Crank, p.6
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       Crank, p.6
 

         Part #1 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
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Put it right there.

  showed me

  how to make

  things right.

  Yes, just like that.

  For him.

  But what

  about me?

  Girls Get Screwed

  Not that kind of screwed,

  what I mean is,

  they’re always

  on the short

  end of

  things.

  The way things work, how

  guys feel great, but

  make girls feel

  cheap for doing

  exactly what

  they beg

  for.

  The way they get to play

  you, all the while

  claiming they

  love you and

  making you

  believe it’s

  true.

  The way it’s okay to gift

  their heart one day, a

  backhand the next, to

  move on to the apricot

  when the peach

  blushes and

  bruises.

  These things make me believe

  God’s a man, after all.

  I Considered That

  One Day and Counting

  Mom called on her cell.

  You ready to come home?

  Don’t forget to get to the airport

  at least an hour early.

  Kristina? We’ve really missed you

  around here.

  Translation:

  You are coming home, aren’t you?

  Your father’s a dunce, so remind him.

  You are coming home, aren’t you?

  Dad called from work.

  I took the dayshift so we could spend

  tonight together.

  Want to go out to dinner?

  Did you say good-bye to Buddy?

  Translation:

  We really should spend one evening together.

  The fridge is empty again.

  He’s not over there boinking you, is he?

  Adam called from the hospital.

  Lince is off the respirator,

  but still in a coma.

  Can I see you this afternoon?

  I’ve got a surprise for you.

  Translation:

  Looks like she’ll survive, with or without a brain.

  Are you still on your period?

  I’m on my way to pick up a bindle.

  To Speed or Not to Speed?

  I told Adam to come on over,

  I wasn’t going

  anywhere

  then proceeded to fret,

  as I did

  anytime

  he and Lince popped up

  together in a single thought,

  anyway

  I had only this day to make

  him remember me, however

  I could

  I knew it wasn’t a great idea,

  flying home, mostly high on

  the monster

  or crashing fast, the

  last tiny remnants of speed

  and I

  fighting to feel good,

  despite what the buzz

  had become—

  low, that is, so low it

  was hard to remember the

  best

  of it. So of course I chose to

  go for it. Adam, Bree, and

  the monster were inextricable

  friends.

  A Couple of Toots

  Skeletal lines, jaundice yellow,

  evil little breezes up the nose.

  One

  inhale, awesome, mean, tiny

  hammer blows to the brain, and I

  didn’t care who knew that

  I was high,

  (well, okay, I preferred clueless cops)

  not Dad, who would be home

  soon. He’d want one or

  two

  himself. Not the people next door,

  who I’m pretty sure kept an ear

  to the wall, waiting to see if

  I would fly,

  or attempt, like our wingless lynx,

  to defy all instinct and natural

  law, ball up courage, count to

  three

  and crest the edge in one mighty

  leap. Or maybe she did just fall.

  I wonder, as I wonder if

  I,

  locked in a cage of dreamless sleep,

  a place where only the monster

  can drop you so hard,

  heard the cry

  of a fallen

  broken

  bird.

  But Right Then

  all I could think of, in

  that speeded, heated moment,

  was my own pain, stabbing

  through the pleasure.

  I asked Adam to hold me,

  kiss me longer, harder.

  Oh, God. I love you.

  Begged him to help me

  remember the taste of love.

  How will I live without you?

  Pleaded with him not to live

  without me. Write. Call.

  I will. I promise.

  And I promised I would

  come back to him.

  I want to give you something.

  I can’t believe I let him,

  me, la gallina extrema.

  So you’ll never forget me.

  (The extreme chicken.)

  Closed my eyes.

  I’ll always be a part of you.

  Gritted my teeth, locked

  into the love of the needle.

  Right there, on your thigh.

  And accepted Adam’s tattoo,

  the tiny heart a very big

  Stashed under your skin.

  symbol, forever bonding us,

  his ink in my flesh.

  It Throbbed the Next Day

  I Still Wasn’t Down When We Landed

  Tightened Airport Security

  No one greeted me

  on the far side of the jetway,

  no relatives, no friends,

  only slot machines.

  Tugging those two

  carry-ons, upper thigh

  itching like crazy beneath

  a tight pair of jeans.

  I wandered toward

  the escalators, a 50-foot-long

  mural of blue Lake Tahoe

  flanking me on my left.

  8-foot-tall showgirls

  in purple boas (and not

  much else) smiling

  at me from the right.

  Kristina drawn left,

  Bree to the right,

  the monster started to

  retreat just in time.

  I Saw Them

  before they saw me—

  the whole fam-damily turned out to greet me:

  Jake, sweaty and animated,

  auburn hair (And where did that come from, Mother?)

  ruffled, freckled face (Thank God I missed that recessive gene!)

  handsome

  with summer color.

  Leigh, on summer break,

  too “Brittney-ish” (So much of Mom’s platinum beauty!)

  to really be gay, (What a waste—like a butch would care!)

  legs to die for,

  unshaved in short shorts.

  Scott, face losing

  stress as he (Hard day, or another argument?)

  put work behind him, (Mom could have done worse—and had!)

  tall, lean, and great

  looking for 40.

  Mom, somehow prettier

  with laugh lines, (Would I be able to say the same?)

  visible from here, (Would I ever even be that beautiful?)

  and a smile that could

  light a starless night.

  Right at that minute,

  she saw me. (And, just for an instant,

  her smile was all mine!)

  Then She Caught Sight

  of something

  not quite righ
t,

  something

  not quite familiar.

  She hesitated,

  unsure

  that I was me.

  Her smile

  dissolved,

  ghostlike.

  But then

  she waved,

  and my family

  flooded me.

  Homecomings Are Strange

  You come home,

  and everyone talks

  at once

  and everyone asks

  questions,

  but no one waits for the answers.

  Instead they talk about themselves,

  what they’ve been

  up to,

  what they’re going

  to do next,

  as if you’re a photo on the wall.

  And then they talk to one another,

  forgetting you’ve just

  flown in,

  forgetting you’re in

  the backseat,

  forgetting they’ve already said it all.

  And you want to shout,

  can’t you see

  I’m here?

  can’t you see I’m

  brand new?

  Can’t you see me at all?

  My Mom Says “I Love You” with Food

  So we went out to dinner. Not McDonald’s, either.

  We went to a buffet. A mega casino-style buffet:

  Salads—Oriental chicken; wilted spinach; ambrosia; three-bean;

  crab (at least that’s what they call it); potato (three kinds); pasta

  (five kinds); carrot & raisin (nasty); and, of course, green.

  Entrees—pizza, lasagna, mushroom ravioli; fried chicken,

  roasted chicken, chicken piccata; mahi, halibut, and deep-fried

  cod; mashed, baked, scalloped potatoes; vegetables; and on the

  carving board, roast beef, roast turkey, and roast loin of pork.

  Desserts—apple, cherry, and lemon meringue pies; angel, carrot,

  and triple-chocolate cakes; pastries, cookies, rum balls, and

  truffles; cobblers and bread pudding; soft-serve ice cream, with

  all the fixings; and for sweet-tooths on a diet, strawberries

  (forget the diet, top with whipped cream!).

  So Mom gets two plates (low carbs), strawberries (no whipped cream).

  Leigh gets three, eats half of each, skips dessert.

  Scott eats most of three, with a brownie and ice cream for dessert.

  Jake finishes four, down to the gravy; tops that off with three desserts.

  As for me, still battling

  the monster

  for brain and

  stomach space,

  I picked at a

  single plate.

  Home Sweet Home

  Despite All Trepidation

  Despite the monster,

  fluttering in and out of my head

  like some demented moth, drawn

  to whatever light might be left there,

  despite Bree,

  demanding I find a way to get high,

  as if I had a clue where to get crank

  back here in Kristina Land,

  despite Leigh,

  helping me lug one suitcase,

  her hand annoyingly pinching mine

  with every tug, every pull,

  despite Jake,

  dropping the other suitcase

  down an entire flight of stairs,

  spilling shampoo, lotion, and tampons,

  despite Scott,

  smelling depressingly clean,

  while my own speed-induced

  body odor reeked ever stronger,

  despite my mom,

  insisting I looked fabulous, having

  dropped four or five pounds, all the

  while wondering if anorexia had arisen….

  REGARDLESS

  I Slithered Down the Hall

  into the haven

  of the bathroom,

  shed

  my clothes,

  showered,

  scrubbed my

  skin

  until I thought

  it might blister,

  studied my thigh,

  found

  likely signs

  of infection.

  Bree shrugged,

  Kristina

  silently screamed

  at the angry

  green pocket of pus

  beneath

  the purple welt—

  Adam’s forever

  symbol of love.

  The Door Opened

  I did scream then.

  But it was only Leigh.

  Hey, it’s only me.

  Kinda jumpy, aren’t you?

  “Did you need something?

  I’m naked you know.”

  I’ve seen you naked before.

  ’Course I’ve never seen that before.

  She pointed to the tattoo.

  What could I do but ask her opinion?

  In my opinion, you’ve got one nasty

  infection. Did you sterilize the needle?

  Thinking back, I wasn’t so sure.

  But I said, “Of course he did.”

  He did, huh? Your hard-bodied,

  dark-haired dream boy did this?

  So then I had to tell her everything.

  Except I left out about the monster.

  Well, I hope that’s the only infection

  he gave you, in love or no.

  So then I got my back up. Played

  defense to her quarterback sneak.

  No need to get your back up.

  I was just kidding, and of course

  girls can carry STDs too.

  So then Bree felt much better, while

  Kristina felt really bad.

  I know you’re sorry. No worries.

  Let’s chalk it up to jet lag.

  Brain Lag

  described it better,

  synapses quieting, gray

  matter shutting down, except

  the pain center part, Leigh’s elementary

  nursing—alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and a

  dab of Neosporin—had only managed to make

  the aching mess hurt even more, although

  she probably killed off a germ or two.

  At least, lost in the center

  of my bed, I didn’t have to wear

  jeans or jammies or even panties.

  Naked, in that cool tangle of cotton

  sheets, I felt myself slip far, far away,

  deep beneath an indigo ocean. Down, down,

  into a silent, lightless land, and there, in the darkness

  I found my Adam.

  Funny thing, your brain,

  how it always functions on one

  level or another. How, even stuck in

  some sort of subconscious limbo, it works

  your lungs, your muscle twitches, your heart;

  in fact, in symphony with your heart, allowing it

  to feel love. Pain. Jealousy. Guilt. I wonder if it’s the

  same for people, lost in comas. Is there really such a thing

  as brain death?

  Silence

  shook me awake.

  I groped into

  consciousness

  room dark,

  blinds closed,

  shadows

  undulating in

  air-conditioned

  waves.

  Midday,

  I thought, house

  emptied

  of people,

  of pets,

  of life,

  Nobody home.

  Just me for

  company,

  no one

  demanding

  conversation

  or explanations.

  I was

  alone,

  and I liked

  it that

  way.

  On the Nightstand

  I found a prescription bottle

/>   and three notes.

  The first was from Leigh:

  Had some antibiotics I forgot to finish.

  You won’t get a whole treatment, but

  they haven’t expired. Not the way you’re

  supposed to do it, but couldn’t hurt!

  The second was from Mom:

  Your father called to make sure you made

  it home okay. You are okay, aren’t you?

  I told him everything was fine.

  It is fine, isn’t it?

  The third was from Jake:

  Some guy named Adam called. At least I

  think his name was Adam. He also said

  Buddy? First he asked for Bree, then

  changed it to Kristina. Who’s Bree?

  Good question.

  I Went Straight for the Phone

  dialed Adam’s number, forgetting

  the area code was different.

  Got some

  creep’s cell

  phone by mistake, and asked

  for the man of my dreams.

  Don’t think I know him, but if

  you talk real dirty,

  I can fake it.

  Bree giggled. Kristina wanted

  to puke, thanked him anyway,

  tried again.

  Head dizzy,

  hands shaky, 505 area code

  inserted correctly, I got his mom.

  Buddy’s at the hospital. Lince

  opened her eyes today.

  I’ll tell him you called.

  Kristina felt relief. Bree felt rage

  and a burning desire for a couple

  of lines. I

  thought

  about the one time I actually sat

  down and talked to Adam’s mom.

  Tough thing for two boys

  when their daddy

  turns his back on ’em.

  Turned his back, packed a bag

  and hit the highway. Left

  his family,

  broke, in a

  lousy two-bedroom walk-up.

  Never said “bye,” let alone “sorry.”

  Sorry speed freak. Least I got

  to wear my face minus bruises

  and swollen eyes.

  Finally without tears, until

  her oldest son died, shootin’

  speedballs—

  just enough

  meth to stay wide awake for

  the heroin wild ride over the brink.

  Michael took after his dad.

  Never too much, never enough

  of goin’ right out of his head.

 
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