13 Reasons Why Cassette 2 Side B Part 2
Okay, listeners, ready? Car door… and… Shh!
A long pause. Her breathing is soft. Controlled.
A door slams. Keys. Footsteps. Another door unlocks.
Okay, Tyler. Here’s the play-by-play. You’re inside the house with the door shut. You’re either checking in with Mom and Dad, saying everything went great and this is going to be the best yearbook ever, or they didn’t buy enough pizza and you’re heading straight for the kitchen.
As we wait, I’m going to go back and tell everyone how this all began. And if I’m wrong with the timeline, Tyler, find the other people on these tapes and let them know that you started peeping way before I caught you.
You’ll do that, right? All of you? You’ll fill in the gaps? Because every story I’m telling leaves so many unanswered questions.
Unanswered? I would’ve answered any question, Hayley. But you never asked.
For example, how long were you stalking me, Tyler? How did you know my parents were out of town that week?
Instead of asking questions, that night at the party, you started yelling at me.
Okay, confession time. The rule around my house when the parents are away is that I’m not allowed to date. Their feeling, though they won’t bring themselves to say it, is that I might enjoy the date too much and ask the boy to come inside.
In previous stories, I told you that the rumors you’ve all heard about me weren’t true. And they’re not. But I never claimed to be a Goody Two-Shoes. I did go out when my parents weren’t home, but only because I could stay out as long as I wanted. And as you know, Tyler, on the night this all began, the boy I went out with walked me all the way to my front door. He stood there while I pulled out my keys to unlock the door… then he left.
I’m afraid to look, but I wonder if people in Monet’s are staring at me. Can they tell, based on my reactions, that it’s not music I’m listening to? Or maybe no one’s noticed. Why would they? Why should they care what I’m listening to?
Tyler’s bedroom light is still off, so either he’s having a detailed conversation with his parents or he’s still hungry. Fine, have it your way, Tyler. I’ll just keep talking about you. Were you hoping I’d invite the guy in? Or would that have made you jealous?
I stir my coffee with the wooden stick.
Either way, after I went inside–alone!–I washed my face and brushed my teeth. And the moment I stepped into my room…Click. We all know the sound a camera makes when it snaps a picture. Even some of the digitals do it for nostalgia’s sake. And I always keep my window open, about an inch or two, to let in fresh air. Which is how I knew someone was standing outside.
But I denied it. It was way too creepy to admit to myself on the very first night of my parents’ vacation. I was only freaking myself out, I said. Just getting used to being alone.
Still, I wasn’t dumb enough to change in front of the window. So I sat down on my bed. Click.
Such an idiot, Tyler. In middle school, some people thought you were mentally challenged. But you weren’t. You were just an idiot.
Or maybe it wasn’t a click, I told myself. Maybe it was a creak. My bed has a wooden frame that creaks a little. That was it. It had to be a creak. I pulled the blankets over my body and undressed beneath them. Then I put on my pajamas, doing everything as slowly as possible, afraid whoever was outside might snap another picture. After all, I wasn’t totally sure what a Peeping Tom got off on.
But wait–another picture would prove he was there, right? Then I could call the police and… But the truth is, I didn’t know what to hope for. My parents weren’t home. I was alone. I figured ignoring him was my best option. And even though he was outside, I was too afraid of what might happen if he saw me reaching for the phone.
Stupid? Yes. But did it make sense? Yes… at the time.
You should’ve called the cops, Hayles. It might have stopped this snowball from picking up speed. The one you keep talking about. The one that ran over all of us.
So why was it so easy for Tyler to see into my room to begin with? Is that what you’re asking? Do I always sleep with my shades wide open? Good question, victim-blamers. But it wasn’t that easy. The window blinds were kept at an angle exactly as I liked them. On clear nights, with my head on the pillow, I could fall asleep looking at the stars. And on stormy nights I could watch lightning light up the clouds.
I’ve done that, fallen asleep looking outside. But from the second floor, I don’t need to worry about people seeing in.
When my dad found out I kept the blinds open–even a crack–he walked out to the sidewalk to make sure no one could see me from the street. And they couldn’t. So he walked from the sidewalk, straight across the yard, up to my window. And what did he find? That unless they were pretty tall and standing right outside my window on their tiptoes, I was invisible.
So how long did you stand like that, Tyler? It must have been pretty uncomfortable. And if you were willing to go through all that trouble just to get a peek at me, I hope you got at least something out of it.
He did. But not what he wanted. Instead, he got this.
Had I known it was Tyler at the time, had I snuck under the blinds and looked up to see his face, I would’ve run outside and embarrassed the hell out of him. In fact, that brings up the most interesting part of… Wait! Here you come. We’ll save that story for later.
I push my mug of coffee, not even half finished, to the far end of the table.
Let me describe Tyler’s window for the rest of you. The shades are all the way down, yet I can see in. They’re made of bamboo, or fake bamboo, and between each stick are varying amounts of space. If I stand on my tiptoes, like Tyler, I can reach a fairly wide-open gap and see in.
Okay, he’s turning on the light and… he shuts the door. He’s… he’s sitting on the bed. He’s yanking off his shoes and… now his socks.
I groan. Please don’t do anything stupid, Tyler. It’s your room, you can do what you want, but don’t embarrass yourself anymore.
Maybe I should warn him. Give him a chance to hide. To undress underneath the covers. Maybe I should tap on the window. Or pound or kick on the wall. Maybe I should give him the same paranoia he gave me.
She’s getting louder. Does she want to get caught?
After all, that’s why I’m here, right? Revenge? No. Revenge would have been fun. Revenge, in a twisted way, would have given me some sense of satisfaction. But this, standing outside Tyler’s window, satisfies nothing. My mind is made up. So why? Why am I here?
Well, what have I said? I just said I’m not here for me. And if you pass the tapes on, no one but those of you on the list will ever hear what I’m saying. So why am I here?
Tell us. Please, Hannah. Tell me why I’m listening to this. Why me?
I’m not here to watch you, Tyler. Calm down. I don’t care what you’re doing. In fact, I’m not even watching you right now. My back’s against the wall and I’m staring at the street.
It’s one of those streets with trees on either side, their branches meeting high above like fingertips touching. Sounds poetic, doesn’t it? I even wrote a poem once comparing streets like this to my favorite childhood rhyme: Here is the church, here is the steeple, open it up… yadda, yadda, yadda.
One of you even read that poem I wrote. We’ll talk about that later.
Again, it’s not me. I didn’t even know Hannah wrote poetry.
But I’m talking about Tyler now. And I’m still on Tyler’s street. His dark and empty street. He just doesn’t know I’m here… yet. So let’s wrap this up before he goes to bed.
At school the next day, after Tyler’s visit to my window, I told a girl who sat in front of me what happened. This girl’s known for being a good listener, and sympathetic, and I wanted someone to be afraid for me. I wanted someone to validate my fears.
Well, she was definitely not the girl for that job. This girl’s got a twisted side that very few of you know about.
“A Peeping Tom?” she said. “You mean, a real one?”
“I think so,” I told her.
“I always wondered what that’d be like,” she said. “Having a Peeping Tom is kind of…I don’t know…sexy.”
Definitely twisted. But who is she? And why do I care?
She smiled and raised an eyebrow. “Do you think he’ll come back?”
Honestly, the thought of him coming back never occurred to me. But now it was freaking me out. “What if he does?” I asked.
“Then you’ll have to tell me about it,” she said. And then she turned back around, ending our conversation.
Now, this girl and I had never hung out. We took a lot of the same electives, we were nice to each other in class, and sometimes we talked about hanging out, but we never did. Here, I thought, was a golden opportunity.
I tapped her on the shoulder and told her that my parents were out of town. How would she like to come over and catch a Peeping Tom?
After school I went home with her to grab her stuff. Then she came over to my house. Since it was a weeknight and she was probably going to be out late, she told her parents we were working on a school project.
God. Does everyone use that excuse?
We finished our homework at the dining room table, waiting for it to get dark outside. Her car was parked out front as bait. Two girls. Irresistible, right?
I squirm a little, shifting in my seat.
We moved into my bedroom and sat cross-legged on the bed, facing each other, talking about everything imaginable. To catch our Peeping Tom, we knew we needed to keep the talking quiet. We needed to hear that first…Click.
Her mouth dropped open. Her eyes, I’ve never seen them that happy. She whispered for me to keep talking. “Pretend you didn’t hear. Just play along.” I nodded.
Then she covered her mouth and ad-libbed. “Oh my God! You let him touch you where?” We “gossiped” for a couple minutes, trying to hold back any inappropriate laughter–the kind that would’ve given us away. But the clicking stopped and we were running out of things to gossip about.
“You know what I could use?” she asked. “A nice, deep, back massage.”
“You’re evil,” I whispered. She winked at me, then got up on her knees and worked her hands forward like a cat stretching until she was all the way down on my bed. Click.
I sincerely hope you burned or erased those pictures, Tyler. Because if they get out, even if it’s not your fault, I’d hate to think what might happen to you.
I straddled her back. Click. Pushed aside her hair. Click. And began rubbing her shoulders. Click. Click.
She turned away from the window and whispered, “You know what it means if he stops taking pictures, right?”
I told her I didn’t.
“It means he’s doing something else.” Click. “Oh well,” she said.
I kept rubbing her shoulders. In fact, I thought I was doing a pretty good job because she stopped talking and her lips curled into a beautiful smile. But then she whispered a new idea. A way to catch this pervert in the act.
I told her no. One of us should just leave the room, say we need to use the bathroom, and call the cops. We could end it right there. But that didn’t happen.
“No way,” she said. “I’m not leaving until I find out if I know him. What if he goes to our school?”
“What if he does?” I asked.