Part #1 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
Chase Left Me with Goodies
He didn’t want to, told me
but Bree, mistress of persuasion,
knew a trick or two
to get her way.
Kristina swore to keep her in
check and she tried, but
to slow the electric impulse flow,
our brain began to plot. How
to get away
from the confines of GUFN?
of that working, a crazy
idea soon hatched
to sneak away
for one spectacular last
that’s what it was, school
starting in only two days.
I Watched the Window
as I picked up the phone and dialed.
Bree cooed a throaty hello.
Hey. I’d just about given up on you.
I could not admit to GUFN. Not
again. I concocted
some lame excuse.
No problem. Want to get together?
I did. Chase or no Chase, I wanted
to see what Brendan was made of.
Bricks, mortar, flesh, bones.
I’ll pick you up. Where and when?
Let’s see. Wait for everyone
to hit the hay, extra half hour,
scale down the wall …
That’s pretty late.
Very late. But I’d definitely be
awake. I coughed up the fact
I was sneaking out.
Okay by me. Just don’t get caught.
No duh. I didn’t plan on
getting caught. Still, what could
they do if I did? Ground me forever?
What sort of party would you like?
Damn, direct. Not even sure
if he indulged, I said I’d bring
the toot if he’d bring the beer.
Sounds like a deal I can live with.
Mom’s SUV turned up
the driveway. Deal sealed,
I said good-bye.
See you tonight, luscious.
Luscious? Plain old white
bread me? I liked it. At least
I thought I did then.
I Hid Out in My Room Until Dinner
made sure to gag down every scrap of spinach,
so both my mom and my mouth
would keep quiet.
I still had a valid cramp excuse so I packed it
in early. Uh-huh. Sat in the dark, lit
as the starry sky.
Listened to the sounds of my normality: familiar
footsteps in the hall; whispers; laughter; baying
at the moonlight.
And it occurred to me for one uneasy moment
that every move I had made lately might have
started a landslide.
What if I couldn’t go back? What if I died in the crash?
Almost immediately, the monster soothed
me, confused me with a deeper question.
What if the ride was worth it?
I mean, who wants to trudge through life, doing
everything just right? Taking no chances means
wasting your dreams.
How can I explain the pure chilling rush of
waiting to do something so basically not right?
No fear. No guilt.
How can I explain purposely setting foot on
a path so blatantly treacherous? Was the
fun in the fall?
I Hoped Not
As I softly opened my second-floor window,
peered down at the cement walk below, took a deep breath.
Fingers clutching the upper sill, toes stretching
for the first-floor trim, I managed to touch down
safely. It may have been the safest moment
of the night, in fact. Gulped into darkness,
I let my eyes adjust, felt the breeze lift
goosebumps, listened for signs of household disturbance.
No motion. No sudden snitch of a light switch.
No sound but distant coyote song, I silenced
my conscience, quieted my screaming nerves
and slipped away unnoticed, for the moment.
No streetlights, no headlights, the world
seemed to sleep beneath my feet as I ran,
a mustang over moonlit playa; a cheetah
in high gear. No fear, no brakes, consumed
by some irrational itch to cruise along
shadowy thoroughfares, traveled by demons.
Brendan Was Waiting
in a battered mud-colored Bronco.
Climb in. You look great.
Winded. Hair plastered by my
escape sprint. He was a liar.
A smooth, gorgeous liar.
Wanna go up to Chamberlain Flat?
Secluded five miles up a rutted
dirt track, the played-out mine
was a notorious party spot.
Supposed to be a party up there.
Anything could happen at a party
up there. Good things. Bad things.
Truly evil things.
Ever hear about Evan Malone?
Evan Malone, urban legend—eighteen
and in league with Satan, skinning
goats up at Chamberlain Flat.
My brother went out with his sister.
So he was more than just a parental
fabrication meant to scare kids
away from abandoned mine shafts?
He was real, okay. Kyle met him.
Met him and what? Dressed up like
Halloween, prayed to the devil,
and sacrificed hoofed animals?
Shared a bong. Said he was creepy.
Major understatement, if the dude
was really for real! If pot made you
buddy up with Satan, you could keep it!
But don’t worry. Evan’s long gone.
I reached for a whiff of courage.
Far fuckin’ out! Beer’s in back.
We Bumped up the Road
Doing 40 or so spilling some
foam of summer-warmed brew
and busting our guts, laughing.
I watched Brendan’s muscular hands
try to shift, missing gears,
try to steer around potholes,
not quite evading most of them.
I studied his face, mentally tracing
bone structure a model would kill for,
high cheekbones perfect white teeth
all sheathed in Mediterranean-
flavored skin, iced mocha,
begging to be sipped, so I did.
I swear, every guy you kiss is
so different. Each has a unique
essence, each a significant style.
Brendan was eau de lavender, vanilla,
Heineken, Crest and top-notch speed.
His style was “No is not an acceptable
answer.” He was Bree, with a penis.
postmidnight, 30-some hours till
back to the books, the party had
gear. Pot smoke hung, a skunky
green curtain, but I didn’t want to
so I indulged in another big snort
before inhaling a couple of tiny tokes,
to satisfy the incredible urge to pollute
my lungs. I topped that off with a Marlboro,
on just about the perfect plane, just about the
place I wanted to be. Not too speedy, not even close to
falling into the yo-yo rhythm of crank, pot,
beer, tobacco, the sensational motion and emotion,
up and down,
he might desert me, take off on a flirting binge. And,
the jealous stares of girls I had envied
not long before, girls suddenly, strangely on fire to
though they had never once in the past returned
my smile. And now, instead of Kristina, they got to
Brendan Stoked the Fire
Let’s take a walk.
I was game to play the game. We wandered
off, found a soft sitting
spot in a patch of crispy brown wild wheat.
Come here, Bree.
As he pulled me onto his lap, I wondered if
I should confess my double identity.
Instead, I let him kiss me. Hard. Hot.
Oh, man. I’m hot
He shed his shirt and the moon revealed
perfect, tanned muscles. He started
to unbutton mine, silencing my protest.
Shhh. Don’t say no.
“I can’t. I mean, I never …” Crank-enhanced
goosebumps lifted as he moved
his hands gently across my skin. “Stop.”
You know you want to.
“I do, Brendan, I really do. But I can’t.
It’s the wrong time of the month.”
I’d decked him. He slapped back.
Then, why did you call?
I let Bree answer. “Not to get laid, incredible
as you are. Is that all you think I’m
about? What if I told you I’m a virgin?”
I’d call you a liar.
Bree wanted to joust, but Kristina thought
about a long walk home and put Bree
back into her box. I looked him in the eye. “No lie.”
I would have looked
fairly suspicious if I
had walked through
the door that night.
But I didn’t have
to and never once
caught as I stood
tiptoe on the first-
floor window trim,
stretching to catch
the ledge and crawl
back inside my window.
House dark, no sound
but Jake’s snoring
through the wall, I
laid in bed, watching
a ghost dance on the
ceiling, nose sucking
up sweat, tobacco, and
eau de Brendan,
wondering what Adam
was up to until the sun
poked through the curtains,
less than an hour later.
For two days, too much crank,
no sleep, liquid diet. The first
day of school was a nightmare.
Good thing I wasn’t a freshman.
I’d have gotten lost, somewhere
between gym and the chem lab.
(Almost did, in fact.) I collected
handouts; tried to follow list upon
list of curricular expectations;
tried, failing miserably, to conquer
new locker combinations; avoided
eye contact with teachers, staff, and
most definitely school police;
ducked Sarah and Trent so I didn’t
have to listen to their chitchat;
spent lunch far from anything close
to food, even though I trembled
from near starvation. All the while
feeling like my head would burst
from thinking so damn much when
all my brain wanted to do was
close down and fall deep into REM
sleep. I considered climbing under
the bleachers, letting it do just that
before I did something really dumb
like passing out, but just about then
the final bell rang.
blessedly behind me,
I rode the belching bus
wondering how I would
possibly make it to
the next day. Craved down
time when I had to gear up,
though I might throw it up,
silence when I knew my
would be waiting to share
news of the day. The very
I had lately disdained
cried out to me: I am
without me you will
wither, like this
folding up into fall;
freeze hard, water in
awaiting the first breath of
spring; uproot, grass in a
blown into tornado;
parch, like earth denied
Mom’s Car Wasn’t in the Driveway
Which Roused Me
not the best—
I drag my
bones to the
her in the
eye and for
the first time
in my life,
Her eyes popped wide, her jaw
dropped like concrete. She reached
out and shook me.
What did you say?
Even caught up in confusion,
I knew better than to repeat myself.
I shook my head.
Tell me again.
Okay, she was testing me.
I flunked completely.
“I said, fuck you.”
That’s what I thought you said.
Mom’s turn for firsts.
She slapped me so hard my teeth
rattled and snot flew.
Don’t ever say that to me again.
I dissolved into exhausted
tears, wondering why I’d done it.
Mom broke down too.
Kristina, what’s going on with you?
I couldn’t tell her the truth.
What kind of lie might do? I started
with a genuine, “I’m sorry.”
Oh, God, I’m sorry too.
She sat down beside me
on the bed, put her arms around
me, hugged tight.
You’re not in trouble, are you?
Trouble? All sorts of trouble, oh,
yes. But not the kind she was worried
about. “No, Mom.”
These new friends … are they … okay?
Why couldn’t she just say
what she meant, ask if they’d led
me down the path to hell.
You’ve got so much promise….
Then again, if she did, would I
own up? Confess that I had taken
the lead on this perilous journey?
Please don’t throw it all away.
My mind churned love. Mom loved
me. Adam loved me. I suspected
Chase might love me,
I love you, Kristina Georgia.
(I was pretty sure Brendan
only loved the big “v.”)
Who loved me more?
Now, please come down to dinner.
I sat at the table,
brain blank, head
between my ears,
trying not to look
like the space cadet
I felt like,
to form coherent
megabites of chicken
and corn bread,
the ax to clobber
me. But Mom never
said a word about the
for the red marks
across my cheek, and
only didn’t punish
me, but let me off
granted, I made some
family, focus on
school and hunt
I Mostly Managed That
for the next week.
Hit a reasonable
settled into the rhythm
of classrooms, quizzes,
study halls, homework.
Hung out with
Sarah and Trent,
(majorly editing mine),
tried out for honor choir
and actually made it, despite
a voice gone raspy from excess
and mushrooming allergies.
Did my best to absorb
the energy of family,
meals, Sunday church,
and a Labor Day camp out.
And I managed all that,
about the monster
or wondering what
Chase or Brendan or Adam
might be up to.
Until in one fateful day
Adam wrote, Brendan called,
and Chase showed up to drive
me home after school.
I climbed into Chase’s truck,
slid close. “Where ya been?”
Crank by Ellen Hopkins / Young Adult / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes