Crank, p.13
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       Crank, p.13
 

         Part #1 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
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  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

  arrived, diamond-eyed,

  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.

  Wolf Whistles

  made me pull away,

  completely red-faced,

  but LMAO.

  (You do know what that means, right?)

  Okay, my a-double-s was still

  attached, but I couldn’t

  quit laughing.

  (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.

  Three Races

  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?)

  Sucki
ng down coffee, nibbling a half cup

  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

  like treasures,

  relegated to tokens of yesterday.

  New friendships, faulty ground

  to cultivate

  and build a future upon.

  Old boyfriends, a very short list,

  abbreviated

  further by definition and distance.

  New boyfriends, one definite

  but distracted,

  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

  my sparkle,

  kryptonite to quell my bid for superpower.

  Teachers, counselors, preachers,

  scaffolding,

  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.)

  Finding crank

  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

  sometimes resulted

  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

  the treetops,

  or watching a baby finally master

  the try-try-again

  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

  brainteaser,

  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

  snowflakes

  gives you delicious shivers of pleasure?

  Somewhere on my stroll

  with the monster,

  I’d lost these things.

  Feeling Good

  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.

  Every increment

  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,

  almost float

  down into REM sleep,

  almost function

  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.

  Celebration Two

  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

  something special.

  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

&n
bsp; wanted to whine.

  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,

  not-so-upstanding,

  old-beyond-her-years,

  not-exactly-a-lady

  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

 
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