!an/e to arri4e( /ou!" they ha4e "one anythin# at a!!E Or the %eo%!e )ho %asse" Hannah in the ha!!s( or sat esi"e her in /!ass( )hat /ou!" they ha4e "oneE 5ay e then( !i*e no)( it )as a!rea"y too !ate0 Pa#e 88

So Za/h( ho) ;any notes "i" you ta*eE Ho) ;any notes )ere there that I ne4er #ot to rea"E An" "i" you rea" the;E I ho%e so0 At !east so;eone shou!" *no) )hat %eo%!e rea!!y thin* o7 ;e0 I #!an/e o4er ;y shou!"er0 Tony9s sti!! there( /he)in# a 7ren/h 7ry an" %u;%in# *et/hu% on a ha; ur#er0 I a";it( "urin# /!ass "is/ussions I "i"n9t o%en u% ;u/h0 But )hen I "i"( "i" anyone than* ;e y "ro%%in# a note in ;y a#E That )ou!" ha4e een ni/e to *no)0 In 7a/t( it ;i#ht ha4e en/oura#e" ;e to o%en u% e4en ;ore0 This isn9t 7air0 I7 Za/h ha" any i"ea )hat Hannah )as #oin# throu#h( I9; sure he )ou!"n9t ha4e sto!en her notes0 The "ay ;y se!7?)ritten note )ent ;issin#( I stoo" outsi"e the /!assroo; "oor an" starte" ta!*in# to so;eone I9" ne4er s%o*en )ith e7ore0 I !oo*e" o4er her shou!"er e4ery 7e) se/on"s( )at/hin# the other stu"ents /he/* their a#s 7or notes0 That sure !oo*e" !i*e a !ot o7 7un( Za/h0 An" that9s )hen I /au#ht you0 With a sin#!e 7in#er( you tou/he" the !i% o7 ;y a# an" ti!te" it "o)n Just enou#h to %ee* insi"e0 Nothin#0 So you hea"e" to)ar" the "oor )ithout /he/*in# your o)n a#( )hi/h I 7oun" 4ery interestin#0 The ;an ehin" the /ounter %i/*s u% ;y #!ass an"( )ith a /ho/o!ate?staine" ra#( )i%es the /ounter0 O7 /ourse( that "i"n9t %ro4e anythin#0 5ay e you Just !i*e" seein# )ho )as #ettin# notes an" )ho

)asn9tL)ith a %arti/u!ar interest in ;e0 So the neGt "ay( I /a;e into 5rs0 Bra"!ey9s roo; "urin# !un/h0 I too* ;y %a%er a# o77 the ra/* an" reatta/he" it )ith the tiniest s!i4er o7 ta%e0 Insi"e( I %!a/e" a !itt!e note 7o!"e" in ha!70 A#ain( )hen /!ass )as o4er( I )aite" outsi"e an" )at/he"0 But I "i"n9t ta!* to anyone this ti;e0 I Just )at/he"0 The %er7e/t setu%0 You tou/he" the !i% o7 ;y a#( sa) the note( an" rea/he" in0 The a# 7e!! to the 7!oor an" your 7a/e turne" ri#ht re"0 But you ent "o)n an" s/oo%e" it u% any)ay0 An" ;y rea/tionE :is e!ie70 I ;ean( I sa) it0 I eG%e/te" it( e4en0 But I sti!! /ou!"n9t e!ie4e it0 Whi!e ;y ori#ina! %!an /a!!e" 7or ;e to /on7ront you ri#ht then an" there( I Ju;%e" to the si"eMout o7 the "oor)ay0 In a hurry( you roun"e" the /ornerLan" there )e )ere0 Ca/e?to?7a/e0 5y eyes stun# as I stare" at you0 Then I ro*e that stare an" !o)ere" ;y hea"0 An" you too* o77 "o)n the ha!!0 She "i"n9t )ant hi; to eG%!ain0 There )as no eG%!anation0 She sa) it )ith her o)n eyes0 Pa#e 83

When you )ere ha!7)ay "o)n the ha!!( sti!! )a!*in# 7ast( I sa) you !oo* "o)n as i7 rea"in# so;ethin#0 5y noteE Yes0 You turne" 7or Just a ;o;ent to see i7 I )as )at/hin#0 An" 7or that ;o;ent( I )as s/are"0 Wou!" you /on7ront ;e an" te!! ;e you )ere sorryE Ye!! at ;eE The ans)erE None o7 the a o4e0 You Just turne" an" *e%t )a!*in#( #ettin# /!oser an" /!oser to the "oors !ea"in# outsi"e( /!oser to your es/a%e0 An" as I stoo" there in the ha!!)ayMa!oneMtryin# to un"erstan" )hat ha" Just ha%%ene" an" )hy( I rea!iBe" the truth> I )asn9t )orth an eG%!anationMnot e4en a rea/tion0 Not in your eyes( Za/h0

She %auses0 Cor the rest o7 you !istenin#( the note )as a""resse" to Za/h y na;e0 5ay e he sees it no) as a %ro!o#ue to these ta%es0 Be/ause in there( I a";itte" that I )as at a %oint in ;y !i7e )here I rea!!y /ou!" ha4e use" any en/oura#e;ent anyone ;i#ht ha4e !e7t ;e0 En/oura#e;entLthat he sto!e0 I ite on ;y thu; ( /a!;in# the ur#e to !oo* o4er ;y shou!"er at Tony0 :oes he )on"er )hat I9; !istenin# toE :oes he /areE But I /ou!"n9t ta*e it any;ore0 You see( Za/h9s not the on!y one )ith a s!o) oi!0 I shoute" a7ter hi;( DWhyEF In the ha!!)ay( there )ere sti!! a 7e) %eo%!e /han#in# /!asses0 A!! o7 the; Ju;%e"0 But on!y one o7 the; sto%%e"0 An" he stoo" there( 7a/in# ;e( /ra;;in# ;y note in his a/* %o/*et0 I s/rea;e" that )or" o4er an" o4er a#ain0 Tears( 7ina!!y s%i!!in# o4er( ran "o)n ;y 7a/e0 DWhyE Why( Za/hEF I hear" a out that0 Hannah 7!i%%in# out 7or no a%%arent reason( e; arrassin# herse!7 in 7ront o7 so ;any %eo%!e0 But they )ere )ron#0 There )as a reason0 So no)( !et9s #et %ersona!0 In the s%irit o7 o%enin# u%Mo7 7u!! "is/!osureM!et ;e o77er you this> 5y %arents !o4e ;e0 I *no) they "o0 But thin#s ha4e not een easy re/ent!y0 Not 7or a out a year0 Not sin/e you?*no)?)hat o%ene" outsi"e o7 to)n0 I re;e; er that0 Hannah9s %arents )ere on the ne)s e4ery ni#ht( )arnin# that i7 the hu#e sho%%in# /enter )ent u%( it )ou!" %ut the "o)nto)n stores out o7 usiness0 They sai" no one )ou!" sho% there any;ore0 When that ha%%ene"( ;y %arents e/a;e "istant0 There )as su""en!y a !ot 7or the; to thin* a out0 A !ot o7 %ressure to ;a*e en"s ;eet0 I ;ean( they ta!*e" to ;e( ut not !i*e e7ore0 When I /ut ;y hair( ;y ;o; "i"n9t e4en noti/e0

An" as 7ar as I *ne)Mthan* you( Za/hMno one at s/hoo! noti/e"( either0 Pa#e 3+

I noti/e"0 In the a/* o7 our /!ass( 5rs0 Bra"!ey a!so ha" a %a%er a#0 It hun# )ith the rest o7 ours on the s%innin# oo*ra/*0 We /ou!" use itMan" she en/oura#e" itM7or notes a out her tea/hin#0 2riti/a! or other)ise0 She a!so )ante" us to re/o;;en" to%i/s 7or 7uture "is/ussions0 So I "i" Just that0 I )rote a note to 5rs0 Bra"!ey that rea"> DSui/i"e0 It9s so;ethin# I94e een thin*in# a out0 Not too serious!y( ut I ha4e een thin*in# a out it0F That9s the note0 Wor" 7or )or"0 An" I *no) it9s )or" 7or )or" e/ause I )rote it "oBens o7 ti;es e7ore "e!i4erin# it0 I9" )rite it( thro) it a)ay( )rite it( /ru;%!e it u%( thro) it a)ay0 But )hy )as I )ritin# it to e#in )ithE I as*e" ;yse!7 that Iuestion e4ery ti;e I %rinte" the )or"s onto a ne) sheet o7 %a%er0 Why )as I )ritin# this noteE It )as a !ie0 I ha"n9t een thin*in# a out it0 Not rea!!y0 Not in "etai!0 The thou#ht )ou!" /o;e into ;y hea" an" I9" %ush it a)ay0 But I %ushe" it a)ay a !ot0 An" it )as a su Je/t )e ne4er "is/usse" in /!ass0 But I )as sure ;ore %eo%!e than Just ;e ha" thou#ht a out it( ri#htE So )hy not "is/uss it as a #rou%E Or "ee% "o)n( ;ay e there )as ;ore0 5ay e I )ante" so;eone to 7i#ure out )ho )rote the note an" se/ret!y /o;e to ;y res/ue0 5ay e0 I "on9t *no)0 But I )as /are7u! ne4er to #i4e ;yse!7 a)ay0 The hair/ut0 A4ertin# your eyes in the ha!!s0 You )ere /are7u!( ut sti!!( there )ere si#ns0 Litt!e si#ns0 But they )ere there0 An" then( Just !i*e that( you sna%%e" a/*0 EG/e%t I "i" #i4e ;yse!7 a)ay to you( Za/h0 You *ne) I )rote that note in 5rs0 Bra"!ey9s a#0 You ha" to0 She too* it out o7 her a# an" rea" it the "ay a7ter I /au#ht you0 The "ay a7ter I ha" that ;e!t"o)n in the ha!!0 A 7e) "ays e7ore she too* the %i!!s( Hannah )as herse!7 a#ain0 She sai" he!!o to e4eryone in the ha!!s0

She !oo*e" us in the eyes0 It see;e" so "rasti/ e/ause it ha" een ;onths sin/e she ha" a/te" !i*e that0 Li*e the rea! Hannah0 But you "i" nothin#( Za/h0 E4en a7ter 5rs0 Bra"!ey rou#ht it u%( you "i" nothin# to rea/h out0 It see;e" so "rasti/( e/ause it )as0 So )hat "i" I )ant 7ro; the /!assE 5ain!y( I )ante" to hear )hat e4eryone ha" to say0 Their thou#hts0 Their 7ee!in#s0 An" oy( "i" they te!! ;e0 One %erson sai" it )as #oin# to e har" to he!% )ithout *no)in# )hy the %erson )ante" to *i!! hi;se!70 An" yes( I re7raine" 7ro; sayin#( DOr herse!70 It /ou!" e a #ir!0F Pa#e 31

Then others starte" /hi;in# in0 DI7 they9re !one!y( )e /ou!" in4ite the; to sit )ith us at !un/h0F DI7 it9s #ra"es( )e /an tutor the;0F DI7 it9s their ho;e !i7e( ;ay e )e /anLI "on9t *no)L#et the; /ounse!in# or so;ethin#0F But e4erythin# they sai"Me4erythin#KM/a;e tin#e" )ith annoyan/e0 Then one o7 the #ir!s( her na;e "oesn9t ;atter here( sai" )hat e4eryone e!se )as thin*in#0 DIt9s !i*e

)hoe4er )rote this note Just )ants attention0 I7 they )ere serious( they )ou!" ha4e to!" us )ho they )ere0F $o"0 There )as no )ay 7or Hannah to o%en u% in that /!ass0

I /ou!"n9t e!ie4e it0 In the %ast( 5rs0 Bra"!ey ha" notes "ro%%e" in her a# su##estin# #rou% "is/ussions on a ortion( 7a;i!y 4io!en/e( /heatin#Mon oy7rien"s( #ir!7rien"s( on tests0 No one insiste" on *no)in# )ho )rote those to%i/s0 But 7or so;e reason( they re7use" to ha4e a "is/ussion on sui/i"e )ithout s%e/i7i/s0

Cor ten ;inutes or so( 5rs0 Bra"!ey ratt!e" o77 statisti/sM!o/a! statisti/sMthat sur%rise" us a!!0 Be/ause )e9re Ju4eni!es( she sai"( as !on# as the sui/i"e "i"n9t o//ur in a %u !i/ %!a/e )ith )itnesses( they %ro a !y )ou!"n9t re%ort it in the ne)s0 An" no %arent )ants %eo%!e to *no) that their /hi!"( the /hi!"

they raise"( too* his( or her( o)n !i7e0 So %eo%!e are o7tenti;es !e" to e!ie4e it )as an a//i"ent0 The "o)nsi"e ein# that no one *no)s )hat9s rea!!y #oin# on )ith the %eo%!e in their /o;;unity0 That sai"( a thorou#h "is/ussion "i" not e#in in our /!ass0 Were they Just ein# nosy( or "i" they rea!!y thin* that *no)in# s%e/i7i/s )as the est )ay to he!%E I9; not sure0 A !itt!e o7 oth( ;ay e0 In 7irst %erio"( 5r0 Porter9s /!ass( I )at/he" her a !ot0 I7 the to%i/ o7 sui/i"e /a;e u%( ;ay e our eyes )ou!" ha4e ;et an" I )ou!" ha4e seen it0 An" truth7u!!y( I "on9t *no) )hat they /ou!" ha4e sai" to s)ay ;e either )ay0 Be/ause ;ay e I )as ein# se!7ish0 5ay e I )as Just !oo*in# 7or attention0 5ay e I Just )ante" to hear %eo%!e "is/uss ;e an" ;y %ro !e;s0 Base" on )hat she to!" ;e at the %arty( she )ou!" ha4e )ante" ;e to see it0 She )ou!" ha4e !oo*e" "ire/t!y at ;e( %rayin# 7or ;e to see it0 Or ;ay e I )ante" so;eone to %oint a 7in#er at ;e an" say( DHannah0 Are you thin*in# a out *i!!in# yourse!7E P!ease "on9t "o that( Hannah0 P!easeEF But "ee% "o)n( the truth )as that the on!y %erson sayin# that )as ;e0 :ee% "o)n( those )ere ;y )or"s0 At the en" o7 /!ass( 5rs0 Bra"!ey %asse" out a 7!yer /a!!e"The Warnin# Si#ns o7 a Sui/i"a! In"i4i"ua!0 Pa#e 36

$uess )hat )as ri#ht u% there in the to% 7i4eE DA su""en /han#e in a%%earan/e0F I tu##e" on the en"s o7 ;y ne)!y /ro%%e" hair0 Huh0 Who *ne) I )as so %re"i/ta !eE Ru in# ;y /hin a#ainst ;y shou!"er( I see Tony out o7 the /orner o7 ;y eye( sti!! sittin# in his ooth0 His ha; ur#er9s a!! #one( as are ;ost o7 his 7ries0 He sits there /o;%!ete!y una)are o7 )hat I9; #oin# throu#h0 I o%en the Wa!*;an( %o% out ta%e nu; er 7our( an" 7!i% it o4er0 2ASSETTE &> SI:E B Wou!" you )ant the a i!ity to hear other %eo%!e9s thou#htsE

O7 /ourse you )ou!"0 E4eryone ans)ers yes to that Iuestion( unti! they thin* it a!! the )ay throu#h0 Cor eGa;%!e( )hat i7 other %eo%!e /ou!" hear your thou#htsE What i7 they /ou!" hear your thou#htsLri#ht no)E They9" hear /on7usion0 Crustration0 E4en so;e an#er0 They9" hear the )or"s o7 a "ea" #ir! runnin# throu#h ;y hea"0 A #ir! )ho( 7or so;e reason( !a;es ;e 7or her sui/i"e0 So;eti;es )e ha4e thou#hts that e4en )e "on9t un"erstan"0 Thou#hts that aren9t e4en trueMthat aren9t rea!!y ho) )e 7ee!M ut they9re runnin# throu#h our hea"s any)ay e/ause they9re interestin# to thin* a out0 I a"Just the na%*in ho!"er in 7ront o7 ;e ti!! Tony9s ooth is re7!e/te" in the %o!ishe" si!4er0 He !eans a/* an" )i%es his han"s on a na%*in0 I7 you /ou!" hear other %eo%!e9s thou#hts( you9" o4erhear thin#s that are true as )e!! as thin#s that are /o;%!ete!y ran"o;0 An" you )ou!"n9t *no) one 7ro; the other0 It9" "ri4e you insane0 What9s trueE What9s notE A ;i!!ion i"eas( ut )hat "o they ;eanE I ha4e no i"ea )hat Tony9s thin*in#0 An" he has no i"ea a out ;e0 He has no i"ea that the 4oi/e in ;y hea"( the 4oi/e /o;in# throu#h his Wa!*;an( e!on#s to Hannah Ba*er0 That9s )hat I !o4e a out %oetry0 The ;ore a stra/t( the etter0 The stu77 )here you9re not sure )hat the %oet9s ta!*in# a out0 You ;ay ha4e an i"ea( ut you /an9t e sure0 Not a hun"re" %er/ent0 Ea/h )or"( s%e/i7i/a!!y /hosen( /ou!" ha4e a ;i!!ion "i77erent ;eanin#s0 Is it a stan"?inMa sy; o!M7or another i"eaE :oes it 7it into a !ar#er( ;ore hi""en( ;eta%horE This is the ei#hth %erson( Hannah0 I7 it9s a out %oetry( then it9s not a out ;e0 An" there are on!y 7i4e na;es to #o0 Pa#e 33

I hate" %oetry unti! so;eone sho)e" ;e ho) to a%%re/iate it0 He to!" ;e to see %oetry as a %uBB!e0 It9s u% to the rea"er to "e/i%her the /o"e( or the )or"s( ase" on e4erythin# they *no) a out !i7e an" e;otions0 :i" the %oet use re" to sy; o!iBe !oo"E An#erE LustE Or is the )hee! arro) si;%!y re" e/ause re" soun"e" etter than !a/*E

I re;e; er that one0 Cro; En#!ish0 There )as a i# "is/ussion on the ;eanin# o7 re"0 I ha4e no i"ea )hat )e "e/i"e" in the en"0 The sa;e %erson )ho tau#ht ;e to a%%re/iate %oetry a!so tau#ht ;e the 4a!ue in )ritin# it0 An" honest!y( there is no etter )ay to eG%!ore your e;otions than )ith %oetry0 Or au"iota%es0 I7 you9re an#ry( you "on9t ha4e to )rite a %oe; "ea!in# )ith the /ause o7 your an#er0 But it nee"s to e an an#ry %oe;0 So #o ahea"L)rite one0 I *no) you9re at !east a !itt!e it an#ry )ith ;e0 An" )hen you9re "one )ith your %oe;( "e/i%her it as i7 you9" Just 7oun" it %rinte" in a teGt oo* an" *ne) a so!ute!y nothin# a out its author0 The resu!ts /an e a;aBin#Lan" s/ary0 But it9s a!)ays /hea%er than a thera%ist0 I "i" that 7or a )hi!e0 Poetry( not a thera%ist0 5ay e a thera%ist )ou!" ha4e he!%e"( Hannah0 I ou#ht a s%ira! note oo* to *ee% a!! o7 ;y %oe;s in one %!a/e0 A /ou%!e "ays a )ee*( a7ter s/hoo!( I9" #o to 5onet9s an" )rite a %oe; or t)o0 5y 7irst 7e) atte;%ts )ere a it sa"0 Not ;u/h "e%th or su t!ety0 Pretty strai#ht7or)ar"0 But sti!!( so;e /a;e out 7air!y )e!!0 At !east( I thin* they "i"0 Then( )ithout e4en tryin#( I ;e;oriBe" the 4ery 7irst %oe; in that note oo*0 An" no ;atter ho) har" I try( I /an9t see; to sha*e it 7ro; ;y hea" e4en to"ay0 So here it is( 7or your a%%re/iationLor a;use;ent0 I7 ;y !o4e )ere an o/ean( there )ou!" e no ;ore !an"0 I7 ;y !o4e )ere a "esert( you )ou!" see on!y san"0 I7 ;y !o4e )ere a starM!ate at ni#ht( on!y !i#ht0 An" i7 ;y !o4e /ou!" #ro) )in#s( I9" e soarin# in 7!i#ht0 $o ahea"0 Lau#h0 But you *no) you9" uy it i7 you sa) it on a #reetin# /ar"0

There9s a su""en a/he "ee% insi"e ;y /hest0 Pa#e 3&

Just *no)in# I9" e #oin# to 5onet9s to )rite %oetry ;a"e the "ays ;ore eara !e0 So;ethin# 7unny( sho/*in#( or hurt7u! ;i#ht ha%%en an" I9" thin*( This is #oin# to ;a*e 7or one 7as/inatin# %oe;0 O4er ;y shou!"er( I see Tony )a!*in# out the 7ront "oor0 Whi/h see;s )eir"0 Why "i"n9t he sto% to say #oo"? yeE To ;e( I su%%ose( these ta%es are a 7or; o7 %oeti/ thera%y0 Throu#h the 7ront )in"o)( I )at/h Tony #et in his /ar0 As I te!! you these stories( I9; "is/o4erin# /ertain thin#s0 Thin#s a out ;yse!7( yes( ut a!so a out you0 A!! o7 you0 He 7!i%s on the hea"!i#hts0 An" the /!oser )e #et to the en"( the ;ore /onne/tions I9; "is/o4erin#0 :ee% /onne/tions0 So;e that I94e to!" you a out( !in*in# one story to the neGt0 Whi!e others( I ha4en9t to!" you a out at a!!0 The 5ustan# shu""ers as Tony re4s the en#ine0 Then s!o)!y( his /ar a/*s u%0 5ay e you94e e4en "is/o4ere" so;e /onne/tions that I ha4en9t0 5ay e you9re one ste% ahea" o7 the %oet0 No( Hannah0 I9; are!y *ee%in# u%0 An" )hen I say ;y 7ina! )or"sL)e!!( %ro a !y not ;y 7ina! )or"s( ut the !ast )or"s on these ta%esLit9s #oin# to e one ti#ht( )e!!?/onne/te"( e;otiona! a!! o7 )or"s0 In other )or"s( a %oe;0 Wat/hin# Tony9s /ar throu#h the )in"o) is !i*e )at/hin# a ;o4ie( the 5ustan# a/*in# s!o)!y o77s/reen0 But the hea"!i#hts "on9t #ra"ua!!y 7a"e a)ay( )hi/h they shou!" i7 he *e%t a/*in# u% or

turne" a)ay0 Instea"( they Just sto%0 As i7 turne" o770 Loo*in# a/*( I sto%%e" )ritin# in ;y note oo* )hen I sto%%e" )antin# to *no) ;yse!7 any;ore0 Is he out there( sittin# in his /ar( )aitin#E WhyE I7 you hear a son# that ;a*es you /ry an" you "on9t )ant to /ry any;ore( you "on9t !isten to that son# any;ore0 But you /an9t #et a)ay 7ro; yourse!70 You /an9t "e/i"e not to see yourse!7 any;ore0 You /an9t "e/i"e to turn o77 the noise in your hea"0 With Tony9s hea"!i#hts turne" o77( the )in"o)s o7 the "iner are Just a stret/h o7 !a/* #!ass0 E4ery so o7ten( at the 7ar en" o7 the %ar*in# !ot( a /ar "ri4es "o)n the roa" an" a s!i4er o7 !i#ht #!i"es 7ro; one en" Pa#e 3'

o7 the #!ass to the other0 But the on!y stea"y sour/e o7 i!!u;ination( thou#h "istant( a%%ears in the u%%er ri#ht?han" /orner0 A

!urry %in*?an"? !ue !i#ht0 The ti% o7 the 2rest;ont9s neon si#n %ee*in# o4er the roo7to%s o7 e4ery usiness aroun" it0 $o"0 What I )ou!"n9t #i4e to re!i4e that su;;er0 When )e )ere a!one( it )as so easy to ta!* to Hannah0 It )as so easy to !au#h )ith her0 But )hene4er

%eo%!e /a;e aroun"( I #ot shy0 I a/*e" o770 I "i"n9t *no) ho) to a/t any;ore0 In that tiny 7ish o)! oG o77i/e( ;y on!y /onne/tion to ;y /o)or*ers in the !o y )as a re" %hone0 No uttons to %un/h( Just a re/ei4er0 But )hene4er I %i/*e" it u% an" Hannah ans)ere" on the other en"( I

#ot ner4ous0 As i7 I )asn9t /a!!in# 7ro; thirty 7eet a)ay( ut /a!!in# her at ho;e0 DI nee" /han#e(F I )ou!" say0 DA#ainEF she9" res%on"0 But a!)ays )ith a s;i!e in her 4oi/e0 An" e4ery ti;e( I 7e!t ;y 7a/e #ro) )ar;

)ith e; arrass;ent0 Be/ause the truth )as( I as*e" 7or /han#e a !ot ;ore )hen she )as )or*in# than

)hen she )asn9t0 A /ou%!e o7 ;inutes !ater( there9" e a *no/* on the "oor an" I9" strai#hten ;y shirt an" !et her in0 With a tiny /ash oG in han"( she9" sIueeBe y ;e( a#oniBin#!y /!ose( to /han#e so;e o7 ;y i!!s0 An" so;eti;es( on s!o) ni#hts( she )ou!" sit in ;y /hair an" te!! ;e to /!ose the "oor0

Whene4er she sai" that( I stru##!e" to *ee% ;y i;a#ination in /he/*0 Be/ause e4en thou#h )in"o)s *e%t us eG%ose" on three si"es( !i*e attra/tions in a /arni4a! sho)( an" e4en thou#h she on!y sai" it e/ause )e )eren9t su%%ose" to !ea4e the "oor o%en( anythin# /ou!" ha%%en )ithin that /ra;%e" s%a/e0 Or so I )ishe"0 Those ;o;ents( ho)e4er rie7 an" rare( ;a"e ;e 7ee! so s%e/ia!0 Hannah Ba*er /hose to s%en" her 7ree ;o;ents )ith ;e0 An" e/ause )e )ere at )or*( no one )ou!" thin* anythin# o7 it0 No one /ou!" rea" into it0

But )hyE Why( )hene4er anyone sa) us( "i" I %reten" it ;eant nothin#E We )ere )or*in#( that9s )hat I )ante" the; to e!ie4e0 Not han#in# out0 Just )or*in#0 WhyE Be/ause Hannah ha" a re%utation0 A re%utation that s/are" ;e0 That truth 7irst /a;e to !i#ht a 7e) )ee*s a#o( at a %arty( )ith Hannah "ire/t!y in 7ront o7 ;e0 An a;aBin# ;o;ent )hen e4erythin# see;e" to e 7a!!in# in %!a/e0 Loo*in# "o)n into her eyes( I /ou!"n9t he!% te!!in# her I )as sorry0 Sorry 7or )aitin# so !on# to !et her *no) ho) I 7e!t0 Cor a rie7 ;o;ent( I )as a !e to a";it it0 To her0 To ;yse!70 But I /ou!" ne4er a";it it a#ain0 Ti!! no)0 But no)( it9s too !ate0 Pa#e 3=

An" that9s )hy( ri#ht at this ;o;ent( I 7ee! so ;u/h hate0 To)ar" ;yse!70 I "eser4e to e on this !ist0 Be/ause i7 I ha"n9t een so a7rai" o7 e4eryone e!se( I ;i#ht ha4e to!" Hannah that so;eone /are"0 An" Hannah ;i#ht sti!! e a!i4e0 I %u!! ;y #aBe a/* 7ro; the neon si#n0 So;eti;es I )ou!" sto% y 5onet9s 7or a hot /ho/o!ate on ;y )ay ho;e0 I9" start ;y ho;e)or*0 Or so;eti;es I9" rea"0 But I )asn9t )ritin# %oetry any;ore0

I nee"e" a rea*L7ro; ;yse!70 I s!i"e ;y han" 7ro; un"er ;y /hin to the a/* o7 ;y ne/*0 The otto; stran"s o7 ;y hair are "ren/he" in s)eat0

But I !o4e" %oetry0 I ;isse" it0 An" one "ay( a7ter se4era! )ee*s( I "e/i"e" to #o a/* to it0 I "e/i"e"

to use %oetry to ;a*e ;yse!7 ha%%y0 Ha%%y %oe;s0 Bri#ht an" ha%%y sunshiny %oe;s0 Ha%%y( ha%%y( ha%%y0 Li*e the t)o )o;en %i/ture" on the 7!yer at 5onet9s0

They tau#ht a 7ree /ourse /a!!e" Poetry> To Lo4e Li7e0 They %ro;ise" to tea/h not on!y ho) to !o4e %oetry( ut throu#h %oetry( ho) to etter !o4e ourse!4es0 Si#n ;e u%K :?1 on your ;a%0 The /o;;unity roo; at the %u !i/ !i rary0

It9s too "ar* to #o there no)0 The %oetry /!ass e#an at the sa;e ti;e the !ast e!! ran# at s/hoo!( so I9" ra/e o4er there to try an" ;a*e it )ithout ein# too !ate0 But e4en )hen I )as !ate( e4eryone see;e" ha%%y to ha4e ;e thereMto %ro4i"e the D7e;inine teen %ers%e/ti4eF they /a!!e" it0

Loo*in# aroun"( I see that I9; the on!y one !e7t in Rosie9s0 They "on9t /!ose 7or another thirty ;inutes0 An" e4en thou#h I9; not eatin# or "rin*in# any;ore( the ;an ehin" the /ounter hasn9t as*e" ;e to !ea4e0 So I9!! stay0 I;a#ine ten or t)e!4e oran#e /hairs arran#e" in a /ir/!e( )ith the ha%%y )o;en 7ro; the 7!yer sittin# at o%%osite en"s0 On!y %ro !e; )as( 7ro; "ay one( they )eren9t ha%%y0 So;eone( )hoe4er ;a"e that 7!yer( ;ust ha4e "i#ita!!y turne" their 7ro)ns u%si"e "o)n0 They )rote a out "eath0 A out the e4i!ness o7 ;en0 A out the "estru/tion o7Man" I IuoteMDthe #reenish( !uish or )ith )is%s o7 )hite0F Serious!y( that9s ho) they "es/ri e" it0 They )ent on to /a!! Earth a *no/*e"?u% #aseous a!ien nee"in# an a ortion0 Another reason I hate %oetry0 Who says Dor F instea" o7 D a!!F or Ds%hereEF Pa#e 31

DEG%ose yourse!7(F they sai"0 DLet us see your "ee%est an" your "ar*est0F 5y "ee%est an" ;y "ar*estE What are you( ;y #yne/o!o#istE Hannah0 So ;any ti;es I )ante" to raise ;y han" an" say( D,;( so( )hen "o )e #et to the ha%%y stu77E The

stu77 a out !o4in# !i7eE You *no)( Poetry> To Lo4e Li7eE That9s )hat the 7!yer sai"0 That9s )hy I9;

here0F In the en"( I on!y ;a"e it throu#h three o7 those %oetry #rou%s0 But so;ethin# "i" /o;e o7 it0 So;ethin# #oo"E No0 H;;LI )on"er0 See( so;eone e!se )as in that #rou%0 Another hi#h s/hoo!er )ith a %ers%e/ti4e a"ore" y the o!"er

%oets0 Who )as itE The e"itor o7 our s/hoo!9s 4ery o)nLost?N?Coun" $aBette0 Ryan Sha4er0 You *no) )ho I9; ta!*in# a out0 An" I9; sure you( 5r0 E"itor( /an9t )ait 7or ;e to say your na;e out

!ou"0 So here you #o( Ryan Sha4er0 The truth sha!! set you 7ree0 The ;otto o7 theLost?N?Coun" 0 You94e *no)n this 7or a )hi!e( Ryan0 I9; sure o7 it0 At the 7irst ;ention o7 %oetry( you *ne) this one

)as a out you0 You ha" to0 Thou#h I9; sure you ;ust ha4e thou#ht( This /an9t e )hy I9; on the ta%es0 It )asn9t a i# "ea!0 The %oe; 7ro; s/hoo!0 $o"( it )as hers0 Re;e; er( this is one ti#ht( )e!!?/onne/te"( e;otiona! a!! I9; /onstru/tin# here0

I /!ose ;y eyes ti#ht( /o4erin# ;y eyes )ith ;y han"0 I /rush ;y teeth to#ether( Ja) ;us/!es urnin#( to *ee% 7ro; s/rea;in#0 Or /ryin#0 I "on9t )ant her to rea" it0 I "on9t )ant to hear that %oe; in her 4oi/e0

Wou!" you !i*e to hear the !ast %oe; I )rote e7ore Iuittin# %oetryE Be7ore Iuittin# %oetry 7or #oo"E

NoE Cine0 But you94e a!rea"y rea" it0 It9s 4ery %o%u!ar at our s/hoo!0 I a!!o) ;y eye!i"s( ;y Ja)( to re!aG0

Pa#e 38

The %oe;0 We "is/usse" it in En#!ish0 We rea" it a!ou" ;any ti;es0 An" Hannah )as there 7or it a!!0 So;e o7 you ;ay re/a!! it no)0 Not )or" 7or )or"( ut you *no) )hat I9; ta!*in# a out0 The

Lost?N?Coun" $aBette0Ryan9s se;iannua! /o!!e/tion o7 ite;s 7oun" !yin# aroun" /a;%us0 Li*e a !o4e !etter tosse" un"er a "es*( ne4er "is/o4ere" y its inten"e" !o4e0 I7 Ryan 7oun" it( he9"

s/rat/h out the #i4e?a)ay na;es an" s/an it 7or use in an u%/o;in# #aBette0 Photo#ra%hs that 7e!! out o7 in"ersLhe s/anne" the;( too0 History notes /o4ere" in "oo"!es y an eGtre;e!y ore" stu"entLhe s/anne" the;0 So;e %eo%!e ;ay )on"er ho) Ryan 7oun" so ;any interestin# ite;s to s/an0 :i" he rea!!y 7in" the; at

a!!E Or "i" he stea! the;E I as*e" hi; that 4ery Iuestion a7ter one o7 our %oetry ;eetin#s0 An" he s)ore

that e4erythin# he %rinte" )as 7oun" %ure!y y /han/e0 So;eti;es( he a";itte"( %eo%!e "i" s!i% ite;s they 7oun" into his !o/*er0 Those( he sai"( he /ou!"n9t 4ou/h 7or one hun"re" %er/ent0 That9s )hy he s/rat/he" out na;es an" %hone nu; ers0 An" %hoto#ra%hs( as a ru!e( /ou!"n9t e too e; arrassin#0

He9" #ather 7i4e or siG %a#es o7 #oo"( Iuir*y ;ateria! an" %rint u% 7i7ty /o%ies0 Then he9" sta%!e the; to#ether an" "ro% the; o77 at ran"o; %!a/es throu#hout s/hoo!0 Restroo;s0 Lo/*er roo;s0 On the tra/*0

DNe4er in the sa;e s%ot(F he to!" ;e0 He thou#ht it )as 7ittin# 7or %eo%!e to stu; !e a/ross his ;a#aBine o7 stu; !e" a/ross ite;s0 But #uess )hatE 5y %oe;E He sto!e it0

I %u!! a na%*in out o7 the ho!"er an" )i%e the a rasi4e %a%er a/ross ;y eyes0 Ea/h )ee*( a7ter our %oetry #rou%( Ryan an" I )ou!" sit on the !i rary ste%s an" ta!*0 That 7irst )ee*( )e si;%!y !au#he" a out the %oe;s the other %eo%!e ha" )ritten an" rea"0 We !au#he" a out ho) "e%ressin# they a!! )ere0

DWasn9t this su%%ose" to ;a*e us ha%%yEF he as*e"0 A%%arent!y( he si#ne" u% 7or the sa;e reason as ;e0 I !oo* u%0 The ;an ehin" the /ounter tu#s on the strin#s o7 a hea4y trash a#0 It9s /!osin# ti;e0

D2an I #et a #!ass o7 )aterEF I as*0 A7ter the se/on" )ee* o7 /!ass( )e sat on those !i rary ste%s an" rea" so;e o7 our o)n %oe;s to ea/h other0 Poe;s )e9" )ritten at "i77erent %oints in our !i4es0

He !oo*s at ;y eyes( at the s*in ru e" ra) y the na%*in0 But on!y ha%%y %oe;s0 Poe;s a out !o4in# !i7e0 Poe;s )e )ou!" ne4er rea" to that "e%ression?!o4in# #rou% o7 ;isera !e %oets insi"e0

Pa#e 33

An"( as %oets ne4er "o( )e eG%!aine" ourse!4es0 Line 7or !ine0 The thir" )ee*( )e too* the i##est /han/e o7 a!! an" han"e" ea/h other our entire note oo*s o7 %oetry0 He %ushes a #!ass o7 i/e )ater in 7ront o7 ;e0 EG/e%t 7or that #!ass an" the na%*in "is%ensers( the entire !en#th o7 the /ounter is e;%ty0 Wo)K That too* a !ot o7 /oura#e0 Cor ;e( "e7inite!y0 I9; sure 7or you( too( Ryan0 An" 7or the neGt t)o hours( )ith the sun #oin# "o)n( )e sat on those /on/rete ste%s( turnin# %a#es0 His han")ritin# )as horri !e( so it too* ;e a it !on#er to rea" throu#h his %oe;s0 But they )ere a;aBin#0 5u/h "ee%er than any o7 ;ine0 His stu77 soun"e" !i*e rea! %oetry0 Pro7essiona! %oetry0 An" so;e"ay( I9; sure o7 it( *i"s )i!! e 7or/e" to ana!yBe his %oe;s out o7 a teGt oo*0 I tou/h the /o!" #!ass( )ra%%in# ;y 7in#ers aroun" it0 O7 /ourse( I ha" no i"ea )hat his %oe;s ;eant0 Not eGa/t!y0 But I 7e!t the e;otions %re/ise!y0 They )ere a so!ute!y eauti7u!0 An" I 7e!t a!;ost asha;e" at )hat he ;ust ha4e een thin*in# as he )ent throu#h ;y note oo*0 Be/ause rea"in# throu#h his( I rea!iBe" ho) !itt!e ti;e I9" s%ent on ;ine0 I shou!" ha4e ta*en the ti;e to /hoose etter )or"s0 5ore e;otiona! )or"s0

But one o7 ;y %oe;s #ra e" hi;0 An" he )ante" to *no) ;ore a out itL!i*e )hen I )rote it0 But I "i"n9t te!! hi;0 I "on9t "rin* the )ater0 I )at/h a sin#!e "ro% s!i"e "o)n the #!ass an" u;% a#ainst ;y 7in#er0 I )rote it the sa;e "ay a #rou% o7 stu"ents #ot an#ry that so;eone ha" the ner4e to as* 7or he!%

re#ar"in# sui/i"e0 Re;e; er )hy they #ot u%setE Be/ause )hoe4er )rote the note "i"n9t si#n her na;e0 Ho) insensiti4e0 It )as anony;ous0 Just !i*e the %oe; that a%%eare" in theLost?N?Coun" 0 So Ryan )ante" to *no) )hy I )rote the %oe;0 With that one( I to!" hi;( the %oe; ha" to s%ea* 7or itse!70 But I )as intereste" in *no)in# )hat he

thou#ht it ;eant0 On the sur7a/e( he sai"( the %oe; )as a out a//e%tan/eMa//e%tan/e 7ro; ;y ;other0 But ;ore than

that( I )ante" her a%%ro4a!0 An" I )ante" /ertain %eo%!eMin this /ase a oyMto sto% o4er!oo*in# ;e0 A oyE At the ase o7 the #!ass( the )ater /reates a "e!i/ate su/tion( then !ets #o0 I ta*e a si% an" !et a s;a!!

/u e o7 i/e s!i% into ;y ;outh0

Pa#e 1++

I as*e" i7 he thou#ht it ;eant anythin# "ee%er0 I ho!" the i/e on ;y ton#ue0 It9s 7reeBin#( ut I )ant it to ;e!t there0 Part o7 ;e )as Jo*in#0 I thou#ht he9" 7i#ure" out ;y %oe; eGa/t!y0 But I )ante" to *no) )hat a

tea/her assi#nin# the %oe; ;i#ht )ant his or her stu"ents to "is/o4er0 Be/ause tea/hers a!)ays o4er"o it0 But you 7oun" it( Ryan0 You 7oun" the hi""en ;eanin#0 You 7oun" )hat e4en I /ou!"n9t 7in" in ;y o)n %oe;0 The %oe; )asn9t a out ;y ;o;( you sai"0 Or a oy0 It )as a out ;e0 I )as )ritin# a !etter to ;yse!7Lhi""en in a %oe;0

I 7!in/he" )hen you to!" ;e that0 I #ot "e7ensi4eMe4en an#ry0 But you )ere ri#ht0 An" I 7e!t s/are"( an" sa"( y ;y o)n )or"s0 You to!" ;e I )rote that %oe; e/ause I )as a7rai" o7 "ea!in# )ith ;yse!70 An" I use" ;y ;o; as an eG/use( a//usin# her o7 not a%%re/iatin# or a//e%tin# ;e( )hen I shou!" ha4e een sayin# those )or"s into a ;irror0 DAn" the oyEF I as*e"0 DWhat "oes he re%resentEF It9s ;e0 Oh $o"0 It9s ;e0 I *no) that no)0 I /o4er ;y ears0 Not to !o/* any outsi"e noise0 The "iner is a!;ost /o;%!ete!y si!ent0 But I )ant to 7ee!

her )or"s( a!! o7 the;( as they9re sai"0 Whi!e I )aite" 7or your ans)er( I sear/he" ;y a/*%a/* 7or tissue0 At any ;o;ent( I *ne) I ;i#ht /ry0 You to!" ;e that no oy )as o4er!oo*in# ;e ;ore than I )as o4er!oo*in# ;yse!70 At !east( that9s )hat

you thou#ht it ;eant0 An" that9s )hy you as*e" a out the %oe;0 You 7e!t it )ent "ee%er than e4en you

/ou!" 7i#ure out0 We!!( Ryan( you )ere ri#ht0 It )ent ;u/h( ;u/h "ee%er than that0 An" i7 you *ne) thatMi7 that9s )hat you thou#htMthen )hy "i" you stea! ;y note oo*E Why "i" you %rint ;y %oe;( the %oe; that you yourse!7 /a!!e" Ds/aryF in theLost?N?Coun"EWhy "i" you !et other %eo%!e rea" itE An" "isse/t it0 An" ;a*e 7un o7 it0 It )as ne4er a !ost %oe;( Ryan0 An" you ne4er 7oun" it( so it "i" not e!on# in your /o!!e/tion0 But in your /o!!e/tion is eGa/t!y )here other %eo%!e 7oun" it0 That9s )here tea/hers stu; !e" a/ross it

ri#ht e7ore their !e/tures on %oetry0 That9s )here /!assroo;s 7u!! o7 stu"ents /ut u% ;y %oe;( sear/hin# 7or its ;eanin#0 In our /!ass( no one #ot it ri#ht0 Not e4en /!ose0 But at the ti;e( )e a!! thou#ht )e "i"0 E4en 5r0 Porter0 :o you *no) )hat 5r0 Porter sai" e7ore han"in# out ;y %oe;E He sai" that rea"in# a %oe; y an un*no)n ;e; er o7 our s/hoo! )as the sa;e as rea"in# a /!assi/ %oe; y a "ea" %oet0 That9s ri#htMa "ea" %oet0 Be/ause )e /ou!"n9t as* either one a out its true ;eanin#0 Pa#e 1+1

Then 5r0 Porter )aite"( ho%in# so;eone )ou!" 7ess u% to )ritin# it0 But that( as you *no)( ne4er

ha%%ene"0 So no) you *no)0 An" 7or those o7 you )ho nee" a re7resher( here it is0 DSou! A!oneF y Hannah Ba*er0 I ;eet your eyes you "on9t e4en see ;e You har"!y res%on" )hen I )his%er he!!o 2ou!" e ;y sou! ;ate t)o *in"re" s%irits 5ay e )e9re not I #uess )e9!! ne4er *no) 5y o)n ;other you /arrie" ;e in you No) you see nothin# ut )hat I )ear Peo%!e as* you ho) I a; "oin# You s;i!e an" no" "on9t !et it en" there Put ;e un"erneath $o"9s s*y an" *no) ;e Pa#e 1+6

"on9t Just see ;e )ith your eyes Ta*e a)ay this ;as* o7 7!esh an" one an" see ;e 7or ;y sou! a!one An" no) you *no) )hy0 So( "i" your tea/hers "isse/t ;e %ro%er!yE Were they ri#htE :i" you ha4e any /!ue at a!! it )as ;eE Yes( so;e o7 you "i"0 Ryan ;ust ha4e to!" so;eoneM%rou" that his /o!!e/tion ;a"e it into the

/urri/u!u;0 But )hen %eo%!e /on7ronte" ;e( I re7use" to /on7ir; it or "eny it0 Whi/h %isse" so;e o7 the; o770 So;e e4en )rote %aro"ies o7 ;y %oe;( rea"in# the; to ;e in the ho%es o7 #ettin# un"er ;y s*in0 I sa) that0 I )at/he" t)o #ir!s in 5r0 Porter9s /!ass re/ite a 4ersion e7ore the e!! ran#0

It )as a!! so stu%i" an" /hi!"ishLan" /rue!0 They )ere re!ent!ess( rin#in# ne) %oe;s e4ery "ay 7or an entire )ee*0 Hannah "i" her est to i#nore the;( %reten"in# to rea" )hi!e )aitin# 7or 5r0 Porter to arri4e0 Cor the start o7 /!ass to /o;e to her

res/ue0 This "oesn9t see; !i*e a i# "ea!( "oes itE No( ;ay e not to you0 But s/hoo! ha"n9t een a sa7e ha4en o7 ;ine 7or a !on# ti;e0 An" a7ter your

%hoto es/a%a"es( Ty!er( ;y ho;e )as no !on#er se/ure0 No)( su""en!y( e4en ;y o)n thou#hts )ere ein# o77ere" u% 7or ri"i/u!e0 On/e( in 5r0 Porter9s /!ass( )hen those #ir!s )ere teasin# her( Hannah !oo*e" u%0 Her eyes /au#ht ;ine

7or Just a ;o;ent0 A 7!ash0 But she *ne) I )as )at/hin# her0 An" e4en thou#h no one e!se sa) it( I turne" a)ay0 She )as on her o)n0 Very ni/e( Ryan0 Than* you0 You9re a true %oet0

I %u!! the hea"%hones out o7 ;y ears an" han# the; aroun" ;y ne/*0

DI "on9t *no) )hat9s #oin# on )ith you(F the ;an says 7ro; a/ross the /ounter( D ut I9; not ta*in# your ;oney0F He !o)s into a stra) an" %in/hes oth en"s shut0 Pa#e 1+3

I sha*e ;y hea" an" rea/h a/* 7or ;y )a!!et0 DNo( I9!! %ay0F He )in"s the stra) ti#hter an" ti#hter0 DI9; serious0 It )as on!y a ;i!*sha*e0 An" !i*e I sai"( I "on9t *no) )hat9s #oin# on( an" I "on9t *no) ho) I /an he!%( ut so;ethin#9s /!ear!y #one )ron# in your !i7e(

so I )ant you to *ee% your ;oney0F His eyes sear/h ;ine( an" I *no) he ;eans it0

I "on9t *no) )hat to say0 E4en i7 the )or"s )ou!" /o;e( ;y throat is so ti#ht it )on9t !et the; es/a%e0 So I no"( #ra ;y a/*%a/*( an" /han#e the ta%e as I hea" 7or the "oor0 2ASSETTE '> SI:E A The #!ass "oor to Rosie9s /!oses ehin" ;e( an" I hear three !o/*s i;;e"iate!y s!i"e into %!a/e0 So no) )hereE Ho;eE Ba/* to 5onet9sE Or ;ay e I9!! #o to the !i rary a7ter a!!0 I /an sit outsi"e on the /on/rete ste%s0 Listen to the re;ain"er o7 the ta%es in the "ar*0 D2!ayKF It9s Tony9s 4oi/e0 Bri#ht hea"!i#hts 7!ash three ti;es0 The "ri4er9s?si"e )in"o) is "o)n an" Tony9s outstret/he" han" )a4es ;e o4er0 I tu# the Bi%%er on ;y Ja/*et u% an" )a!* o4er to his )in"o)0 But I "on9t !ean in0 I "on9t 7ee! !i*e ta!*in#0 Not no)0 Tony an" I ha4e *no)n ea/h other 7or years( )or*in# on %roJe/ts an" Jo*in# aroun" a7ter /!ass0 An" a!! that ti;e( )e94e ne4er ha" a "ee% /on4ersation0 No)( I9; a7rai"( he )ants to ha4e one0 He9s een sittin# here this )ho!e ti;e0 Just sittin# in his /ar0 Waitin#0 What e!se /ou!" e on his ;in"E He )on9t !oo* at ;e0 Instea"( he rea/hes out to a"Just the si"e ;irror )ith his thu; 0 Then he /!oses his eyes an" !ets his hea" 7a!! 7or)ar"0 D$et in( 2!ay0F DIs e4erythin# a!! ri#htEF A7ter a short %ause( s!o)!y( he no"s0 I )a!* aroun" the 7ront o7 his /ar( o%en the %assen#er "oor( an" sit( *ee%in# one 7oot out on the

!a/*to%0 I %!a/e ;y a/*%a/*( )ith Hannah9s shoe oG insi"e it( on ;y !a%0 DShut the "oor(F he says0 DWhere are )e #oin#EF DIt9s o*ay( 2!ay0 Just shut the "oor0F He )in"s the han"!e on his "oor an" his )in"o) s!i"es u%0 DIt9s

/o!" outsi"e0F His #aBe s!i%s 7ro; the "ash oar" to the stereo to his steerin# )hee!0 But he )on9t 7a/e ;e0 The ;o;ent I %u!! the "oor shut( !i*e the tri##er on a startin# %isto!( he e#ins0

Pa#e 1+&

DYou9re the ninth %erson I94e ha" to 7o!!o)( 2!ay0F DWhatE What are you ta!*in# a outEF DThe se/on" set o7 ta%es(F he says0 DHannah )asn9t !u77in#0 I94e #ot the;0F DOh( $o"0F I /o4er ;y 7a/e )ith oth han"s0 Behin" ;y eye ro)( the %oun"in# is a/* a#ain0 With the

ase o7 ;y %a!;( I %ress on it0 Har"0

DIt9s o*ay(F he says0

I /an9t !oo* at hi;0 What "oes he *no)E A out ;eE What has he hear"E DWhat9s o*ayEF

DWhat )ere you !istenin# to in thereEF

DWhatEF

DWhi/h ta%eEF

I /an try an" "eny it( %reten" I ha4e no /!ue )hat he9s ta!*in# a out0 Or I /an #et out o7 his /ar an"

!ea4e0 But either )ay( he *no)s0

DIt9s o*ay( 2!ay0 Honest0 Whi/h ta%eEF

With ;y eyes sti!! shut( I %ress ;y *nu/*!es a#ainst ;y 7orehea"0 DRyan9s(F I say0 DThe %oe;0F Then I

!oo* at hi;0

He !eans his hea" a/*( eyes /!ose"0

DWhatEF I as*0

No ans)er0

DWhy9" she #i4e the; to youEF

He tou/hes the *ey?/hain "an#!in# in the i#nition0 D2an I "ri4e )hi!e you !isten to the neGt ta%eEF

DTe!! ;e )hy she #a4e the; to you0F

DI9!! te!! you(F he says( Di7 you9!! Just !isten to the neGt ta%e ri#ht no)0F

DWhyEF

D2!ay( I9; not Jo*in#0 Listen to the ta%e0F

DThen ans)er ;y Iuestion0F

DBe/ause it9s a out you( 2!ay0F He !ets #o o7 his *eys0 DThe neGt ta%e is a out you0F

Nothin#0

Pa#e 1+'

5y heart "oesn9t Ju;%0 5y eyes "on9t 7!in/h0 I "on9t reathe0 An" then0 I sna% ;y ar; a/*( ;y e! o) into the seat0 Then I s;ash it into the "oor an" I )ant to %oun" ;y hea"

si"e)ays into the )in"o)0 But I %oun" it a/* a#ainst the hea"rest instea"0 Tony !ays a han" on ;y shou!"er0 DListen to it(F he says0 DAn" "on9t !ea4e this /ar0F He turns the i#nition0

With tears 7a!!in#( I ro!! ;y hea" to 7a/e hi;0 But he9s starin# strai#ht ahea"0 I o%en the "oor o7 the Wa!*;an an" %u!! out the ta%e0 The 7i7th ta%e0 A "ar* !ue nu; er nine in the

/orner0 5y ta%e0 I a; nu; er nine0 I "ro% the ta%e a/* into the Wa!*;an an"( ho!"in# the %!ayer in oth han"s( /!ose it !i*e a oo*0 Tony %uts the /ar in #ear an" "ri4es throu#h the e;%ty %ar*in# !ot( hea"in# 7or the street0 Without !oo*in#( I run ;y thu; a/ross the to% o7 the Wa!*;an( 7ee!in# 7or the utton that rin#s ;e

into the story0

Ro;eo( oh Ro;eo0 Where7ore art thou( Ro;eoE 5y story0 5y ta%e0 This is ho) it e#ins0 $oo" Iuestion( Ju!iet0 An" I )ish I *ne) the ans)er0 Tony shouts o4er the en#ine0 D2!ay( it9s o*ayKF To e tota!!y honest( there )as ne4er a %oint )here I sai" to ;yse!7( 2!ay JensenLhe9s the one0 Just hearin# ;y na;e( the %ain in ;y hea" "ou !es0 I 7ee! an a#oniBin# t)ist in ;y heart0 I9; not e4en sure ho) ;u/h o7 the rea! 2!ay Jensen I #ot to *no) o4er the years0 5ost o7 )hat I *ne)

)as se/on"han" in7or;ation0 An" that9s )hy I )ante" to *no) hi; etter0 Be/ause e4erythin# I hear"Man" I ;ean e4erythin#KM)as #oo"0

It )as one o7 those thin#s )here( on/e I noti/e" it( I /ou!"n9t sto% noti/in# it0 Nristen Rennert( 7or eGa;%!e0 She a!)ays )ears !a/*0 B!a/* %ants0 Or !a/* shoes0 B!a/* shirt0 I7 it9s a !a/* Ja/*et( an" that9s the on!y !a/* she9s )earin#( she )on9t ta*e it o77 a!! "ay0 The neGt ti;e you see her( you9!! noti/e it0 An" then you )on9t e a !e to sto% noti/in# it0

Ste4e O!i4er9s the sa;e )ay0 Whene4er he raises his han" to say so;ethin#( or as* a Iuestion( he a!)ays e#ins )ith the )or"s Da!! ri#ht0F

Pa#e 1+=

D5r0 O!i4erEF DA!! ri#ht( i7 Tho;as Je77erson )as a s!a4e o)nerLF D5r0 O!i4erEF

DA!! ri#ht( I #ot 1=0166'0F D5r0 O!i4erEF DA!! ri#ht( /an I ha4e a ha!! %assEF Serious!y0 E4ery ti;e0 An" no) you9!! noti/e it( tooLe4ery ti;e0 Yes( I94e noti/e" it( Hannah0 But !et9s #et on )ith it0 P!ease0 O4erhearin# #ossi% a out 2!ay e/a;e a si;i!ar "istra/tion0 An" !i*e I sai"( I "i"n9t *no) hi; 4ery

)e!!( ut ;y ears %er*e" u% )hene4er I hear" his na;e0 I #uess I )ante" to hear so;ethin#Manythin#MJui/y0 Not e/ause I )ante" to s%rea" #ossi%0 I Just /ou!"n9t e!ie4e so;eone /ou!" e that #oo"0 I #!an/e at Tony an" ro!! ;y eyes0 But he9s "ri4in#( !oo*in# strai#ht ahea"0 I7 he a/tua!!y )as that #oo"L)on"er7u!0 $reatK But it e/a;e a %ersona! #a;e o7 ;ine0 Ho) !on# /ou!" I #o on hearin# nothin# ut #oo" thin#s a out 2!ay JensenE

Nor;a!!y( )hen a %erson has a ste!!ar i;a#e( another %erson9s )aitin# in the )in#s to tear the; a%art0 They9re )aitin# 7or that one 7ata! 7!a) to eG%ose itse!70 But not )ith 2!ay0 A#ain( I !oo* o4er at Tony0 This ti;e( he9s s;ir*in#0 I ho%e this ta%e "oesn9t ;a*e you run out an" "i# 7or that "ee%( "ar*( an" "irty se/ret o7 hisL)hi/h

I9; sure is there0 At !east one or t)o o7 the;( ri#htE I94e #ot a 7e)0 But )ait( isn9t that )hat you9re "oin#( HannahE You9re settin# hi; u% as 5r0 Per7e/t on!y to tear hi; "o)n0 You( Hannah Ba*er( )ere the one )aitin# in the )in#s0 Waitin# 7or a 7!a)0 An" you 7oun" it0 An" no) you /an9t )ait to te!! e4eryone )hat it is an" ruin his i;a#e0 To )hi/h I sayLno0

5y /hest re!aGes( 7reein# a reath o7 air I "i"n9t e4en *no) I )as ho!"in#0 An" I ho%e you9re not "isa%%ointe"0 I ho%e you aren9t Just !istenin#Msa!i4atin#M7or #ossi%0 I ho%e these ta%es ;ean ;ore to you than that0

2!ay( honey( your na;e "oes not e!on# on this !ist0

Pa#e 1+1

I !ean ;y hea" a#ainst the )in"o) an" /!ose ;y eyes( /on/entratin# on the /o!" #!ass0 5ay e i7 I !isten to the )or"s ut /on/entrate on the /o!"( ;ay e I /an ho!" it to#ether0 You "on9t e!on# in the sa;e )ay as the others0 It9s !i*e that son#> One o7 these thin#s is not !i*e the others0 One o7 these thin#s Just "oesn9t e!on#0 An" that9s you( 2!ay0 But you nee" to e here i7 I9; #oin# to te!! ;y story0 To te!! it ;ore /o;%!ete!y0 DWhy "o I ha4e to hear thisEF I as*0 DWhy "i"n9t she Just s*i% ;e i7 I "on9t e!on#EF Tony *ee%s "ri4in#0 I7 he !oo*s any)here other than strai#ht ahea"( it9s on!y rie7!y into the rear4ie) ;irror0 DI )ou!"94e een ha%%ier ne4er hearin# this(F I say0 Tony sha*es his hea"0 DNo0 It )ou!" "ri4e you /raBy not *no)in# )hat ha%%ene" to her0F I stare throu#h the )in"shie!" at the )hite !ines #!o)in# in the hea"!i#hts0 An" I rea!iBe he9s ri#ht0 DBesi"es(F he says( DI thin* she )ante" you to *no)0F 5ay e( I thin*0 But )hyE DWhere are )e #oin#EF He "oesn9t ans)er0 Yes( there are so;e ;aJor #a%s in ;y story0 So;e %arts I Just /ou!"n9t 7i#ure out ho) to te!!0 Or /ou!"n9t rin# ;yse!7 to say out !ou"0 E4ents I ha4en9t /o;e to #ri%s )ithLthat I9!! ne4er /o;e to #ri%s )ith0 An" i7 I ne4er ha4e to say the; out !ou"( then I ne4er ha4e to thin* the; a!! the )ay throu#h0 But "oes that "i;inish any o7 your storiesE Are your stories any !ess ;eanin#7u! e/ause I9; not te!!in# you e4erythin#E No0 A/tua!!y( it ;a#ni7ies the;0 You "on9t *no) )hat )ent on in the rest o7 ;y !i7e0 At ho;e0 E4en at s/hoo!0 You "on9t *no) )hat #oes on in anyone9s !i7e ut your o)n0 An" )hen you ;ess )ith one %art o7 a %erson9s !i7e( you9re not ;essin# )ith Just that %art0 ,n7ortunate!y( you /an9t e that %re/ise an" se!e/ti4e0 When you ;ess )ith one %art o7 a %erson9s !i7e( you9re ;essin# )ith their entire !i7e0 E4erythin#La77e/ts e4erythin#0

The neGt 7e) stories are /entere" aroun" one ni#ht0 The %arty0 Pa#e 1+8

They9re /entere" aroun" our ni#ht( 2!ay0 An" you *no) )hat I ;ean y our ni#ht e/ause( throu#h a!! the years )e94e s%ent #oin# to the sa;e s/hoo! or )or*in# to#ether at the ;o4ie theater( there9s on!y one ni#ht )hen )e /onne/te"0 )hen )e rea!!y /onne/te"0 That ni#ht as )e!! "ra#s ;any o7 you into the storyLone o7 you 7or the se/on" ti;e0 A ran"o; ni#ht that none o7 you /an ta*e a/*0 I hate" that ni#ht0 E4en e7ore these ta%es( I hate" it0 That ni#ht( I ran to te!! an o!" )o;an that her hus an" )as 7ine0 E4erythin# )as #oin# to e 7ine0 But I )as !yin#0 Be/ause )hi!e I )as runnin# to /o;7ort his )i7e( the other "ri4er )as "yin#0 An" the o!" ;an( y the ti;e he #ot ho;e to his )i7e( he *ne) it0 Ho%e7u!!y( no one )i!! hear these ta%es eG/e%t 7or those o7 you on this !ist( !ea4in# any /han#es they rin# to your !i4es /o;%!ete!y u% to you0 O7 /ourse( i7 the ta%es "o #et out( you9!! ha4e to "ea! )ith /onseIuen/es /o;%!ete!y out o7 your /ontro!0 So I sin/ere!y ho%e you9re %assin# the; on0 I #!an/e at Tony0 Wou!" he rea!!y "o thatE 2ou!" heE Wou!" he #i4e the ta%es to so;eone not on the !istE WhoE Cor so;e o7 you( those /onseIuen/es ;ay e ;ini;a!0 5ay e sha;e0 Or e; arrass;ent0 But 7or others( it9s har" to say0 A !ost Jo E Jai! ti;eE Let9s *ee% this et)een us( sha!! )eE So 2!ay( I )asn9t e4en su%%ose" to e at that %arty0 I )as in4ite"( ut I )asn9t su%%ose" to e there0

5y #ra"es )ere s!i%%in# %retty 7ast0 5y %arents as*e" 7or %ro#ress re%orts e4ery )ee* 7ro; ;y tea/hers0 An" )hen none o7 the; /a;e a/* )ith i;%ro4e;ents( I )as #roun"e"0 Cor ;e( #roun"e" ;eant that I ha" one hour to #et ho;e 7ro; s/hoo!0 One hour ein# ;y on!y 7ree ti;e unti! I rou#ht those #ra"es u%0 We9re at a sto%!i#ht0 An" sti!!( Tony *ee%s his eyes strai#ht ahea"0 :oes he )ant to a4oi" seein# ;e /ryE Be/ause he "oesn9t ha4e to )orry( I9; not0 Not ri#ht no)0 :urin# one o7 ;y 2!ay Jensen #ossi% ;o;ents( I 7oun" out that you )ere #oin# to e at the %arty0 WhatE 2!ay Jensen at a %artyE ,nhear" o70 I stu"y on the )ee*en"s0 In ;ost o7 ;y /!asses( )e9re teste" e4ery 5on"ay0 It9s not ;y 7au!t0 Not on!y )as that ;y 7irst thou#ht( that9s )hat the %eo%!e aroun" ;e )ere ta!*in# a out( too0 No one /ou!" 7i#ure out )hy they ne4er sa) you at %arties0 O7 /ourse( they ha" a!! sorts o7 theories0 But #uess )hatE That9s ri#ht0 None o7 the; )ere a"0 $i4e ;e a rea*0 Pa#e 1+3

As you *no)( sin/e Ty!er9s not ta!! enou#h to %ee% throu#h a se/on"?story )in"o)( snea*in# out o7 ;y e"roo; )asn9t har" to "o0 An" that ni#ht( I Justha"to "o it0 But "on9t Ju;% to /on/!usions0 I94e snu/* out o7 ;y house( e7ore that ni#ht( on!y t)i/e0 O*ay( three ti;es0 5ay e 7our0 To%s0 Cor those o7 you )ho "on9t *no) )hi/h %arty I9; ta!*in# a out( there9s a re" star on your ;a%0 A i#( 7at( re" star /o;%!ete!y 7i!!e" in0 2?=0 Ci4e?t)e!4e 2otton)oo"0 Is that )here )e9re #oin#E AaaahLso no) you *no)0 No) so;e o7 you *no) eGa/t!y )here you 7it in0 But you9!! ha4e to )ait unti! your na;e %o%s u% to hear )hat I9; #oin# to te!!0 To hear ho) ;u/h I te!!0

That ni#ht( I "e/i"e" that )a!*in# to the %arty )ou!" e ni/e0 Re!aGin#0 We ha" a !ot o7 rain that )ee*( an" I re;e; er the /!ou"s )ere sti!! han#in# !o) an" thi/*0 The air )as )ar; 7or that ti;e o7 ni#ht( too0 5y a so!ute 7a4orite ty%e o7 )eather0 5ine( too0 Pure ;a#i/0 It9s 7unny0 Wa!*in# y the houses on ;y )ay to the %arty( it 7e!t !i*e !i7e he!" so ;any %ossi i!ities0 Li;it!ess %ossi i!ities0 An" 7or the 7irst ti;e in a !on# ti;e( I 7e!t ho%e0 So "i" I0 I 7or/e" ;yse!7 out o7 the house an" to that %arty0 I )as rea"y 7or so;ethin# ne) to ha%%en0 So;ethin# eG/itin#0 Ho%eE We!!( I #uess I ;isrea" thin#s a it0 An" no)E Nno)in# )hat ha%%ene" et)een Hannah an" ;e( )ou!" I sti!! ha4e #oneE E4en i7 nothin# /han#e"E It )as si;%!y the /a!; e7ore the stor;0 I )ou!"0 Yes0 E4en i7 the out/o;e staye" the sa;e0 I )ore a !a/* s*irt )ith a ;at/hin# hoo"e" %u!!o4er0 An" on ;y )ay there( I too* a three? !o/* "etour to ;y o!" houseMthe one I !i4e" in )hen )e 7irst ;o4e" to to)n0 The 7irst re" star 7ro; the 7irst si"e o7 the 7irst ta%e0 The %or/h !i#ht )as on an"( in the #ara#e( a /ar9s en#ine )as runnin#0 But the #ara#e "oor )as shut0 A; I the on!y one )ho *no)s thisE :oes anyone e!se *no) that9s )here he !i4e"E The ;an 7ro; the a//i"ent0 The ;an )ho9s /ar *i!!e" a stu"ent 7ro; our s/hoo!0 I sto%%e" )a!*in# an"( 7or )hat see;e" !i*e se4era! ;inutes( Just )at/he" 7ro; the si"e)a!*0 5es;eriBe"0 Another 7a;i!y in ;y house0 I ha" no i"ea )ho they )ere or )hat they )ere !i*eM)hat their !i4es )ere !i*e0 The #ara#e "oor e#an to !i7t an"( in the #!o) o7 the re" tai!!i#hts( the si!houette o7 a ;an %ushe" the Pa#e 11+

hea4y "oor a!! the )ay u%0 He #ot in the /ar( a/*e" it "o)n the "ri4e)ay( an" "ro4e o770 Why he "i"n9t sto%( )hy he "i"n9t as* )hy I )as stan"in# there starin# at his house( I "on9t *no)0 5ay e he thou#ht I )as )aitin# 7or hi; to a/* out o7 the "ri4e)ay e7ore /ontinuin# on ;y ;erry )ay0 But )hate4er the reason( it 7e!t surrea!0 T)o %eo%!eM;e an" hi;Mone house0 Yet he "ro4e a)ay )ith

no i"ea o7 his !in* to ;e( the #ir! on the si"e)a!*0 An" 7or so;e reason( at that ;o;ent( the air 7e!t hea4y0 Ci!!e" )ith !one!iness0 An" that !one!iness staye" )ith ;e throu#h the rest o7 the ni#ht0 E4en the est ;o;ents o7 the ni#ht )ere a77e/te" y that one in/i"entM y that nonin/i"entMin 7ront o7

;y o!" house0 His !a/* o7 interest in ;e )as a re;in"er0 E4en thou#h I ha" a history in that house( it "i"n9t ;atter0 You /an9t #o a/* to ho) thin#s )ere0 Ho) you thou#ht they )ere0 A!! you rea!!y ha4eLis no)0 Those o7 us on the ta%es( )e /an9t #o a/*( either0 We /an ne4ernot 7in" a %a/*a#e on our "oorste%0 Or in our ;ai! oG0 Cro; that ;o;ent on( )e9re "i77erent0

Whi/h eG%!ains ;y o4errea/tion( 2!ay0 An" that9s )hy you9!! #et these ta%es0 To eG%!ain0 To say I9;

sorry0 :oes she re;e; erE :oes she re;e; er that I a%o!o#iBe" to her that ni#htE Is that )hy she9s a%o!o#iBin# to ;eE The %arty )as )e!! un"er)ay y the ti;e I #ot there0 5ost %eo%!e( un!i*e ;e( "i"n9t ha4e to )ait 7or their %arents to 7a!! as!ee%0 The usua! /ro)" hun# out y the 7ront "oor o7 the %arty( "run* out o7 their ;in"s( #reetin# e4eryone )ith a raise" /u% o7 eer0 I )ou!" thin* Hannah )ou!" e a har" na;e to s!ur( ut those #uys "i" it %retty )e!!0 Ha!7 o7 the; *e%t re%eatin# ;y na;e( tryin# to #et it ri#ht( )hi!e the other ha!7 !au#he"0 But they )ere har;!ess0 Cun "run*s ;a*e a ni/e a""ition to any %arty0 Not !oo*in# to 7i#ht0 Not !oo*in# to s/ore0 Just !oo*in# to #et "run* an" !au#h0 I re;e; er those #uys0 Li*e the ;as/ots o7 the %arty0 D2!ayK What/hoo "oon hereE Bah?ha?ha?haKF The ;usi/ )as !ou" an" no one )as "an/in#0 It /ou!" ha4e een any %artyLeG/e%t 7or one thin#0 2!ay Jensen0 I9; sure you hear" a !ot o7 sar/asti/ re;ar*s )hen you 7irst arri4e"( ut y the ti;e I #ot there( to e4eryone e!se you )ere Just a %art o7 the %arty0 But un!i*e e4eryone e!se( you )ere the )ho!e reason I

/a;e0 With e4erythin# #oin# on in ;y !i7eM#oin# on in ;y hea"MI )ante" to ta!* )ith you0 Rea!!y ta!*0 Just on/e0 A /han/e )e ne4er see;e" to #et at s/hoo!0 Or at )or*0 A /han/e to as*( Who are youE We "i"n9t #et that /han/e e/ause I )as a7rai"0 A7rai" I ha" no /han/e )ith you0 That9s )hat I thou#ht0 An" I )as 7ine )ith that0 Be/ause )hat i7 I #ot to *no) you an" you turne" out to e Just !i*e they sai"E What i7 you )eren9t the %erson I ho%e" you )ereE Pa#e 111

That( ;ore than anythin#( )ou!" ha4e hurt the ;ost0 An" as I stoo" in the *it/hen( in !ine to 7i!! ;y /u% 7or the 7irst ti;e( you )a!*e" u% ehin" ;e0 DHannah Ba*er(F you sai"( an" I turne" to)ar" you0 DHannahLhey0F When she 7irst arri4e"( )hen she )a!*e" throu#h the 7ront "oor( she /au#ht ;e o77 #uar"0 An" !i*e a 7rea*( I turne" aroun"( ran throu#h the *it/hen( an" strai#ht out the a/*0 It )as too soon( I to!" ;yse!70 I )ent to the %arty te!!in# ;yse!7 that i7 Hannah Ba*er sho)e" u%( I )as #oin# to ta!* to her0 It )as ti;e0 I "i"n9t /are )ho )as there( I )as #oin# to *ee% ;y eyes 7o/use" on her an" )e )ere #oin# to ta!*0 But then she )a!*e" in an" I 7rea*e" out0 I /ou!"n9t e!ie4e it0 Out o7 the !ue( there you )ere0 No( not out o7 the !ue0 Cirst I %a/e" aroun" the a/*yar"( /ursin# ;yse!7 7or ein# su/h a s/are" !itt!e oy0 Then I !et ;yse!7 out throu#h the #ate( 7u!!y intent on )a!*in# ho;e0 But on the si"e)a!*( I eat ;yse!7 u% so;e ;ore0 Then I )a!*e" a/* to the 7ront "oor0 The "run* %eo%!e #reete" ;e a#ain( an" I )ent strai#ht 7or you0 It )as anythin# ut out o7 the !ue0 DI "on9t *no) )hy(F you sai"( D ut I thin* )e nee" to ta!*0F

It too* a!! the #uts in the )or!" to *ee% that /on4ersation #oin#0 $uts an" t)o %!asti/ /u%s o7 eer0 An" I a#ree"( )ith %ro a !y the "u; est s;i!e %!astere" on ;y 7a/e0 No0 The ;ost eauti7u!0 An" then I noti/e" the "oor7ra;e ehin" you( !ea"in# into the *it/hen0 It ha" a un/h o7 %en an" %en/i! ;ar*s s/rat/he" on it( *ee%in# tra/* o7 ho) 7ast the /hi!"ren in the house )ere #ro)in#0 An" I re;e; ere" )at/hin# ;y ;o; erase those ;ar*s on our o!" *it/hen "oor( #ettin# rea"y to se!! the house to ;o4e here0 I sa) that0 I sa) so;ethin# in your eyes )hen you !oo*e" o4er ;y shou!"er0 Any)ay( you !oo*e" at ;y e;%ty /u%( %oure" ha!7 o7 your "rin* into ;ine( an" as*e" i7 no) )ou!" e a #oo" ti;e to ta!*0 P!ease "on9t rea" into that( %eo%!e0 Yes( it soun"s a!! s;ooth an" #et?the?#ir!?"run*( ut it )asn9t0 It "i"n9t see; that )ay to ;e0 It )asn9t0 No one9s #oin# to uy that( ut it9s true0 Be/ause i7 that )as the /ase( he )ou!" ha4e en/oura#e" ;e to 7i!! ;y /u% a!! the )ay0 Pa#e 116

So )e )a!*e" into the !i4in# roo;( )here one si"e o7 the /ou/h )as o//u%ie"0 By Jessi/a :a4is an" Justin Co!ey0 But there )as %!enty o7 roo; on the other en"( so )e sat "o)n0 An" )hat )as the 7irst thin# )e "i"E We set "o)n our /u%s an" starte" ta!*in#0 JustL!i*eLthat0 She ha" to *no) it )as the;0 Jessi/a an" Justin0 But she "i"n9t say their na;es0 The 7irst oy she *isse" *issin# the #ir! )ho s!a%%e" her at 5onet9s0 It )as !i*e she /ou!"n9t es/a%e her %ast0 E4erythin# I /ou!" ha4e ho%e" 7or )as ha%%enin#0 The Iuestions )ere %ersona!( as i7 /at/hin# u% 7or the ti;e )e !et %ass0 Yet the Iuestions ne4er 7e!t intrusi4e0 Her 4oi/e( i7 %hysi/a!!y %ossi !e( /o;es throu#h the hea"%hones 7ee!in# )ar;0 I %!a/e /u%%e" han"s

o4er ;y ears to *ee% her )or"s 7ro; es/a%in#0 An" they )eren9t intrusi4e0 Be/ause I )ante" you to *no) ;e0 It )as )on"er7u!0 I /ou!"n9t e!ie4e Hannah an" I )ere 7ina!!y ta!*in#0 Rea!!y ta!*in#0 An" I "i" not )ant it to sto%0 I !o4e" ta!*in# )ith you( Hannah0 It see;e" !i*e you /ou!" *no) ;e0 Li*e you /ou!" un"erstan" anythin# I to!" you0 An" the ;ore )e s%o*e( I *ne) )hy0 The sa;e thin#s eG/ite" us0 The sa;e thin#s /on/erne" us0 You /ou!" ha4e to!" ;e anythin#( Hannah0 That ni#ht( nothin# )as o77 !i;its0 I )ou!"94e staye" ti!! you o%ene" u% an" !et e4erythin# out( ut you "i"n9t0 I )ante" to te!! you e4erythin#0 An" that hurt e/ause so;e thin#s )ere too s/ary0 So;e thin#s e4en I "i"n9t un"erstan"0 Ho) /ou!" I te!! so;eoneMso;eone I )as rea!!y ta!*in# to 7or the 7irst ti;eMe4erythin# I )as thin*in#E I /ou!"n9t0 It )as too soon0 But it )asn9t0 Or ;ay e it )as too !ate0 But you9re te!!in# ;e no)0 Why "i" you )ait ti!! no)E Her )or"s( they9re not )ar; any;ore0 She ;i#ht )ant ;e to hear the; that )ay( ut they9re urnin# ;e u% instea"0 In ;y ;in"0 In ;y heart0 2!ay( you *e%t sayin# that you *ne) thin#s )ou!" 7!o) easi!y et)een us0 You 7e!t that )ay 7or a !on# ti;e( you sai"0 You *ne) )e9" #et a!on#0 That )e )ou!" /onne/t0 But ho)E You ne4er eG%!aine" that0 Ho) /ou!" you *no)E Be/ause I *ne) )hat %eo%!e sai" a out ;e0 I hear" a!! the ru;ors an" !ies that )i!! a!)ays e a %art o7 ;e0 I *ne) they )eren9t true( Hannah0 I ;ean( I ho%e" they )eren9t true0 But I )as too a7rai" to 7in" out0 Pa#e 113

I )as rea*in#0 I7 on!y I9" ta!*e" to you sooner0 We /ou!" ha4e eenL)e /ou!"94eLI "on9t *no)0 But thin#s ha" #one too 7ar y then0 5y ;in" )as set0 Not on en"in# ;y !i7e0 Not yet0 It )as set on 7!oatin# throu#h s/hoo!0 On ne4er ein# /!ose to anyone0 That )as ;y %!an0 I9" #ra"uate( then I9" !ea4e0 But then( I )ent to a %arty0 I )ent to a %arty to ;eet you0 Why "i" I "o thatE To ;a*e ;yse!7 su77erE Be/ause that9s )hat I )as "oin#Mhatin# ;yse!7 7or )aitin# so !on#0 Hatin# ;yse!7 e/ause it )asn9t 7air to you0

The on!y thin# that9s not 7air are these ta%es( Hannah( e/ause I )as there 7or you0 We )ere ta!*in#0 You /ou!" ha4e sai" anythin#0 I )ou!" ha4e !istene" to a so!ute!y anythin#0 The /ou%!e sittin# esi"e us on the /ou/h( the #ir! )as "run* an" !au#hin# an" u;%in# into ;e e4ery so

o7ten0 Whi/h )as 7unny at 7irst( ut it #ot o!" rea! 7ast0 Why isn9t Hannah sayin# her na;eE I starte" to thin* ;ay e she )asn9t so "run* a7ter a!!0 5ay e it )as a!! a sho) 7or the #uy she )as ta!*in# )ithL)hen they )ere a/tua!!y ta!*in#0 5ay e she )ante" the /ou/h a!! to herse!7 an" her #uy0 So 2!ay an" I !e7t0 We )a!*e" aroun" the %arty( shoutin# o4er the ;usi/ )here4er )e )ent0 E4entua!!yMsu//ess7u!!yMI s%un the /on4ersation aroun"0 No ;ore i# an" hea4y to%i/s0 We nee"e" to !au#h0 But e4ery)here )e )ent it )as too noisy to hear ea/h other0 So )e )oun" u% in the "oor)ay to an e;%ty roo;0

I re;e; er e4erythin# that ha%%ene" neGt0 I re;e; er it %er7e/t!y0 But ho) "oes she re;e; er itE Whi!e )e )ere stan"in# there( our a/*s a#ainst the "oor7ra;e( "rin*s in han"( )e /ou!"n9t sto% !au#hin#0

An" yet the !one!iness I entere" the %arty )ith /a;e rushin# a/*0 But I )asn9t a!one0 I *ne) that0 Cor the 7irst ti;e in a !on# ti;e( I )as /onne/tin#M/onne/te"M)ith

another %erson 7ro; s/hoo!0 Ho) in the )or!" )as I a!oneE You )eren9t0 Hannah( I )as there0 Be/ause I )ante" to e0 That9s a!! I /an say0 It9s a!! that ;a*es sense to ;e0 Ho) ;any ti;es ha" I !et

;yse!7 /onne/t )ith so;eone on!y to ha4e it thro)n a/* in ;y 7a/eE E4erythin# see;e" #oo"( ut I *ne) it ha" the %otentia! to e a)7u!0 5u/h( ;u/h ;ore %ain7u! than the

others0 There )as no )ay that )as #oin# to ha%%en0 So there you )ere( !ettin# ;e /onne/t )ith you0 An" )hen I /ou!"n9t "o that any;ore( )hen I %u!!e" the

/on4ersation to !i#hter to%i/s( you ;a"e ;e !au#h0 An" you )ere hi!arious( 2!ay0 You )ere eGa/t!y )hat

Pa#e 11&

I nee"e"0 So I *isse" you0 No( I *isse" you( Hannah0 A !on# an" eauti7u! *iss0 An" )hat "i" you say )hen )e /a;e u% 7or airE With the /utest( !itt!est( oyish s;ir*( you as*e"( DWhat )as that 7orEF Ri#ht0 You *isse" ;e0 To )hi/h I sai"( DYou9re su/h an i"iot0F An" )e *isse" so;e ;ore0 An i"iot0 Yes( I re;e; er that( too0 E4entua!!y )e shut the "oor an" ;o4e" "ee%er into the roo;0 We )ere on one si"e o7 the "oor0 An" the rest o7 the %arty( )ith its !ou" ut ;u77!e" ;usi/( )as on the other0 A;aBin#0 We )ere to#ether0 That9s )hat I *e%t thin*in# the )ho!e ti;e0 A;aBin#0 I ha" to /on/entrate so har" to *ee% that )or" 7ro; s%i!!in# out o7 ;y ;outh0 So;e o7 you ;ay e )on"erin#( Ho) /o;e )e ne4er hear" a out thisE We a!)ays 7oun" out )ho

Hannah ;a"e out )ith0 Be/ause I ne4er to!"0 Wron#0 You on!y thou#ht you 7oun" out0 Ha4en9t you een !istenin#E Or "i" you on!y %ay attention to the ta%e )ith your na;e on itE Be/ause I /an /ount on one han"Myes( one han"Mho) ;any %eo%!e I94e ;a"e out )ith0 But you( you %ro a !y thou#ht I9" nee" oth han"s an" oth 7eet Just to #et starte"( ri#htE What9s thatE You "on9t e!ie4e ;eE You9re sho/*e"E $uess )hatLI "on9t /are0 The !ast ti;e I /are" )hat anyone thou#ht a out ;e )as that ni#ht0 An" that )as the !ast ni#ht0 I un u/*!e ;y seat e!t an" !ean 7or)ar"0 I /!as% ;y han" o4er ;y ;outh an" sIueeBe to *ee% 7ro; s/rea;in#0 But I "o s/rea;( the soun" "a;%ene" in the %a!; o7 ;y han"0 An" Tony *ee%s "ri4in#0 No) #et /o;7orta !e( e/ause I9; a out to te!! you )hat ha%%ene" in that roo; et)een 2!ay an" ;e0

Are you rea"yE

We *isse"0

That9s it0 We *isse"0

I !oo* "o)n at ;y !a%( at the Wa!*;an0 It9s too "ar* to see the s%in"!es ehin" the %!asti/ )in"o)(

Pa#e 11'

%u!!in# the ta%e 7ro; one si"e to the other( ut I nee" to 7o/us on so;ethin#( so I try0 An" /on/entratin# on the s%ot )here the t)o s%in"!es shou!" e is the /!osest I #et to !oo*in# into Hannah9s eyes as she te!!s ;y story0 It )as )on"er7u!( oth o7 us !yin# on the e"0 One o7 his han"s restin# on ;y hi%0 His other ar; /ra"!in#

;y hea" !i*e a %i!!o)0 Both o7 ;y ar;s hu##in# hi;( tryin# to %u!! hi; /!oser0 An" s%ea*in# 7or ;yse!7( I )ante" ;ore0 That9s )hen I sai" it0 That9s )hen I )his%ere" to her( DI9; so sorry0F Be/ause insi"e( I 7e!t so ha%%y an" sa" at the sa;e ti;e0 Sa" that it too* ;e so !on# to #et there0 But ha%%y that )e #ot there to#ether0 The *isses 7e!t !i*e 7irst *isses0 Nisses that sai" I /ou!" start o4er i7 I )ante" to0 With hi;0

But start o4er 7ro; )hatE An" that9s )hen I thou#ht o7 you( Justin0 Cor the 7irst ti;e in a !on# ti;e( I thou#ht o7 our 7irst *iss0 5y rea! 7irst *iss0 I re;e; ere" the anti/i%ation !ea"in# u% to it0 I re;e; ere" your !i%s %resse" a#ainst ;ine0

An" then I re;e; ere" ho) you ruine" it0 DSto%(F I to!" 2!ay0 An" ;y han"s sto%%e" %u!!in# hi; in0 You %ushe" your han"s a#ainst ;y /hest0 2ou!" you 7ee! )hat I )as #oin# throu#h( 2!ayE :i" you sense itE You ;ust ha4e0 No0 You hi" it0 You ne4er to!" ;e )hat it )as( Hannah0 I shut ;y eyes so ti#ht it )as %ain7u!0 Tryin# to %ush a)ay a!! that I )as seein# in ;y hea"0 An" )hat I

sa) )as e4eryone on this !istLan" ;ore0 E4eryone u% to that ni#ht0 E4eryone )ho /ause" ;e to e so intri#ue" y 2!ay9s re%utationMho) his re%utation )as so "i77erent 7ro; ;ine0 No( )e )ere the sa;e0

An" I /ou!"n9t he!% that0 What e4eryone thou#ht o7 ;e )as out o7 ;y /ontro!0 2!ay( your re%utation )as "eser4e"0 But ;ineL;ine )as not0 An" there I )as( )ith you0 A""in# to ;y re%utation0

But it )asn9t !i*e that0 Who )as I #oin# to te!!( HannahE DSto%(F I re%eate"0 This ti;e I ;o4e" ;y han"s un"er your /hest an" %ushe" you a)ay0 I turne" to the si"e( uryin# ;y 7a/e in the %i!!o)0 You starte" to ta!*( ut I ;a"e you sto%0 I as*e" you to !ea4e0 You starte" to ta!* a#ain an" I

s/rea;e"0 I s/rea;e" into the %i!!o)0 An" then you sto%%e" ta!*in#0 You hear" ;e0 The e" !i7te" on your si"e as you #ot u% to !ea4e the roo;0 But it too* you 7ore4er to !ea4e( to rea!iBe Pa#e 11=

that I )as serious0 I )as ho%in# you9" te!! ;e to sto% a#ain0 To sto% !ea4in#0 E4en thou#h ;y eyes re;aine" shut( urie" in the %i!!o)( the !i#ht /han#e" )hen you 7ina!!y o%ene" the "oor0 It #re) ri#hter0 Then it 7a"e" a#ainLan" you )ere #one0 Why "i" I !istenE Why "i" I !ea4e her thereE She nee"e" ;e an" I *ne) that0 But I )as s/are"0 On/e a#ain( I !et ;yse!7 #et s/are"0 An" then I s!i" o77 the e" an" "o)n to the 7!oor0 I Just sat there esi"e the e"( hu##in# ;y *neesLan" /ryin#0 That( 2!ay( is )here your story en"s0 But it shou!"n9t ha4e0 I )as there 7or you( Hannah0 You /ou!" ha4e rea/he" out ut you "i"n9t0 You /hose this0 You ha" a /hoi/e an" you %ushe" ;e a)ay0 I )ou!" ha4e he!%e" you0 I )ante" to he!% you0 You !e7t the roo; an" )e ne4er s%o*e a#ain0 Your ;in" )as set0 No ;atter )hat you say( it )as set0 In the ha!!)ays at s/hoo!( you trie" /at/hin# ;y eye( ut I a!)ays !oo*e" a)ay0 Be/ause that ni#ht( )hen I #ot ho;e( I tore a %a#e 7ro; ;y note oo* an" )rote "o)n one na;e a7ter another a7ter another0 The na;es in ;y hea" )hen I sto%%e" *issin# you0 There )ere so ;any na;es( 2!ay0 Three "oBen( at !east0

An" thenLI ;a"e the /onne/tions0 I /ir/!e" your na;e 7irst( Justin0 An" I "re) a !ine 7ro; you to A!eG0 I /ir/!e" A!eG an" "re) a !ine to Jessi/a( y%assin# na;es that "i"n9t /onne/tMthat Just 7!oate" thereMin/i"ents a!! y the;se!4es0

5y an#er an" 7rustration )ith a!! o7 you turne" to tears an" then a/* to an#er an" hate e4ery ti;e I

7oun" a ne) /onne/tion0 An" then I rea/he" 2!ay( the reason I )ent to the %arty0 I /ir/!e" his na;e an" "re) a !ineL a/*0 Ba/* to a %re4ious na;e0

It )as Justin0 In 7a/t( 2!ay( soon a7ter you !e7t an" shut the "oorLthat %erson reo%ene" it0 On Justin9s ta%e( the 7irst ta%e( she sai" his na;e )ou!" rea%%ear0 An" he )as at that %arty0 On the

/ou/h )ith Jessi/a0 But that %erson9s a!rea"y re/ei4e" the ta%es0 So 2!ay( Just s*i% hi; )hen you %ass the; on0 In a roun"a out )ay( he /ause" a ne) na;e to e a""e" to this !ist0 An" that9s )ho shou!" re/ei4e the ta%es 7ro; you0 Pa#e 111

An" yes( 2!ayMI9; sorry( too0 5y eyes stin#0 Not 7ro; the sa!t in ;y tears( ut e/ause I ha4en9t /!ose" the; sin/e !earnin# Hannah /rie" )hen I !e7t the roo;0 E4ery ;us/!e in ;y ne/* urns to turn a)ay0 To !oo* out the )in"o)( a)ay 7ro; the Wa!*;an( an" !et ;y eyes stare into nothin#0 But I /an9t rin# ;yse!7 to ;o4e( to rea* the e77e/t o7 her )or"s0 Tony s!o)s the /ar an" %u!!s o4er to a /ur 0 DYou o*ayEF It9s a resi"entia! street( ut it9s not the street o7 the %arty0 I sha*e ;y hea" no0 DAre you #oin# to e o*ayEF he as*s0 I !ean a/*( restin# ;y hea" a#ainst the seat( an" /!ose ;y eyes0 DI ;iss her0F DI ;iss her( too(F he says0 An" )hen I o%en ;y eyes( his hea" is "o)n0 Is he /ryin#E Or ;ay e tryin#

not to /ry0 DThe thin# is(F I say( DI ne4er rea!!y ;isse" her ti!! no)0F He sits a/* in his seat an" !oo*s o4er at ;e0 DI "i"n9t *no) )hat to ;a*e o7 that ni#ht0 E4erythin# that ha%%ene"0 I9" !i*e" her 7or so !on# 7ro; 7ar

a)ay( ut I ne4er ha" a /han/e to te!! her0F I !oo* "o)n at the Wa!*;an0 DWe on!y ha" one ni#ht( an" y the en" o7 that ni#ht( it see;e" !i*e I *ne) her e4en !ess than e7ore0 But no) I *no)0 I *no) )here her ;in" )as that ni#ht0 No) I *no) )hat she )as #oin# throu#h0F 5y 4oi/e rea*s( an" in that rea* /o;es a 7!oo" o7 tears0 Tony "oesn9t res%on"0 He !oo*s out into the e;%ty street( a!!o)in# ;e to sit in his /ar an" Just ;iss her0

To ;iss her ea/h ti;e I %u!! in a reath o7 air0 To ;iss her )ith a heart that 7ee!s so /o!" y itse!7( ut )ar; )hen thou#hts o7 her 7!o) throu#h ;e0 I )i%e the /u77 o7 ;y Ja/*et un"er ;y eyes0 Then I /ho*e a/* ;y tears an" !au#h0 DThan*s 7or !istenin#

to a!! that(F I say0 DNeGt ti;e( it9s o*ay to sto% ;e0F Tony turns on the !in*er( !oo*s o4er his shou!"er( an" %u!!s us a/* into the street0 But he "oesn9t !oo* at ;e0 DYou9re )e!/o;e0F 2ASSETTE '> SI:E B It 7ee!s !i*e )e94e "ri4en this sa;e roa" ;u!ti%!e ti;es sin/e !ea4in# Rosie9s0 Li*e he9s sta!!in# 7or ti;e0 DWere you at the %artyEF I as*0 Tony !oo*s out his si"e )in"o) an" /han#es !anes0 DNo0 2!ay( I nee" to *no) that you9re #oin# to e Pa#e 118

a!! ri#ht0F I;%ossi !e to ans)er0 Be/ause no( I "i"n9t %ush her a)ay0 I "i"n9t a"" to her %ain or "o anythin# to hurt her0 Instea"( I !e7t her a!one in that roo;0 The on!y %erson )ho ;i#ht94e een a !e to rea/h out an" sa4e her 7ro; herse!70 To %u!! her a/* 7ro; )here4er she )as hea"in#0 I "i" )hat she as*e" an" I !e7t0 When I shou!" ha4e staye"0 DNo one !a;es ;e(F I )his%er0 I nee" to hear it sai" a!ou"0 I nee" to hear the )or"s in ;y ears an" not Just in ;y hea"0 DNo one !a;es ;e0F DNo one(F Tony says( his eyes sti!! on the roa"0 DWhat a out youEF I as*0 We a%%roa/h a 7our?)ay sto% an" s!o) "o)n0 Cor a ;o;ent( 7ro; the /orner o7 his eye( he !oo*s at ;e0 Then he returns his #aBe to the roa"0 DNo( I "on9t !a;e you0F DBut )hy youEF I as*0 DWhy "i" she #i4e you the other set o7 ta%esEF DLet ;e "ri4e you to the %arty house(F he says0 DI9!! te!! you there0F DYou /an9t te!! ;e no)EF His s;i!e is )ea*0 DI9; tryin# to *ee% us on the roa"0F

Soon a7ter 2!ay !e7t( the /ou%!e 7ro; the /ou/h )a!*e" into the e"roo;0 A/tua!!y( stu; !e" into the e"roo; is ;ore a//urate0 Re;e; er the;E I thou#ht she )as a/tin# "run*( u;%in# into ;e so )e9" #et u% an" !ea4e0 ,n7ortunate!y( it )asn9t an a/t0 She )as s;ashe"0 I %asse" the; in the ha!!0 One o7 Jessi/a9s ar;s !ay 7!o%%e" o4er Justin9s shou!"ers0 The other one #ro%e" 7or the )a!! to stea"y herse!70 O7 /ourse( I "i"n9t a/tua!!y see the; /o;e in0 I )as sti!! on the 7!oor( ;y a/* a#ainst the 7ar si"e o7 the e"( an" it )as "ar*0 When I )a!*e" out o7 the roo;( I 7e!t so 7rustrate"0 So /on7use"0 I !eane" a#ainst the %iano in the !i4in# roo;( a!;ost nee"in# it to ho!" ;yse!7 u%0 What shou!" I "oE StayE Lea4eE But )here )ou!" I #oE Her so7a u""y *e%t her 7ro; stu; !in# too har" into the ni#htstan"0 An" )hen she ro!!e" o77 the e"Lt)i/eLhe !i7te" her a/* on0 Ni/e #uy that he )as( he *e%t the !au#hter to a ;ini;u;0 I thou#ht he )ou!" tu/* her in an" shut the "oor ehin" hi; as he !e7t0 An" that )ou!" e the %er7e/t ti;e 7or ;y #eta)ay0 En" o7 story0 Hannah )asn9t ;y 7irst *iss( ut the 7irst *iss that ;attere"H the 7irst *iss )ith so;eone )ho ;attere"0 An" a7ter ta!*in# )ith her 7or so !on# that ni#ht( I assu;e" it )as Just the e#innin#0 So;ethin# )as Pa#e 113

ha%%enin# et)een us0 So;ethin# ri#ht0 I 7e!t it0

But that9s not the en" o7 the story0 Be/ause that )ou!"n9t ;a*e 7or a 4ery interestin# ta%e( no) )ou!" itE An" y no)( I9; sure you *ne) it )asn9t the en"0 Sti!!( )ith no "estination in ;in"( I !e7t the %arty0 Instea" o7 !ea4in#( he starte" *issin# her0 I *no)( so;e o7 you )ou!" ha4e easi!y staye" 7or su/h an a;aBin# 4oyeuristi/ o%%ortunity0 A /!ose

en/ounter o7 the seGua! *in"0 E4en i7 you ne4er sa) it( at !east you9" hear it0 But t)o thin#s *e%t ;e "o)n on that 7!oor0 With ;y 7orehea" %resse" a#ainst ;y *nees( I rea!iBe" ho) ;u/h I ;ust94e "ran* that ni#ht0 An" )ith ;y a!an/e not )hat it shou!"94e een( to run a/ross the 7!oor

7e!t a !itt!e haBar"ous0

So that9s one eG/use0 EG/use nu; er t)o is that thin#s see;e" to e )in"in# "o)n u% there0 Not on!y )as she "run* an"

/!u;sy( she see;e" to e /o;%!ete!y unres%onsi4e0 Cro; )hat I /ou!" te!!( it "i"n9t #o ;u/h eyon"

*issin#0 An" it see;e" to e one?si"e" *issin# at that0 A#ain( ni/e #uy that he )as( he "i"n9t ta*e a"4anta#e o7 the situation0 He )ante" to0 He trie" 7or the !on#est ti;e to #et a rea/tion out o7 her0 DAre you sti!! a)a*eE :o you )ant ;e to ta*e you to the athroo;E Are you #onna %u*eEF

This #ir! )asn9t tota!!y %asse" out0 She #runte" an" #roane" a it0 It "a)ne" on hi;M7ina!!yMthat she )asn9t in a ro;anti/ ;oo" an" %ro a !y )ou!"n9t e 7or a )hi!e0 So he tu/*e" her in an" sai" he9" /he/* on her in a it0 Then he !e7t0 At this %oint you ;i#ht e )on"erin#( Who are these %eo%!eE Hannah( you 7or#ot to te!! us their na;es0

But I "i"n9t 7or#et0 I7 there9s one thin# I94e sti!! #ot( it9s ;y ;e;ory0 Whi/h is too a"0 5ay e i7 I 7or#ot thin#s on/e in a )hi!e( )e9" a!! e a !itt!e it ha%%ier0 The ;ist )as hea4y )hen I !e7t the %arty0 An" as I )a!*e" throu#h the nei#h orhoo"( it starte" to

"riBB!e0 Then rain0 But )hen I 7irst starte" )a!*in# it )as Just a thi/* ;ist that !e7t e4erythin# sort o7 haBy0 No( you9!! ha4e to )ait 7or a na;e on this one0 Thou#h i7 you94e een %ayin# /!ose attention( I #a4e you the ans)er a !on# ti;e a#o0 Be7ore I say his na;e out !ou"( this #uy nee"s to ste) a itLto re;e; er e4erythin# that ha%%ene" in

that roo;0 An" he re;e; ers0 I *no) he "oes0 I )ou!" !o4e to see his 7a/e ri#ht no)0 His eyes shut ti#ht0 Ja) /!en/he"0 Cists %u!!in# out his hair0 An" to hi; I say( :eny itK $o on( "eny that I )as e4er in that roo;0 :eny that I *no) )hat you "i"0 Or

not )hat you "i"( ut )hat you "i"n9t "o0 What you a!!o)e" to ha%%en0 Rationa!iBe )hy this isn9t the

Pa#e 16+

ta%e you9re ;a*in# a return a%%earan/e on0 It ;ust e a !ater ta%e0 It has to e a !ater ta%e0 Oh( rea!!yE An" you9" !i*e thatE A !ater ta%e )ou!" ;a*e thin#s etterE :on9t et on it0 $o"0 What e!se /ou!"94e #one )ron# that ni#htE I *no) she )asn9t your #ir!7rien"( that you har"!y e4er ta!*e" to her an" are!y e4en *ne) her( ut is that your est eG/use 7or )hat ha%%ene" neGtE Or is that your on!y eG/useE Either )ay( there is no eG/use0 I stoo" u%( sta i!iBin# ;yse!7 )ith one han" on the e"0 Your shoesMthe sha"o) o7 your shoesM)ere sti!! 4isi !e in the !i#ht /o;in# un"er the "oor0 Be/ause )hen you !e7t that roo;( you too* u% %ost ri#ht outsi"e0 An" I !et #o o7 the e" an" starte" )a!*in# to)ar" that s!i4er o7 !i#ht( not sure )hat I9" say to you )hen I o%ene" the "oor0 But ha!7)ay there( t)o ;ore shoes /a;e into 4ie)Lan" I sto%%e"0 When I !e7t the %arty( I Just )a!*e"0 Se4era! !o/*s0 Not )antin# to #o ho;e0 Not )antin# to #o a/*0 The "oor o%ene"( ut you %u!!e" it a/* an" sai"( DNo0 Let her rest0F In that tiny urst o7 !i#ht( I sa) a /!osetMits a//or"ion "oors ha!7)ay o%en0 5ean)hi!e( your 7rien" )as /on4in/in# you to !et hi; in that roo;0 I )aite"( heart %oun"in#( tra%%e" in the ;i""!e o7 the 7!oor0 The e"roo; "oor o%ene" a#ain0 But a#ain( you %u!!e" it shut0 An" you trie" to ;a*e a Jo*e o7 it0 DTrust ;e(F you sai"( Dshe )on9t ;o4e0 She9!! Just !ay there0F An" )hat )as his res%onseE What )as itE What )as his reasonin# 7or you to ste% asi"e an" !et hi; in that roo;E :o you re;e; erE Be/ause I "o0 It )as the ni#ht shi7t0 He to!" you he )as )or*in# the ni#ht shi7t an" ha" to !ea4e in a 7e) ;inutes0 A 7e) ;inutes( that9s a!! he nee"e" )ith her0 So Just re!aG an" ste% asi"e0

An" that9s a!! it too* 7or you to !et hi; o%en the "oor0 $o"0 Patheti/0 I /ou!"n9t e!ie4e it0 An" your 7rien" /ou!"n9t e!ie4e it( either( e/ause )hen he #ra a#ain( he "i"n9t rush ri#ht in0 He )aite" 7or you to %rotest0 Pa#e 161 e" the "oor*no

In that rie7 ;o;entMthe ;o;ent you sai" nothin#MI 7e!! on ;y *nees( si/*( /o4erin# ;y ;outh )ith oth han"s0 I stu; !e" to)ar" the /!oset( tears !urrin# the !i#ht 7ro; the ha!!0 An" )hen I /o!!a%se" into the /!oset( a %i!e o7 Ja/*ets on the 7!oor /au#ht ;e0 When the e"roo; "oor o%ene"( I %u!!e" the /!oset "oors shut0 An" I shut ;y eyes ti#ht0 B!oo" %oun"e" in ;y ears0 I ro/*e" a/* an" 7orth( a/* an" 7orth( eatin# ;y 7orehea" into the %i!e o7 Ja/*ets0 But )ith the ass %u;%in# throu#hout the house( no one hear" ;e0 DJust re!aG0F Those )or"s( he9s sai" it e7ore0 It9s )hat he a!)ays says to the %eo%!e he9s ta*in# a"4anta#e o70 $ir!7rien"s0 $uys0 Whoe4er0 It9s Bry/e0 It has to e0 Bry/e Wa!*er )as in that roo;0 An" )ith the ass thu;%in#( no one hear" hi; )a!*in# a/ross the roo;0 Wa!*in# a/ross the roo;0 $ettin# on the e"0 The e"s%rin#s s/rea;in# un"er his )ei#ht0 No one hear" a thin#0 An" I /ou!" ha4e sto%%e" it0 I7 I /ou!" ha4e ta!*e"0 I7 I /ou!" ha4e seen0 I7 I /ou!" ha4e thou#ht a out anythin#( I )ou!" ha4e o%ene" those "oors an" sto%%e" it0 But I "i"n9t0 An" it "oesn9t ;atter )hat ;y eG/use )as0 That ;y ;in" )as in a ;e!t"o)n is no eG/use0 I ha4e no eG/use0 I /ou!" ha4e sto%%e" itMen" o7 story0 But to sto% it( I 7e!t !i*e I9" ha4e to sto% the entire )or!" 7ro; s%innin#0 Li*e thin#s ha" een out o7 /ontro! 7or so !on# that )hate4er I "i" har"!y ;attere" any;ore0 An" I /ou!"n9t stan" a!! the e;otions any;ore0 I )ante" the )or!" to sto%Lto en"0 Cor Hannah( the )or!" "i" en"0 But 7or Jessi/a( it "i"n9t0 It )ent on0 An" then( Hannah hit her )ith these ta%es0

I "on9t *no) ho) ;any son#s )ent y )ith ;y 7a/e urie" in those Ja/*ets0 The eats *e%t s!i"in# 7ro; one son# into another0 A7ter a )hi!e( ;y throat 7e!t so s/rat/he"0 So ra) an" urnin#0 Ha" I een s/rea;in#E With ;y *nees on the 7!oor( I 7e!t 4i rations )hene4er anyone )a!*e" "o)n the ha!!0 An" )hen 7ootste%s 7e!! )ithin the roo;Mse4era! son#s a7ter he entere" the roo;MI %resse" ;y a/* a#ainst the /!oset )a!!L)aitin#0 Waitin# 7or the /!oset "oors to e torn o%en0 To e yan*e" out o7 ;y hi"in# %!a/e0 An" thenE What )ou!" he "o to ;e thenE Tony9s /ar %u!!s o4er0 The 7ront tire s/ra%es the /ur 0 I "on9t *no) ho) )e #ot here( ut the house is ri#ht outsi"e ;y )in"o) no)0 The sa;e 7ront "oor )here I entere" the %arty0 The sa;e 7ront %or/h )here I !e7t0 An" to the !e7t o7 the %or/h( a )in"o)0 Behin" that )in"o)( a e"roo; an" a /!oset )ith a//or"ion "oors )here Hannah( on the ni#ht I *isse" her( "isa%%eare"0 But !i#ht 7ro; the ha!!)ay see%e" into the roo;( into the /!oset( an" his 7ootste%s )a!*e" a)ay0 It )as o4er0 A7ter a!!( he /ou!"n9t e !ate 7or )or*( /ou!" heE So )hat ha%%ene" neGtE We!!( I ran out o7 the roo; an" strai#ht "o)n the ha!!0 An" that9s )here I sa) you0 Sittin# in a roo; a!! y yourse!70 The %erson this )ho!e ta%e re4o!4es aroun"LJustin Co!ey0 Pa#e 166

5y sto;a/h !ur/hes an" I 7!in# o%en the /ar "oor0 Sittin# on the e"#e o7 a e"( )ith the !i#hts turne" o77( there you )ere0 Sittin# there( starin# at nothin#0 Whi!e I stoo" in the ha!!)ay( 7roBen( starin# at you0 We9" /o;e a !on# )ay( Justin0 Cro; the 7irst ti;e I )at/he" you s!i% on Nat9s !a)n0 To ;y 7irst *iss at

the otto; o7 the s!i"e0 To no)0 Cirst( you starte" a /hain o7 e4ents that ruine" ;y !i7e0 No)( you )ere )or*in# on hers0 Outsi"e that 4ery sa;e house( I thro) u%0 I *ee% ;y o"y hun/he" o4er( ;y hea" han#in# o4er the #utter0 E4entua!!y( you turne" ;y )ay0 The /o!or in your 7a/eL#one0 Your eG%ressionL !an*0 An" your eyes

!oo*e" so eGhauste"0 Or )as it %ain I sa) thereE DStay there as !on# as you )ant(F Tony says0

:on9t )orry( I thin*0 I )on9t %u*e in your /ar0 Justin( a y( I9; not !a;in# you entire!y0 We9re in this one to#ether0 We oth /ou!" ha4e sto%%e" it0

Either one o7 us0 We /ou!" ha4e sa4e" her0 An" I9; a";ittin# this to you0 To a!! o7 you0 That #ir! ha" t)o /han/es0 An" oth o7 us !et her "o)n0 The reeBe 7ee!s #oo" on ;y 7a/e( /oo!in# the s)eat on ;y 7orehea" an" ne/*0

So )hy is this ta%e a out JustinE What a out the other #uyE Isn9t )hat he "i" )orseE Yes0 A so!ute!y yes0 But the ta%es nee" to e %asse" on0 An" i7 I sent the; to hi;( they )ou!" sto%0 Thin* a out it0 He ra%e" a #ir! an" )ou!" !ea4e to)n in a se/on" i7 he *ne)L)e!!Li7 he *ne) that )e *ne)0

Sti!! hun/he" o4er( I reathe in as 7u!!y as %ossi !e0 Then I ho!" it0 An" re!ease0 Breathe0 Then ho!"0 Re!ease0 I sit u%ri#ht in the seat( *ee%in# the "oor o%en Just in /ase0 DWhy youEF I as*0 DWhy "o you ha4e these

ta%esE What "i" you "oEF A /ar "ri4es y an" )e oth )at/h it turn !e7t t)o !o/*s a)ay0 It9s another ;inute e7ore Tony

Pa#e 163

ans)ers0 DNothin#(F he says0 DAn" that9s the truth0F Cor the 7irst ti;e sin/e a%%roa/hin# ;e at Rosie9s( Tony a""resses ;e eye to eye0 An" in his eyes( /at/hin# the !i#ht 7ro; a !a;%%ost ha!7 a !o/* a)ay( I see tears0 DCinish this ta%e( 2!ay( an" I9!! eG%!ain e4erythin#0F I "on9t ans)er0 DCinish it0 You9re a!;ost "one(F he says0 So )hat "o you thin* o7 hi; no)( JustinE :o you hate hi;E Your 7rien" that ra%e" her( is he sti!! your 7rien"E

Yes( ut )hyE It ;ust e "enia!0 It has to e0 Sure( he9s a!)ays ha" a te;%er0 Sure( he #oes throu#h #ir!s !i*e use" un"er)ear0 But he9s a!)ays een a #oo" 7rien" to you0 An" the ;ore you han# out )ith hi;( the ;ore he see;s !i*e the sa;e o!" #uy 7ro; e7ore( ri#htE An" i7 he a/ts !i*e the sa;e #uy( then he /ou!"n9t %ossi !y ha4e "one anythin# )ron#0 Whi/h ;eans that you "i"n9t "o anythin# )ron#( either0 $reatK That9s #reat ne)s( Justin0 Be/ause i7 he "i"n9t "o anythin# )ron#( an" you "i"n9t "o anythin# )ron#( then I "i"n9t "o anythin# )ron#0 An" you ha4e no i"ea ho) ;u/h I )ish I "i"n9t ruin that #ir!9s !i7e0 But I "i"0 At the 4ery !east( I he!%e"0 An" so "i" you0 No( you9re ri#ht( you "i"n9t ra%e her0 An" I "i"n9t ra%e her0 He "i"0 But youLan" IL)e !et it ha%%en0 It9s our 7au!t0 DCu!! story(F I say0 DWhat ha%%ene"EF I %u!! the siGth ta%e 7ro; ;y %o/*et an" s)a% it )ith the one insi"e the Wa!*;an0 2ASSETTE => SI:E A Tony ta*es his *eys out o7 the i#nition0 So;ethin# to ho!" on to )hi!e he ta!*s0 DI94e een tryin# to 7i#ure out ho) to say this the )ho!e ti;e )e94e een "ri4in#0 The )ho!e ti;e )e94e een sittin# here0 E4en )hen you )ere %u*in# your #uts out0F DYou noti/e" I "i"n9t %u*e in your /ar0F DI "i"0F He s;i!es( !oo*in# "o)n at his *eys0 DThan*s0 I a%%re/iate that0F I /!ose the /ar "oor0 5y sto;a/h is sett!in#0 Pa#e 16&

DShe /a;e o4er to ;y house(F Tony says0 DHannah0 An" that )as ;y /han/e0F DCor )hatEF

D2!ay( the si#ns )ere a!! there(F he says0 DI ha" ;y /han/e( too(F I te!! hi;0 I ta*e o77 the hea"%hones an" han# the; on ;y *nee0 DAt the %arty0

She )as 7rea*in# out )hen )e *isse" an" I "i"n9t *no) )hy0 That )as ;y /han/e0F Insi"e the /ar( it9s "ar*0 An" Iuiet0 With the )in"o)s ro!!e" u% the outsi"e )or!" see;s "ee% as!ee%0 DWe9re a!! to !a;e(F he says0 DAt !east a !itt!e0F DSo she /a;e o4er to your house(F I say0 DWith her i*e0 The one she a!)ays ro"e to s/hoo!0F DThe !ue one(F I say0 DLet ;e #uess0 You )ere )or*in# on your /ar0F He !au#hs0 DWho )ou!"94e thou#ht( ri#htE But she ne4er /a;e o4er to ;y house e7ore( so I )as a !itt!e

sur%rise"0 You *no)( )e )ere 7rien"!y at s/hoo!( so I "i"n9t thin* too ;u/h o7 it0 What )as )eir"( thou#h( )as )hy she /a;e o4er0F DWhyEF He !oo*s out the si"e )in"o)( an" his /hest 7i!!s )ith air0 DShe /a;e o4er to #i4e ;e her i*e0F

The )or"s sit there( un"istur e"( 7or an un/o;7orta !y !on# ti;e0 DShe )ante" ;e to ha4e it(F he says0 DShe )as "one )ith it0 When I as*e" 7or a reason( she Just shru##e"0 She "i"n9t ha4e one0 But it )as a si#n0 An" I ;isse" it0F

I su;;ariBe a u!!et %oint 7ro; the han"out at s/hoo!0 D$i4in# a)ay %ossessions0F Tony no"s0 DShe sai" I )as the on!y one she /ou!" thin* o7 )ho ;i#ht nee" it0 I "ri4e the o!"est /ar at

s/hoo!( she sai"( an" she thou#ht i7 it e4er ro*e "o)n I ;i#ht nee" a a/*u%0F DBut this a y ne4er rea*s "o)n(F I say0 DThis thin# a!)ays rea*s "o)n(F he says0 DI9; Just a!)ays aroun" to 7iG it0 So I to!" her that I /ou!"n9t

ta*e her i*e0 Not )ithout #i4in# her so;ethin# in return0F DWhat "i" you #i4e herEF DI9!! ne4er 7or#et this(F he says( an" he turns to !oo* at ;e0 DHer eyes( 2!ay( they ne4er !oo*e" a)ay0

She Just *e%t !oo*in#( strai#ht into ;y eyes( an" starte" /ryin#0 She Just stare" at ;e an" tears e#an

strea;in# "o)n her 7a/e0F He )i%es a)ay tears 7ro; his o)n eyes an" then )i%es a han" a/ross his u%%er !i%0 DI shou!" ha4e "one so;ethin#0F

Pa#e 16'

The si#ns )ere a!! there( a!! o4er( 7or anyone )i!!in# to noti/e0 DWhat "i" she as* 7orEF DShe as*e" ;e ho) I ;a"e ;y ta%es( the ones I %!ay in ;y /ar0F He !eans his hea" a/* an" ta*es a

"ee% reath0 DSo I to!" her a out ;y "a"9s o!" ta%e re/or"er0F He %auses0 DThen she as*e" i7 I ha" anythin# to re/or" 4oi/es0F D$o"0F DLi*e a han"he!" re/or"er or so;ethin#0 So;ethin# you "i"n9t ha4e to %!u# in ut /ou!" )a!* aroun" )ith0 An" I "i"n9t as* )hy0 I to!" her to )ait ri#ht there an" I9" #et one0F

DAn" you #a4e it to herEF He turns to ;e( his 7a/e har"0 DI "i"n9t *no) )hat she )as #oin# to "o )ith it( 2!ay0F DWait( I9; not a//usin# you( Tony0 But she "i"n9t say anythin# a out )hy she )ante" itEF DI7 I ha" as*e"( "o you thin* she )ou!" ha4e to!" ;eEF No0 By the ti;e she )ent to Tony9s house( her ;in" )as ;a"e u%0 I7 she )ante" so;eone to sto% her(

to res/ue her 7ro; herse!7( I )as there0 At the %arty0 An" she *ne) it0 I sha*e ;y hea"0 DShe )ou!"n9t ha4e to!" you0F DA 7e) "ays !ater(F he says( D)hen I #et ho;e 7ro; s/hoo!( there9s a %a/*a#e sittin# on ;y %or/h0 I

ta*e it u% to ;y roo; an" start !istenin# to the ta%es0 But it "oesn9t ;a*e any sense0F D:i" she !ea4e you a note or anythin#EF DNo0 Just the ta%es0 But it "i"n9t ;a*e any sense e/ause Hannah an" I ha4e thir" %erio" to#ether an"

she )as at s/hoo! that "ay0F DWhatEF DSo )hen I #ot ho;e an" starte" !istenin# to the ta%es( I )ent throu#h the; so 7ast0 Cast?7or)ar"in# to

7in" out i7 I )as on the;0 But I )asn9t0 An" that9s )hen I *ne) that she9" #i4en ;e the se/on" set o7 ta%es0 So I !oo*e" her u% an" /a!!e" her house( ut no one ans)ere"0 So I /a!!e" her %arents9 store0 I as*e" i7 Hannah )as there( an" they as*e" i7 e4erythin# )as a!! ri#ht e/ause I9; sure I soun"e" /raBy0F

DWhat "i" you sayEF DI to!" the; that so;ethin# )as )ron# an" they nee"e" to 7in" her0 But I /ou!"n9t ;a*e ;yse!7 te!! the; )hy0F He ta*es in a thin( Ja##e" reath o7 air0 DAn" the neGt "ay at s/hoo!( she )asn9t there0F I )ant to te!! hi; I9; sorry( that I /an9t i;a#ine )hat that ;ust94e een !i*e0 But then I thin* o7 to;orro)( at s/hoo!( an" rea!iBe I9!! 7in" out soon enou#h0 Seein# the other %eo%!e on the ta%es 7or the 7irst ti;e0 Pa#e 16=

DI )ent ho;e ear!y that "ay(F he says( D%reten"in# I )as si/*0 An" I94e #ot to a";it( it too* ;e a 7e) "ays to %u!! ;yse!7 to#ether0 But )hen I returne"( Justin Co!ey !oo*e" !i*e he!!0 Then A!eG0 An" I thou#ht( o*ay( ;ost o7 these %eo%!e "eser4e it( so I9; #oin# to "o )hat she as*e" an" ;a*e sure you a!! hear )hat she has to say0F DBut ho) are you *ee%in# tra/*EF I as*0 DHo) "i" you *no) I ha" the ta%esEF DYou )ere easy(F he says0 DYou sto!e ;y Wa!*;an( 2!ay0F We oth !au#h0 An" it 7ee!s #oo"0 A re!ease0 Li*e !au#hin# at a 7unera!0 5ay e ina%%ro%riate( ut

"e7inite!y nee"e"0 DBut e4eryone e!se( they )ere a !itt!e tri/*ier(F he says0 DI9" run to ;y /ar a7ter the !ast e!! an" "ri4e as /!ose to the 7ront !a)n o7 the s/hoo! as %ossi !e0 When I sa) )hoe4er )as neGt( a /ou%!e "ays a7ter I *ne) the !ast %erson ha" hear" the ta%es( I9" /a!! out his na;e an" )a4e hi; o4er0 Or her0 I9" )a4e her o4er0F DAn" then you9" Just as* i7 they ha" the ta%esEF DNo0 They )ou!"94e "enie" it( ri#htE So I9" ho!" u% a ta%e )hen they #ot /!ose an" te!! the; to #et in e/ause I ha" a son# I )ante" the; to hear0 E4ery ti;e( ase" on their rea/tion( I *ne)0F DAn" then you9" %!ay one o7 her ta%esEF DNo0 I7 they "i"n9t run a)ay( I9" ha4e to "o so;ethin#( so I9" %!ay the; a son#(F he says0 DAny son#0 They )ou!" sit there( )here you are( )on"erin# )hy in the he!! I )as %!ayin# the; this son#0 But i7 I )as ri#ht( their eyes )ou!" #!aBe o4er( !i*e they )ere a ;i!!ion ;i!es a)ay0F DSo )hy youEF I as*0 DWhy9" she #i4e the ta%es to youEF DI "on9t *no)(F he says0 DThe on!y thin# I /an thin* o7 is e/ause I #a4e her the re/or"er0 She thou#ht I ha" a sta*e in it an" )ou!" %!ay a!on#0F

DYou9re not on the;( ut you9re sti!! a %art0F He 7a/es the )in"shie!" an" #ri%s the steerin# )hee!0 DI94e #ot to #o0F DI "i"n9t ;ean anythin# y that(F I say0 DHonest0F DI *no)0 But it9s !ate0 5y "a"9s #oin# to start )on"erin# i7 I ro*e "o)n so;e)here0F DWhat( you "on9t )ant hi; ;essin# un"er your hoo" a#ainEF I #ra the "oor han"!e an" then(

re;e; erin#( !et #o an" %u!! out ;y %hone0 DI nee" you to "o so;ethin#0 2an you say he!!o to ;y ;o;EF DSure0F I s/ro!! throu#h the !ist o7 na;es( hit Sen"( an" she %i/*s u% ri#ht a)ay0 D2!ayEF

Pa#e 161

DHey( 5o;0F D2!ay( )here are youEF She soun"s hurt0 DI to!" you I ;i#ht e out !ate0F DI *no)0 You "i"0 I )as Just ho%in# to hear 7ro; you y no)0F DI9; sorry0 But I9; #oin# to nee" a !itt!e !on#er0 I ;ay nee" to stay at Tony9s toni#ht0F Ri#ht on /ue( DHe!!o( 5rs0 Jensen0F She as*s i7 I94e een "rin*in#0 D5o;( no0 I s)ear0F DO*ay( )e!!( this is 7or his history %roJe/t( ri#htEF I 7!in/h0 She )ants to e!ie4e ;y eG/uses so a"0 E4ery ti;e I !ie( she )ants to e!ie4e ;e so ;u/h0 DI trust you( 2!ay0F I te!! her I9!! e ho;e e7ore s/hoo! to #et ;y stu77( then )e han# u%0 DWhere are you #oin# to stayEF Tony as*s0 DI "on9t *no)0 I9!! %ro a !y #o ho;e0 But I "on9t )ant her to )orry i7 I "on9t0F He turns the *ey( the en#ine starts( an" he 7!i%s on the hea"!i#hts0 D:o you )ant ;e to ta*e you

so;e)hereEF I #ra the "oor han"!e an" no" to)ar" the house0 DThis is )here I9; at in the ta%es(F I say0 DBut

than*s0F His eyes stare strai#ht ahea"0

DHonest!y0 Than* you(F I say0 An" )hen I say it( I ;ean it 7or ;ore than Just the ri"e0 Cor e4erythin#0

Cor ho) he rea/te" )hen I ro*e "o)n an" /rie"0 Cor tryin# to ;a*e ;e !au#h on the ;ost horri !e

ni#ht o7 ;y !i7e0

It 7ee!s #oo" *no)in# so;eone un"erstan"s )hat I9; !istenin# to( )hat I9; #oin# throu#h0 So;eho)( it ;a*es it not as s/ary to *ee% !istenin#0 I #et out o7 the /ar an" shut the "oor0 His /ar %u!!s a)ay0 I %ress P!ay0 Ba/* to the %arty( e4eryone0 But "on9t #et too /o;7y( )e9!! e !ea4in# in Just a ;inute0 Pa#e 168

Ha!7 a !o/* a)ay( Tony9s 5ustan# sto%s at an interse/tion( ta*es a !e7t( an" "ri4es a)ay0 I7 ti;e )as a strin# /onne/tin# a!! o7 your stories( that %arty )ou!" e the %oint )here e4erythin# *nots

u%0 An" that *not *ee%s #ro)in# an" #ro)in#( #ettin# ;ore an" ;ore tan#!e"( "ra##in# the rest o7 your stories into it0 When Justin an" I 7ina!!y ro*e that a)7u!( %ain7u! stare( I )an"ere" "o)n the ha!! an" a/* into the %arty0 Sta##ere" in( rea!!y0 But not 7ro; the a!/oho!0 Cro; e4erythin# e!se0 I sit on the /ur ( a 7e) 7eet 7ro; )here I 4o;ite" out o7 Tony9s /ar0 I7 )hoe4er !i4es here( e/ause I ha4e no i"ea )hose %arty it )as( )ants to /o;e out an" as* ;e to !ea4e( I )e!/o;e it0 P!ease "o0 I #ra e" 7or the %iano in the !i4in# roo;0 Then the %iano en/h0 An" I sat0 I )ante" to !ea4e( ut )here )ou!" I #oE I /ou!"n9t #o ho;e0 Not yet0 An" )here4er I )ent( ho) )ou!" I #et thereE I )as too )ea* to )a!*0 At !east( I thou#ht I )as too )ea*0 But in truth( I )as too )ea* to try0 The on!y thin# I *ne) 7or /ertain )as that I )ante" to #et out o7 there an" not thin* a out anythin# or anyone any;ore0 Then a han" tou/he" ;y shou!"er0 A #ent!e sIueeBe0 It )as Jenny NurtB0

The /heer!ea"er 7ro; the Stu"ent Bo"y o77i/e0 Jenny( this one9s 7or you0 I "ro% ;y hea" "o)n to ;y *nees0 Jenny as*e" i7 I nee"e" a ri"e ho;e( an" I a!;ost !au#he"0 Was it so o 4iousE :i" I !oo* that terri !eE So I !oo%e" ;y ar; in hers an" she he!%e" ;e u%0 Whi/h 7e!t #oo"( !ettin# so;eone he!% ;e0 We )a!*e" out the 7ront "oor( throu#h a /ro)" either %asse" out on the %or/h or s;o*in# in the yar"0 So;e)here( at that ;o;ent( I )as )a!*in# 7ro; !o/* to !o/* tryin# to 7i#ure out )hy I9" !e7t that %arty0 Tryin# to 7i#ure out( tryin# to un"erstan"( )hat ha" Just ha%%ene" et)een ;e an" Hannah0 The si"e)a!* )as "a;%0 5y 7eet( nu; an" hea4y( shu77!e" a/ross the %a4e;ent0 I !istene" to the soun" o7 e4ery %e !e an" !ea7 that I ste%%e" on0 I )ante" to hear the; a!!0 To !o/* out the ;usi/ an" the 4oi/es ehin" ;e0 Whi!e !o/*s a)ay( I /ou!" sti!! hear that ;usi/0 :istant0 5u77!e"0 Li*e I /ou!"n9t #et 7ar enou#h a)ay0 An" I /an sti!! re;e; er e4ery son# that %!aye"0 Jenny( you "i"n9t say a thin#0 You "i"n9t as* ;e any Iuestions0 An" I )as so #rate7u!0 5ay e you94e

ha" thin#s ha%%en( or seen thin#s ha%%en at %arties that you Just /ou!"n9t "is/uss0 Not ri#ht a)ay( at !east0 Whi/h is sort o7 7ittin#( e/ause I ha4en9t "is/usse" any o7 this unti! no)0 We!!LnoLI trie"0 I trie" on/e( ut he "i"n9t )ant to hear it0

Pa#e 163

Is that the t)e!7th storyE The thirteenthE Or so;ethin# e!se entire!yE Is it one o7 the na;es )ritten on her %a%er that she )on9t te!! us a outE So( Jenny( you !e" ;e to your /ar0 An" e4en thou#h ;y thou#hts )ere so;e)here e!seM;y eyes 7o/use" on nothin#MI 7e!t your tou/h0 You he!" ;y ar; )ith su/h ten"erness as you !o)ere" ;e into the %assen#er seat0 You u/*!e" ;e in( #ot in your seat( then )e !e7t0 What ha%%ene" neGt( I9; not entire!y sure0 I )asn9t %ayin# attention e/ause( in your /ar( I 7e!t se/ure0 The air insi"e )as )ar; an" /o;7ortin#0 The )i%er !a"es( on a s!o) s%ee"( #ent!y %u!!e" ;e out o7 ;y thou#hts an" into the /ar0 Into rea!ity0 The rain )asn9t hea4y( ut it !urre" the )in"shie!" Just enou#h to *ee% e4erythin# "rea;!i*e0 An" I nee"e" that0 It *e%t ;y )or!" 7ro; e/o;in# too rea!( too 7ast0 An" thenLit hit0 There9s nothin# !i*e an a//i"ent to rin# the )or!" /rashin# a/*0

An a//i"entE Another oneE T)o in one ni#htE Ho) /o;e I ne4er hear" a out this oneE The 7ront )hee! on ;y si"e s!a;;e" into an" Ju;%e" the /ur 0 A )oo"en %ost s;a/*e" into your 7ront u;%er an" sna%%e" a/* !i*e a tooth%i/*0

$o"0 No0 A Sto% si#n 7e!! a/*)ar" in 7ront o7 your hea"!i#hts0 It /au#ht un"er your /ar an" you s/rea;e" an"

s!a;;e" on the ra*es0 In the si"e ;irror( I )at/he" s%ar*s 7!y onto the roa" as )e s!i" to a sto%0 O*ay( no) I9; a)a*e0 We sat 7or a ;o;ent( starin# throu#h the )in"shie!"0 No )or"s( not a #!an/e et)een us0 The )i%ers

s;eare" the rain 7ro; si"e to si"e0 An" ;y han"s staye" #ri%%e" to ;y seat e!t( than*7u! )e on!y hit a

si#n0 The a//i"ent )ith the o!" ;an0 An" the #uy 7ro; s/hoo!0 :i" Hannah *no)E :i" she *no) Jenny /ause" itE Your "oor o%ene" an" I )at/he" you )a!* to the 7ront o7 your /ar( then /rou/h et)een the hea"!i#hts 7or a /!oser !oo*0 You ran a han" o4er the "ent an" !et your hea" "roo% 7or)ar"0 I /ou!"n9t te!! i7 you )ere %isse"0 Or )ere you /ryin#E 5ay e you )ere !au#hin# at ho) horri !e the ni#ht )as turnin# out0 I *no) )here to #o0 I "on9t nee" the ;a%0 I *no) eGa/t!y )here the neGt star is( so I stan" u% to start )a!*in#0 The "ent )asn9t a"0 I ;ean( it )asn9t #oo"( ut you ha" to 7ee! so;e re!ie70 It /ou!" ha4e een )orse0

It /ou!" ha4e een ;u/h( ;u/h )orse0 Cor eGa;%!eLyou /ou!" ha4e hit so;ethin# e!se0 She *no)s0 So;ethin# a!i4e0

Pa#e 13+

Whate4er your initia! thou#hts( you stoo" u% )ith a !an* eG%ression0 Just stan"in# there( starin# at the

"ent( sha*in# your hea"0 Then you /au#ht ;y eye0 An" I9; sure I sa) a 7ro)n( e4en i7 it !aste" on!y a s%!it se/on"0 But that 7ro)n turne" into a s;i!e0 Co!!o)e" y a shru#0 An" )hat )ere the 7irst )or"s you sai" )hen you #ot a/* in the /arE DWe!!( that su/*s0F Then you %ut your *ey in the i#nition an"LI sto%%e" you0 I /ou!"n9t !et you "ri4e a)ay0 At the interse/tion )here Tony turne" !e7t( I ta*e a ri#ht0 It9s sti!! t)o !o/*s a)ay( ut I *no) it9s there0 The Sto% si#n0 You shut your eyes an" sai"( DHannah( I9; not "run*0F We!!( I "i"n9t a//use you o7 ein# "run*( Jenny0 But I )as )on"erin# )hy the he!! you /ou!"n9t *ee% your /ar on the roa"0 DIt9s rainin#(F you sai"0 An" yes( true( it )as0 Bare!y0 I to!" you to %ar* the /ar0 You to!" ;e to e reasona !e0 We oth !i4e" /!ose y an" you9" sti/* to the resi"entia! streetsMas i7 that ;a"e it any etter0 I see it0 A ;eta! %o!e ho!"in# u% a Sto% si#n( its re7!e/ti4e !etters 4isi !e e4en this 7ar a)ay0 But on the ni#ht o7 the a//i"ent( it )as a "i77erent si#n0 The !etters )eren9t re7!e/ti4e an" the si#n ha" een 7astene" to a )oo"en %ost0 DHannah( "on9t )orry(F you sai"0 Then you !au#he"0 DNo o"y o eys Sto% si#ns any)ay0 They Just ro!! on throu#h0 So no)( e/ause there isn9t one there( it9s !e#a!0 SeeE Peo%!e )i!! than* ;e0F A#ain( I to!" you to %ar* the /ar0 We9" #et a ri"e ho;e 7ro; so;eone at the %arty0 I9" %i/* you u% 7irst thin# in the ;ornin# an" "ri4e you to your /ar0 But you trie" a#ain0 DHannah( !isten0F DPar* it(F I sai"0 DP!ease0F An" then you to!" ;e to #et out0 But I )ou!"n9t0 I trie" reasonin# )ith you0 You )ere !u/*y it )as on!y

a si#n0 I;a#ine )hat /ou!" ha%%en i7 I !et you "ri4e us a!! the )ay ho;e0 But a#ain( D$et out0F I sat 7or a !on# ti;e )ith ;y eyes shut( !istenin# to the rain an" the )i%ers0 DHannahK $etLoutKF So 7ina!!y( I "i"0 I o%ene" the /ar "oor an" ste%%e" out0 But I "i"n9t shut it0 I !oo*e" a/* at you0 An" Pa#e 131

you stare" throu#h your )in"shie!"Mthrou#h the )i%ersM#ri%%in# the )hee!0 Sti!! a !o/* a)ay( ut the on!y thin# I /an 7o/us on is the Sto% si#n strai#ht ahea"0 I as*e" i7 I /ou!" use your %hone0 I sa) it sittin# there ri#ht e!o) the stereo0 DWhyEF you as*e"0 I9; not sure )hy I to!" you the truth0 I shou!" ha4e !ie"0 DWe nee" to at !east te!! so;eone a out the si#n(F I sai"0 You *e%t your eyes strai#ht ahea"0 DThey9!! tra/e it0 They /an tra/e %hone /a!!s( Hannah0F Then you starte" u% the /ar an" to!" ;e to shut the "oor0 I "i"n9t0 So you re4erse" the /ar( an" I Ju;%e" a/* to *ee% the "oor 7ro; *no/*in# ;e o4er0 You "i"n9t /are that the ;eta! si#n )as /rushin#M#ratin#Mthe un"ersi"e o7 your /ar0 When you /!eare" it( the si#n !ay at ;y 7eet( )ar%e" an" strea*e" )ith si!4er s/rat/hes0 You re44e" the en#ine an" I too* the hint( ste%%in# a/* onto the /ur 0 Then you %ee!e" a)ay( /ausin# the "oor to s!a; shut( %i/*in# u% s%ee" the 7urther you #otLan" you #ot a)ay0 In 7a/t( you #ot a)ay )ith ;u/h ;ore than *no/*in# "o)n a si#n( Jenny0 An" on/e a#ain( I /ou!" ha4e sto%%e" itLso;eho)0

We a!! /ou!" ha4e sto%%e" it0 We a!! /ou!" ha4e sto%%e" so;ethin#0 The ru;ors0 The ra%e0 You0 There ;ust ha4e een so;ethin# I /ou!" ha4e sai"0 At the 4ery !east( I /ou!" ha4e ta*en your *eys0 Or at the 4ery( 4ery !east( I /ou!" ha4e rea/he" in an" sto!en your %hone to /a!! the %o!i/e0 A/tua!!y( that9s the on!y thin# that )ou!"94e ;attere"0 Be/ause you 7oun" your )ay ho;e in on/e %ie/e( Jenny0 But that )asn9t the %ro !e;0 The si#n )as *no/*e" "o)n( an" that )as the %ro !e;0 B?= on your ;a%0 T)o !o/*s 7ro; the %arty there9s a Sto% si#n0 But on that ni#ht( 7or %art o7 the ni#ht( there )asn9t0 An" it )as rainin#0 An" so;eone )as tryin# to "e!i4er his %iBBas on ti;e0 An" so;eone e!se( hea"e" in the o%%osite "ire/tion( )as turnin#0 The o!" ;an0 There )as no Sto% si#n on that /orner0 Not on that ni#ht0 An" one o7 the;( one o7 the "ri4ers( "ie"0 No one *ne) )ho /ause" it0 Not us0 Not the %o!i/e0 But Jenny *ne)0 An" Hannah0 An" ;ay e Jenny9s %arents( e/ause so;eone 7iGe" her u;%er rea! 7ast0 Pa#e 136

I ne4er *ne) the #uy in that /ar0 He )as a senior0 An" )hen I sa) his %i/ture in the ne)s%a%er( I "i"n9t re/o#niBe hi;0 Just one o7 the ;any 7a/es at s/hoo! I ne4er #ot to *no)Lan" ne4er )ou!"0 I "i"n9t #o to his 7unera!( either0 Yes( ;ay e I shou!" ha4e( ut I "i"n9t0 I /ou!"n9t0 An" no) I9; sure it9s o 4ious )hy0 She "i"n9t *no)0 Not a out the ;an in the other /ar0 She "i"n9t *no) it )as the ;an 7ro; her house0 Her o!" house0 An" I9; #!a"0 Ear!ier( she )at/he" hi; %u!! out o7 his #ara#e0 She )at/he" hi; "ri4e a)ay )ithout noti/in# her0 But so;e o7 you )ere there( at his 7unera!0

:ri4in# to return a tooth rush0 That9s )hat his )i7e to!" ;e as )e )aite" on her /ou/h 7or the %o!i/e to rin# hi; ho;e0 He )as "ri4in# to the other en" o7 to)n to return their #ran""au#hter9s tooth rush0 They9" een *ee%in# an eye on her )hi!e her %arents )ere on 4a/ation( an" she9" !e7t it ehin" y a//i"ent0 The #ir!9s %arents sai" there )as no nee" to "ri4e a/ross to)n Just 7or that0 They ha" %!enty o7 eGtras0 DBut that9s )hat he "oes(F his )i7e to!" ;e0 DThat9s the *in" o7 %erson he is0F An" then the %o!i/e /a;e0 Cor those o7 you )ho "i" #o( !et ;e "es/ri e )hat s/hoo! )as !i*e on the "ay o7 his 7unera!0 In a )or"Lit )as Iuiet0 A out a Iuarter o7 the s/hoo! too* the ;ornin# o770 5ost!y seniors( o7 /ourse0 But 7or those o7 us )ho "i" #o to s/hoo!( the tea/hers !et us *no) that i7 )e si;%!y 7or#ot to rin# a note 7ro; ho;e( they )ou!"n9t ;ar* us a sent i7 )e )ante" to atten"e" the 7unera!0 5r0 Porter sai" 7unera!s /an e a %art o7 the hea!in# %ro/ess0 But I "ou te" that 4ery ;u/h0 Not 7or ;e0 Be/ause on that /orner( there )asn9t a Sto% si#n that ni#ht0 So;eone ha" *no/*e" it o4er0 An" so;eone e!seLyours tru!yL/ou!"94e sto%%e" it0 T)o o77i/ers he!%e" her hus an" insi"e( his o"y tre; !in#0 His )i7e #ot u% an" )a!*e" o4er to hi;0 She )ra%%e" hi; in her ar;s an" they /rie"0 When I !e7t( /!osin# the "oor ehin" ;e( the !ast thin# I sa) )as the t)o o7 the; stan"in# in the ;i""!e o7 the !i4in# roo;0 Ho!"in# ea/h other0 On the "ay o7 the 7unera!( so those o7 you )ho atten"e" )ou!"n9t ;iss any )or*( the rest o7 us "i" nothin#0 In e4ery /!ass( the tea/hers #a4e us 7ree ti;e0 Cree to )rite0 Cree to rea"0 Cree to thin*0 An" )hat "i" I "oE Cor the 7irst ti;e( I thou#ht a out ;y o)n 7unera!0 5ore an" ;ore( in 4ery #enera! ter;s( I9" een thin*in# a out ;y o)n "eath0 Just the 7a/t o7 "yin#0 But on that "ay( )ith a!! o7 you at a 7unera!( I e#an thin*in# o7 ;y o)n0 I rea/h the Sto% si#n0 With the ti%s o7 ;y 7in#ers( I rea/h 7or)ar" an" tou/h the /o!" ;eta! %o!e0 I /ou!" %i/ture !i7eMs/hoo! an" e4erythin# e!seM/ontinuin# on )ithout ;e0 But I /ou!" not %i/ture ;y 7unera!0 Not at a!!0 5ost!y e/ause I /ou!"n9t i;a#ine )ho )ou!" atten" or )hat they )ou!" say0 I ha"LI ha4eLno i"ea )hat you thin* o7 ;e0 Pa#e 133

I "on9t *no) )hat %eo%!e thin* o7 you either( Hannah0 When )e 7oun" out( an" sin/e your %arents "i"n9t ha4e a 7unera! in this to)n( no one sai" ;u/h a out it at a!!0 I ;ean( it )as there0 We 7e!t it0 Your e;%ty "es*0 The 7a/t that you )ou!" not e /o;in# a/*0 But no one *ne) )here to e#in0 No one *ne) ho) to start that /on4ersation0 It9s no) een a /ou%!e o7 )ee*s sin/e the %arty0 So 7ar( Jenny( you94e "one a #reat Jo o7 hi"in# 7ro; ;e0 I su%%ose that9s un"erstan"a !e0 You9" !i*e to 7or#et )hat )e "i"M)hat ha%%ene" )ith your /ar an" the Sto% si#n0 The re%er/ussions0 But you ne4er )i!!0 5ay e you "i"n9t *no) )hat %eo%!e thou#ht o7 you e/ause they the;se!4es "i"n9t *no) )hat they thou#ht o7 you0 5ay e you "i"n9t #i4e us enou#h to #o on( Hannah0 I7 not 7or that %arty( I ne4er )ou!" ha4e ;et the rea! you0 But 7or so;e reason( an" I a; eGtre;e!y #rate7u!( you #a4e ;e that /han/e0 Ho)e4er rie7 it )as( you #a4e ;e a /han/e0 An" I !i*e" the Hannah I ;et that ni#ht0 5ay e I /ou!"94e e4en !o4e" her0 But you "e/i"e" not to !et that ha%%en( Hannah0 It )as you )ho "e/i"e"0 I( on the other han"( on!y ha4e to thin* a out it 7or one ;ore "ay0 I turn a)ay 7ro; the Sto% si#n an" )a!* a)ay0 I7 I ha" *no)n t)o /ars )ere #oin# to /rash on that /orner( I )ou!"94e run a/* to the %arty an" /a!!e" the /o%s i;;e"iate!y0 But I ne4er i;a#ine" that )ou!" ha%%en0 Ne4er0 So instea"( I )a!*e"0 But not a/* to the %arty0 5y ;in" )as ra/in# a!! o4er the %!a/e0 I /ou!"n9t thin* strai#ht0 I /ou!"n9t )a!* strai#ht0 I )ant to !oo* a/*0 To !oo* o4er ;y shou!"er an" see the Sto% si#n )ith hu#e re7!e/ti4e !etters( %!ea"in# )ith Hannah0 Sto%K But I *ee% 7a/in# 7or)ar"( re7usin# to see it as ;ore than it is0 It9s a si#n0 A sto% si#n on a street /orner0 Nothin# ;ore0 I turne" /orner a7ter /orner )ith no i"ea )here I )as #oin#0

We )a!*e" those streets to#ether( Hannah0 :i77erent routes( ut at the sa;e ti;e0 On the sa;e ni#ht0 We )a!*e" the streets to #et a)ay0 5e( 7ro; you0 An" you( 7ro; the %arty0 But not Just 7ro; the %arty0 Cro; yourse!70 An" then I hear" tires sIuea!( an" I turne"( an" I )at/he" t)o /ars /o!!i"e0 E4entua!!y( I ;a"e it to a #as station0 2?1 on your ;a%0 An" I use" a %ay%hone to /a!! the %o!i/e0 As it ran#( I 7oun" ;yse!7 hu##in# the re/ei4er( %art o7 ;e ho%in# that no one )ou!" ans)er0 I )ante" to )ait0 I )ante" the %hone to Just *ee% rin#in#0 I )ante" !i7e to stay ri#ht thereLon %ause0 Pa#e 13&

I /an9t 7o!!o) her ;a% any;ore0 I a; not #oin# to the #as station0 When so;eone 7ina!!y "i" ans)er( I su/*e" in the tears that )et ;y !i%s an" to!" the; that on the /orner o7 Tan#!e)oo" an" SouthL But she /ut ;e o770 She to!" ;e to /a!; "o)n0 An" that9s )hen I rea!iBe" ho) har" I ha" een /ryin#0 Ho) ;u/h I )as stru##!in# to /at/h one #oo" reath0 I /ross the street an" ;o4e 7urther a)ay 7ro; the %arty house0 O4er the %ast 7e) )ee*s( I94e )a!*e" out o7 ;y )ay so ;any ti;es to a4oi" that house0 To a4oi" the re;in"er( the %ain( o7 ;y one ni#ht )ith Hannah Ba*er0 I ha4e no "esire to see it t)i/e in one ni#ht0 She to!" ;e the /o%s ha" a!rea"y een /a!!e" an" )ere on their )ay0 I s)in# ;y a/*%a/* in 7ront o7 ;e an" %u!! out the ;a%0 I )as sho/*e"0 I /ou!"n9t e!ie4e you a/tua!!y /a!!e" the %o!i/e( Jenny0 I un7o!" the ;a% to #i4e it one !ast !oo*0 But I shou!"n9t ha4e een sho/*e"0 Be/ause as it turns out( you "i"n9t /a!! the;0 Then I /ru;%!e it u%( /rushin# the ;a% into a a!! the siBe o7 ;y 7ist0 At s/hoo! the neGt "ay( )hen e4eryone re%!aye" the e4ents o7 )hat ha%%ene" the %re4ious ni#ht( that9s

)hen I 7oun" out )ho ha" /a!!e"0 An" it )asn9t to re%ort a 7a!!en si#n0 I stu77 the ;a% "ee% into a ush an" )a!* a)ay0 It )as to re%ort an a//i"ent0 An a//i"ent /ause" y a 7a!!en si#n0 An a//i"ent I )as ne4er a)are o7Lunti! then0 But that ni#ht( a7ter han#in# u% the %hone( I )an"ere" the streets so;e ;ore0 Be/ause I ha" to sto% /ryin#0 Be7ore I )ent ho;e( I nee"e" to /a!; "o)n0 I7 ;y %arents /au#ht ;e snea*in# a/* in )ith tears in ;y eyes( they9" as* )ay too ;any Iuestions0 ,nans)era !e Iuestions0 That9s )hat I9; "oin# no)0 Stayin# a)ay0 I )asn9t /ryin# the ni#ht o7 the %arty( ut I /an are!y ho!" it a/* no)0 An" I /an9t #o ho;e0 So I )a!*e" )ithout thin*in# a out )hi/h roa"s to ta*e0 An" it 7e!t #oo"0 The /o!"0 The ;ist0 That9s )hat the rain ha" turne" into y then0 A !i#ht ;ist0 An" I )a!*e" 7or hours( i;a#inin# the ;ist #ro)in# thi/* an" s)a!!o)in# ;e )ho!e0 The thou#ht o7 "isa%%earin# !i*e thatMso si;%!yM;a"e ;e so ha%%y0 But that( as you *no)( ne4er ha%%ene"0 Pa#e 13'

I %o% o%en the Wa!*;an to 7!i% the ta%e0 I9; a!;ost at the en"0 $o"0 I !et out a Iui4erin# reath an" /!ose ;y eyes0 The en"0 2ASSETTE => SI:E B

Just t)o ;ore to #o0 :on9t #i4e u% on ;e no)0 I9; sorry0 I #uess that9s an o"" thin# to say0 Be/ause isn9t that )hat I9; "oin#E $i4in# u%E Yes0 As a ;atter o7 7a/t( I a;0 An" that( ;ore than anythin# e!se( is )hat this a!! /o;es "o)n to0

5eL#i4in# u%Lon ;e0

No ;atter )hat I94e sai" so 7ar( no ;atter )ho I94e s%o*en o7( it a!! /o;es a/* toMit a!! en"s

)ithM;e0 Her 4oi/e soun"s /a!;0 2ontent )ith )hat she9s sayin#0 Be7ore that %arty( I9" thou#ht a out #i4in# u% so ;any ti;es0 I "on9t *no)( ;ay e so;e %eo%!e are Just

%re/on"itione" to thin* a out it ;ore than others0 Be/ause e4ery ti;e so;ethin# a" ha%%ene"( I thou#ht a out it0 ItE O*ay( I9!! say it0 I thou#ht a out sui/i"e0

The an#er( the !a;e( it9s a!! #one0 Her ;in" is ;a"e u%0 The )or" is not a stru##!e 7or her any;ore0 A7ter e4erythin# I94e ta!*e" a out on these ta%es( e4erythin# that o//urre"( I thou#ht a out sui/i"e0 ,sua!!y( it )as Just a %assin# thou#ht0

I )ish I )ou!" "ie0 I94e thou#ht those )or"s ;any ti;es0 But it9s a har" thin# to say out !ou"0 It9s e4en s/arier to 7ee! you ;i#ht ;ean it0 But so;eti;es I too* thin#s 7urther an" )on"ere" ho) I )ou!" "o it0 I )ou!" tu/* ;yse!7 into e" an"

)on"er i7 there )as anythin# in the house I /ou!" use0 A #unE No0 We ne4er o)ne" one0 An" I )ou!"n9t *no) )here to #et one0 What a out han#in#E We!!( )hat )ou!" I useE Where )ou!" I "o itE An" e4en i7 I *ne) )hat an" )here( I /ou!" ne4er #et eyon" the 4isua! o7 so;eone 7in"in# ;eMs)in#in#Min/hes 7ro; the 7!oor0 I /ou!"n9t "o that to 5o; an" :a"0 So ho) "i" they 7in" youE I94e hear" so ;any ru;ors0 It e/a;e a si/* sort o7 #a;e( i;a#inin# )ays to *i!! ;yse!70 An" there are so;e %retty )eir" an" /reati4e )ays0 Pa#e 13=

You too* %i!!s0 That( )e a!! *no)0 So;e say you %asse" out an" "ro)ne" in a athtu 7u!! o7 )ater0 It /a;e "o)n to t)o !ines o7 thin*in#0 I7 I )ante" %eo%!e to thin* it )as an a//i"ent( I9" "ri4e ;y /ar o77 the roa"0 So;e%!a/e )here there9s no /han/e o7 sur4i4a!0 An" there are so ;any %!a/es to "o that on the

outs*irts o7 to)n0 I94e %ro a !y "ri4en y ea/h o7 the; a "oBen ti;es in the %ast /ou%!e )ee*s0 Others say you "re) the ath)ater( ut 7e!! as!ee% on your e" )hi!e it )as 7i!!in#0 Your ;o; an" "a" /a;e ho;e( 7oun" the athroo; 7!oo"e"( an" /a!!e" your na;e0 But there )as no ans)er0 Then there are these ta%es0 2an I trust the t)e!4e o7 you to *ee% a se/retE To not !et ;y %arents 7in" out )hat rea!!y ha%%ene"E Wi!! you !et the; e!ie4e it )as an a//i"ent i7 that9s the story #oin# aroun"E She %auses0 I "on9t *no)0 I9; not sure0 She thin*s )e ;i#ht te!!0 She thin*s )e9!! )a!* u% to our 7rien"s an" say( D:o you )ant to *no) a horri !e se/retEF So I94e "e/i"e" on the !east %ain7u! )ay %ossi !e0 Pi!!s0 5y sto;a/h %u!!s in( )antin# to ri" ;y o"y o7 e4erythin#0 Coo"0 Thou#hts0 E;otions0 But )hat *in" o7 %i!!sE An" ho) ;anyE I9; not sure0 An" I "on9t ha4e ;u/h ti;e to 7i#ure it out e/ause to;orro)LI9; #oin# to "o it0 Wo)0 I sit "o)n on the /ur o7 a "ar*( Iuiet interse/tion0 I )on9t e aroun" any;oreLto;orro)0 5ost houses on the /onne/tin# 7our !o/*s #i4e !itt!e in"i/ation that anyone is a)a*e insi"e0 A 7e) )in"o)s 7!i/*er )ith the 7aint !ue !i#ht o7 !ate?ni#ht TV0 A out a thir" o7 the; ha4e %or/h !i#hts on0 But 7or the rest( other than a /ut !a)n or a /ar out 7ront( it9s har" to te!! anyone !i4es there at a!!0 To;orro) I9; #ettin# u%( I9; #ettin# "resse"( an" I9; )a!*in# to the %ost o77i/e0 There( I9!! ;ai! a un/h o7 ta%es to Justin Co!ey0 An" a7ter that( there9s no turnin# a/*0 I9!! #o to s/hoo!( too !ate 7or 7irst

%erio"( an" )e9!! ha4e one !ast "ay to#ether0 The on!y "i77eren/e ein# that I9!! *no) it9s the !ast "ay0 You )on9t0 2an I re;e; erE 2an I see her in the ha!!s on that !ast "ayE I )ant to re;e; er the 4ery !ast ti;e I sa) her0 An" you9!! treat ;e ho) you94e a!)ays treate" ;e0 :o you re;e; er the !ast thin# you sai" to ;eE Pa#e 131

I "on9t0 The !ast thin# you "i" to ;eE I s;i!e"( I9; sure o7 it0 I s;i!e" e4ery ti;e I sa) you a7ter that %arty( ut you ne4er !oo*e" u%0 Be/ause your ;in" )as ;a"e u%0 I7 #i4en the /han/e( you *ne) you ;i#ht s;i!e a/*0 An" you /ou!"n9t0 Not i7 you )ante" to #o throu#h )ith it0 An" )hat )as the !ast thin# I sai" to youE Be/ause trust ;e( )hen I sai" it( I *ne) it )as the !ast thin# I9" e4er say0 Nothin#0 You to!" ;e to !ea4e the roo; an" that )as it0 You 7oun" )ays to i#nore ;e e4ery ti;e a7ter that0 Whi/h rin#s us to one o7 ;y 4ery !ast )ee*en"s0 The )ee*en" 7o!!o)in# the a//i"ent0 The )ee*en" o7 a ne) %arty0 A %arty I "i"n9t atten"0 Yes( I )as sti!! #roun"e"0 But that9s not the reason I "i"n9t #o0 In 7a/t( i7 I )ante" to #o( it )ou!"94e een ;u/h easier than !ast ti;e e/ause I )as house?sittin# that )ee*en"0 A 7rien" o7 ;y 7ather9s )as out o7 to)n an" I )as )at/hin# his house 7or hi;( 7ee"in# his "o#( an" *ee%in# an eye on thin#s e/ause there )as su%%ose" to e a ra#er a 7e) "oors "o)n0 An" there )as0 5ay e not as i# as the !ast %arty( ut "e7inite!y not one 7or e#inners0 E4en i7 I thou#ht you ;i#ht e there( I sti!! )ou!"94e staye" ho;e0

With the )ay you i#nore" ;e at s/hoo!( I assu;e" you )ou!" i#nore ;e there( too0 An" that )as a theory too %ain7u! to %ro4e0 I94e hear" %eo%!e say that a7ter a %arti/u!ar!y a" eG%erien/e )ith teIui!a( Just the s;e!! o7 it /an ;a*e the; ar70 An" )hi!e this %arty "i"n9t ;a*e ;e ar7( Just ein# near itMJust hearin# itMt)iste" ;y sto;a/h into *nots0 One )ee* )as no)here near enou#h ti;e to #et o4er that !ast %arty0 The "o# )as #oin# /raBy( ya%%in# e4ery ti;e so;eone )a!*e" y the )in"o)0 I )ou!" /rou/h "o)n( ye!!in# at hi; to #et a)ay 7ro; there( ut )as too a7rai" to #o o4er an" %i/* hi; u%Mtoo a7rai" so;eone ;i#ht see ;e an" /a!! ;y na;e0 So I %ut the "o# in the #ara#e( )here he /ou!" ya% a!! he )ante"0 Wait( I re;e; er it no)0 The !ast ti;e I sa) you0 The ass thu;%in# "o)n the !o/* )as i;%ossi !e to shut out0 But I trie"0 I ran throu#h the house( /!osin# /urtains an" t)istin# shut e4ery !in" I /ou!" 7in"0 I re;e; er the !ast )or"s )e sai" to ea/h other0 Pa#e 138

Then I hi" ;yse!7 in the e"roo; )ith the TV !astin#0 An" e4en thou#h I /ou!"n9t hear it( I /ou!" 7ee! the ass %u;%in# insi"e o7 ;e0 I shut ;y eyes( ti#ht0 I )asn9t )at/hin# the TV any;ore0 I )asn9t in that roo; any;ore0 I /ou!" on!y thin* a/* to that /!oset( hi"in# insi"e it )ith a %i!e o7 Ja/*ets surroun"in# ;e0 An" on/e a#ain( I starte" ro/*in# a/* an" 7orth( a/* an" 7orth0 An" on/e a#ain( no one )as aroun" to hear ;e /ry0 In 5r0 Porter9s En#!ish /!ass( I noti/e" your "es* )as e;%ty0 But )hen the e!! ran# an" I )a!*e" into the ha!!( there you )ere0 E4entua!!y the %arty "ie" "o)n0 An" a7ter e4eryone )a!*e" y the )in"o) a#ain( an" the "o# sto%%e" ya%%in#( I )a!*e" throu#h the house reo%enin# the /urtains0 We a!;ost u;%e" into ea/h other0 But your eyes )ere "o)n so you "i"n9t *no) it )as ;e0 An"

to#ether( )e sai" it0 DI9; sorry0F A7ter ein# shut in 7or so !on#( I "e/i"e" to /at/h a reath o7 7resh air0 An" ;ay e( in turn( e a hero0 Then you !oo*e" u%0 You sa) ;e0 An" there( in your eyes( )hat )as itE Sa"nessE PainE You ;o4e" aroun" ;e an" trie" %ushin# your hair a)ay 7ro; your 7a/e0 Your 7in#ernai!s )ere %ainte" "ar* !ue0 I )at/he" you )a!* "o)n the !on# stret/h o7 ha!!)ay( )ith %eo%!e *no/*in# into ;e0 But I "i"n9t /are0 I stoo" there an" )at/he" you "isa%%ear0 Core4er0 On/e a#ain( e4ery o"y( :?&0 2ourtney 2ri;sen9s house0 The site o7 this %arty0 No( this ta%e is not a out 2ourtneyLthou#h she "oes %!ay a %art0 But 2ourtney has no i"ea )hat I9;

a out to say e/ause she !e7t Just as thin#s #ot #oin#0 I turn an" )a!* in the o%%osite "ire/tion o7 2ourtney9s house0 5y %!an )as to Just )a!* y the %!a/e0 5ay e I9" 7in" so;eone stru##!in# to %ut a *ey in their /ar "oor

an" I9" #i4e the; a ri"e ho;e0 I9; not #oin# to 2ourtney9s0 I9; #oin# to Eisenho)er Par*( the s/ene o7 Hannah9s 7irst *iss0 But the street )as e;%ty0 E4eryone )as #one0 Or so it see;e"0 An" then( so;eone /a!!e" ;y na;e0 O4er the ta!! )oo"en 7en/e at the si"e o7 her house( a hea" %o*e" u%0 An" )hose hea" )ou!" that eE

Bry/e Wa!*er9s0 $o"( no0 This /an on!y en" one )ay0 I7 anyone /an sho4e! ;ore shit onto Hannah9s !i7e( it9s Bry/e0 DWhere you #oin#EF he as*e"0 Ho) ;any ti;es ha" I seen hi;( )ith any o7 his #ir!7rien"s( #ra in# their )rists an" t)istin#E Treatin#

the; !i*e ;eat0

Pa#e 133

An" that )as in %u !i/0 5y o"y( ;y shou!"ers( e4erythin# )as set to *ee% )a!*in# y the house0 An" I shou!" ha4e *e%t

)a!*in#0 But ;y 7a/e turne" to)ar" hi;0 There )as stea; risin# u% 7ro; his si"e o7 the 7en/e0

D2o;e on( Join us(F he sai"0 DWe9re so erin# u%0F An" )hose hea" shou!" %o% u% esi"e hisE 5iss 2ourtney 2ri;sen9s0 No) there )as a /oin/i"en/e0 She9s the one )ho use" ;e as a /hau77er to atten" a %arty0 An" there I

)as( /rashin# her a7ter?%arty0 She9s the one )ho !e7t ;e stran"e" )ith no one to ta!* to0 An" there I )as( at her house( )here she ha" no)here to hi"e0 That9s not )hy you "i" it( Hannah0 That9s not )hy you Joine" the;0 You *ne) it )as the )orst /hoi/e

%ossi !e0 You *ne) that0 But )ho a; I to ho!" a #ru"#eE That9s )hy you "i" it0 You )ante" your )or!" to /o!!a%se aroun" you0 You )ante" e4erythin# to #et as

"ar* as %ossi !e0 An" Bry/e( you *ne)( /ou!" he!% you "o that0 He sai" you )ere a!! Just re!aGin# a it0 Then you( 2ourtney( o77ere" to #i4e ;e a ri"e ho;e )hen )e

)ere "one( not rea!iBin# Dho;eF )as on!y t)o houses a)ay0 An" you soun"e" so #enuine( )hi/h sur%rise" ;e0 It e4en ;a"e ;e 7ee! a !itt!e #ui!ty0 I )as )i!!in# to 7or#i4e you( 2ourtney0 I "o 7or#i4e you0 In 7a/t( I 7or#i4e a!;ost a!! o7 you0 But you sti!!

nee" to hear ;e out0 You sti!! nee" to *no)0 I )a!*e" a/ross the )et #rass an" %u!!e" a !at/h on the 7en/e( %o%%in# the #ate o%en a 7e) in/hes0 An"

ehin" it( the sour/e o7 the stea;La re")oo" hot tu 0 The Jets )eren9t on( so the on!y soun" )as the )ater !a%%in# a#ainst the si"es0 A#ainst the t)o o7 you0 Your hea"s )ere a/*( restin# on the e"#e o7 the hot tu 0 Your eyes )ere shut0 An" the !itt!e s;i!es on

your 7a/es ;a"e the )ater an" stea; !oo* so in4itin#0 2ourtney ro!!e" her hea" ;y )ay ut *e%t her eyes shut0 DWe9re in our un"er)ear(F she sai"0 I )aite" a se/on"0 Shou!" IE NoL ut I )i!!0 You *ne) )hat you )ere #ettin# into( Hannah0 I too* o77 ;y to%( %u!!e" o77 ;y shoes( too* o77 ;y %ants( an" /!i; e" the )oo"en ste%s0 An" thenE I

"es/en"e" into the )ater0

Pa#e 1&+

It 7e!t so re!aGin#0 So /o;7ortin#0 I /u%%e" the hot )ater in ;y han"s an" !et it "ri% o4er ;y 7a/e0 I %ushe" it a/* throu#h ;y hair0 I 7or/e" ;y eyes to shut( ;y o"y to s!i"e "o)n( an" ;y hea" to rest a#ainst the !e"#e0 But )ith the /a!;in# )ater a!so /a;e terror0 I shou!" not e here0 I "i"n9t trust 2ourtney0 I "i"n9t trust Bry/e0 No ;atter )hat their ori#ina! intentions( I *ne) the; ea/h )e!! enou#h not to trust the; 7or !on#0 An" I )as ri#ht not to trust the;L ut I )as "one0 I )as throu#h 7i#htin#0 I o%ene" ;y eyes an" !oo*e" u% at the ni#ht s*y0 Throu#h the stea;( the )ho!e )or!" see;e" !i*e a "rea;0 I narro) ;y eyes as I )a!*( )antin# to shut the; /o;%!ete!y0 Be7ore !on#( the )ater e/a;e un/o;7orta !e0 Too hot0 When I o%en ;y eyes( I )ant to e stan"in# in 7ront o7 the %ar*0 I "on9t )ant to see any ;ore o7 the streets I )a!*e"( an" the streets Hannah )a!*e"( the ni#ht o7 the %arty0 But )hen I %ushe" ;y a/* a#ainst the tu an" sat u% to /oo! ;y u%%er o"y( I /ou!" see ;y reasts throu#h ;y )et ra0 So I s!i" a/* "o)n0 An" Bry/e s!i" o4erLs!o)!yLa/ross the un"er)ater en/h0 An" his shou!"er reste" a#ainst ;ine0 2ourtney o%ene" her eyes( !oo*e" at us( then shut the; a#ain0 I s)in# a 7ist to the si"e an" ratt!e a ruste" /hain?!in* 7en/e0 I shut ;y eyes an" "ra# ;y 7in#ers a/ross the ;eta!0 Bry/e9s )or"s )ere so7t( an o 4ious atte;%t at ro;an/e0 DHannah Ba*er(F he sai"0 E4eryone *no)s )ho you are( Bry/e0 E4eryone *no)s )hat you "o0 But I( 7or the re/or"( "i" nothin# to sto% you0

You as*e" i7 I ha" 7un at the %arty0 2ourtney )his%ere" that I )asn9t at the %arty( ut you "i"n9t see; to /are0 Instea"( your 7in#erti%s tou/he" the outsi"e o7 ;y thi#h0 I o%en ;y eyes an" %oun" the 7en/e a#ain0 I /!en/he" ;y Ja) an" your 7in#ers ;o4e" a)ay0 DIt ro*e u% %retty 7ast(F you sai"0 An" Just as 7ast( your 7in#erti%s )ere a/*0 I ho!" ti#ht to the 7en/e an" *ee% )a!*in# 7or)ar"0 When ;y 7in#ers %u!! a)ay 7ro; the ;eta!( ;y s*in s!i/es o%en0 Your )ho!e han" )as a/*0 An" )hen I "i"n9t sto% you( you s!i" your han" a/ross ;y e!!y0 Your thu; tou/he" the otto; o7 ;y ra an" your %in*y tou/he" the to% o7 ;y un"er)ear0 Pa#e 1&1

I turne" ;y hea" si"e)ays( a)ay 7ro; you0 An" I *no) I "i"n9t s;i!e0 You %u!!e" your 7in#ers to#ether an" ru e" s!o)( 7u!! /ir/!es aroun" ;y sto;a/h0 DCee!s ni/e(F you

sai"0 I 7e!t a shi7t in the )ater an" o%ene" ;y eyes 7or one rie7 se/on"0 2ourtney )as )a!*in# a)ay0 :o you nee" ;ore reasons 7or e4eryone to hate you( 2ourtneyE DRe;e; er )hen you )ere a 7resh;anEF you as*e"0 Your 7in#ers ;a"e their )ay un"er ;y ra0 But you "i"n9t #ra ;e0 Testin# the oun"aries( I #uess0

S!i"in# your thu; a!on# the un"ersi"e o7 ;y reasts0 DWeren9t you on that !istEF you sai"0 DBest ass in the 7resh;an /!ass0F Bry/e( you ha" to see ;y Ja) /!en/h0 You ha" to see ;y tears0 :oes that *in" o7 shit turn you onE Bry/eE Yes0 It "oes0 DIt9s true(F you sai"0 An" then( Just !i*e that( I !et #o0 5y shou!"ers )ent !i;%0 5y !e#s 7e!! a%art0 I *ne) eGa/t!y )hat I )as

"oin#0 Not on/e ha" I #i4en in to the re%utation you9" a!! set 7or ;e0 Not on/e0 E4en thou#h so;eti;es it )as

har"0 E4en thou#h( so;eti;es( I 7oun" ;yse!7 attra/te" to so;eone )ho on!y )ante" to #et )ith ;e e/ause o7 )hat they9" hear"0 But I a!)ays sai" no to those %eo%!e0 A!)aysK ,nti! Bry/e0 So /on#ratu!ations( Bry/e0 You9re the one0 I !et ;y re%utation /at/h u% )ith ;eMI !et ;y re%utation

e/o;e ;eM)ith you0 Ho) "oes it 7ee!E Wait( "on9t ans)er that0 Let ;e say this 7irst> I )as not attra/te" to you( Bry/e0 E4er0 In 7a/t( you

"is#uste" ;e0 An" I9; #oin# to *i/* your ass0 I s)ear it0 You )ere tou/hin# ;eL ut I )as usin# you0 I nee"e" you( so I /ou!" !et #o o7 ;e( /o;%!ete!y0 Cor e4eryone !istenin#( !et ;e e /!ear0 I "i" not say no or %ush his han" a)ay0 A!! I "i" )as turn ;y

hea"( /!en/h ;y teeth( an" 7i#ht a/* tears0 An" he sa) that0 He e4en to!" ;e to re!aG0 DJust re!aG(F he sai"0 DE4erythin# )i!! e o*ay0F As i7 !ettin# hi; 7in#er ;e )as #oin# to /ure a!! ;y %ro !e;s0 But in the en"( I ne4er to!" you to #et a)ayLan" you "i"n9t0

Pa#e 1&6

You sto%%e" ru in# /ir/!es on ;y sto;a/h0 Instea"( you ru e" a/* an" 7orth( #ent!y( a!on# ;y )aist0 Your %in*y ;a"e its )ay un"er the to% o7 ;y %anties an" ro!!e" a/* an" 7orth( 7ro; hi% to hi%0 Then another 7in#er s!i%%e" e!o)( %ushin# your %in*y 7urther "o)n( rushin# it throu#h ;y hair0 An" that9s a!! you nee"e"( Bry/e0 You starte" *issin# ;y shou!"er( ;y ne/*( s!i"in# your 7in#ers in an" out0 An" then you *e%t #oin#0 You "i"n9t sto% there0 I9; sorry0 Is this #ettin# too #ra%hi/ 7or so;e o7 youE Too a"0 When you )ere "one( Bry/e( I #ot out o7 the hot tu an" )a!*e" t)o houses a)ay0 The ni#ht )as o4er0 I )as "one0 I ti#hten ;y 7ist an" !i7t it in 7ront o7 ;y 7a/e0 Throu#h ;y teary eyes( I )at/h the !oo" sIueeBe throu#h

;y 7in#ers0 The s*in is /ut "ee% in a 7e) %!a/es( torn y the ruste" 7en/e0 No ;atter )here Hannah )ants ;e to #o neGt( I *no) )here I9; s%en"in# the rest o7 ;y ni#ht0 But

7irst( I nee" to /!ean ;y han"0 The /uts stin#( ut I ;ost!y 7ee! )ea* 7ro; the si#ht o7 ;y o)n !oo"0

I hea" 7or the nearest #as station0 It9s a /ou%!e o7 !o/*s "o)n an" not too 7ar out o7 ;y )ay0 I 7!i/* ;y

han" a 7e) ti;es( "ri%%in# "ar* s%ots o7 !oo" onto the si"e)a!*0 When I rea/h the station( I tu/* ;y hurt han" into ;y %o/*et an" %u!! o%en the #!ass "oor o7 the ;ini?;art0 I 7in" a /!ear ott!e o7 ru in# a!/oho! an" a s;a!! oG o7 Ban"?Ai"s( "ro% a 7e) u/*s on the /ounter( an" as* 7or a *ey to the restroo;0

DRestroo;s are aroun" a/*(F the )o;an ehin" the /ounter says0 I turn the *ey in the !o/* an" %ush the restroo; "oor o%en )ith ;y shou!"er0 Then I rinse ;y han" eneath /o!" )ater an" )at/h the !oo" /ir/!e "o)n the "rain0 I /ra/* the sea! on the ott!e o7 a!/oho! an"( in one ;otion e/ause I )on9t "o it i7 I thin*( e;%ty the entire ott!e o4er ;y han"0

5y )ho!e o"y tenses an" I /urse as !ou" an" as har" as I /an0 It 7ee!s !i*e ;y s*in is %ee!in# a)ay 7ro; the ;us/!e0 A7ter )hat see;s !i*e near!y an hour( I /an 7ina!!y en" an" 7!eG ;y 7in#ers a#ain0 ,sin# ;y 7ree han"

an" ;y teeth( I a%%!y so;e Ban"?Ai"s to ;y /ut han"0 I return the *ey an" the )o;an says nothin# ;ore than( DHa4e a #oo" ni#ht0F When I rea/h the si"e)a!*( I start Jo##in# a#ain0 There9s on!y one ta%e !e7t0 A !ue nu; er thirteen %ainte" in the /orner0 2ASSETTE 1> SI:E A Eisenho)er Par* is e;%ty0 I stan" si!ent!y at the entran/e( ta*in# it a!! in0 This is )here I9!! s%en" the ni#ht0 Where I9!! !isten to the !ast )or"s Hannah Ba*er )ants to say e7ore I !et ;yse!7 7a!! as!ee%0 La;%%osts stan" in the 4arious %!ay areas( ut ;ost o7 the u! s are either urnt out or uste"0 The Pa#e 1&3

otto; ha!7 o7 the ro/*et s!i"e is hi""en in "ar*ness0 But near the to%( )here the ro/*et /!i; s hi#her than the s)in#s an" the trees( ;oon!i#ht hits the ;eta! ars a!! the )ay u% to the %ea*0 I ste% onto an area o7 san" surroun"in# the ro/*et0 I "u/* eneath its otto; %!at7or;( !i7te" u% 7ro; the #roun" y three !ar#e ;eta! 7ins0 A o4e ;e( a /ir/!e the siBe o7 a ;anho!e is /ut into the !o)est !e4e!0 A

;eta! !a""er "es/en"s to the san"0 When I stan" u%( ;y shou!"ers %o*e throu#h the ho!e0 With ;y #oo" han"( I #ri% the !i% o7 the /ir/!e an" /!i; to the 7irst %!at7or;0 I rea/h into ;y Ja/*et %o/*et an" %ress P!ay0 OneL!astLtry0 She9s )his%erin#0 The re/or"er is /!ose to her ;outh an" )ith ea/h rea* in her )or"s I /an hear her reathe0 I9; #i4in# !i7e one ;ore /han/e0 An" this ti;e( I9; #ettin# he!%0 I9; as*in# 7or he!% e/ause I /annot "o this a!one0 I94e trie" that0 You "i"n9t( Hannah0 I )as there 7or you an" you to!" ;e to !ea4e0 O7 /ourse( i7 you9re !istenin# to this( I 7ai!e"0 Or he 7ai!e"0 An" i7 he 7ai!s( the "ea! is sea!e"0 5y throat ti#htens( an" I start /!i; in# u% the neGt !a""er0 On!y one %erson stan"s et)een you an" this /o!!e/tion o7 au"iota%es> 5r0 Porter0 NoK He /annot *no) a out this0 Hannah an" I oth ha4e 5r0 Porter 7or 7irst?%erio" En#!ish0 I see hi; e4ery "ay0 I "o not )ant hi; to *no) a out this0 Not a out ;e0 Not a out anyone0 To rin# an a"u!t into this( so;eone 7ro; s/hoo!( is eyon" )hat I i;a#ine"0 5r0 Porter( !et9s see ho) you "o0 The soun" o7 Ve!/ro tearin# a%art0 Then stu77in#0 She9s sho4in# the re/or"er into so;ethin#0 A a/*%a/*E Her Ja/*etE She *no/*s0 An" *no/*s a#ain0 MHannah0 $!a" you ;a"e it0 The 4oi/e is ;u77!e"( ut it9s hi;0 :ee%( ut 7rien"!y0 M2o;e in0 Sit here0

Pa#e 1&&

Than* you0 Our En#!ish tea/her( ut a!so the #ui"an/e /ounse!or 7or stu"ents )ith !ast na;esA throu#h$ 0 Hannah Ba*er9s #ui"an/e /ounse!or0 MAre you /o;7orta !eE :o you )ant so;e )aterE I9; 7ine0 Than* you0 MSo( Hannah( ho) /an I he!% youE What )ou!" you !i*e to ta!* a outE We!!( that9sLI "on9t *no)( rea!!y0 Just e4erythin#( I #uess0 MThat ;i#ht ta*e a )hi!e0 A !on# %ause0 Too !on#0 MHannah( it9s o*ay0 I94e #ot as ;u/h ti;e as you nee"0 Whene4er you9re rea"y0 It9s JustLthin#s0 E4erythin#9s so har" ri#ht no)0 Her 4oi/e is sha*y0 I "on9t *no) )here to e#in0 I ;ean( I *in" o7 "o0 But there9s so ;u/h an" I "on9t *no) ho) to su; it a!! u%0 MYou "on9t nee" to su; it a!! u%0 Why "on9t )e e#in )ith ho) you9re 7ee!in# to"ay0 Ri#ht no)E MRi#ht no)0 Ri#ht no) I 7ee! !ost( I #uess0 Sort o7 e;%ty0 ME;%ty ho)E

Just e;%ty0 Just nothin#0 I "on9t /are any;ore0 MA outE 5a*e her te!! you0 Nee% as*in# Iuestions( ut ;a*e her te!! you0 A out anythin#0 S/hoo!0 5yse!70 The %eo%!e in ;y s/hoo!0 MWhat a out your 7rien"sE You9re #oin# to ha4e to "e7ine D7rien"sF i7 you )ant an ans)er to that Iuestion0 M:on9t te!! ;e you "on9t ha4e 7rien"s( Hannah0 I see you in the ha!!s0 Serious!y( I nee" a "e7inition0 Ho) "o you *no) )hat a 7rien" isE Pa#e 1&'

MSo;eone you /an turn to )henL Then I "on9t ha4e any0 That9s )hy I9; here( isn9t itE I9; turnin# to you0 MYes0 You are0 An" I9; #!a" you9re here( Hannah0 I /ra)! a/ross the se/on" %!at7or; an" *nee! esi"e an o%enin# in the ars0 An o%enin# i# enou#h 7or %eo%!e to /ra)! throu#h to rea/h the s!i"e0 You "on9t *no) ho) har" it )as to set u% this ;eetin#0 M5y s/he"u!e9s een 7air!y o%en this )ee*0 Not har" to s/he"u!e0 Har" to #et ;yse!7 here0 5oon!i#ht /at/hes the s;ooth ;eta! o7 the s!i"e0 I /an i;a#ine Hannah here( a out t)o years a#o( %ushin# o77 an" s!i"in# "o)n0 S!i%%in# a)ay0 MA#ain( I9; #!a" that you9re here( Hannah0 So te!! ;e( )hen you !ea4e this o77i/e( ho) "o you )ant

thin#s to e "i77erent 7or youE You ;ean( ho) /an you he!%E MYes0 I #uess ILI "on9t *no)0 I9; not sure )hat I9; eG%e/tin#0 MWe!!( )hat "o you nee" ri#ht no) that you9re not #ettin#E Let9s start there0 I nee" it to sto%0 MYou nee" )hat to sto%E I nee" e4erythin# to sto%0 Peo%!e0 Li7e0 I %ush ;yse!7 a/* 7ro; the s!i"e0 MHannah( "o you *no) )hat you Just sai"E She *no)s )hat she sai"( 5r0 Porter0 She )ants you to noti/e )hat she sai" an" he!% her0 MYou sai" you )ante" !i7e to sto%( Hannah0 Your !i7eE No res%onse0 MIs that )hat you ;eant to say( HannahE Those are 4ery serious )or"s( you *no)0 She *no)s e4ery )or" that /o;es out o7 her ;outh( 5r0 Porter0 She *no)s they9re serious )or"s0 :o Pa#e 1&=

so;ethin#K I *no)0 They are0 I9; sorry0 :on9t a%o!o#iBe0 Ta!* to hi;K I "on9t )ant ;y !i7e to en"0 That9s )hy I9; here0

MSo )hat ha%%ene"( HannahE Ho) "i" )e #et hereE WeE Or ho) "i"I#et hereE MYou( Hannah0 Ho) "i" you #et to this %ointE I *no) you /an9t su; it a!! u%0 It9s the sno) a!! e77e/t( a; I ri#htE Yes0 The sno) a!! e77e/t0 That9s )hat she9s een /a!!in# it0 MIt9s one thin# on to% o7 another0 It9s too ;u/h( isn9t itE It9s too har"0 MLi7eE Another %ause0 I #ra onto the outer ars o7 the ro/*et an" %u!! ;yse!7 u%0 5y an"a#e" han" hurts0 It stin#s to %ut ;y )ei#ht on it( ut I "on9t /are0 MHere0 Ta*e this0 An entire oG o7 tissues Just 7or you0 Ne4er een use"0 A !au#h0 He #ot her to !au#hK Than* you0 MLet9s ta!* a out s/hoo!( Hannah0 So I /an #et so;e i"ea ho) )eMI9; sorryMho) you #ot to this %oint0 O*ay0 I start /!i; in# to the to% !e4e!0 MWhen you thin* o7 s/hoo!( )hat9s the 7irst thin# that /o;es to ;in"E Learnin#( I #uess0 MWe!!( that9s #oo" to hear0 I9; *i""in#0

No) 5r0 Porter !au#hs0 Pa#e 1&1

I "o !earn here( ut that9s not )hat s/hoo! is 7or ;e0 MThen )hat is it 7or youE A %!a/e0 Just a %!a/e 7i!!e" )ith %eo%!e that I9; reIuire" to e )ith0 I sit on the to% %!at7or;0 MAn" that9s har" 7or youE At ti;es0 MWith /ertain %eo%!e( or %eo%!e in #enera!E With /ertain %eo%!e0 But a!soLe4eryone0 M2an you e a !itt!e ;ore s%e/i7i/E I s/oot a/*)ar" a/ross the %!at7or; an" !ean a#ainst the ;eta! steerin# )hee!0 A o4e the tree !ine( the

ha!7?;oon is a!;ost too ri#ht to !oo* at0 It9s har" e/ause I "on9t *no) )ho9s #oin# toLyou *no)L#et ;e neGt0 Or ho)0 MWhat "o you ;ean( D#etF youE Not !i*e a /ons%ira/y or anythin#0 But it 7ee!s !i*e I ne4er *no) )hen so;ethin#9s #oin# to %o% out o7

the )oo")or*0 MAn" #et youE I *no)( it soun"s si!!y0 MThen eG%!ain0 It9s har" to eG%!ain un!ess you94e hear" so;e o7 the ru;ors a out ;e0 MI ha4en9t0 Tea/hers( es%e/ia!!y a tea/her ;oon!i#htin# as a /ounse!or( ten" to #et !e7t out o7 stu"ent

#ossi%0 Not that )e "on9t ha4e our o)n #ossi%0 A out youE He !au#hs0 MIt "e%en"s0 What ha4e you hear"E Nothin#0 I9; Jo*in#0 MBut you9!! te!! ;e i7 you hear anythin#0 I %ro;ise0

Pa#e 1&8

:on9t Jo*e( 5r0 Porter0 He!% her0 $et a/* to Hannah0 P!ease0 MWhen )as the !ast ti;e a ru;orL%o%%e" u%E See( that9s it0 Not a!! o7 the; are ru;ors0 MO*ay0 No0 ListenL P!ease !isten0 Years a#o I )as 4ote"Lyou *no)( in one o7 those %o!!s0 We!!( not rea!!y a %o!!( ut so;eone9s stu%i"

i"ea o7 a !ist0 A est?o7 an" )orst?o7 thin#0 He "oesn9t res%on"0 :i" he see itE :oes he *no) )hat she9s ta!*in# a outE An" %eo%!e ha4e een rea/tin# to it e4er sin/e0 MWhen )as the !ast ti;eE I hear her %u!! a tissue 7ro; the oG0 Re/ent!y0 At a %arty0 I s)ear( one o7 the )orst ni#hts o7 ;y !i7e0 MBe/ause o7 a ru;orE So ;u/h ;ore than a ru;or0 But %art!y( yes0 M2an I as* )hat ha%%ene" at this %artyE It )asn9t rea!!y "urin# the %arty0 It )as a7ter0 MO*ay( Hannah( /an )e %!ay T)enty SuestionsE WhatE MSo;eti;es it9s har" 7or %eo%!e to o%en u%( e4en to a /ounse!or )here e4erythin# is stri/t!y

/on7i"entia!0 O*ay0 MSo( /an )e %!ay T)enty SuestionsE Yes0 MAt this %arty you ;entione"( are )e ta!*in# a out a oyE Yes0 But a#ain( it )asn9t "urin# the %arty0 MI un"erstan" that0 But )e nee" to start so;e)here0

Pa#e 1&3

O*ay0 He eGha!es "ee%!y0 MI9; not #oin# to Ju"#e you( Hannah( ut "i" anythin# ha%%en that ni#ht that you re#retE

Yes0 I stan" u% an" )a!* to the outer ars o7 the ro/*et0 Wra%%in# ;y han"s aroun" t)o o7 the ars( I tou/h

;y 7a/e to the e;%ty s%a/e et)een the;0 M:i" anythin# ha%%en )ith this oyMan" you /an e tota!!y honest )ith ;e( HannahM"i" anythin#

ha%%en that ;i#ht e /onsi"ere" i!!e#a!E

You ;ean ra%eE No0 I "on9t thin* so0

MWhy "on9t you *no)E

Be/ause there )ere /ir/u;stan/es0

MA!/oho!E

5ay e( ut not )ith ;e0

M:ru#sE

No( Just ;ore /ir/u;stan/es0

MAre you thin*in# o7 %ressin# /har#esE

No0 I9;Lno0

I eGha!e a 7u!! reath o7 air0

MThen )hat are your o%tionsE

I "on9t *no)0

Te!! her( 5r0 Porter0 Te!! her )hat her o%tions are0

MWhat /an )e "o to so!4e this %ro !e;( HannahE To#ether0

Nothin#0 It9s o4er0

MSo;ethin# nee"s to e "one( Hannah0 So;ethin# nee"s to /han#e 7or you0

I *no)0 But )hat are ;y o%tionsE I nee" you to te!! ;e0

MWe!!( i7 you )on9t %ress /har#es( i7 you9re not sure i7 you e4en /an %ress /har#es( then you ha4e t)o

o%tions0

Pa#e 1'+

WhatE What are theyE She soun"s ho%e7u!0 She9s %uttin# too ;u/h ho%e in his ans)ers0 MOne( you /an /on7ront hi;0 We /an /a!! hi; in here to "is/uss )hat ha%%ene" at this %arty0 I /an /a!!

you oth out o7L You sai" there )ere t)o o%tions0 MOr t)o( an" I9; not tryin# to e !unt here( Hannah( ut you /an ;o4e on0 You ;ean( "o nothin#E I #ri% the ars an" shut ;y eyes ti#ht0 MIt is an o%tion( an" that9s a!! )e9re ta!*in# a out0 Loo*( so;ethin# ha%%ene"( Hannah0 I e!ie4e you0

But i7 you )on9t %ress /har#es an" you )on9t /on7ront hi;( you nee" to /onsi"er the %ossi i!ity o7 ;o4in# eyon" this0

An" i7 that9s not a %ossi i!ityE Then )hatE Be/ause #uess )hat( 5r0 Porter( she )on9t "o it0 5o4e eyon" thisE MIs he in your /!ass( HannahE He9s a senior0 MSo he9!! e #one neGt year0 You )ant ;e to ;o4e eyon" this0 It9s not a Iuestion( 5r0 Porter0 :on9t ta*e it as one0 She9s thin*in# out !ou"0 It9s not an o%tion e/ause she /an9t "o it0 Te!! her you9re #oin# to he!% her0

There9s a rust!e0 Than* you( 5r0 Porter0 NoK MHannah0 Wait0 You "on9t nee" to !ea4e0 I s/rea; throu#h the ars0 O4er the trees0 DNoKF I thin* I9; "one here0 :o not !et her !ea4e0 I #ot )hat I /a;e 7or0

Pa#e 1'1

MI thin* there9s ;ore )e /an ta!* a out( Hannah0 No( I thin* )e94e 7i#ure" it out0 I nee" to ;o4e on an" #et o4er it0 MNot #et o4er it( Hannah0 But so;eti;es there9s nothin# !e7t to "o ut ;o4e on0 :o not !et her !ea4e that roo;K You9re ri#ht0 I *no)0 MHannah( I "on9t un"erstan" )hy you9re in su/h a hurry to !ea4e0 Be/ause I nee" to #et on )ith thin#s( 5r0 Porter0 I7 nothin#9s #oin# to /han#e( then I9" etter #et on )ith

it( ri#htE MHannah( )hat are you ta!*in# a outE I9; ta!*in# a out ;y !i7e( 5r0 Porter0 A "oor /!i/*s0 MHannah( )ait0 Another /!i/*0 No) the tearin# o7 Ve!/ro0 Cootste%s0 Pi/*in# u% s%ee"0 I9; )a!*in# "o)n the ha!!0 Her 4oi/e is /!ear0 It9s !ou"er0

His "oor is /!ose" ehin" ;e0 It9s stayin# /!ose"0 A %ause0 He9s not /o;in#0 I %ress ;y 7a/e har" a#ainst the ars0 They 7ee! !i*e a 4ise ti#htenin# a#ainst ;y s*u!! the 7urther I %ush0 He9s !ettin# ;e #o0 The %oint ehin" ;y eye ro) is thro in# so har"( ut I "on9t tou/h it0 I "on9t ru it0 I !et it %oun"0 I thin* I94e ;a"e ;yse!7 4ery /!ear( ut no one9s ste%%in# 7or)ar" to sto% ;e0 Who e!se( HannahE Your %arentsE 5eE You )ere not 4ery /!ear )ith ;e0 A !ot o7 you /are"( Just not enou#h0 An" thatLthat is )hat I nee"e" to 7in" out0 But I "i"n9t *no) )hat you )ere #oin# throu#h( Hannah0

Pa#e 1'6

An" I "i" 7in" out0 The 7ootste%s /ontinue0 Caster0 An" I9; sorry0 The re/or"er /!i/*s o770 With ;y 7a/e %ressin# a#ainst the ars( I e#in to /ry0 I7 anyone is )a!*in# throu#h the %ar*( I *no)

they /an hear ;e0 But I "on9t /are i7 they hear ;e e/ause I /an9t e!ie4e I Just hear" the !ast )or"s I9!!

e4er hear 7ro; Hannah Ba*er0 DI9; sorry0F On/e a#ain( those )ere the )or"s0 An" no)( anyti;e so;eone says I9; sorry( I9; #oin# to thin* o7 her0 But so;e o7 us )on9t e )i!!in# to say those )or"s a/*0 So;e o7 us )i!! e too an#ry at Hannah 7or *i!!in# herse!7 an" !a;in# e4eryone e!se0 I )ou!" ha4e he!%e" her i7 she9" on!y !et ;e0 I )ou!" ha4e he!%e" her e/ause I )ant her to e a!i4e0 The ta%e 4i rates in the Wa!*;an as it rea/hes the en" o7 its s%oo!0 2ASSETTE 1> SI:E B The ta%e /!i/*s itse!7 o4er an" /ontinues %!ayin#0 Without her 4oi/e( the s!i#ht stati/ hu; that /onstant!y %!aye" eneath her )or"s soun"s !ou"er0 O4er se4en ta%es an" thirteen stories( her 4oi/e )as *e%t at a s!i#ht "istan/e y this stea"y hu; in the a/*#roun"0

I !et this soun" )ash o4er ;e as I ho!" onto the ars an" /!ose ;y eyes0 The ri#ht ;oon "isa%%ears0

The s)ayin# treeto%s "isa%%ear0 The reeBe a#ainst ;y s*in( the 7a"in# %ain in ;y 7in#ers( the soun" o7 this ta%e )in"in# 7ro; one s%oo! to the neGt( re;in"s ;e o7 e4erythin# I94e hear" o4er the %ast "ay0

5y reathin# e#ins to s!o)0 The tension in ;y ;us/!es starts to re!aG0 Then( a /!i/* in the hea"%hones0 A s!o) reath o7 air0 I o%en ;y eyes to the ri#ht ;oon!i#ht0 An" Hannah( )ith )ar;th0 Than* you0 THE NE@T :AY ACTER 5AILIN$ THE TAPES I 7i#ht e4ery ;us/!e in ;y o"y( e##in# ;e to /o!!a%se0 Be##in# ;e not to #o to s/hoo!0 To #o

any)here e!se an" hi"e out ti!! to;orro)0 But no ;atter )hen I #o a/*( the 7a/t re;ains( e4entua!!y I nee" to 7a/e the other %eo%!e on the ta%es0 Pa#e 1'3

I a%%roa/h the entran/e to the %ar*in# !ot( a %at/h o7 i4y )ith a )i"e s!a o7 et/he" stone )e!/o;in# us a/* to hi#h s/hoo!02O,RTESY OC THE 2LASS OC 9330 I94e )a!*e" %ast this stone ;any ti;es o4er the %ast three years( ut not on/e )ith the %ar*in# !ot this 7u!!0 Not on/e( e/ause I ha4e ne4er een this !ate0 Ti!! to"ay0 Cor t)o reasons0 One> I )aite" outsi"e the %ost o77i/e "oors0 Waitin# 7or the; to o%en so I /ou!" ;ai! a shoe oG 7u!! o7 au"iota%es0 I use" a ro)n %a%er a# an" a ro!! o7 %a/*in# ta%e to re)ra% it( /on4enient!y 7or#ettin# to a"" ;y return a""ress0 Then I ;ai!e" the %a/*a#e to Jenny NurtB( /han#in# the )ay she9!! see !i7e( ho) she9!! see the )or!"( 7ore4er0 An" t)o> 5r0 Porter0 I7 I sit there in 7irst %erio"( )ith hi; )ritin# on the oar" or stan"in# ehin" the %o"iu;( the on!y %!a/e I /an i;a#ine !oo*in# is in the ;i""!e o7 the roo;( one "es* to the !e7t0 The e;%ty "es* o7 Hannah Ba*er0 Peo%!e stare at her "es* e4ery "ay0 But to"ay( 7or ;e( is %ro7oun"!y "i77erent than yester"ay0 So I9!! ta*e ;y ti;e at ;y !o/*er0 An" in the restroo;0 Or )an"erin# throu#h the ha!!s0

I 7o!!o) a si"e)a!* that tra/es the outer e"#e o7 the s/hoo! %ar*in# !ot0 I 7o!!o) it a/ross the 7ront !a)n( throu#h the #!ass "ou !e "oors o7 the ;ain ui!"in#0 An" it 7ee!s stran#e( a!;ost sa"( to )a!* throu#h the e;%ty ha!!s0 Ea/h ste% I ta*e soun"s so !one!y0 Behin" the tro%hy "is%!ay are 7i4e 7reestan"in# an*s o7 !o/*ers( )ith o77i/es an" restroo;s on either si"e0 I see a 7e) other stu"ents !ate 7or s/hoo!( #atherin# their oo*s0 I rea/h ;y !o/*er( !ean ;y hea" 7or)ar"( an" rest it a#ainst the /oo! ;eta! "oor0 I /on/entrate on ;y shou!"ers an" ne/*( re!aGin# the ;us/!es0 I /on/entrate on ;y reathin# to s!o) it "o)n0 Then I turn the /o; ination "ia! to 7i4e0 Then !e7t to 7our( then ri#ht to t)enty?three0 Ho) ;any ti;es "i" I stan" ri#ht here( thin*in# I )ou!" ne4er #et a /han/e )ith Hannah Ba*erE I ha" no i"ea ho) she 7e!t a out ;e0 No i"ea )ho she rea!!y )as0 Instea"( I e!ie4e" )hat other %eo%!e sai" a out her0 An" I )as a7rai" )hat they ;i#ht say a out ;e i7 they *ne) I !i*e" her0 I s%in the "ia!( /!earin# the /o; ination0 Ci4e0 Cour0 T)enty?three0 Ho) ;any ti;es a7ter the %arty "i" I stan" ri#ht here( )hen Hannah )as sti!! a!i4e( thin*in# ;y /han/es )ith her )ere o4erE Thin*in# I sai" or "i" so;ethin# )ron#0 Too a7rai" to ta!* to her a#ain0 Too a7rai" to try0 Pa#e 1'&

An" then( )hen she "ie"( the /han/es "isa%%eare" 7ore4er0 It a!! e#an a 7e) )ee*s a#o( )hen a ;a% s!i%%e" throu#h the 4ents o7 ;y !o/*er0 I )on"er )hat9s in Hannah9s !o/*er ri#ht no)0 Is it e;%tyE :i" the /usto"ian %a/* e4erythin# into a

oG( "ro% it in a stora#e /!oset( )aitin# 7or her %arents to returnE Or "oes her !o/*er re;ain untou/he"(

eGa/t!y as she !e7t itE With ;y 7orehea" sti!! %resse" a#ainst the ;eta!( I turn ;y hea" Just enou#h to !oo* into the nearest ha!!)ay( to)ar" the a!)ays?o%en "oor to 7irst %erio"0 5r0 Porter9s roo;0

Ri#ht there( outsi"e his "oor( is )here I !ast sa) Hannah Ba*er a!i4e0 I /!ose ;y eyes0 Who a; I #oin# to see to"ayE Besi"es ;e( ei#ht %eo%!e at this s/hoo! ha4e a!rea"y !istene" to the ta%es0

Ei#ht %eo%!e( to"ay( are )aitin# to see )hat the ta%es ha4e "one to ;e0 An" o4er the neGt )ee* or so(

as the ta%es ;o4e on( I9!! e "oin# the sa;e to the rest o7 the;0 In the "istan/e( ;u77!e" y a /!assroo; )a!!( /o;es a 7a;i!iar 4oi/e0 I s!o)!y o%en ;y eyes0 But the 4oi/e )i!! ne4er soun" 7rien"!y a#ain0

DI nee" so;eone to ta*e this to the 7ront o77i/e 7or ;e0F 5r0 Porter9s 4oi/e /ree%s "o)n the ha!! strai#ht at ;e0 The ;us/!es in ;y shou!"ers 7ee! ti#ht( hea4y( an" I %oun" ;y 7ist into the !o/*er0 A /hair sIuea*s( 7o!!o)e" y 7ootste%s !ea4in# his roo;0 5y *nees 7ee! rea"y to /ru; !e( )aitin# 7or

the stu"ent to see ;e an" as* )hy I9; not in /!ass0 Cro; a an* o7 !o/*ers 7urther u%( so;eone /!i/*s a !o/*er shut0 2o;in# out o7 5r0 Porter9s /!ass( Ste4e O!i4er no"s his hea" at ;e an" s;i!es0 The stu"ent 7ro; the other !o/*er roun"s the /orner into the ha!!( a!;ost /o!!i"in# into Ste4e0 She )his%ers( DI9; sorry(F then ;o4es aroun" hi; to #et y0 Ste4e !oo*s "o)n at her ut "oesn9t res%on"( Just *ee%s u% his %a/e( ;o4in# /!oser to ;e0 DA!! ri#ht( 2!ayKF he says0 Then he !au#hs0 DSo;eone9s !ate 7or /!ass( huhEF Beyon" hi;( in the ha!!)ay( the #ir! turns0 It9s S*ye0 The a/* o7 ;y ne/* starts s)eatin#0 She !oo*s at ;e( an" I ho!" her #aBe 7or a 7e) ste%s( then she turns to *ee% )a!*in#0 Ste4e )a!*s u% /!ose( ut I "on9t !oo* at hi;0 I ;otion 7or hi; to ;o4e to the si"e0 DTa!* to ;e !ater(F I say0 Last ni#ht( on the us( I !e7t )ithout ta!*in# to S*ye0 I )ante" to ta!* )ith her( I trie" to( ut I !et her s!i"e out o7 the /on4ersation0 O4er the years( she9s !earne" ho) to a4oi" %eo%!e0 E4eryone0 Pa#e 1''

I ste% a)ay 7ro; ;y !o/*er an" )at/h her /ontinue "o)n the ha!!0

I )ant to say so;ethin#( to /a!! her na;e( ut ;y throat ti#htens0 Part o7 ;e )ants to i#nore it0 To turn aroun" an" *ee% ;yse!7 usy( "oin# anythin#( ti!! se/on" %erio"0 But S*ye9s )a!*in# "o)n the sa;e stret/h o7 ha!! )here I )at/he" Hannah s!i% a)ay t)o )ee*s a#o0

On that "ay( Hannah "isa%%eare" into a /ro)" o7 stu"ents( a!!o)in# the ta%es to say her #oo"? ye0 But I /an sti!! hear the 7ootste%s o7 S*ye 5i!!er( soun"in# )ea*er an" )ea*er the 7urther she #ets0 An" I start )a!*in#( to)ar" her0 I %ass the o%en "oor to 5r0 Porter9s roo; an"( in one hurrie" #!an/e( %u!! in ;ore than I eG%e/te"0 The e;%ty "es* near the /enter o7 the roo;0 E;%ty 7or t)o )ee*s an" 7or the rest o7 the year0 Another "es*( ;y "es*( e;%ty 7or one "ay0 :oBens o7 7a/es turn to)ar" ;e0 They re/o#niBe ;e( ut they "on9t see e4erythin#0 An" there9s 5r0 Porter( 7a/in# a)ay( ut startin# to turn0 A 7!oo" o7 e;otion rushes into ;e0 Pain an" an#er0 Sa"ness an" %ity0 But ;ost sur%risin# o7 a!!( ho%e0 I *ee% )a!*in#0 S*ye9s 7ootste%s are #ro)in# !ou"er no)0 An" the /!oser I #et to her( the 7aster I )a!*( an" the !i#hter I

7ee!0 5y throat e#ins to re!aG0 T)o ste%s ehin" her( I say her na;e0 DS*ye0F 13 Ins%irations JOAN5ARIE 7or sayin#( DI "o(F an" )hen I a!;ost #a4e u% e/ause I thou#ht I9" ne4er se!! a oo*( 7or sayin#( DYou )i!!0F ROBIN5ELLO5R EVEPORIN2HAN DThe roa" to %u !i/ation is !i*e a /hurroM !on# an" u;%y( ut s)eet0F You t)o ;a"e it s)eet0 -:is/o 5er;ai"s 7ore4erK. 5O5R :A:R NATE

Pa#e 1'=

7or en/oura#in# ;y /reati4e %ursuits 7ro; the e#innin#L no ;atter ho) ri"i/u!ous0

LA,RARENNERT 7or sayin#( DI /an se!! this0F NRISTENPETTIT 7or sayin#( D2an I uy thisEF Your e"itoria! #ui"an/e rou#ht this oo* to a )ho!e ne) !e4e!0 S0L0O0W0COR 2HIL:REN -;y /ritiIue #rou%. 7or ein# so /riti/a!Lin a #oo" )ay0 LINOLIVERR STEPHEN5OOSER ATS2BWI 7or years o7 %ro7essiona! su%%ort an" en/oura#e;ent -the Wor*?In?Pro#ress #rant )as ni/e( too.0 RO@YANNEYO,N$ ATS5ARTWRITERS02O5 7or e!ie4in# in this oo* 7ro; the e#innin# -the $ran" PriBe "esi#nation )as ni/e( too.0 NATHLEEN:,EY 7or ;entorin# ;e throu#h the ear!y sta#es o7 this /reati4e %ursuit0 2HRIS2R,T2HER 7or )ritin#StotanK ( the 7irst teen no4e! I e4er rea"0 an" 7or en/oura#in# ;e to 7inish this( the 7irst teen no4e! I e4er )rote0 NATEO9S,LLIVAN Your eG/ite;ent a out this no4e! *e%t ;e eG/ite"

a out this no4e!0 Pa#e 1'1

THELIBRARIANSR BOONSELLERS OCSHERI:AN( WYO5IN$R SANL,ISOBISPO( 2 ALICORNIA Not Just /o?)or*ers( ut 7rien"s0 NAN2YH,R: The reason I )rote ;y 7irst oo*Lthirteen years a#o0 DThan* YouF Pa#e 1'8

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