13 Reasons Why Cassette 3 Side B Part 2

I honestly had to update after listening to When It Rains at least fifty billion times.

I close my eyes, concentrating on the cool air floating around me. When I went into the movie theater last summer for a job application, I pretended to be surprised that Hayley worked there. But she was the whole reason I applied.

“Today’s the day!” the cheerleader said…cheerfully, of course. “Pick up your Oh My Dollar Valentines at the student body office today.”

On my first day at work, they placed me in the concession stand with Hayley. She showed me how to pump “butter” topping into the popcorn. She said that if someone I had a crush on came in, I shouldn’t put butter in the bottom half of the tub. That way, halfway through the movie, they’d come back out asking for more. And then there wouldn’t be so many people around and we could talk. But I never did that. Because it was Hayley I was interested in. And the thought that she did that for other guys made me jealous.

I hadn’t decided yet if I wanted to find out who the survey matched me up with. With my luck, it’d be a fellow lumberjack. But when I walked by the office and found no one standing in line, I thought…what the hell. I went up to the counter and started saying my name, but the cheerleader at the computer cut me off.

“Thanks for supporting the cheerleaders, Hayley.” She tilted her head to one side and smiled. “That sounded dumb, right? But I’m supposed to say it to everyone.”

It was probably the same cheerleader who gave me my survey results.

She typed my name into the computer, hit Enter, then asked how many names I wanted. One, or five? I placed a five-dollar bill on the counter. She hit the number Five key and a printer on my side of the counter spit out my list.

She told me they put the printer on our side so the cheerleaders wouldn’t be tempted to peek at our names. So people wouldn’t feel embarrassed by who they got. I told her that was a good idea and started looking over my list.

“So,” the cheerleader said, “who’d you get?”

Definitely the cheerleader who helped me.

She was joking, of course.

No she wasn’t.

Half-joking. I placed my list on the counter for her to see.

“Not bad,” she said. “Ooh, I like this one.”

I agreed that it wasn’t a bad list. But not wonderful, either. She lifted her shoulders and called my list a shrugger. Then she let me in on a little secret. It wasn’t the most scientific of surveys.

Except for people seeking a depressed loner like Holden Caulfield. For that, the survey deserved a Nobel Prize.

We both agreed that two names on the list matched me fairly well. Another name, one that I was pleased with, brought an entirely different reaction out of her.

“No,” she said. Her expression, her posture, lost all its cheeriness. “Trust me…no.”

Is he on one of your tapes, Hayley? Is that who this tape is about? Because I don’t think this tape is about the cheerleader.

“But he’s cute,” I said.

“On the outside,” she told me.

She pulled out a stack of fives from the register, put mine on top, then went through the stack turning each bill the same way. I didn’t push the subject, but I should have. And in a couple more tapes you’ll know why. Which reminds me, I haven’t told you who our main man on this tape is. Fortunately, this is the perfect time to introduce him because that’s exactly when he showed up.

Again, not me.

Something started buzzing. A phone? I looked at the cheerleader, but she shook her head. So I swung my backpack onto the counter, fished out my phone, and answered it.

Hayley Williams,” the caller said. “Good to see you.”

I looked at the cheerleader and shrugged. “Who is this?” I asked.

“Guess how I got your number,” he said. I told him that I hated guessing games, so he told me. “I paid for it.”

“You paid for my phone number?”

The cheerleader scooped her hand over her mouth and pointed at the printout–the Oh My Dollar Valentines! No way, I thought. Someone was actually calling because my name was on their list? Kind of exciting, yes. But kind of weird at the same time.

The cheerleader touched the names we both thought were good matches, but I shook my head no. I knew those voices well enough to know it wasn’t either of them. It also wasn’t the one she warned me about. I read the other two names on my list out loud.

“It looks like you made my list,” the caller said, “but I didn’t make yours.”

Actually, you did make her list. A different list. One I’m sure you don’t like being on.

I asked him where on his list my name popped up. Again, he told me to guess, then quickly added that he was joking. “Ready for this?” he asked. “You’re my number one, Hayley.” I mouthed his answer–number one!–and the cheerleader hopped up and down.

“This is so cool,” she whispered. The caller then asked what I was doing for Valentine’s Day.

“Depends,” I told him. “Who are you?” But he didn’t answer. He didn’t need to. Because at that moment, I saw him…standing right outside the office window. Marcus Cooley. Hello, Marcus.

I grit my teeth. Marcus. I should’ve hit him with the rock when I had the chance.

Marcus, as you know, is one of the biggest goof-offs at school. Not a slacker goof-off, but a good goof-off.

Guess again.

He’s actually funny. An endless number of painfully dull classes have been rescued by a perfectly timed Cooley pun. So naturally, I didn’t take his words at face value. Even though he only stood a few feet away, separated by a window, I kept talking to him through the phone. “You’re lying,” I said. “I am not on your list.”

His normally goofy smirk, at that moment, looked kind of sexy. “What–you don’t think I’m ever serious?” he asked. Then he pressed his list against the window. Even though I stood too far away to actually read it, I assumed he’d only hold it up to prove that my name did in fact hold his top spot. Still, I thought he must’ve been kidding about getting together for Valentine’s Day. So I thought I’d make him squirm a bit.

“Fine,” I said. “When?” The cheerleader covered her face with both hands, but through her fingers I watched her skin blush. I don’t know, without her as an audience egging me on, I doubt I would have agreed to go out with him that fast. But I was playing it up. Giving her something to brag about at cheer practice.

Now it was Marcus’s turn to blush. “Oh…um…Okay…well…How about Rosie’s? You know, for ice cream.”

E-5. I saw that star on the map while riding the bus. I knew roughly where it was, just not which store specifically. But I should’ve guessed. The best ice cream and the greasiest burgers and fries around. Rosie’s Diner.

My words came out sarcastic. “Ice cream?” But I didn’t mean them that way. An ice cream date just sounded so…cute. So I agreed to meet him there after school. And with that, we hung up.

The cheerleader slapped her hands on the counter. “You have absolutely got to let me brag about this.” I made her promise not to tell anyone until the next day, just in case. “Fine,” she said. But she made me promise to spill every last detail afterward. Some of you may know the cheerleader I’ve been talking about, but I’m not saying her name. She was very sweet and excited for me. She did nothing wrong. Honestly. No sarcasm there. Don’t strain yourselves reading into my words.

Before, I thought I knew who the cheerleader was. But now, remembering the day we all found out about Hayley, I’m sure of it. Jenny Kurtz. We had Biology together. By then, I’d already heard. But that’s when she found out, scalpel in hand, an earthworm sliced down the middle and pinned open before her. She put down the scalpel and fell into a long, stunned silence. Then she got up and, without stopping by the teacher’s desk for a pass, walked out of the room. I kept looking for her the rest of that day, puzzled by her reaction. Like most people, I had no clue of her random connection to Hayley Williams.

Did I tell the cheerleader about what happened at Rosie’s? No. Instead, I avoided her for as long as I could. And you’re about to find out why. Of course, I couldn’t avoid her forever. Which is why, in a little while, she’ll make another appearance on these tapes…but with a name.

The cold air isn’t the only reason I’m shivering anymore. With every side of every tape, an old memory gets turned upside down. A reputation twists into someone I don’t recognize. I felt like crying when I watched Jenny walk out of Biology. Every time I saw a reaction like that, with her, with Mr. Porter, it threw me back to the moment I found out about Hayley myself. When I did cry. When instead, I should have been angry at them.

So if you want the full Hayley experience, go to Rosie’s for yourself.

God. I hate not knowing what to believe anymore. I hate not knowing what’s real.

E-5 on your map. Sit down on one of the stools at the counter. In a minute, I’ll tell you what to do after seating yourself. But first, a little background on me and Rosie’s. I had never gone there before that day. I know, it seems crazy. Everyone’s been to Rosie’s. It’s the cool, quirky place to hang out. But as far as I knew, no one ever went there alone. And every time someone invited me, for some reason or another, I was busy. Family visiting from out of town. Too much homework. Always something.

To me, Rosie’s had an aura about it. A mystery. In the stories I heard, it seemed like things were always happening there. Alex Standall, his first week in town, had his first fight outside Rosie’s front door. He told me and Jessica about it during our Monet’s Garden Café period.

When I heard about that fight, it came as advice not to mess with the new kid. Alex knew how to throw, as well as take, a punch.

A girl, whose name I will not repeat, had her first under-the-bra experience at Rosie’s while making out between the pinball machines.

Dakota Rae. Everyone knew about that. And it’s not like Dakota tried to hide it.

With all the stories, it seemed that Rosie turned a blind eye to anything going on as long as cones were being filled and burgers were being flipped. So I wanted to go, but I was not about to go alone and look like a dork. Marcus Cooley gave me the excuse I needed. And it just so happened that I was free. Free, but not stupid. I was a little wary of Marcus. A little suspicious. But not of him so much as the people he hung out with.

People like Alex Standall.

After peeling away from our olly-olly-oxen-free group at Monet’s, Alex started hanging out with Marcus. And after the little stunt Alex pulled with the “Who’s Hot / Who’s Not” list, I didn’t trust him. So why would I trust someone he hangs out with?

You shouldn’t.

Why? Because that’s exactly what I wanted for me. I wanted people to trust me, despite anything they’d heard. And more than that, I wanted them to know me. Not the stuff they thought they knew about me. No, the real me. I wanted them to get past the rumors. To see beyond the relationships I once had, or maybe still had but that they didn’t agree with. And if I wanted people to treat me that way, then I had to do the same for them, right?