As the sun keeps setting, Clay stands up, throws the Butterfinger in the trash, and puts the next tape into the Walkman. Hannah tells the listeners that she, Alex, and Jessica relied on one another for the first few weeks of freshman year. Before the year even started, the guidance counsellor called Hannah and Jessica into school to pair them up as buddies. That guidance counsellor moved schools that year, which Hannah says is unfortunate. Clay knows she was replaced by Mr. Porter and wonders whether he has something to do with Hannah’s story. He remembers that Mr. Porter looked nervous when Hannah didn’t show up for school, and after everyone found out Hannah had died, Mr. Porter was absent for a week.
The setting sun hints that Hannah’s story is only going to get darker, but Clay persists in listening. He seems committed to hearing what Hannah has to say. Hannah suggests that Mr. Porter’s appointment as guidance counsellor was a negative thing—a hint that he might appear again in the tapes, and not for a good reason. It’s a sign that the adults in Hannah’s life are an important factor in her happiness and safety; when they fail to do their jobs, they put her at risk.
Hannah continues the story of being buddied up with Jessica. Neither she nor Jessica want to be matched as friends—they tell the counsellor that they don’t think it’ll work out. But as they walk away from school together, they start talking to each other, and because neither of them wants to interrupt the other to make their own way home, they end up downtown at a cafe called Monet’s. As Clay listens, it gets dark and cold outside, so he boards a city bus and chooses a seat in an empty section. He doesn’t care where the bus is going—he thinks he could ride it for hours, just listening to the tapes.
Hannah and Jessica become friends by chance, even though they’re doubtful the friendship will work out. From their mutual resistance to the counsellor’s suggestion, it seems like they both value relationships that happen organically, but they’re drawn to each other’s company anyway. Clay’s priority is on finishing the tapes rather than making himself comfortable. In his intense focus on Hannah’s story, he isolates himself.
Hannah continues her story. She remembers sitting with Jessica at Monet’s and noticing a boy watching them. It’s Alex. Jessica asks him which of them he was checking out. He blushes and tells them he was eavesdropping on them because he’s new in town, too. Jessica and Hannah invite him into their conversation, and they’re all relieved by one another’s company—they won’t have to be alone on their first day of school. Even though the three of them form a bond, Hannah never considers Jessica and Alex her friends. Still, over the first few weeks of school, they continue to meet at Monet’s in the afternoons. When any of them has a hard day, they put their hand on the table and say, “Olly-olly-oxen-free,” the other two put their hands on top, and they talk about it.
The fact that Jessica poses an awkward question to Alex directly shows her bold confidence, while her assumption that he was checking either her or Hannah out suggests that she’s used to boys objectifying her. The three friends are obviously feeling stressed about starting school, perhaps because they anticipate the kind of pressure and judgment that Hannah goes on to experience. Hannah doesn’t treat her connections to Alex and Jessica as friendship, suggesting she’s innately guarded and suspicious, even when others seem to show that they care about her.
As Clay listens, he realizes he doesn’t know the bus route, so he asks the driver when the next stop is. She tells him that the other passengers are asleep, so she can stop wherever he’d like. The bus passes by Monet’s, and Clay asks to get off. Hannah continues her story: after a few weeks, Alex stops coming to Monet’s, followed by Jessica, and then Hannah. One day at school, Jessica tells Hannah they need to talk. Hannah knows Jessica wants to meet at Monet’s.
As Clay listens to the tapes, he keeps finding himself in situations he didn’t really think through—he’s so focused on Hannah’s story that he seems to switch to autopilot. His decision to go to Monet’s is another sign that he’s still committed to following Hannah’s story as thoroughly as he can.
When Hannah arrives, Jessica is already sitting at a table. Jessica slaps the “Who’s Hot/Who’s Not” list down on the table. Hannah says the list doesn’t matter. Jessica says she doesn’t mind that Alex picked Hannah over her, but Hannah says that Alex only did that to get back at Jessica. Jessica tells Hannah she’s heard rumors about Hannah and Alex. Hannah tries and fails to convince Jessica that the rumors aren’t true. It’s easy for Jessica to believe a rumor about Hannah and Alex because Justin already started other rumors about Hannah. Hannah says she knows Jessica and Alex had a relationship and broke up and that Jessica is using the list as a way to blame the breakup on Hannah. Jessica swings her hand at Hannah’s face and leaves a scar above her eyebrow.
Jessica’s anger and her suggestion that Alex chose Hannah over her suggest that she jumped to conclusions when she saw the list, choosing to believe the pieces of rumor that allowed her to be angry at Hannah rather than at Alex. Hannah realizes that she’s powerless against rumors, which are often more exciting than the truth. And especially when there’s more than one rumor circulating, they become even harder to disprove. In this moment, she also learns that rumors can have acute—and physically painful—effects on her.
On the tape, Hannah explains to the listeners that the scar is a reminder that Jessica would rather believe a rumor about her than the truth, and that the other people on her list left scars, too—just invisible ones.
By using the word “scars,” Hannah suggests that the things people say and do to—and about—her accumulate until they permanently affect the way she views herself.