Part #1 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
preemptory strike. Mom was
so happy I would participate
without incident that she not
only gave her blessing, but
let me ride in Robyn’s car.
Robyn Was Game
Scott’s company had box seats
and plenty of tickets. Robyn got
comp tix, with a can’t-beat view.
But that was only for starters.
You bet I’ll go. Those flyboys
are soooooo cute!
You can guess what we did on
the drive north of town. We
behind dark sunglasses.
Aviator glasses. Ha! Hope those
pilots aren’t as wired as I am.
I hoped so, too. We sauntered
down the flight line in tight
jeans and tiny tank tops, turning
more than a few heads.
You’d think they’d never seen girls
before. Maybe they think we’re lezes.
You thought I was a vamp!
I couldn’t come close to
Robyn. Even Bree had to
work hard to keep up.
Wanna give ’em a show?
Have you ever kissed a girl?
The only girls I’d ever kissed were
relatives, and only lip-to-cheek.
Lip locking another female? Never!
And in public? No way!
Come on. It’s just for fun. Promise
not to slip you the tongue.
OMG. If I hadn’t been so
wound, I would have died on the spot.
Instead, I jumped right into
Robyn’s shameless game.
made me pull away,
(You do know what that means, right?)
Okay, my a-double-s was still
attached, but I couldn’t
(In retrospect, it wasn’t that funny.)
At the time, it seemed
like the funniest thing
I’d ever done.
(What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever done?)
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m completely hetero,
and that experience proved it to me.
(I decided that later, when I had much too much
time on my hands to think about such things.)
But seeing the look
on people’s faces—some
horrified, some fascinated—
made my day.
(How would you look, seeing two
pretty teenaged girls making out,
right there on the tarmac?)
We Found Our Box
took seats behind Mom, Scott,
Jake, and a couple of guys Scott
worked with. Robyn nudged me
as Mom leaned over, showing off
cleavage to the cute young blond.
He took a good, long look, then
whispered something no doubt funny
and off-color into Mom’s ear. She
giggled and flirted and carried on
like Scott wasn’t even there.
Worse yet, Scott pretended not
to notice. Or maybe, tied up in
conversation about the latest
microchip technology stocks,
he in fact didn’t notice. He turned
the tables nicely when his boss
and Mrs. Boss (in a very short
skirt) joined the lineup. My parents
set an extremely poor example
for us impressionable (ha ha) kids.
Good thing Jake wasn’t sitting
behind them. Clueless, he oohed
at every aerial maneuver. Robyn
and I observed the whole show
(including the terrestrial maneuvers
in our box) with pure enjoyment. It’s
always great to watch the world’s
best pilots fly, and better yet to see
adults behave like juvenile delinquents.
and two stunt performances
later, Robyn and I excused
ourselves for a trip to the outhouse.
We hustled off to the car to
“powder our noses,” then hurried
to pee before we were missed.
As we headed back to our seats,
a familiar form came striding
in our direction. Brendan.
Attached, as if sewn on, was a girl,
not more than 14, with a fashion doll body
and child actress face.
Her shorts, cut high on the thigh
and low on the hips, revealed a stud
in her navel. I thought about
turning around or ducking into
the swirling crowd but without warning,
Bree took over. “Hey, Brendan!
Great to see you again,” she gushed.
“Raped any schoolgirls lately?”
He maintained his frosty cool as he leveled
his eyes. Can’t rape the willing.
“That’s what I’ve heard.” I turned to his sidekick.
“How about you? Are you willing?”
Still locked to Brendan, she quite obviously
deflated, and her face paled beneath
an overdose of cover-up and cheap blush.
“Well, have fun you two. Don’t do anything
I wouldn’t do.” I started away, calling
over my shoulder, “Watch your back, Barbie doll.”
Robyn Wanted the Whole Story
I told her, then she shared her own sordid tale:
I started crakin’ to keep up with schoolwork
around gymnastics, cheerleading, student
council, and other extracurricular crap.
You’d be surprised how many brownnosers
get high, and with so much around, I thought it
would always be easy to score. Sometimes it goes dry.
During one particular drought spell, I was hurtin’
for certain, and went looking for a new source.
Found him in a casino arcade, cruising for fresh meat.
He flashed a bindle and I followed him out to his car.
I still can’t believe I was stupid enough to get inside.
He drove east of town, all the way out in the desert past Mustang.
After a couple of snorts, he was all hands, all over me.
When I told him to stop, he said, “It’s a long walk back,
even if you don’t get lost. Anyway we both know what kind
of a girl you are.”
That stung, but not much. All I could do was ask for more
crank so maybe I could halfway enjoy it. I didn’t. He was dirty.
Smelly like he hadn’t showered in days.
And after he started, he got mean.
He did things to me—terrible things, I’ve still got the scars—
things no sane person would ever do. Of course,
he wasn’t exactly sane.
Afterward, neither was I.
Now, You Might Think
an experience like that
would serve as a stern
warning, make a person
do a quick about-face and
sprint in the other direction.
Didn’t happen like
that for Robyn.
Didn’t happen like
that for me.
Before I Met the Monster
But Now Nothing
Problem Number One: School
Getting up in the morning,
was it only moments after finally falling
into a state of semisleep?
Finding clean clothes
(I was supposed to put my dirties
in the laundry room, but who could remember?)
of honey-sweetened corn flakes
for a slight rush of caffeine and carbs.
Catching a ride with Robyn or one
of my Avenue buds, coaxing myself
mostly awake with a whiff of white.
Twenty minutes on the Avenue
before the bell rang, tempering
my morning buzz with nicotine.
Stumbling into homeroom, most likely tardy,
hoping Mrs. Twedt wouldn’t notice
and reward me with detention.
Making some classes, cutting others,
deciding which would be which
by which was which the day before.
And somehow I managed to convince
myself life with the monster
was not routine.
Problem Number Two: Relationships
Old friendships, tucked away
relegated to tokens of yesterday.
New friendships, faulty ground
and build a future upon.
Old boyfriends, a very short list,
further by definition and distance.
New boyfriends, one definite
and no shortage of Avenue wannabes.
Siblings, one too close and curious,
the other much
too far away to serve as confidant.
Parents, ever-present shade, dimming
kryptonite to quell my bid for superpower.
Teachers, counselors, preachers,
crumbled by the weight of my monster.
Problem Number Three: Connections
How to get high
and stay that way?
(Coming down was a bitch and a half.)
wasn’t really difficult.
Most of my new crowd knew
someone who dealt
(or knew someone who
knew someone who did).
Getting what you paid for
proved more problematic, unless
you went straight to the source.
Even then, things were iffy.
(Stoners aren’t the most reliable people.
Even they would have to agree.)
Fronting years of hoarded
allowances and birthday gifts
in disappointing returns.
And my bank account
was dwindling fast.
Problem Number Four: Feeling Good
The biggest problem of all.
You know how riding real fast
in a car
or a spectacular takeoff
in a jet
gives you an awesome rush of adrenaline?
You know how spotting an eagle
cruising low over
or watching a baby finally master
of walking makes you glow all over?
You know how singing a beautiful song
with dead-on pitch,
or getting every test answer right,
including the extra credit
makes you feel like you could take on the world?
You know how waking up to perfect skies,
enough sunshine to warm you, not
enough to bake you,
or watching a silent fall of quarter-sized
gives you delicious shivers of pleasure?
Somewhere on my stroll
with the monster,
I’d lost these things.
became a matter of scale.
One to ten,
“ten” being one step shy
of shredding the time-space continuum,
“one” being ten steps shy
of dropping flat in my tracks.
required meth or more meth.
I didn’t have to go all
the way up, but up,
I did need to go.
After a while, even high,
I could almost
make believe food
didn’t taste like cardboard,
down into REM sleep,
the next day,
almost look forward to my
almost 17th birthday.
I Would Celebrate Several Ways
One with my family. My mid-October
birthday always meant a
trip to San Francisco to play tourist
on Fisherman’s Wharf, scarf
too much seafood, shop Ghiradelli Square,
and visit my grandma—to see just how
far she had slipped away toward
the underworld of dementia.
We went down the weekend before and it
was just as I imagined. I knew things
had taken a turn for the worse when Grandma
stood up in church and yelled, “I have
to go to the bathroom!” Flying relatively high on
the monster, I laughed like a lunatic all the way
home. Which made Mom mad and made me wonder:
Does insanity swim in our gene pool?
In One of Her Better Moments
Grandma drew me aside,
put one finger to creviced
lips and whispered,
Kristina, dear, I’ve got something
here I want you to have.
One tentative hand stretched
toward mine. Grandma’s eyes
sparkled, glass under rain.
My grandmother gave this to me
on my own 17th birthday.
It was a beautiful gold locket—24
karat, with an inlay of diamonds.
But the real treasure was inside.
That’s my wedding picture, there.
And my grandmother’s, there.
Both women wore ivory lace,
simplicity made lovely with a spray
of yellow roses—and my locket.
I ask only one thing. Please pass
it on to your own granddaughter?
“Of course, Grandma. Thank you!”
It felt like wealth around my neck—
a wealth of love.
My birthday fell on Friday night.
After dinner Mom broke out the cake
and presents—cool velour jeans from
Leigh, matching sweater from Jake,
diamond studs from Mom and Scott.
Hope you like them.
“I love them. Thanks, Mom.”
What wasn’t to like? I went to look
in the mirror. The stones magnified
the pale bathroom light, like my growing
guilt. Mom came in behind me.
I wanted you to have
I watched her in the mirror.
She reached out, as if to touch me,
withdrew instead. Maybe if she had
followed through, everything that
came after wouldn’t have.
I feel like I’ve lost
you, Kristina. I guess
it had to happen
sometime. It’s as much
my fault as yours.
It was a stunning confession.
And probably not completely accurate.
Yes, she had distanced herself through
work and stretching her affection. But
the monster was a mightier intruder.
Please be careful.
I’m worried that
you’ve made some
bad choices. Don’t
let them go from
bad to worse.
Half of Me
Wanted to rage.
Wanted to get right up
into her face and shout,
“What about your bad choices, Mom?
Have you ever once stopped to consider
how they not only created me,
but helped mold me
into the not-so-fine,
standing in front of you?”
The other half
told me to shut up,
told me to smile,
told me to find a hint
of contrition and agree,
“You’re right, Mom, some of my choices
haven’t been the best lately.
I promise to try harder to do the right
things, and make you proud of me.”
Considering I had made plans
with Chase for celebration number three,
plans that might very well test
just how bad my choices had become,
guess which half won.
Let’s Just Say I Got to Go
Chase picked me up for my Big Day.
He actually knocked, went mano a
mano with Mom and Scott.
Evening. So nice to finally meet
you. Kristina has told me so
many good things a bout you.
Oh, that boy was a player! Scott
shook his hand, invited him inside
and Mom thawed her frozen glare.
Don’t worry about a thing. The
concert may run late, but we’ll be
back before we turn into pumpkins!
We didn’t have a concert in mind,
of course. Chase’s mom was out of town.
He had a special party planned.
I got the E. It’s critical—pure MDMA,
the real deal. But you don’t have to try
it if you don’t want to.
Speed, with a hint of psychedelia?
Going primeval, no fear, no pain?
“I want to do everything with you.”
Cool. ’Cause I want you to go
all the way to heaven.
And I want to take you there.
We got to his house hours before the
Crank by Ellen Hopkins / Young Adult / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes