The day after Matt’s murder, the police pull students out of class and question each of them individually. The football team forfeits tonight’s game, and students wear school colors to grieve Matt. Now, the body count is up to two: Haley, the drama star; and Matt, the football star.
Matt’s murder heightens the tension around Osborne, transforming Haley’s murder from an isolated incident to, perhaps, the beginning of an unhinged killer’s rampage. By isolating the fact that the killer has murdered two stand-out students—Haley, the drama star; and Matt, the football star—the narrative suggests a possible theory for how the killer is targeting their victims: exceptional students that stand out among their peers.
The police officers are interviewing kids alphabetically, so Makani Young will be one of the last. When Darby returns to physics class after his interview, Makani grills him about what kind of questions they asked. Darby shrugs. It’s hard to focus on Friday under normal circumstances, but today isn’t a normal Friday, and teachers aren’t even attempting to teach lessons. Makani worries that a police officer will have looked at her record and learned about her past in Hawaii. She thinks it’s only a matter of time before her friends find out the kind of person she really is.
Makani’s anxieties about the police officers in Osborne discovering her record is another hint about the so-called “incident” that happened back in Hawaii. It seems that she was involved in some sort of legal trouble. Again, Makani continues to dwell on the past, fearful and anxious that her past actions—whatever they were—will follow her into the present and make her ineligible for love and forgiveness. She’s not been able to abandon her problems in Hawaii; they’ve followed her to Nebraska in the form of internalized anxiety and shame.
Darby shares a rumor he heard about the coaches being suspended for breaking policy—they’d gone home immediately after practice when they were supposed to wait until all the students left. If someone had been there, Matt might not be dead. Then Darby speculates about the connection between the murders—is it true that Haley and Matt were secretly dating? This is the latest rumor to develop. It’s especially intriguing, since Matt’s been dating Lauren Dixon for two years. Maybe, Alex offers mischievously, Lauren found out and killed them both. Makani thinks about Lauren. When she’d first moved to Nebraska, Lauren asked “what” Makani was, then she laughed and called Makani a “mutt” when Makani told her. Even though Makani isn’t a huge fan of Lauren, she’s glad Lauren opted to stay home so she won’t have to hear all the cruel rumors people are spreading about her.
Makani’s friends continue to discuss the murders as though they were fantasy—an ongoing TV series, perhaps, rather than the real, ongoing slaughter of their peers. Perhaps this is evidence of the teens’ insensitivity toward violence. Or, perhaps, the novel is suggesting that making light is one way that people cope with traumatic events that evade reason and logic. Makani’s recollection about Lauren’s insensitive comments about Makani’s biracial identity is further evidence of how life in white, conservative Osborne has been an alienating, uncomfortable experience for her in many regards.
Rodrigo turns around to join the discussion. David, who is sitting next to Rodrigo, rolls his eyes at all the gossip. Darby wonders if Buddy, another football player, could be involved in a love triangle with the victims. Alex thinks Buddy is too dumb to be a killer. Makani wants to leave the room and notices David staring at her. He asks if she’s going to be sick, noting her arms clutching her stomach. Makani says she just wishes they could talk about something else. Meanwhile, rumors about Ollie and Zachary have gained traction, given that both boys had gotten into altercations involving Matt in the past few weeks.
It's unclear why exactly Makani feels physically ill—because she resents gossip broadly, or because she doesn’t like that Ollie is being wrongfully accused of dubious behavior, or because she might believe the rumors about Ollie a bit. At any rate, hearing her peers gossip about the serious subject of murder with no regard for the victims or the seriousness of the subject alienates Makani. She seems unwilling to participate, but also unable to feign interest.
Makani wonders aloud whether there’s no secret reason why the killer chose Haley and Matt. Maybe they didn’t have any secrets—maybe the killer only chose them because they were popular. Everyone stares. Rodrigo prompts Makani to unpack her theory—is she saying an unpopular kid killed them out of jealousy? Makani corrects Rodrigo; she doesn’t have a theory—it was just a passing thought.
Again, Makani’s reticence to believe the killer targeted their victims because they have secrets is a projection of her internalized anxieties about her own secret; she’s anxious that this is in fact exactly why the killer is targeting victims—and that it means that she might be next. Still, her impulse to correct Rodrigo when he calls Makani’s observation a “theory,” which implies that she’s put a lot of thought and energy into her contribution to the school’s rumor mill, suggests that she’s ashamed of participating in the gossip at all. Again, Makani’s inability to join in on her peers’ ceaseless gossip suggests that whatever happened to her in Hawaii has given her reason to be wary of gossip and the real consequences it can have on its victims.
The police call for Makani during the last period of the day. Makani meets the police officer in the hallway. His name tag reads Larsson—it’s Chris, Ollie’s brother. Makani is worried that Chris will be able to hear her nervousness in her voice. Chris leads Makani to an empty keyboarding classroom. They sit down. Chris looks at her kindly and asks how she’s doing. She admits that she’s not doing too well. He empathizes—Osborne’s a small town, and crimes like this just don’t happen. Makani can barely speak. She thinks about how great Ollie had been talking with Grandma Young and feels like she’s making a bad first impression with Chris.
Makani’s unease around Chris reflects her inner turmoil. She seems to believe that her inner shame and guilt about whatever she was involved in back in Hawaii is so obvious that anyone—and especially a member of law enforcement like Chris—can read her guilt on her face. The intensity of Makani’s paranoia shows how she’s remained trapped in her past, unable to work through and move past her trauma. This trauma also makes her feel unworthy of love and respect from supposedly better people like Ollie, who are psychologically well-adjusted and able to interact with their romantic partner’s family members (as evidenced by the ease with which Ollie connected with Grandma Young).
Chris gets down to business, asking Makani if she knew the victims or had witnessed any altercations they’d had with other students. Makani answers no to every question. Chris smiles and asks Makani where she was between 6:00 and 7:00 last night. Makani blushes. She was with Ollie. Chris asks her where they went. Makani groans. She realizes that Chris is teasing her. They both laugh. Makani tries to get up to leave, but Chris motions for her to sit back down. He asks her if she has any hunting experience, has ever gutted a fish, or had much experience using a knife. Makani freezes; why is he asking her about a knife? Chris tells her the person who killed Matt knew about knives and anatomy. Makani sputters a negative response and is relieved when Chris seems to disregard her odd behavior.
Makani and Chris are clearly on different pages about the seriousness of the interrogation. While Makani continues to feel on edge and threatened, Chris makes lighthearted banter, gently teasing Makani about hanging out with Ollie the night before. Makani’s guilt and shame over her past literally transforms the reality of her present, making her unable to assess her surroundings and atmosphere objectively. Her paranoia and anxiety are too great. This is further evidenced by her inappropriately nervous reaction to Chris’s largely innocent question about her experience with knives. The inappropriately intense response Chris’s question triggers in Makani suggests that a knife was involved in whatever happened back in Hawaii.
Chris dismisses Makani. Makani leaves the interview room, runs to the bathroom, and breaks down in tears. He wishes she could have a normal life and that Ollie was her boyfriend. Then she feels bad about being so selfish when two people are dead. She dries her tears and exits the bathroom. Ollie is in the hallway next to the drinking fountains. He has dark circles under his eyes. Makani’s backpack is by his side. Ollie explains that he grabbed the backpack on his way to the bathroom. Their Spanish teacher, Señora Washington, didn’t even notice him take it. Ollie and Makani are both feeling out of sorts from the recent events. Ollie says doesn’t feel like sticking around for the rest of the day. He offers Makani a ride, which she accepts.
Makani’s tears are genuine. Whatever unresolved trauma she’s dealing with from “the incident” in Hawaii has left her convinced that she is doomed never to have a happy life. She believes that whatever bad thing she did has left her undeserving of love and forgiveness and redemption. The detail about the dark circles Ollie has under is eyes may be interpreted a number of ways. On one hand, Ollie—like everyone else at Osborne High—could simply be exhausted from receiving more bad, shocking news about the death of a classmate. On the other hand, could it be that Ollie is so exhausted because he was busy last night committing Matt’s murder? The novel continues to offer conflicting evidence that, at times, heightens Makani’s—and the reader’s—suspicions about Ollie.