Authors: Ellen Hopkins
Tags: #Psychopathology, #Young Adult Fiction, #Psychology, #Family, #Drug abuse, #Family problems, #Social Issues, #Drugs; Alcohol; Substance Abuse, #General, #Parents, #Addiction, #Fiction, #Juvenile Fiction, #Novels in verse, #Problem families, #Romance, #Dating & Sex, #Health & Fitness, #Schools, #Cocaine abuse, #Pregnancy & Childbirth, #High schools, #Pregnancy
This book is dedicated to my family, and all families whose lives have been touched by the monster.
With special thanks to Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser and their wonderful SCBWI, which guided my way.
* * *
While this work is fiction, it is loosely based on a very true story--my daughter's. The monster did touch her life, and the lives of her family. My family. It is hard to watch someone you love fall so deeply under the spell of a substance that turns him or her into a stranger. Someone you don't even want to know.
Nothing in this story is impossible. Much of it happened to us, or to families like ours. Many of the characters are composites of real people. If they ring true, they should. The "baby" at the end of the book is now seven years old, and my husband and I have adopted him. He is thriving now, but it took a lot of extra love.
If this story speaks to you, I have accomplished what I set out to do. Crank is, indeed, a monster--one that is tough to leave behind once you invite it into your life. Think twice. Then think again.
Flirtin' with the Monster
Life was good before I
met the monster.
After, life was great.
least for a little while.
So you want to know all about me. Who
What chance meeting of brush and canvas painted the face
you see? What made
me despise the girl in the mirror
enough to transform her, turn her into a stranger, only not.
So you want to hear the whole story. Why
I swerved off the high road, hard left to nowhere, recklessly
indifferent to those
coughing my dust, picked up speed
no limits, no top end, just a high velocity rush to madness.
Some might call it distorted reality, but it's exactly the place I need to be:
Marie, ever more distant, in her midlife quest for fame
Scott, stern and heavy-handed with unattainable expectations
no big sister,
Leigh, caught up in a tempest of uncertain sexuality
no little brother,
Jake, spoiled and shameless in his thievery of my niche.
there is only the person inside.
I've grown to like her better than the stuck-up husk of me. She's
not quite silent, shouts obscenities just because they roll so well off the tongue
not quite straight-A, but talented in oh-so-many
not quite sanitary, farts with gusto, picks her nose, spits like a guy
not quite sane, sometimes, to tell you the truth, even
wonder about her.
there is no perfect daughter, no gifted high-school junior, no Kristina Georgia Snow.
There is only Bree.
she's always been there, vague as a soft
copper pulse of moonlight through blossoming seacoast
when I first noticed
her, slipping in and out of my pores, hide-and-seek
spider in fieldstone, red-bellied
Bree when dreams
no longer satisfy, when
gentle clouds of monotony
smother thunder, when Kristina
I remember the night I first
let her go, opened the smeared glass, one thin pane, cellophane between rules and sin, freed.
those Psych '01 labels,
I'm no more schizo than most.
Bree is no imaginary playmate, no overactive pituitary, no alter ego, moving in.
Hers is the face I wear, treading the riptide, fathomless oceans where
good girls drown.
Besides, even good girls have secrets, ones even their best friends must guess.
they turn to on lonely
I'd love to hear them confess:
Who do they become when
night descends, a cool puff of smoke, and vampires come out to party?
Mom Will Tell You
it started with a court-ordered visit.
The judge had a God complex.
I guess for once she's right.
Was it just last summer?
He started an avalanche.
My mom enjoys discussing her daughter's downhill slide.
It swallowed her whole.
I still wore pleated skirts, lipgloss.
Crooked bangs defined my style.
Could I have saved her?
My mom often outlines her first
marriage, its bitter amen. Interested?
was too young, clueless.
I hadn't seen Dad in eight years.
No calls. No cards. No presents.
He was a self-serving bastard.
My mom, warrior goddess, threw down the gauntlet when he phoned.
He played the prodigal trump card.
I begged. Pouted. Plotted. Cajoled.
I was six again, adoring Daddy.
What the hell gave him that right?
My mom gave a detailed run-down of his varied bad habits.
Contrite was not his style.
I promised. Swore. Crossed my heart.
Recited the D.A.R.E. pledge verbatim.
How could she love him
My mom relented, kissed me
good-bye, sad her perfume.
Things would never be the
I think it was the last time she kissed me.
But I was on my way to Daddy.
board United 1425
The flight attendant escorted me to a seat beside a moth-munched toupee.
Yellowed dentures clacked cheerfully, suggested I make myself comfy.
Three hours is a mighty long
Three hours is a long time, astraddle a 747's wing, banshee engines
screaming, earachy babies fussing, elderly seatmate complaining.
Can't stand flying.
Makes me nauseous.
I get nauseous when vid screens
play movies I've seen three times, seat belt signs deny pee breaks and first class smells like real food.
For this ticket price?
For the price, I'd expect Albert to tone down the gripe machine. I closed
my eyes, tried to shut him out, but second
run movies can't equal conversation.
My wife died last year.
Been alone since.
I've been alone since my mom met Scott.
He sucked the nectar from her heart like a famished butterfly. No nurture, no nourishment left for Kristina.
A vacation is a poor substitute
Hours into the Flight
Albert snored, soft as a hummingbird's
hover. His moody
smile suggested he'd
found his Genevieve, just beyond time
just beyond space
just beyond this continuum.
I watched his face, gentled by dreams, until sun winks off the polished fuselage
hypnotized me, not quite asleep
not quite conscious
not quite in this dimension.
I coasted along a byway, memory, glimpses of truth
speed bumps within childish
almost total insanity
Daddy waited in the dead-end
out for me.
find his embrace
find his answers
find his excuse for tears.
He'd waited too
many years for me to come looking.
Hadn't he? I
needed to see
needed to know
needed a lot more.
Hot desert sand outside the window, wind-sculpted crystalline
slivers, reflecting a new
Good-bye, young lady.
glimpses of a soul, aching, and dreams, fractured, injuries only
death could cure.
Have a nice vacation.
You pretend to have fun.
You share a toast with me:
here's to seasonal
relatives and substitutes for love.
he Prince of Albuquerque
June is pleasant in Reno, kind of breezy and all.
I boarded the plane in clingy jeans and a long-sleeved T. Black.
It's a whole lot hotter in Albuquerque.
I wobbled up the skywalk, balancing heavy twin carry-ons.
Fingers of sweat grabbed
my hair and pressed it against my face.
No one seemed to notice.
I scanned the crowd at the gate.
Too tall. Not tall enough.
Too old. Way too old.
There, with the sable hair, much like my own.
How was it possible?
I thought he was much better
looking, the impression of a seven-year-old whose
daddy was the Prince of Albuquerque.
I melted, sleet on New Mexico asphalt.
Daddy watched the gate, listing a bit as he hummed a bedtime
tune, withdrawn from who knows
which memory bank.
Roses are red, my love.
He overlooked me like sky above a patch of dirt, and I realized he, too, searched for a face suspended in yesterday.
Peculiar eyes, blue-speckled
green like extravagant eggs, met my own pale aquamarine.
Assessing. Doubt gnawing.
Sugar is... Kristina?
He hugged me, too tightly. Nasty
odors gulped. Marlboros. Jack
Daniels. Straightforward B.O.
Not like Scott's ever-clean smell.
I can't believe how
much you've grown!
"It's been eight
From daddy to dad in thirty seconds. We were strangers, after all.
Got in a Car with a Stranger
A '92 Geo, pink under primer, not quite a princely coach. Dad and
I attempted small talk.
How's your sister?
Sequestered on a California
campus. When she outed,
I cringed. Mom cried.
You called her queer.
How's your mother?
Prettier, gift-wrapped in 40ish self-esteem, a wannabe writer and workout
fanatic, sweating ice.
Either that or flat in my
face, yet oddly always
there exactly when I
need him. Unlike you.
how are you?
Three zits monthly.
Lusting for love.
mall Talk Shrank to Minuscule
Hot? Not! Wait till August!
The carriage burped. Screeched.
Hiccupped. I tightened my seat-belt, like that could save me.
Straight A's, huh? Got your brains
from your old man.
I was starting to doubt it.
No air-con, windows down, oil flavored the air.
Conversation took an ugly turn.
Never been laid? Tell the