Read Crank - 01 Online

Authors: Ellen Hopkins

Crank - 01 (8 page)

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 right,

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

Other books

Death of an Intern by Keith M Donaldson
Reluctant Guardian by Melissa Cunningham
Who You Least Expect by Lydia Rowan