Crank, p.16
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       Crank, p.16
 

         Part #1 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
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  diving deep freeze,

  glacier blue.

  Graveyard cold

  hugged me tight,

  rattling teeth and bones.

  Chase called my

  name. Ms. Sweetwater

  skittered to her feet

  and everything went black.

  Passing Out

  is the strangest thing.

  One minute

  you’re here.

  Then with a mere

  cerebral flutter,

  you’re not.

  Part of your brain

  insists you’re dead.

  Of course, you’re not.

  Another part says it’s

  better there, in the dark.

  Where, exactly, are you?

  Somewhere, you hear

  voices, urgent.

  Could you be in limbo?

  A thin beam of light

  calls to you.

  Will you reach heaven?

  Brighter now,

  white and beautiful.

  You hurry in that direction.

  Your eyes acquiesce,

  and open to discover …

  you’re back in hell, after all.

  Voices

  Oh Yeah, I Was Fine

  Dandy in fact.

  Pregnant by a sex fiend.

  Starving for the monster.

  Scared to admit either

  to those close to me

  who remained

  clueless eyes closed to every

  negative thing about me, or

  dying to know every

  dirty little tidbit.

  And the only one

  who knew every little

  negative, dirty thing

  would have

  forgiven me anything.

  Chase Steadied Me

  as we walked to his truck,

  hand in hand. He opened

  the door, helped me inside,

  slid in behind the wheel.

  So tell me.

  I considered playing

  ignorant, but knew he

  wouldn’t let go.

  “About the baby …”

  My eyes unlocked

  from his, but not quickly

  enough to conceal the truth.

  Brendan is the father.

  My throat constricted,

  like a rubber band twisting

  around my admission.

  “Oh, God, Chase.

  It’s all so wrong!”

  Our eyes reconnected.

  In his, I found sympathy.

  And jealousy.

  It doesn’t matter, Kristina.

  We can make it right.

  He Drove Me Home—Slowly

  My stomach flip-flopped

  with every curve and brake.

  Finally, he asked,

  So what do you think?

  I had no answers.

  None at all.

  So he joked,

  Should be a cute kid, anyway.

  Which made me smile

  but still gave me no answers.

  He offered,

  Don’t answer me now.

  Not then, but soon.

  I was already six weeks p.g.

  He probed,

  I know it’s a tough decision …

  Tough. Too tough.

  And all mine to make.

  He dared,

  but life is full of tough decisions.

  Like a guy would ever

  have to face this one.

  He suggested,

  Maybe you should talk to your mom.

  My Mom?!?!

  The ice princess? The bitch queen?

  The “mother” of all mothers?

  What was he thinking?

  How could I talk to her?

  We hadn’t really talked in months.

  What would I tell her now?

  That I was pregnant?

  That I was pregnant because I was raped?

  That I was raped because I would have done

  anything

  for just one more taste of the monster?

  Where would I start?

  Where would I finish?

  How much to admit?

  How much to hide?

  How much to confess?

  Where would I find such nerve

  without crank to open my mouth?

  And if I did dig down deep enough to find it,

  would I crumble and weep?

  Would she?

  The Kitchen Was Warm

  and carried a scent

  of hot butter, wrapped

  in cinnamon.

  It reminded me

  of when I was little.

  Before Jake.

  Before Scott.

  Despite Dad.

  Back when I still believed

  Mom was the perfect mother.

  She, Leigh, and I were the trinity.

  We baked together.

  Canned together.

  Planned together.

  Plotted birthdays

  and holidays around

  homemade gifts

  that didn’t cost much

  but time and love.

  And the fun was not only

  in the giving, but

  in the shared creation.

  I adored Mom then.

  Could my own child

  ever love me so?

  Somehow She Didn’t Notice

  the wavering tone of my “Hi, Mom.”

  I sat down at the table and she brought

  me a plate of warm oatmeal cookies.

  Hi, Honey. How was your day?

  I almost laughed. I almost cried.

  I managed to hold both inside. “Okay.”

  Good deal. Hey, I need your input.

  My input? Was this some odd

  attempt at bonding?

  What should we get Leigh

  for Christmas?

  Christmas. It would come right

  on schedule, despite my predicament.

  I already put an Xbox

  on layaway for Jake.

  Whatever choices I made, Jake would

  indulge in the latest video games.

  And I got Scott a new

  set of clubs.

  Come spring, regardless of my decision,

  Scott would enjoy a great game of golf.

  But I’m just not sure about Leigh….

  Leigh. Would she ever know

  the pleasure—or terror—of pregnancy?

  Does she have a DVD player?

  I bobbed my head. “Heather does.

  How about a Palm Pilot?”

  Great idea! Leigh’s so disorganized!

  The ice princess gently stroked

  my hair, and for one very scary instant…

  There’s the buzzer. More cookies?

  I verged on coming clean.

  I Opened My Mouth

  just as Scott rumbled

  through the door,

  winding down what

  I guessed must have

  been a very long ramble:

  … out-of-touch politicians …

  … the !@#!*#@economy …

  … the next round of layoffs …

  … the boss’s decision to scale

  back raises and Christmas

  bonuses, despite signing

  off on his own 20% pay hike …

  So much for ho-ho-ho.

  So much for confessions.

  So much for answers.

  And then Mom made

  the mistake of turning

  on the radio as a weather

  forecaster announced

  we could expect snow,

  and enough of it for

  the ski resorts to enjoy

  a lucrative Thanksgiving.

  Scott went off again.

  Just @!$%#@! perfect,

  with the Jeep in the shop

  and the Subaru needing tires.

  November snow!

  Ca
n you imagine a worse omen?

  Omens! Great!

  I wasn’t about to try and dissuade

  the Powers-That-Be.

  I still needed answers, however.

  I picked up the phone, went into

  my room, and made a few calls.

  The first was to Dad. Not sure why.

  Got his answering machine:

  Me and Linda Sue were feeling

  blue, so we went to Mexico.

  Leave your number.

  I’m getting a hummer.

  Linda Sue? Was she from Kentucky?

  No doubt “Miss Louisville” paid for their trip.

  But did the world have to know they had oral sex?

  And who made Dad a (very bad) poet?

  On a crazy whim, I called Adam next.

  Guess who was whining in the background.

  Kristina? [Momento, Lince. I’ll be right there.]

  Well, yeah, we’re hangin’ out pretty steady.

  In fact—you won’t believe this—

  I’m going to be a daddy next summer.

  Oh, yeah, I believed it all right.

  Apparently, though Lince still lacked

  feeling in one arm, other parts felt plenty.

  So much for Giselle. So much for summer visits.

  I muttered congratulations and hung up

  without sharing my own “good news.”

  I Thought About Calling Leigh

  but figured she’d tell Mom, “for my own good.”

  I called Robyn instead.

  “So I’ve got this friend who just

  found out she’s pregnant …”

  Total bummer. How far gone are

  y—I mean … is she?

  “Six weeks. She’s too scared

  to tell her parents….”

  No doubt. What about the father?

  Does he know?

  “No. And she’s not going to

  tell him. He’s a real a-hole.”

  No help from the father, no help

  from her parents? Only one answer.

  “You mean abortion. What

  about adoption?”

  Let me tell you a little story about

  what happened to a friend of mine….

  Seems Robyn’s friend chose adoption,

  then saw her baby and changed her mind.

  “I don’t see what’s so

  awful about that!”

  Ask the adoptive parents. I’d tell you

  to ask the baby, but you can’t.

  Seems Robyn’s friend wasn’t really

  ready to be a mommy.

  “So … what? She gave the baby

  up for adoption, after all?”

  She went on a three-day bender. The

  baby’s crying drove her nut buckets.

  Seems, arm in arm with the monster,

  Mommy shut the baby up.

  For good.

  Snow Began to

  Snow Day

  No plows, no buses,

  no school, nothing to do but fret.

  I picked up the newspaper.

  There, headlining Local News:

  MAJOR DRUG BUST

  with a picture of Roberto

  in a sporty pair of cuffs,

  followed by a daunting exposé—

  La Eme and the crank epidemic.

  Plus, in Sierra Living

  a complementary piece

  outlining the horrors of meth:

  How it eats big holes in the brain, destroys

  the pleasure center. How it shows up

  in X rays as big black dead spots spoiling gray matter.

  How quitting is next to impossible

  and even those users who suffer

  through often never recover completely.

  Footnote:

  Possible

  pregnancy

  complications

  crank

  baby

  birth

  defects

  health

  and behavior

  abnormalities.

  Too Much

  to think about.

  Too much to bear.

  And time was running short.

  I knew

  I couldn’t marry Chase.

  I knew he would stand by me.

  But he deserved his dreams.

  I feared

  closing that door.

  I feared the uncertainty

  of choosing parenthood.

  I doubted

  I could give my baby away.

  I doubted more I could raise it

  on my own—with or without defect.

  I needed

  a solid dose of courage.

  I needed the strength only

  the monster could give me.

  I regretted

  my weakness as I inhaled.

  I regretted making the decision

  to snuff out my baby’s life.

  I Needed Two Things

  The ride home was easy.

  Robyn offered to drive,

  as long as it didn’t interfere

  with her cheerleading.

  The $500, however, presented a challenge.

  My bank account was low desert dry.

  The Visa was maxed high.

  Chase refused to help.

  He was “floored” by my decision.

  Another option came to mind, one

  that owed me a lot more than money.

  First Brendan denied paternity.

  I reminded him about DNA.

  Next he claimed poverty.

  I threatened full disclosure.

  To his hoity parents. To his toity girlfriend.

  To his probation officer.

  (A DUI, post—Air Races.)

  Okay, he’d cough up the money.

  Distasteful as it was to see

  him again, it provided

  a matchless opportunity.

  You sure you’re pregnant?

  You sure it’s mine?

  You’re not b-s-ing me?

  “I’m sure. It’s yours. No bull.

  Hard to believe your balls were big

  enough to accomplish it, huh?”

  How Big

  were

  my

  balls?

  Big

  enough

  to

  follow

  through?

  I

  Didn’t Sleep

  the night before,

  just sat at the window staring at starlight,

  gentle glitters upon a crust

  of new snow,

  wishing I could wish upon

  a star and make it all just an evil dream,

  one I could wake from,

  but no such

  luck.

  Mesmerized

  More Choices

  I told you once before

  that life is full of choices

  Sometimes, good or bad,

  hard or easy, we make the right choices.

  When I told my mom,

  she cried and cursed my choices.

  Then she softened and

  thanked me for honoring my child.

  She and Scott argued,

  talked and finally agreed to offer haven

  as long as I finished school.

  Chase likewise promised to care for

  us, work two jobs if need

  be. It gave me even more to love

  him for, but I sent him off

  to USC. As my baby grew, mother love

  replaced romantic love,

  almost diminished love

  for the monster. I tried

  to quit, but my need was so deep

  I did slip once or twice.

  One tiny snort was all it took

  to satisfy desire so

  deep it snatched my breath away.

  But don’t worry.

  I swear it was only a time or two.

  You won’t tell,

  will you?
/>
  I Won’t Bore You

  Highs

  10) Feeling my baby move

  at 16 weeks exactly,

  knowing it wasn’t gas,

  but something—someone—

  incredibly, remarkably, alive.

  9) Calling Dad and getting

  Linda Sue. Asking her

  to define “hummer” before

  imparting the fabulous news

  that her boyfriend was

  to become a grandpa.

  8) My ultrasound—seeing a heart,

  beating strong inside me.

  Having my doctor

  inform me that my baby

  was all in one piece, then

  suggest I shop “blue.”

  7) My school counselor,

  Mrs. Green, arranging

  a home-study program

  to let me graduate

  right on schedule.

  (Six days before I gave birth!)

  6) Calling Grandma, expecting

  a lecture and getting one—

  about how every baby,

  regardless of circumstances,

  is an angel on a special mission.

 
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