Crank, p.5
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       Crank, p.5
 

         Part #1 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
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  open my eyes.

  Please, Bree?

  Adam’s tone

  forced me into

  the moment.

  “Hang on.”

  Something happened.

  My mouth tasted

  like dead speed,

  dying beer, and

  foreboding.

  There was an accident

  Coming

  Jumped up, dashed

  for mouthwash,

  forgetting the

  uncertainty

  of legs, unused for

  twenty hours, but

  spurred to confront the

  fear

  in his voice, and

  something more,

  something too like

  guilt.

  Oh God, who was in

  the mirror? Not Bree,

  not Kristina, but some

  evil

  incarnation glaring

  back at me, a horrid

  red-eyed crone,

  materialized

  as if from darkest

  dementia, nightmares

  to come, hibernating

  inside of me.

  I Filled the Sink

  with cold water,

  dunked my whole head

  under,

  counted to ten,

  came up,

  repeated the process.

  Came up again and

  she had retreated,

  still close,

  I suspected,

  but far enough

  to let me

  go to the door.

  His Demon Showed in His Eyes

  He stumbled in, tumbled

  against me, clutching

  like a scared little boy,

  in need of his mama’s grace.

  She’s hurt real bad.

  Who?

  Lince.

  What?

  Fell (or jumped) off the balcony.

  When?

  Yesterday.

  Where?

  Right outside.

  I didn’t

  dare ask

  why.

  Instead,

  I let him

  cry.

  He Told Me Why Anyway

  She came home from the bowling alley,

  went looking for me.

  Found me.

  Here, with you.

  Heard us inside,

  talking, laughing.

  Looked in the window,

  watched us kissing,

  watched my hands,

  running all up an’ down you.

  When your dad came home,

  she waited for me to come outside.

  Said she wanted to talk.

  But she wanted more than that.

  She wanted to erase you

  from my heart.

  Never could, Bree.

  Never could.

  And that’s what

  I told her.

  The monster rose up hard then,

  hard in her eyes,

  She looked like an animal,

  crazy mad,

  diseased.

  Spit in every word,

  she swore

  she’d get back

  at you,

  at me.

  Next thing I knew,

  she was on the sidewalk below,

  still,

  except for the blood running

  red from her head.

  They say it was an accident,

  she tripped,

  or leaned over too far.

  Crankin’, they said,

  and she was.

  Oh, yes, she was.

  That’s what I wanna believe.

  Maybe someday I can.

  But right now I think something different.

  I never saw it coming.

  Never thought she would.

  I would have stopped her.

  Could I have stopped her?

  My Brain Somersaulted

  My heart picked up speed,

  my stomach threatened

  to 86 guilt,

  drowning in bile.

  Oh, God. I’m sorry.

  Hold me.

  I wrapped him tight,

  hair dripping cool

  around the stiffness

  of his shoulders.

  Not your fault.

  Whose, then?

  The answer, hanging

  over my head like

  a stubborn black cloud,

  seemed obvious.

  Mine.

  Don’t say that

  I pictured Guinivere,

  golden-eyed wildcat,

  crumpled against the

  sad, cracked cement.

  Whose then?

  Plenty of blame to go around.

  Too much truth in that.

  And I never heard a thing,

  dead to the world

  for twenty hours.

  We Sat on the Floor

  Tangled up in each other,

  a knot of emotions

  desperate for release.

  And the more we kissed,

  the more we talked,

  the more confused we became.

  He loved me. He loved her.

  He loved her, first.

  He loved me now.

  I loved him. I hated her.

  I hated him for loving her.

  I loved him for loving her still.

  He wanted me. He needed me.

  He needed more to go to her, let her

  know he loved her still.

  I wanted him. I needed him.

  I wanted him to forget her, needed

  more to let him tell her he loved her.

  When he asked me to go

  along, some masochistic

  piece of me agreed.

  Fifteen Blocks on Foot and a Bus Ride Later

  We walked through big revolving doors,

  into the Land of Antiseptic.

  My empty stomach rocked

  at the alcohol/bleach perfume,

  yet somewhere in that revolting scent

  a lovely memory floated,

  ghostlike.

  The receptionist told us Lince was in ICU

  and asked if we were relatives.

  I’d seen enough soap operas to know

  to nod an affirmative answer.

  Adam played along.

  I’m her brother and this is …

  I held my breath

  … my fiancé.

  The lady didn’t even blink behind her thick

  gray lenses. She directed us to

  the elevators. We got off

  on the 7th floor. A nurse said

  we’d missed visiting hours,

  but since we were relatives

  she’d let us poke in

  through the door.

  Intensive care is not a private place,

  big windows allowed unobstructed

  hallway-to-room views.

  It was a sea of white.

  Uniforms. Sheets. Curtains.

  Floors and walls.

  Why did that feel comforting?

  Lince Floated

  in that white water world,

  Guinivere upon the River Styx,

  tubes intruding wrists and nose,

  liquid-filled lifelines.

  Adam let go of my hand

  and I stopped in mute agreement.

  This was his show.

  I found the waiting room.

  A dozen needs attacked me there.

  I needed

  food,

  fluid,

  soap,

  shampoo.

  I needed

  Adam,

  his heart,

  his promises

  his tomorrows.

  I needed

  to go home

  ’cause somewhere

  deep down

  I needed

  my mommy.

  And all that made me really

  really need
r />   a line.

  Evening, When We Left

  The breeze,

  too hot

  to cool

  the blooming

  flower of summer

  night,

  seemed to

  ignite star

  candles in a sky,

  darkened as much

  by mood as

  time.

  We found

  the bus stop

  in silence,

  though I knew

  he had something

  to say.

  Walked home

  beneath

  the celestial

  cathedral. No kiss

  at my door, only his

  good-bye.

  Not enough,

  but how could

  I beg for more? Did he

  mean forever, or just for

  now?

  Dad Asked Where I’d Been

  How’s she doin’?

  I opened my mouth

  to tell him, realized

  I didn’t know. Adam

  had given nothing away.

  Heard it was touch-and-go for a while.

  Still looked touch-and-go

  to me, machines pumping

  existence into her

  through plastic tubes.

  Too damn bad. Pretty girl.

  Not so pretty now, Dad,

  head to toe black-and-blue,

  and shattered framework,

  facing uncertain healing.

  Hard to believe we just partied together.

  He really didn’t get it,

  turned back to his TV. I

  went to the refrigerator,

  held my breath, looked inside.

  Sorry, not much in there.

  Moldy cheese, outdated

  milk, peanut butter, and

  soggy celery. I found an apple,

  soft, but edible. Almost sweet.

  We could go out to dinner.

  My brain claimed I was

  crazy to even consider such

  a thing. But my insistent

  stomach won the day.

  McD’s okay?

  One Hour

  Tons of tasteless, useless, meaningless

  food and conversation later,

  two rounded, roiling

  bellies pushed

  back through

  the front door.

  Not that Dad didn’t ask plenty of

  questions, worthy of answers,

  but how could I tell

  the man who turned

  his back on “daddy” status

  how my life had changed?

  How could I explain

  gut-wrenching insights to

  someone so lacking

  vision?

  How could I admit my

  part in the current melodrama

  to a psyche devoid

  of guilt?

  How could I share the

  way my heart was breaking

  when my confessor

  didn’t believe

  in love?

  Instead We Returned to Small Talk

  which is probably all we’ll ever manage,

  all we’ll ever get to,

  if we get to anything at all.

  We couldn’t have spent more than

  two hours, total, within three weeks,

  tied up in trying to talk to each other.

  Inter-family communication

  must be an acquired skill.

  He never even asked

  if I’d gotten high before my little

  Albuquerque adventure.

  Never asked if I enjoyed

  spending time with the monster.

  He only wanted to know if Buddy

  and I had done the dirty, perhaps right there

  between his own disgusting sheets.

  His question reeked

  of voyeurism.

  And he accepted my negative answer

  with a smile that meant

  he didn’t believe a word.

  I wondered if Mom

  would have.

  Dad Went Out

  Left me

  to

  fret

  to

  stress

  to

  cry

  to

  choke

  on

  emotion

  and

  great

  green

  nose

  clogging

  gobs

  in

  sincere

  need

  of a

  good

  blow

  instead,

  I let

  the

  snot

  drip.

  I Was Mid-Drip

  when Adam knocked on the door.

  I half considered pretending

  I wasn’t there.

  Hurting.

  Bursting.

  Over him.

  Over this whole sorry

  pile of crap

  I’d dug myself into.

  But I wanted to see him

  more than anything.

  Needed to know

  I hadn’t imagined

  the whole head over heels

  thing. I had to go home

  in a couple of days. I

  wanted to go

  still in love.

  I found a paper towel,

  let go a mighty blow

  and went to

  let him in,

  even though I knew

  I must have looked

  very much like my

  dead and buried grandma.

  Okay, I Looked Awful

  To anyone else,

  he probably looked worse.

  To me, he resembled an angel.

  A poor, sad, beautiful angel.

  His hurt swallowed mine,

  like space swallows time,

  and the two intertwine.

  We tangled together

  I’m sorry.

  Me too.

  I’m just so confused.

  Ditto.

  I do know I love you.

  Ditto

  squared.

  So of Course I Did a Really Stupid Thing

  He pulled a bindle from his pocket,

  tapped the sparkly powder inside.

  Cooked up fresh yesterday.

  Mother Kristina said no.

  The monster stormed Bree’s door.

  That’s my girl. Let’s forget

  the bullshit and fly.

  We soared through the night,

  well beyond daylight.

  Funny thing about the monster.

  The worse he treats you,

  the more you love him.

  I knew already that had to be true.

  Blood geysered in my veins.

  Thoughts stampeded across my

  brain. Together, ecstasy.

  You are the most incredible girl.

  I never believed someone like you

  would fall for someone like me.

  But are you Kristina? Or Bree?

  At the moment, all Bree.

  “Kristina is who they made me.

  Bree is who I choose to be. How

  ’bout you? Adam or Buddy?”

  With you, I am Adam.

  And you are my beautiful

  Eve. Let’s run away,

  find our garden, live there

  together, happy. Naked.

  Adam

  took me in his arms

  hurt, forgotten ice

  kisses melting

  Unhurried hands lifted

  Pump. Pump. Pump

  my shirt

  Passion rose up in

  my heart.

  and a bit farther south

  The monster-fueled

  thigh to belly button

  inferno built

  Adam’s mouth moved

  by trembling inch

  lower, inch

&nbs
p; I was ready to do it

  right that very instant….

  oh, so ready.

  But First I Had to Pee

  Passing the mirror,

  I chanced a glance at Bree,

  crank embers glowing behind

  dilated black windows.

  She didn’t look half bad,

  certainly not dead and buried.

  In fact, she looked quite animated.

  I dropped my jeans. And guess what

  I discovered, already staining my panties?

  That pesky monthly visitor

  who shows, unbidden, on

  your step, a true-blue party killer.

  Only this time,

  encouraged by the monster,

  it blew across the threshold,

  smashed down my door.

  I staunched the flow, changed

  my clothes, and went to tell Adam.

  Flustered, flushed,

  he swore he didn’t care,

  pouted and pleaded and cajoled.

  But I was not about

  to lose my virginity

  in a fountain of

  menstrual fluid.

  How many times

  have I regretted that decision?

  But That Day

  there was still enough

  Kristina left to feel

  humiliation

  still a smattering of

  old-fashioned morals,

  somewhere

  inside; still a healthy dose

  of survival instinct, buried

  beneath

  a childhood, fractured by

  hormones, smashed by

  the monster’s

  fist and pressed into

  memory by two-faced

  bravo

  So I Said

  “No way.”

  Why not?

  “You know

  why not.”

  But you know you want to.

  “I do.

  But I

  can’t.”

  Not right, Bree. Look what you’ve done to me.

  And I

  thought,

  What did I do?

  You made me need you.

  He brought

  the crank.

  Made me have to have you.

  He let

  things get

  out of hand.

  Not later. Not next time. Now.

  And then

  he took

  my hand,

 
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