Crank, p.9
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       Crank, p.9
 

         Part #1 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
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  would envy his vocabulary, he was up on

  current events, could quote Keats:

  Give me women, wine, and snuff

  Until I cry out hold, enough!

  You may do so sans objection

  Till the day of resurrection; for

  Bless my beard they aye shall be

  My beloved Trinity.

  No mirrors, no blades, Chase reached

  deep inside a pocket, withdrew an

  amber bottle with a tiny spoon attached

  to the lid. He set it on his knee.

  Hey, you’re shaking. You’re not

  scared, are you? We don’t have

  to do this, do anything at all. We

  can just sit and talk if you want.

  “I’m not afraid, Chase.” Not of him.

  Not with him. In fact, I felt quite safe.

  It was monster desire that made me

  tremble. Chase noticed.

  Take it easy with this stuff, Bree.

  It brings even good people to their

  knees. Don’t get me wrong. I

  like it, too. Just keep cool.

  One Spoon

  I was cool.

  Two, I was too

  cool. Three,

  sub-Arctic. Four,

  my mouth hit

  monster mode.

  Chase could barely

  keep up. We talked

  about:

  Good girls

  Bad boys

  Smothering moms

  Indifferent moms

  Disappointing fathers

  Obnoxious fathers

  Stepfathers—one

  Stepfathers—three

  Annoying little brothers

  Brothers with very big footsteps

  Summer trips

  Boring summers at home

  Junior years

  Senior years

  Early graduation

  College boards

  Cheerleaders

  Football players

  Artists

  Poets

  Tattoos

  Piercings

  Ex-boyfriends

  Ex-girlfriends

  Dreams

  Doubts

  Punishments

  Loneliness

  Old friends

  New friends

  Gay friends

  Lost friends

  Desire

  Addiction

  The monster

  More monster

  Kristina

  Bree

  I Had to Explain

  about Bree/me;

  by then, he had

  already asked to

  kiss

  me, and I let him

  because I really

  wanted him to,

  and it wasn’t my

  first kiss

  nothing like

  that one, in fact,

  maybe it wasn’t

  even my

  best kiss

  but it was pretty

  fine, and the fact

  that he had asked

  will forever make

  that kiss

  stand out in my

  mind, touch my

  heart, make me

  remember a

  kiss so tender

  it made me cry.

  He held me then,

  smoothed my hair

  and I asked him to

  kiss me again

  and he did, over

  and over, until

  I thought we might

  melt together,

  fused by kisses.

  In That Quite Hot Moment

  a park ranger cruised by,

  took a good, long look.

  Maybe we’d better go.

  “I should get back anyway.

  My mom will wonder if I don’t

  spend enough of her money.”

  Ha, ha. I can always help.

  As we drove away, he pulled me

  close, rested his hand on my knee,

  shifted between my legs.

  Can I see you again?

  “Any time, Chase.” Any time.

  How weird was that? A few months

  back I would have said no way.

  Soon?

  As soon as I could break away from

  Mom’s watchful eye. Chase sure

  wasn’t her type. Was he really mine?

  I like you, Kristina.

  “I like you, too.” I did. He

  was nothing like I had imagined.

  He was bright, intuitive.

  Or do I like Bree?

  Even if he did ask hard questions.

  Jetting on the monster in spectacular

  fashion, I didn’t know how to answer.

  Doesn’t matter. What’s in a name?

  That which we call a rose by any

  other word would smell as sweet.

  Chase Wagner and Bill Shakespeare.

  Talk about your strange bedfellows.

  I was in line for that ménage à trois.

  Chase Wanted to Walk Around the Mall

  with me, but I knew I wouldn’t get much

  shopping done if I went on a kissing

  spree. A word of advice:

  Never shop on crank.

  Your brain moves beyond the

  speed of light as you wander through

  a familiar store. First, you can’t find Juniors.

  Once you finally do, you need the restroom first,

  then you get all turned around again.

  Then, you can barely take it

  all in. Sizes. Styles.

  Colors. Trends.

  Everything looks great on

  those goofy mannequins, so it’s got to look

  better on you, right? You grab an armful, stumble to a

  dressing room, try on all those darling clothes

  and nothing you like fits. So you leave silk

  and velour and suede behind, settle

  for two identical pairs of jeans.

  Then you hustle off to the

  next store and repeat the process,

  only this time you leave with a couple of

  tees exactly like a couple you bought last year.

  And when you realize that, you laugh your

  butt off, but really don’t want to hassle

  with returns or exchanges so you

  decide to accessorize instead.

  A Second Word of Advice

  If shopping for clothes on crank

  is dumb, trolling for jewelry,

  belts, and shoes is something

  just this side of insane.

  Suspenders?

  Don’t think so.

  Nikes. Vans. Doc Martins.

  One of each?

  Maybe next time.

  Scrunchies. Barrettes. Berets.

  Ebb the sable flow?

  Uh-uh.

  I was stressing

  over earrings when

  another hand touched

  my shoulder.

  I thought you were going to call.

  Brendan.

  Two Guys in One Day?

  Almost too much to consider,

  although Bree found the prospect

  quite intriguing. So then I had

  to explain GUFN again.

  “Today is the first day

  she cut me loose.”

  Sounds like a reason to party.

  That was funny. But it was time

  to catch my ride home. Since Brendan

  was my mom’s type—tall, handsome,

  and gainfully employed—I let him walk

  me out. Mom was parked right in front.

  Is she always so punctual?

  I laughed like he was the wittiest

  man alive, and promised to call,

  wondering what was up. With me.

  Had I lost one boyfriend, to gain

  two? And how could I possibly

  want these two, opposite

>   squares on the chessboard?

  Damn, your mom is fine.

  That wasn’t funny at all. I had to

  live with my mom, obey her rules,

  accept her punishments. But I would

  never accept her as competition.

  Not as fine as you, of course.

  Okay. Better.

  Mom Wanted to Hear All About Brendan

  I told her what I knew,

  hoping I didn’t talk too

  much. Or too fast.

  He’s really cute.

  Oh, great. Mutual attraction.

  I almost opened my mouth,

  thought better of it.

  Did he ask you out?

  In a manner of speaking,

  I supposed. Out. In. I

  doubted he was picky.

  Do we need to have the talk?

  At that, I really had to

  stifle Bree. Let me tell

  you, it wasn’t easy.

  He did seem like a nice boy.

  Seeming and being are

  two different things. You

  seem nice, too, Mommy dearest.

  Anyway, did you find some clothes?

  I showed her what I

  bought, and she grinned

  a killer smile.

  At least you’re consistent.

  I had to laugh, speeding

  along with the monster.

  Consistent? Not!

  Inconsistent Me

  could barely look at dinner.

  I told Mom I ate at the mall.

  What?

  What, what?

  What exactly did you get?

  Quick, Kristina, think.

  “Stir-fry. You know,

  fast food Chinese.”

  Did you eat all your veggies?

  OMG! Here I was, busting

  my brain on first-class speed,

  and all she cared about was if

  I’d consumed my greens?

  ’Cause you can’t stay smart

  eating only junk food.

  Stay smart? First I had

  to get smart, and it

  wasn’t about to happen

  holding hands with

  the monster.

  Besides, vegetables give a girl

  a healthy glow.

  Damn. Wasn’t I glowing?

  Then again, even if I was,

  it could hardly qualify

  as healthy. Still, Mom

  didn’t insist I share the

  dinner table.

  It’s only leftovers, anyway.

  By the way, a letter came

  for you today.

  Dear Kristina,

  Hope everything’s okay. Hope you’re okay.

  Things are okay here.

  My mom got a new job and she’s dating her boss.

  He already thinks he’s my stepdad or something.

  Says I’d better think about what I want to do with my life.

  Besides party, that is.

  I hate him already. You know?

  Lince is home and I guess she’s better.

  She has to go to PT—physical therapy—every day.

  She’s learning to walk and talk, just like a baby.

  It’s weird, really weird.

  I try to spend time with her, but it’s hard. You know?

  I’m sorry about that phone call.

  I didn’t mean to upset you.

  I was at the end of a three-day binge.

  Too long without food and sleep.

  Your brain starts to play tricks. You know?

  I do love you, Kristina.

  You were a summer gift, one I’ll always treasure.

  You were a dream I never wanted to wake up from.

  You opened my eyes to things I’ll never really see.

  You’re the best thing that will ever happen to me.

  Be safe. Be smart. Stay you.

  Adam

  Why Was Everyone

  suddenly worried

  about my IQ?

  I sank into my

  down

  pillow-top,

  reread every word

  twenty times, right

  down

  to his signature.

  Adam had a poet’s soul.

  I put the letter

  down

  and considered crying,

  wondering how loving

  him could bring me

  so far down,

  wondering how to stop

  loving him, wondering

  if the monster would soon

  let me come down.

  I Did Cry Then

  Climb-and-dive on the crank coaster,

  I unlocked my heart, let the hurt out.

  And then, like he was listening

  at the keyhole, Chase called.

  (He even asked for Kristina.)

  Hey, sweetheart. Just checkin’

  up on ya. You okay?

  Let’s see. Speedin’. Wantin’ tobacco.

  Cryin’ over a guy I thought I was over.

  Probably going to start my period—just

  in time to encourage a few new zits right

  before school started. “Fine.”

  Really? You don’t sound fine.

  Can I make you feel better?

  I told you he was intuitive. Even

  if he wasn’t the type I could

  bring home to Mother. Yes,

  I liked Chase Wagner.

  I’d sing to you but I’m pretty

  sure that wouldn’t help.

  I jumped into his well of ever-present

  cheerfulness, gulped deeply,

  laughed out loud. We talked until

  Scott needed to use the phone.

  You probably won’t sleep

  much tonight. Think of me

  once or twice?

  At least. I hung up, feeling much less

  alone. Pulled out my journal and

  started to write. Wrote all night.

  The monster and I had a lot to say.

  Chase Was Right

  I didn’t sleep much that

  night

  and not for the next

  day

  or three afterward,

  either.

  Sarah invited me

  over,

  I told her I felt

  under

  the weather,

  both

  to escape inevitable

  questions

  demanding uneasy

  answers

  and to consider my

  options:

  possibility number

  one,

  Chase, likely;

  two,

  Brendan, maybe;

  three,

  someone altogether new.

  Who knew?

  I Had to Pick Up

  my student I.D. card so I bummed a ride

  from Chase, told Mom I was going with Sarah.

  It was the first time in a long time I’d out and out

  lied and it bothered me. For about five minutes.

  I walked down to the 7-Eleven to wait for Chase,

  anticipation rumbling in my empty gullet.

  The sight of his red Toyota pickup brought

  a smile to my lips—and more, inside.

  We shared a seat, we shared a smoke,

  we shared a kiss or several.

  At school, Chase waited with me in some long

  lines. Yearbook. Class schedule. Student body card.

  I even smiled for the camera. I had to, with Chase

  checking out my student body, grinning like a toad.

  Back in the truck, more kisses and a cigarette of my

  own (pilfered from his pack, pilfered from his mom).

  He dropped me off around the corner from my house,

  gave me a stick of gum and a big, wet good-bye kiss.

  It might have been the perfect day except just

  as I closed the door, Scott happened
to drive by.

  I learned a valuable lesson about lie construction

  and Mom gave me plenty of time to consider

  how to do it better.

  GUFN Again

  I

  sat on my bed, absentmindedly

  tracing the lopsided

  heart-shaped scar,

  didn’t

  read, didn’t write. All I did

  was think about my personal

  evolution. Where did I

  belong

  with my relative innocence

  gone? Where did I fit?

  I felt like I had fallen in

  to

  a critical state of limbo.

  With my old friends mired

  in status quo, how could I explain

  my

  summer enlightenment? My new

  crowd—if three guys and Guinivere

  qualified—was not what my

  mom

  (or I) expected. I wondered if I should

  confess that her sweet, intelligent

  little Kristina did not exist

  anymore.

  Leigh Headed Back to School

  Mom drove her to the airport.

  I waited until they hustled off, late,

  then asked to stay home, claiming, “Cramps.”

  Mom gave me a look, but I could prove

  the cramps were real. Leigh gave me a big,

  tense hug, made me promise to behave myself.

  The minute the car turned the corner,

  I was on the telephone, completely

  misbehaving. “Come over, Chase.” Now?

  “Right now.” Where’s your mom?

  “Just hurry.”

  Need arose like an angry red dawn.

  I paced until the dogs warned

  a stranger had just arrived.

  How much time

  do we have?

  “Not enough.” What do you

  want?

  “Everything.” Will I get you in

  trouble?

  “Probably.”

  I didn’t care. I needed to feel

  good. We snorted, we smoked.

  I asked for, “More.” Don’t think you

  should.

  “Please!” Take it easy,

  Kristina.

  “Can’t.” Your mom will be

  home soon.

  “I know.

  That’s why I

  can’t.”

 
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