Crank, p.14
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       Crank, p.14

         Part #1 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
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  others would arrive. (Parents gone?

  Stoner grapevine buzzes overtime.)

  Let’s drop the E right now.

  I want you to peak while it’s

  just you and me.

  I had no idea what to expect.

  It took an hour to come

  on and discover a new universe.

  Ecstasy Is Hard to Describe

  Chase Was Right There

  riveted to my side

  as I laughed,

  as I cried.

  Finally, he kissed me,

  and it was just as fine

  as any kiss

  could ever be.





  Only on E, it was more.

  It was like opening

  myself up as wide as

  I could go, inviting him inside.

  He crawled right in, filled me

  with love so close to perfect,

  I asked him to pick me up,

  carry me off into his bed.

  He did.

  Chase Wagner,

  the most beautiful man

  in the whole wide world

  (despite what the rest of the world

  could see),

  showed me exactly how

  making love should be.

  I Was Aglow

  at the first knock.

  Soon the house filled

  with friends,

  with acquaintances,

  with complete strangers.

  I wanted to get to know

  each and every one.

  I wanted them all to know

  everything about me:

  my intellect,

  my beauty,

  my righteousness.

  Maybe you have to have been

  there (or to a rave) to relate.

  I had accessed my innermost

  recesses. I needed

  to explore,

  to expand,

  to excavate.

  The most incredible place I’d

  ever been was right inside of me.

  If I left, I might never find

  it again, and so I refused

  to sink down,

  to close the door,

  to rebuild the wall.

  When someone offered a second dose

  of birthday E, I said, “Absolutely.”

  And when someone broke

  out the crank, I was ready

  to snort up,

  to smoke up,

  to shoot up.

  I should have been scared to death.

  But ecstasy dissolves all fear.

  Unforgettable Birthdays

  aren’t easy to come by.

  Do you remember

  your 4th? Your 12th?

  To my 90th birthday,

  I will never forget my 17th.

  If you do remember

  them, why?

  It was a day of firsts: giving

  myself willingly to ecstasy.

  To a man. A needle.

  Presents? Surprises?


  It didn’t hurt, not at all.

  The sting was rather

  pleasant, like excising

  an ingrown toenail.

  Or did pain define

  those memorable days?

  Now take the rush of

  snorting, multiply by

  100, you get smoking.

  To find mainlining, you

  approach infinity.

  Have you ever once in your life

  reached out to touch infinity?


  Oh, but a whole lot more. They say people

  who die from ecstasy die from overheating.

  Adding speed to the mix accelerates the process

  because it makes you want to dance until the sun comes up.

  The music made me dance. It entered my brain,

  firing spark plugs and pistons. It revved me to my feet.

  The crank was jet fuel, pumping through my veins, propulsion.

  I shifted into overdrive, motor heating steadily.

  I danced with guys, I danced with girls, hotter, closer,

  melting together like candles in a south-facing window.

  Our dance was primitive, beautiful, waves at high tide.

  Our dance was sensual, sexual, and yet somehow innocent.

  Spent calories orbited, raising temperatures. Some drank alcohol.

  The wise drank water. It tasted as good as champagne.

  And then somehow the subject of my birthday came up.

  Word spread and the mood elevated beyond celebratory.

  Gifted with kisses. Tender. Probing. Inviting. Feminine. Masculine.

  One emptying into the next, eddies in the swollen river.

  I kept my eyes closed, absorbing sensation until it screamed

  for release. So the part that came next seemed very right.

  I Don’t Know

  whose blade it was,

  whose idea it was.

  I don’t remember

  saying yes.

  I know I didn’t

  say no.

  The knife was sharp.

  One knick at my wrist.

  It didn’t even hurt.

  It didn’t seem wrong.

  Rust in my mouth.

  Rich red salt.

  I drank it down,

  asked for more.

  Offered my own

  to those who would partake.

  Fever. Fire. I was on fire.

  Time hesitated.

  Solid earth gave way.

  Strong arms caught me,

  carried me into the cool of outside.

  A familiar mouth found mine.

  I looked into Chase’s eyes,

  found emotions in turmoil.

  Fear. Need. Concern. Lust.

  And then he said the words

  we were both afraid to hear.

  I love you, Kristina.

  I Was Cinderella

  and Chase was my unlikely Prince Charming.

  (Hey, I’d graduated from

  knights to princes, even if they were unlikely.)

  Suddenly I was very sure.

  “I love you, too, Chase.”

  For real?

  I reached up and kissed him and it

  was very, very real, despite the quite

  surreal juxtaposition of colors

  in the night sky.

  You take my breath away.

  “Make love to me. Please? I don’t

  care who sees.” He might have.

  But just then his watch beeped “two.”

  No way. Come on, let’s go!

  Well beyond the witching hour,

  Chase hustled most of his guests

  out the door. (A few were tied up

  in the bedrooms.)

  I didn’t want to piss off your parents.

  We wouldn’t make it home until

  almost three. But the E insisted

  I remain hopeful.

  “They’re always in bed by ten….”

  Doesn’t look like they’re asleep.

  Every light was on, upstairs

  and down, and I caught my mom’s face

  at the window. We had turned back

  into pumpkins after all.

  If You Guessed

  I was GUFN, two points for you.

  Can you believe Chase

  was brave enough to

  walk me to the door?

  Mom pounced.

  “Do you realize it’s three a.m.?”

  Chase tried to apologize,

  said we’d lost track

  of time, talking.

  “I’m sure that was all you were doing.”

  Mom lectured him on

  responsibility and gave

  him the old,

  “We were worried to death!”

  (She looked just fine

to me.) What could

  Chase do but nod?

  “Well, Kristina won’t be going

  anywhere for a while.”

  I tried to talk my way

  out of her anger zone.

  No good.

  “What were you thinking, Kristina?”

  Scott flashed a half

  apologetic look as

  Mom carried on.

  “Don’t you know the cops keep

  a lookout for kids like you?”

  I wasn’t a kid. And

  I’d never so much as

  seen a cop drive by.

  Not yet, anyway.


  to my private mauve island where pretty

  pink butterflies fluttered on my wall in

  a lovely Å-enhanced butterfly dance,

  I tried to be angry, but the ecstasy

  wouldn’t let me. In fact, it made

  me take a peek at

  things from my mom’s POV. I

  mean, we did

  stay out until

  the cock woke

  up to stoke his

  crow. Not only that, but we did

  the very things she worried

  about us doing, and more.


  would be easy

  as a dual-edged

  sword. If you

  acquaint your

  self with your

  self, you don’t

  always like the person you find

  inside. I could deal with that. The

  bigger problem was discovering Bree

  didnÙt really give a damn about liking me.

  I Spent the Next Day

  helping Mom can tomatoes.

  It was an annual event and I

  had always hated the tedious

  chore. But the last tiny tendrils

  of ecstasy, infiltrating me, somehow

  made it enjoyable. I didn’t even mind

  my mom’s company. In fact, my mood

  seemed to rub off on her. She didn’t once

  bitch, though she enthusiastically quizzed

  me about the previous evening’s activities.

  This very big part of me wanted to confess,

  to ask forgiveness, request help. Oh, I knew

  my bad habits had escalated, and if Kristina

  had had her way that day, well, who knows?

  But over the last few weeks, Bree had grown

  stronger and her argument—that Mom might

  put her away, far removed from friends, Chase,

  and all personal choice—was feasible. So I

  refused to waver from the concert and long

  conversation excuse. And when she asked

  about drugs, I summoned every ounce of

  righteous indignation I could muster and

  denied touching a thing except a toke or

  two of weed. I knew she wouldn’t be

  too upset about that. And by the time

  all the jar lids popped down on row

  upon row of salsa, sauce, and ketchup,

  I was still grounded. But at least

  Mom wasn’t as mad anymore.

  Burned Out


  up, coming down,

  I popped three

  aspirin against the


  in my skull, and

  attempted a nap.

  I laid in bed,


  out toxins, the

  last of the E

  and crank,


  from the inside

  out. Could I ever

  shift into reverse?


  from euphoria,

  I face-planted into

  depression. Hard,


  through your own

  manure. Harder yet

  to get back up without


  and falling all over

  again. I felt out of

  control, a meteorite


  through space,

  tugged by gravity

  toward certain doom.

  Jerked Awake

  well after dark,

  yanked into consciousness

  by Mom and Scott, yelling in the hall.

  “Are you blind, Marie? You don’t sleep

  like that unless you’re crashing.”

  She’s running a fever, Scott.

  And just what makes you an expert?

  “Come on. We both know the scene.

  You just refuse to believe it.”

  We had a long talk today. She swears

  the only thing she has tried is pot.

  “Like your sweet, little Kristina

  is above lying to you?”

  But what do we do? Search her

  room? Have her tested?

  “We pull the reins tighter. No dates.

  Straight home after school.”

  For how long? We can’t keep her

  locked up here forever.

  “At least until report cards come home.

  If her grades are okay, she’s free.”

  What about tonight? Should I try

  to wake her up for dinner again?

  “Let her sleep. If she’s really sick, she

  needs the rest. Especially after last night.”

  Okay. Just, please, try to keep

  an open mind. And, Scott?

  Thank you for caring.

  Report Cards?

  If grades were the criteria,

  I would be in deep frigging dung.

  Two weeks till “d” (for dung) day,

  no way could I make up for how

  I’d screwed up this quarter.

  And if they were going to start

  searching my room, I had some

  serious stashing to do.

  But I didn’t dare move, not

  for a while. I stared off into

  the dark, thinking about Chase.

  No dates? Home straight after

  school? How could I live without

  seeing Chase?

  Alone in my bed, I could taste

  him, embrace him, feel his

  skin, warm against my own.

  There, as the house fell silent,

  I could hear him tell me,

  I love you, Kristina.

  Live without him? They couldn’t

  make me. Wouldn’t make me.

  I would go to him that night.

  I grabbed my “hideables.”

  Out the window. Down the wall

  like a spider, on night prowl.

  No way to call him to come

  and get me. How would I ever

  get myself into Reno?

  One way came to mind.

  I swallowed my fear

  and stuck out my thumb.

  Anyone Could Have Come Along

  A rapist.

  A serial killer.


  Lucky me.

  I drew a cop.

  The black and white

  approached slowly,

  crept past.

  Brake lights flashed.

  Thank God I

  thought to reach

  into my pocket

  and toss the contents

  into the weeds

  as he pulled to the shoulder,

  red and blue revolving.

  I wasn’t high,

  but I felt buzzed.

  I wasn’t holding,

  but I broke out in fear sweat.

  Goosebumps popped out like

  disturbed wasps.

  How much would he notice?

  How much more would he guess?

  (And how much did guesses count?)

  He Got Out of His Car

  Evening, young lady.

  His flashlight found my face,

  concentrating on my eyes.

  Kind of late to be out al

  My mouth felt paralyzed.

  All I could do was nod.

  Going somewhere important?

  I drew a deep breath. Exhaled

  slowly. “Just to a friend’s.”

  Do you realize it’s after curfew?

  I wanted to say something

  smart. What I said was, “It is?”

  Do your parents know you’re out?

  Parents? Couldn’t involve them!

  “Th …they’re out of town.”

  I see. Then I can’t take you home.

  Yes! He couldn’t take me home.

  Relief segued into apprehension.

  Looks like I’ll have to take you in.

  In? Where was “in”?

  He couldn’t mean jail?

  Tsk. Wittenberg isn’t a good place …

  Juvenile hall? I was dead!

  Mom would kill me.

  … for a nice girl like you.

  He escorted me to his car,

  put me into the backseat.

  What’s your name, anyway?

  If I told him my real name,

  they might call home anyway. “Uh…”

  Tough question?

  It never crossed my mind I

  couldn’t get out without it.

  You have to answer it sooner or later.

  “Bree,” I said. “Bree… Wagner.”

  I Wasn’t Scared—Yet

  They asked me lots of questions.

  I made up every answer,

  the most important one being,

  “My parents can’t be reached.

  May I call my brother?”

  They handed me the phone.

  I could only hope he was home.

  Brrrng… brrrng… brrrng…

  “Chase? It’s Bree—your sister?

  Listen, I got picked up for curfew…”

  I had rousted him up out of

  deep crash hell. It took a few

  minutes for him to come to.

  “Since our mom and dad are out

  of town, they brought me to Wittenberg…”

  Somehow he got my drift. He

  told me to chill, he’d see what

  he could do.

  No more questions. No tests. Not even

  the rush of a strip search.

  They marched me down to a

  holding cell, gave me four solid

  hours to wonder what came next.

  No word from my family. Not

  Kristina’s. Surely not Bree’s.

  They took my clothes, gave me

  baggy gray sweats, assigned me

  a bed in the dormitory.

  I joined the general population.

  I wonder where that term came from.

  They were not general at all.

  Roomie #1, Lucinda, was a gangbanger,

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