Crank, p.15
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       Crank, p.15
 

         Part #1 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
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involved in a drive-by.

  Roomie #2, Felice, was in for wrecking

  a Caddie, carjacked at knifepoint.

  Roomie #3, Rose, had beaten up

  her mother—with the butt of her gun.

  Of course, she had a good excuse.

  All of us had one thing in common:

  a total infatuation with the monster.

  Tell you the truth, that scared me

  a little. But not that much.

  Tough Girls

  I let Bree do my trash talking.

  Kristina stuck with honesty.

  Somehow, Lucinda and I found an odd rapport.

  And by the time Chase called my parents

  to let me know where they could find me

  (can you believe it takes a real parent to get you out of juvie?)

  and they released me bright and early, Monday morning,

  I was a tougher girl

  with a new connection.

  Cause and Effect

  The admitting clerk was irate.

  She had to redo all the paperwork,

  using my real name.

  She made me wait for almost two hours

  while she drank coffee and shuffled files.

  The counselor assigned to my case

  was unsympathetic. He read my folder,

  nodding and hmmming.

  He told me being a loser was easy, then

  ordered 24 hours community service.

  Scott sulked like a pissed puppy. He

  would have preferred lockup to my

  picking up trash along the highway.

  He refused to say one word, and his

  silence told me all I needed to know.

  Mom manufactured a plethora

  of tears to accompany her

  long-suffering mother diatribe.

  She had plenty to say about deceit,

  distress, and sexually transmitted diseases.

  Jake was enthralled by the whole

  idea of my temporary incarceration,

  and the reasons behind it.

  He wouldn’t shut up, just kept

  asking inane questions.

  As for me, I was less than contrite.

  Picking up trash wasn’t so bad. There

  were ways around GUFN.

  And I now had a direct in with a

  monster manufacturer.

  Back in My Room

  My life closed in

  around me. I was

  no longer my own.

  Mom had poured

  through all

  my stuff, scoured

  my journal, letters,

  and address book.

  She did find a bit

  of evidence—a

  crumpled Marlboro

  wrapper and a new

  lighter. Hey, it made

  her day to discover

  I was a hard-core

  tobacco user. More

  lectures, more useless

  promises on my

  end. She went off

  to work on her book.

  A sudden wave of

  exhaustion swallowed

  me. I’d walked through

  the last few days in a

  total haze. My system

  had finally purged itself

  of “go fast.” It was time

  to shut down. I laid down

  and surrendered myself

  to the comfort of dreams.

  Resolutions

  I awoke the next morning, semirefreshed.

  As I got myself ready for school,

  I made the following resolutions:

  • One week to the end of the quarter, grades slipping into

  gutter, I would ask for some extra credit work.

  • I would help out more around the house, show my parents

  I was grateful for the many things they’d given me.

  • I would write to my Grandma once a week, even if she

  might not be sure who the letters were from.

  • I would reconnect with old friends. And my dad.

  • I would finish up the many projects I’d started while under

  the influence—a macramé wall hanging, a portrait of John

  Lennon, a song I’d written about my walk with the monster.

  • I would never shoot up again. I would smoke less, toot

  less, keep my bad habits manageable. (Notice I didn’t say

  quit them.) I would also avoid sipping other people’s blood.

  • I would go to Planned Parenthood and get on the pill. Making

  love with Chase was awesome, and we didn’t need a baby

  spoiling that.

  The problem with resolutions

  is they’re only as solid as the

  person making them.

  Other Problems

  Mess with a teacher,

  even one that has always

  liked you in the past,

  you’re liable to get screwed.

  Ditch their classes, they might

  give you makeup work, but

  they don’t have to. I was four

  out of seven toward screwed.

  I tried hooking up with

  Sarah. She was nice but had

  moved on to more reliable

  friends. Straight friends.

  Trent knew exactly what was

  what with his sister, and so

  with me. The Avenue most

  definitely wasn’t his scene.

  On the home front, I couldn’t

  buy Scott’s trust by washing

  windows or vacuuming. I had

  zero idea how to turn it around.

  Mom, she wanted her little girl

  back. I couldn’t go that far.

  She wavered between forgiving,

  stern, spiteful, and loving.

  I did write Grandma a couple

  of times, lively, newsy letters.

  She never replied, but I

  didn’t really expect her to.

  Hopefully, I brightened a few

  of her last days. She would pass

  away in January, cold and gray

  as a San Francisco winter.

  When I returned to the macramé,

  my fingers struggled over the

  knots. I scrapped that project,

  but did finish John Lennon.

  As for the song, I had lost

  the melody and my will to

  find it. And the lyrics brought

  me back to the fold of the monster.

  Crank, You See

  isn’t any ordinary

  monster. It’s like a

  giant octopus,

  weaving

  its tentacles not

  just around you,

  but through you,

  squeezing

  not hard enough to

  kill you, but enough

  to keep you from

  reeling

  until you try to get

  away. Try, and you

  hunger for its

  grasping

  clutch, the way its

  tendrils prop you

  up, your need

  intensifying

  exponentially

  every minute you

  refuse to admit its

  being.

  By Wednesday

  last period, take me

  to the bank. (I had a D

  in P.E.; what could one

  more ditch hurt?)

  The Good …

  Seeing Chase’s truck pull

  into the far parking lot. Hearing,

  It’s been a long four days.

  Kissing him, knowing better things

  lay in store, right up the road.

  I’ve missed you so much.

  Detouring to a secluded spot. Gentle

  lovemaking, set to romantic sonnets.

  It’s never been like this for me before.

  Riding into town, head on his shoulder,

/>   listening to words of love.

  My heart will always belong to you.

  He was the second person to tell me

  that. The first, well, he had his Giselle.

  … The Bad …

  Noticing the letter lying

  open on the passenger-side floor.

  I was going to tell you …

  Chase had been accepted by USC—

  the University of Southern California.

  They have an awesome film school …

  Early graduation, a full scholarship,

  for him, a dream come true.

  I’ll leave after Christmas break.

  For me, a dream or three, annihilated.

  I didn’t know what to say.

  Please don’t cry. It’s not so far away.

  It might as well be clear across the globe.

  Out of sight, out of my mind.

  … And the Ugly

  I was still upset when

  we pulled up to the bank.

  I was a ton more upset

  when the teller informed

  me that Mom had restricted

  my access to my own account.

  Okay, it had dwindled considerably.

  But I had to have cash the next day.

  You should not stand

  a guy like Roberto up.

  And I was in serious want

  of a fabulous bender.

  I’m not sure which one of

  the two made me more panicky.

  I asked Chase if I could

  borrow some money.

  But when I told him why, he told

  me I was nuts and took me home.

  I didn’t even say good-bye, just slammed

  the door and went to check the mailbox.

  I figured I’d better keep checking

  it until my report card arrived.

  It wasn’t there. But something a whole lot

  better was—two letters from Citibank.

  Inside one was Mom’s new credit card.

  Inside the other was a PIN.

  I Did Think Twice

  about using that Visa, maybe

  even three or four times.

  But it was just so easy, like fate

  had mailed it directly to me.

  Mom wouldn’t miss it for weeks.

  And then I would deny ever

  having laid eyes on the thing.

  Robyn gave me a ride to meet

  Roberto. He didn’t look near

  as scary as he really was.

  The buy was a piece of cake.

  Except for one thing.

  Roberto wouldn’t deal less than

  half-ounce quantities. That much,

  straight from the source, was relatively

  cheap. And Visa paid for it.

  I didn’t need it all, of course.

  The plan was to sell some,

  so my own stash would be free.

  Every dealer thinks that until

  their nose gets busy.

  That’s what I became that day. A dealer.

  I had just taken a very big step up

  in the hierarchy of the monster.

  I Became an Instant Celebrity

  out on The Avenue.

  The crank was superb.

  And I, being new to the deal,

  didn’t know enough to cut it.

  I sold it like I bought it—rich,

  yellow, moist, and stinky.

  I offed the half, went

  back for more, offed that, too.

  My friends were happy.

  Roberto was happy—

  enough to front me even more.

  And I was nonstop wired.

  Nonstop tired.

  I needed more and more just to get through the day.

  More and more just to feel okay.

  Who knows how much I’d be doing now?

  Who knows how much money I might have made?

  Who knows if I would

  have smoked up all the profits?

  Who knows if I would have

  ended up in prison—or worse?

  But one morning in early

  November, I woke up

  and the moment I got

  up, I heaved until I hurt.

  It might have been the flu

  or a bad reaction to Mom’s sloppy Joes.

  But it wasn’t.

  Clear Blue Easy

  I Went Through

  the next few days

  pretty much like

  a zombie.

  People wanted crank.

  I sold it to them.

  Teachers wanted homework.

  I gave it to them.

  Jake wanted to razz me.

  I let him.

  Mom wanted to know what was wrong.

  I had nothing to say.

  The monster called to me too.

  For once,

  I refused to answer.

  Friday night, I crawled into bed,

  sank way, way low.

  Submerged myself

  in a world of watery dreams:

  Tears. An ocean of tears.

  And a baby, a boy,

  afloat in that salty sea.

  He cried out to me.

  Could I swim away solo?

  Would I drown saving him?

  Saturday

  I spent the day:

  Throwing up.

  Sweating speed.

  Shivering.

  Shaking.

  Tingling all over.

  And otherwise fighting

  the symptoms of withdrawal.

  Sunday

  I spent the day:

  Throwing up.

  Sweating speed.

  Off-balance.

  Confused.

  Weeping.

  Tumbling end over end,

  deeper and deeper

  into the throes of depression.

  Monday

  I spent the day:

  Throwing up.

  Eating.

  Emotional.

  Dazed.

  Lost.

  Alone.

  Finally, I went to the pay phone

  and made two calls. One to

  Planned Parenthood. The other to

  Chase.

  My Appointment Was at Two

  Chase picked me up at noon.

  Pale, shaky, I climbed

  in beside him.

  Hi. You look awful.

  I smiled. “Whose fault is that?”

  We laughed at the not-funny joke

  and headed into town.

  Are you okay?

  I shook my head. “I’m pregnant,

  remember?” I leaned into

  my hands, let the tears flow.

  Please don’t cry. I’m here for you.

  Here? He was going off to sunny

  Southern California. I didn’t need

  him anyway. Did I?

  I love you. More than I realized.

  “I love you, too. But I’m scared,

  Chase.” He pulled to the side

  of the road.

  I’ll take care of you. The baby, too.

  Was he giving me another choice?

  Could I make that decision?

  I was only 17.

  Marry me, Kristina.

  My knees buckled. My stomach

  churned. Chase had stepped up to the plate.

  The pitch was up to me.

  Planned Parenthood

  was a cinder-block

  nightmare. It felt

  like prison without

  the comfort of bars.

  Ugly in orange,

  the waiting room

  made me want to

  throw up. So I did.

  A dozen women

  gave sympathetic

  looks as I returned

  from the bathroom.

  One by one, they

  disappeared as a

  stern woman in white

  called their names.<
br />
  Chase held my hand

  as we watched them

  reappear, one by

  one, ashen as ghosts.

  A procession of

  wraiths, that’s what

  it was. And I was in

  the back of the line.

  I rocked against the

  hard plastic chair.

  Finally the woman

  called, “Bree Wagner.”

  Chase flinched, then

  whispered in my ear:

  I prefer the sound

  of Kristina Wagner.

  I Already Knew My Options

  I listened patiently as the saccharine

  Ms. Sweetwater outlined them again.

  She did confirm that should I choose

  abortion, my parents would not

  have to know. All I needed was $500

  and someone to drive me home.

  She gave me the name of a

  local adoption agency,

  urged me to consider placing

  my baby in a loving home.

  And then she asked me

  the date of my last period.

  Hard as it was, I thought

  back to a night up at

  Chamberlain Flat, when I used

  that period as an excuse to say no.

  It was the weekend before school

  started. Add a couple of weeks and …

  I gained a terrible insight.

  Chase was not the baby’s father.

  Brendan was.

  The Realization

  was like jamming a

  paper clip

  into a light socket:

  profoundly stunning;

  like cinching

  a garbage bag tight

  around my neck:

  completely suffocating.

  A mad surge

  of blood rushed

  to my brain,

  pounding temples and eardrums

  before draining

  away completely.

  My face went Arctic,

 
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