Crank, p.10
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       Crank, p.10

         Part #1 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
 
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  Chase Left Me with Goodies

  He didn’t want to, told me

  no way,

  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

  no way

  to slow the electric impulse flow,

  our brain began to plot. How

  to get away

  from the confines of GUFN?

  Sweet-talk Mom?

  Little chance

  of that working, a crazy

  idea soon hatched

  to sneak away

  for one spectacular last

  summer fling.

  Insanity,

  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.

  Saturday Night

  postmidnight, 30-some hours till

  back to the books, the party had

  hit high

  gear. Pot smoke hung, a skunky

  green curtain, but I didn’t want to

  fall low

  so I indulged in another big snort

  before inhaling a couple of tiny tokes,

  mostly

  to satisfy the incredible urge to pollute

  my lungs. I topped that off with a Marlboro,

  landing

  on just about the perfect plane, just about the

  place I wanted to be. Not too speedy, not even close to

  straight

  falling into the yo-yo rhythm of crank, pot,

  beer, tobacco, the sensational motion and emotion,

  up and down,

  Bre
ndan hanging tight, though I suspected

  he might desert me, take off on a flirting binge. And,

  oh, god,

  the jealous stares of girls I had envied

  not long before, girls suddenly, strangely on fire to

  know me,

  though they had never once in the past returned

  my smile. And now, instead of Kristina, they got to

  know Bree.

  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.”

  Paydirt!

  Hair Mussed

  clothes cockeyed,

  makeup smeared,

  I would have looked

  fairly suspicious if I

  had walked through

  the door that night.

  But I didn’t have

  to and never once

  pondered getting

  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.

  High

  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.

  Day One

  blessedly behind me,

  I rode the belching bus

  home

  wondering how I would

  possibly make it to

  school

  the next day. Craved down

  time when I had to gear up,

  sustenance

  though I might throw it up,

  silence when I knew my

  family

  would be waiting to share

  news of the day. The very

  monotony

  I had lately disdained

  cried out to me: I am

  essential

  without me you will

  wither, like this

  summer

  folding up into fall;

  freeze hard, water in

  winter

  awaiting the first breath of

  spring; uproot, grass in a

  wind

  blown into tornado;

  parch, like earth denied

  rain.

  Mom’s Car Wasn’t in the Driveway

  Which Roused Me

  riled me,

  made me

  want to

  scream.

  Instead

  I made

  a major—in

  retrospect,

  not the best—

  decision.

  I creaked

  to sitting,

  thought

  twice,

  but when

  she insisted

  I drag my

  rubbery

  bones to the

  dinner table,

  I looked

  her in the

  eye and for

  the first time

  in my life,

  told my

  mother,

  “Fuck you.”

  Major Mistake

  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?

  Wh
o loved me most?

  Now, please come down to dinner.

  I Did

  I sat at the table,

  brain blank, head

  spinning,

  something

  that sounded

  suspiciously liquidy

  whooshing

  between my ears,

  trying not to look

  like the space cadet

  I felt like,

  struggling

  to form coherent

  sentences around

  megabites of chicken

  and corn bread,

  waiting for

  the ax to clobber

  me. But Mom never

  said a word about the

  reason

  for the red marks

  across my cheek, and

  not

  only didn’t punish

  me, but let me off

  GUFN.

  Forgiveness

  granted, I made some

  decisions: appreciate

  family, focus on

  school and hunt

  for Kristina.

  I Mostly Managed That

  for the next week.

  Hit a reasonable

  educational stride,

  settled into the rhythm

  of classrooms, quizzes,

  study halls, homework.

  Hung out with

  Sarah and Trent,

  swapped summer

  vacation stories

  (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,

  barely thinking

  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.

  Backpack Bulging

  I climbed into Chase’s truck,

  slid close. “Where ya been?”

 
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