Retreating to her closet, Melinda works through her options, wondering how to warn Rachel away from Andy, and discarding option after option, fearing that no one will believe her no matter what she says. She suddenly feels suffocated by her closet’s bad smells (despite the potpourri that she’s brought in), and imagines that the poster of Maya Angelou wants her to tell Rachel. Still suffocating, she takes off her sweatshirt and wishes for cold.
Melinda once again uses her closet as a safe space, desperately trying to calm her mind and to attempt to figure out what she should do. For the first time, however, she feels that the closet is too small, signaling how upset and troubled she is but also seems to symbolize how she feels the need not to hide but to communicate. Once again, the poster of Maya Angelou (who in her book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings discusses her rape as a child) acts as a call to action, telling Melinda that she can no longer be passive since her friend is in danger.
Melinda looks at the walls of the closet, which are filled with pictures of trees. She categorizes them into different periods, and notes that she is getting better at drawing them, but that their presence makes the closet feel smaller. She idly wonders whether a janitor would help her move her closet belongings to her bedroom, to make it feel “more like home.” She imagines the poster of Maya Angelou telling her that she needs to help Rachel, even if her friend won’t listen. Finally, she disguises her handwriting and writes a note to Rachel saying that Andy Evans “is not what he pretends to be,” and that he “attacked a ninth-grader.” She adds, “P.S. Tell Greta-Ingrid too,” and signs the note, “A Friend.”
Looking at her various objects within her closet seems to calm Melinda, giving her the strength to attempt to communicate with Rachel. Still, she cannot bring herself to engage Rachel directly, choosing instead to distance herself from her rape by calling it an “attack” and by acting as if it happened to someone else. Of course, delivering the information in note form only increases her distance from it.