When she hears Hannah Baker killed herself, the first thing she feels is anger. Blinding, searing, nauseating fury with the girl, for her cowardice. For taking the easy way out, for not coping with whatever thing that pushed her over the edge (which she knows can't be like what happened to her, so it's not like Hannah had any right to put an end to her pain when Jessica just has to keep on going.)
Then she gets the tapes. It take her a while to find an old cassette player (her parents are fastidious lovers of technology; the new and shiny) and she's shivering when she presses play.
There's guilt, of course. Guilt because she listened to rumors from a guy who she didn't even like, guilt because she was so fucked up because she lost a guy, guilt because she punched a girl that was almost her friend in the face for no good reason. Guilt because she's on these tapes.
There's blame, of course. Blame at Justin for lying, blame at Alex for being an immature asshole, blame at Tyler for being a sick peeping Tom and blame at Marcus for not listening to poor Hannah's nos (she really can't place enough faith in humanity right now to think if they'd been somewhere private he still would have stopped before he went too far.)
She feels a little less angry now, at least at Hannah. She still thinks Hannah had no right to take the easy way out, when she has to wake up screaming every single night, but at least she understands now.
When she gets to the party, she can barely keep her eyes open – which is stupid, given she's listening to a tape. She bites her lip as Hannah goes on and on about stupid Clay, she tries to convince herself it's nothing to do with her, that Hannah's thinking about her own issues. Her role on the tapes was long before this (she's not sure if she can forgive herself for that, but she'll try), that party was just a train wreck for everyone, between the rape and the crash and the Baker Breakdown, but none of them had anything to do with each other.
She almost believes it when Tape-Hannah crawls into the cupboard.
She should be angry, for what happened. She should be raging and plotting vengeance, she should be screaming into her pillow and cursing that Hannah Baker killed herself before Jessica got the chance to.
She despairs. Despairing because a boy she knew, a boy in her World History class, took away everything that ever mattered to her, that he made her this sick and wrong and dirty, and oh God, he's still walking around the corridors and going to class and working at McDonalds (can't be late for the night shift), knowing what he did to her, smirking and jerking off at the thought of how good she was (if she was good, she can't be sure she was.)
She despairs because at least two people had the option to save her and turned it down, she despairs that she's not blaming them for it, because it makes so much sense. She was wrong and ugly and filthy, that bastard had every right to get his hands all over her, it was what she was meant for, and who were Hannah and Justin to deprive a boy of his rights?
Her parents burst in to her room to find her laughing hysterically, and hear the hiss of Hannah's voice on the tapes. They here about the girl and put it together (yeah Momsie and Popsicle, where was that observance when I stumbled in, barely able to walk?) and her mother hugs her while her father swears as loud and long as he can, and she finds it all just so funny she can barely breathe.
Her laughter dies, her mother holds her hand and the tape goes on, no-one able to bring themselves to press stop. She shudders and turns to side B, she finds herself left with grief, crawling further and further into her. She grieves for herself, because he innocence was stolen and nobody bothered to stop it. She grieves for Hannah, who had a million different reasons to break and eventually did. She grieves for that poor boy in the car (she's heard about him, he was a good boy, kind and funny and popular) who is dead and nothing is going to change that. She grieves for Jenny and her loss of denial; the fact she killed someone and she can't forget it anymore, can't pretend the stop sign had nothing to do with it, can't pretend the driver wouldn't have stopped anyway (can't pretend that stickiness on her thighs is just a drink she must have spilled.)
She stops the tape and manages to get her parents out of the room. She whimpers and presses play.
She's glad that she has the chance to rage; that she can imagine that night in the hot tub and scream with fury. She's just so glad she's angry.
She runs to the bathroom to puke until her throat is raw. All she can see is them, Hannah still against the wall, his fingers in her (and she's not sure who "her" is anymore), trying to make Hannah freaking Baker, the one girl who knew who he was, come.
Her mother is back by her side, holding her, and she shakes not with sadness, but pure, blinding rage. Hannah let that bastard touch her, get his filthy hands all over her, let him do what he liked – he always did what he liked.
She blitzes through the thirteenth story, not really caring about what the hell Mr. Porter would be saying, and the next day she goes ahead and sends the tape (she wonders what it will be like, to see Jenny die.) She tries not to whimper at the thought of him being twelfth, that she's letting him get his sticky little hands on the tapes that she touched, that he's taking something from her, again, and this time she's giving it (just like Hannah.)
The whole world sees a blaze of color, running from that post office.