Read Crank Online

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


BOOK: Crank
12.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub




Ellen Hopkins





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

I am.

* *

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.







everything changes.

Some might call it distorted reality, but it's exactly the place I need to be:

* *

no mom,

Marie, ever more distant, in her midlife quest for fame

* *

no stepfather,

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

enviable ways

* *

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.








I suppose

she's always been there, vague as a soft

copper pulse of moonlight through blossoming seacoast


* *

I wonder

when I first noticed

her, slipping in and out of my pores, hide-and-seek

spider in fieldstone, red-bellied


* *

I summon

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.





More on



Spare me

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.


Who do

they turn to on lonely

moon-shadowed sidewalks?

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

so much?


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

for love.








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 ultimate

almost reliable

almost total insanity

* *

Daddy waited in the dead-end

circle, reaching

out for me.

I couldn't

find his embrace

find his answers

find his excuse for tears.

* *

Faster. Faster.

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 Landing


Hot runway.

Hot brakes.

Hot desert sand outside the window, wind-sculpted crystalline

slivers, reflecting a new

summer's sun.

* *


Good-bye, young lady.


Good-bye, Albert.

* *

Good-bye, toupee.

Good-bye, dentures.

Good-bye, in-flight

glimpses of a soul, aching, and dreams, fractured, injuries only

death could cure.

* *


Have a nice vacation.


You too.


You relax.

You pretend to have fun.

You share a toast with me:

here's to seasonal

madness, part-time

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.






utual Assessment


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.

* *

"It's me."


Violets are



* *

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

years, Dad."

* *

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.

* *


How's what's-his-name?




Either that or flat in my

face, yet oddly always

there exactly when I

need him. Unlike you.

* *



how are you?



* *

Near-sighted. Hormonal.

Three zits monthly.

Often confused.

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




little girl.


BOOK: Crank
12.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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