Crank, p.12
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       Crank, p.12
 

         Part #1 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
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  He looked up

  and his eyes told mine,

  I love you, Kristina.

  Eyes couldn’t lie.

  Could they?

  With sudden clarity,

  I knew,

  “I love you, too.”

  Don’t say it

  unless you mean it.

  Did I mean it?

  Brendan was no more

  than a nightmare.

  But, Giselle or no Giselle,

  what about Adam?

  You could snap

  my heart in two.

  I thought of the letter

  in my room, the one

  that had poured from me

  only hours before.

  If I mailed it …

  It’s bending now.

  I shifted

  and the throb in my thighs

  reminded me of the “new” me.

  “But what about …”

  Come on.

  I’m not exactly chaste.

  Chaste Chase?

  A monster-fed

  giggle tried to slip out.

  I relegated

  it to a tooth-baring grin.

  You’re so beautiful

  when you smile.

  He kissed me then,

  so sweetly, I truly

  felt beautiful, despite

  the ugliness

  that would always remain.

  No one can take you

  from you, Kristina.

  Tears slipped

  from my eyes.

  Chase absorbed

  every one,

  sponging up regret.

  I promise never,

  never to hurt you.

  I wanted him to prove it.

  Needed him to prove it.

  “Make love to me.”

  I could feel he wanted to.

  I want to.

  You know I do.

  But not today.

  Relief, Disappointment

  A flash flood of love and a surge

  of need so deep it went way beyond the monster.

  “Please, Chase? I have to know

  what it’s like when two people

  really want to.”

  And you will. I will take you to

  heights you can’t imagine. But not

  until you’ve healed.

  I didn’t understand. Go ahead.

  Call me dense. “It’s only a few

  bruises, Chase.”

  I meant not until you’re free

  from dreams of yesterday.

  When we make love, the only

  people there should be you and me.

  He was right. Adam lingered on

  my nightstand. Brendan would

  haunt me, a shadow, for days.

  When you’ve vanquished your ghosts,

  I’ll be here. Besides, sweetheart,

  anticipation is half the fun.

  I could only hope the other half

  might one day be as wonderful.

  With Chase, it seemed possible.

  Meanwhile, I’d better go before

  your parents get back. Want to

  go outside for a smoke?

  Soft drifts of nicotine filled my

  lungs, soothing one hunger.

  Chase held me close.

  Funny thing, Kristina. Before you,

  I believed love was making love.

  Waiting only makes me

  love you more.

  Powerful Words

  Strong

  enough to latch on

  to me, bear the weight and

  lift

  me, induce buoyancy,

  float me in a brilliant, blue sky

  above

  the reach of personal demons.

  So peaceful, in the canopy, beyond

  distress

  and self-incrimination. I wanted

  to stay there forever.

  Impossible

  of course. Chase drove away

  and almost immediately,

  fantasy

  dissolved, like sugar stirred

  into saltwater, as the real

  world

  clamped down around me,

  slammed me back down to Earth.

  Tried to Beat Mom Inside

  but she was right on my heels

  as I went through the door.

  Who is that boy who just left?

  Busted. I had to tell her something,

  so I said, “A friend.”

  What kind of friend?

  “My best friend,” I wanted to say.

  “My only friend.” I just stared.

  I asked you a question.

  Okay. I’d tell her what she didn’t

  want to hear. “Chase is my boyfriend.”

  Boyfriend? He’s hardly your type.

  Anger bubbled. I gritted my teeth.

  “I don’t have a type, Mother.”

  Well, at least someone good-looking.

  Like Chase wasn’t, she meant.

  And, “You mean like Brendan.”

  Exactly. What happened to Brendan?

  I was prepared. “We didn’t really

  hit it off.” Understated, huh?

  But he was so nice, so polite.

  I tried to bite my tongue. Didn’t work.

  “He wasn’t so nice, Mom.”

  What do you mean?

  “He was …” I paused, “all over me.”

  She looked at me without sympathy.

  Why didn’t you tell me before?

  I took dead aim. “I didn’t think

  you’d care. Apparently, I was right.”

  Leveled

  Have you ever actually felt one up

  on your mom? What an

  exhilarating feeling.

  She stuttered, coughed, couldn’t say

  a word because somewhere inside

  she knew she was wrong.

  So I pushed even harder. “You always told

  me not to judge a book by its cover.

  Practice what you preach, Mom.”

  Two clichés don’t exactly make for deep

  conversation, but I didn’t expect

  that (or want it) anyway.

  I started for my inner sanctum. Paused.

  “I mean look at you and me. On

  the surface, we both seem so normal!”

  Her face contorted, emphasizing every wrinkle.

  “Take a peek inside our family album.

  Like what’s in there?”

  Do you think that was mean? I guess, but

  it felt so great, it made me grin.

  Sort of sick, or what?

  Light-Headed

  Giddy from my absolute bluster

  (not to mention lack of food

  and a big dose of nicotine),

  I skipped up the hall,

  singing

  a Queen

  song about paying

  dues and doing time, no

  crime committed. Oh, that

  Freddie Mercury. What a waste!

  That guy was really something—a rebel and worse.

  In a day when it was supposed

  to be okay to experiment

  that way. No condoms,

  just good gay fun. We

  know better now.

  As I thought

  about that, I had

  to wonder: What will we

  know better about tomorrow?

  Who cares? Hindsight is useless.

  Even looking back now, things seem a bit muddled.

  Northern Nevada Autumns

  are filled with weeds.

  Toxic, high-allergen garden killers.

  Tumbleweed.

  Rabbitbrush.

  Russian white top.

  Guess how I spent that Sunday.

  Wound up on Claritin

  enhanced crank, it wasn’t

  so bad.

  Yank. Think.

  Tug. Consider.

 
I would put Adam’s letter in the mail.

  Water. Soak in.

  Watch Mom and Scott

  drive away.

  Bribe Jake to help.

  I would never tell another soul about Brendan.

  Direct Jake to dump

  the wheelbarrow.

  Yank. Think.

  Tug. Consider.

  I would make love with Chase very soon.

  Start to come down.

  Disappear for a toot.

  Notice my stash was two

  snorts away from gone.

  I would make a cash withdrawal the next day.

  Help Jake finish up.

  Send him to 7-Eleven

  for Cokes and chips.

  I would call Chase while he was gone.

  No Answer

  No sweat.

  Okay, maybe

  a little sweat.

  If I couldn’t

  get crank

  from Chase

  who could

  I get it from?

  I thought.

  And thought.

  And finally,

  one person

  came to mind.

  I got on my bike,

  pedaled over to

  Trent’s, hoping

  Robyn was home

  and in the mood

  to share some

  information. Vital

  information

  to a person

  desperate for

  a new connection.

  Timing Is Everything

  Mine was impeccable that day.

  Robyn answered the door,

  quite noticeably strung.

  Oh, hi. Trent’s not home.

  He went into town with Mom.

  “Cool. I wanted to see you.

  Can I come in?”

  I eased through the door.

  I don’t know… um…

  the house is a mess…

  It was neat as a pin.

  But it did smell like crank.

  I suspected Trent wouldn’t

  be home anytime soon.

  What’s up, Kristina?

  Can’t it wait till tomorrow?

  “Relax. I’m not a narc.” I

  reached into my pocket for the

  semimutilated bindle. Robyn’s

  pupils went all the way black.

  I thought you’d lost some weight.

  It’s better than the Atkins diet, huh?

  “It’s a helluva lot more fun!”

  We laughed and I offered to share

  the last of my stash. “Have a mirror?”

  Don’t tell me you’re still snorting.

  Have you ever tried smoking it?

  She was the first to even suggest it.

  Robyn the Reno High cheerleader

  proceeded to show me a whole new

  way to get down with the monster.

  We Went into Her Room

  Locked the door. Sat on the bed.

  Robyn produced a V of crusty foil,

  tapped in the last crumbs of powder.

  This little bit will go right to your

  brain and won’t clog your sinuses.

  Won’t stay there, draining, little by

  little. Oh, no. You blow straight through

  the roof in one giant puff of smoke.

  It’s an awesome rush. And you won’t

  stay awake for days.

  She handed me the stub of a Slurpee

  straw and showed me how to hold it

  just above one end of the V.

  When it starts to smoke, suck fast.

  Hold it in as long as you can.

  Robyn held a match just below the

  yellow powder. It browned, bubbled,

  smoked. A waft traveled up the V.

  Here it comes. Don’t let it get away.

  Oh, God, that smells good!

  It tasted nasty. But it took me higher

  than ever before. The monster

  pirouetted in my brain.

  My turn. Don’t hold the match too

  close to the foil. Crank can burn.

  In seconds, Robyn was flying. Instant

  bonding. She didn’t even blink when

  I asked if she could score.

  You’ve got the money, I can get the crank.

  For a small finder’s fee, of course.

  I expected no less. We planned to

  meet up the next day. I went home,

  feeling better than I had in a long, long time.

  She Forgot to Mention

  a couple of

  rather important things:

  Like how, if you exercised

  1(riding my bike, for instance),

  your lungs fought to hold air.

  I huffed and puffed

  all the way home.

  Like how, when you came down

  (I had to eventually),

  your head screamed with pain

  and your body broke out

  in panicky sweat.

  Like how your little brother’s teasing

  (irritating at the best of times),

  would set you way off,

  make you jump

  off the deep end.

  Like how parental concern

  (inquiring minds wanted to know),

  might suffocate you,

  might confuse you,

  might make you yell,

  “Just leave me the fuck alone!”

  This Time

  it was Scott who asked for

  the heart-to-heart. It was a

  rather one-sided conversation.

  May I come In, Kristina?

  Can we talk?

  He hated confrontation. I

  could play the game two ways.

  In-your-face. Or contrite.

  What’s going on? Your mom and I

  are worried about you.

  I chose contrition. And feigned

  ignorance. “What do you mean?”

  He came right to the point.

  It’s like you’ve become a whole

  different person lately.

  Not all of me. Just the Bree part.

  Not all the time.

  Just with the monster.

  Did something happen

  at your dad’s?

  Like he wanted to hear about Dad.

  Like he really wanted to know

  he and Mom were 100% right on.

  Don’t take this wrong, okay?

  You aren’t doing drugs, are you?

  What was I supposed to do—

  admit it? I shook my head in

  hearty denial.

  I know adolescence is a time

  for experimentation…

  Oh, yes, he knew. And my mom did

  too. Dad told me all about how they

  used to get high together.

  but I hope you’ll think twice before

  you do. You’ve got a lot to lose.

  I bit my lip, filled my eyes with

  innocence, let it encourage tears.

  “I know, Scott. I promise to think twice.”

  He Talked at Me Awhile Longer

  I smiled, nodded, apologized

  for my foul temper and angry

  words, protested when it

  seemed I ought to and

  somehow managed

  to avoid

  GUFN.

  When he left, I patted myself on the

  back for a game well played,

  snitched open the door

  and tiptoed down the

  hall to eavesdrop

  on the kitchen

  conversation.

  Mom and Scott believed

  they’d bitten the bullet.

  Little did they know

  I hadn’t yet fired

  off the full

  round.

  The Next Few Days

  I Gave Up the Bus

  in favor of rides with Robyn,

  with a detour or two along
r />
  the way to indulge

  in some Homework Helper.

  (Like it really helped!)

  A couple of afternoons she

  had cheerleading practice.

  (How could she do back flips

  and cartwheels

  without killing herself?)

  Those days, Chase came by

  to take me home and stop

  by the park for a good long

  make-out session.

  I invited him to share my stash.

  He took a snort or two,

  but declined

  the tinfoil routine.

  I let him get away

  with it the first time.

  On his second refusal,

  I asked why not.

  He shrugged.

  I’ve set boundaries.

  I Meant

  to analyze

  Chase’s limits

  that very weekend,

  to learn

  just how far

  I could stretch

  him at the edges,

  to judge

  how wide

  I might warp

  his self-imposed

  morality.

  Don’t ask me

  why I felt the

  incredible need

  to test

  this person that

  meant so very

  much to me,

  to fathom

  his most

  personal thoughts,

  coolly dissect

  his psyche.

  I only know it was

  on the table for

  that Saturday until

  fate intervened.

  Okay, the Air Races Intervened

  September is Air Race month

  in Northern Nevada—four

  fabulous days of warbirds,

  jets, and homebuilt aircraft,

  racing wingtip to wingtip,

  balls out, around pylons.

  It’s a must-see event, and

  we’d made it a family event

  every single year since Jake

  was a tiny baby, snoozing

  soundly in his stroller, despite

  ear-splitting military flybys.

  We always went on weekends

  and I always begged for more,

  so it would have looked pretty

  damn suspicious to say I didn’t

  want to go. Besides, I did want

  to go. I just wanted to go high.

  So when Mom reminded us at

  dinner that we’d have to get

  up early and dress in layers, I

  cleared my throat as if to protest.

  Instead I asked if I could invite

  my friend Robyn to come along.

  Again, I’d made the perfect

 
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