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El en Hopkins
Glass is dedicated to Orion, Jade, Heaven, and Clyde, whose lives, through no fault of their own, have been forever marked by the monster.I would
also like to acknowledge my husband, John, whose love has kept me upright.
Walking with the Monster Life was radical right after I met the monster.Later, lifebecameharder, complicated.Ultimately, a livinghel , like swimming
against a riptide,Walking the wrongdirection in the fast lane of the freeway, waking from sweetest dreams to find yourself in the middle of a
nightmare.2You Know My StoryDon't you? Al about my dive into the lairof the monster drug some people cal crank. Crystal. Tina. Ice.
How a summer visit to my dad sent me into the arms of a boy--a hot-bodied hunk, my very
first love, who led me down the path to insanity.How I came homeno longerKristina Georgia
Snow, gifted high school junior, total dweeb, and perfectdaughter, but instead a stranger who cal ed herseif Bree.3How, no matter how
hardKristinafought her, Bree was stronger, brighter, better equipped to deal with a world where everything moved at light speed, everyone mired in
ego. Where "everyday"becameanother word for making love with the monster.4It Wasn't a Long ProcessI went to my dad's in June, met Adam the
very first day.
It took some time to pry him from his girlfriend's grasp. But within two weeks, he introduced me to the monster. One time was al it took to want
more. It's a rol er-coaster ride. Catch the downhil thril , you want to ride again, enough to endure the long, hard climb back up again. In days, I was
hooked on Adam, tobacco, and meth, in no particular order. But al summer vacations must end. I had to come home to Reno. And al my new bad
habits came with me. It was a hel a speed bump, oh yeah. Until I hurt for it, I believed I could leavethe crystal behind. But the crash-and-burn was
more than I could take. When the
jet landed, I was stil buzzed from a good-bye binge.5My family crowded round me at the airport, discussing summer plans and celebration dinners,
and al I wanted to do was skip off for another snort. Mom kept trying to feed me. My stepfather, Scott, kept trying to ask questions about my visit
with Dad. My big sister, Leigh, wanted to talk about her new girlfriend, and my little brother, Jake, kept going on about soccer. It didn't take long to
figure out I was in serious trouble.6Not the Kind of TroubleYou might think I'mtalking about. I was prettysure I could get away with Mom and
Scott.I'd always been such a
good girl, they wouldn't make the jump to "bad" too quickly.Especial y not if I stayed cool.I wasn't worried about getting busted at school or on the
street. I'd only just begun my walk with the monster.I stil had meat on my bones, the teeth stil looked good.I didn't stutter yet. My mouth could stil
keep up with my brain.No, the main thing I worried about was how I could scorethere, at home. I'd never even experimented with pot,
let alone7meth. Where could I go?Who could I trust with my money, my secrets? I couldn't
ask Leigh. She was the prettiestlesbian you've ever seen. But to my knowledge she had-never
used anything stronger than a hearty glass of wine.Not Sarah, my best friend since fourth grade, or any of my old crowd, al of whom lived by the
code of the D.A.R.E. pledge.I real y didn't need to worry, of course. Al I had to do was leave things up to Bree, the goddess of persuasion.8Before I
Continue I just want to remind you that turning into Bree was a conscious decision on my pari I never real yliked Kristina that much. Oh, somethings
about her were pretty cool--how she was loyal to her family and friends. How she loved easily. How she was good at any and al things artistic. But
she was such a brain, with no sense of fashion or any idea how to have tun.So when fun presenteditself, I decided someone9new would have to
take charge. That someone was Bree.I chose her name (not sure
where I got it), chose when to become her.What I didn't expect was discovering she had always been there, inside of me.How could Kristina and
Bree live inside of one person?How
could two such different halves make up the whole of me?How could Bree have possibly survived, stuck in Kristina's daily existence?10The Funny
Thing WasBree solved the meth
dilemma on a family trip to Wild Waters, Scott's annual company picnic. Sarah came along
to spend time with Kristina. But Breehad other things The first was a truly gorgeouslifeguard. Turned outBrendan wasn't so pretty on the inside, but
even Bree, who thrived on intuition, was clueless. Hard on the make, Brendan shared booze, cigarettes.But
one guy wasn't quite enough. I also ran into Chase Wagner that day. His outside wasn't as
attractive, but inside he was fine. Of course,I didn't know that yet I found outsoon enough thatboth Chase and Brendanknew the score--and both
were interested in me.
Brendanonly wanted sex; Chase offered love.Either way, I had my path to the monster.11Later, I discovered that Robyn, my old friend Trent's sister
(not to mention an
"in" cheerleader), tweaked to stay thin and "pep up." She taught me how to smoke it. It didn't take long to immerse myself in the lifestyle. Didn't take
long tor school to go to shit; for friendships and dedication to family to falter. Didn't take long to become a slave to the monster.12My Mom and
StepfatherTried to stop me betore it al went completely

wrong. Kristina spent almost a whole year GUFN--grounded until further notice.But Bree was
real y good at prying open windows at night, lying with a straight face, denying she had slipped so far downhil .Nothing slowed me down. Not losing
my virginity to Brendan's rape.
Not spending a few days in juvenile hal .The only thing that kept me sane was Chase's love, despite al I put him through. He even swore to love me
when I told him I was pregnant.13Pregnant. And Brendan was the father. Bree considered abortion. Exorcism.
Kristina understood the baby was not the demon. His father was.But you know this part of the story. You fol owed me on my journey through the
monster's territory. We wound up here.Who am I now, three months after I left you, Standing on the deck with me, listening to my new baby, crying
inside?I told you then, the monster is a way of life, one it's difficult to leave behind, no matter how hard you try. I have tried, real y I have.14Maybe if
Chase had stayed with me, instead of running off to California, in search of his dreams. Then again, I told him to go.Maybe if I had dreams of my
own to run off in search of. I did once. But now I have no plans for a perfect tomorrow.Al I have is today.15T for TodayI'd real y like to tel you I have a
nice little place with a white picket fence, flowers in the garden, and Winnie-the-Pooh, Eeyore, and Tigger, too, on baby blue nurs-ery
wal s. I'd like to inform you that I am on a fast track to a Col ege degree and a career in Computer animation--something I've aimed for, ever since I
found out I coulddraw. I'd love to letyou know I left the monster screaming in my dust, shut myears, scrambled back to my family, back to my baby,
my heart. Icould tel you thosethings, but they'd belies--nothing new for me, true. But if al Iwrote was lies, youwouldn't real y knowmy story. I want you
to know. Not a daypasses when I don'tthink about gettinghigh. Strung.
Gettingout of this deep wel of monotony I'mslowly drowning in.16I Was a JuniorWhen I had
Hunter, a semester away from early graduation and a hel of a lot farther than that away from independence.To find freedom that even the magic
number eighteen can't buy, I need a
Job. To get that, I need a diploma, or at least a GED.I have no choice but to live at home, underthe prying eyes of my mom and Scott.17I'l help
watch the baby until you finish
school, is Mom's deal. Ifyou go on toCol ege, the two of you can stay as long as you like.It's a pretty good arrangement, mostly because I know jack
about babies. Mom's expertisecomes in handy, especial y in the middle of the night.More than once, she has shaken me awake. Hunter's crying. I'I
change him. You feed him.18Who knew babies could be
so obnoxious, wanting to eat at al hours, that is? Most of the time, my nipples feel like puppychew toys.Breast-feeding isn't easy. But you want to
give him a good statt.A good, healthy start. I know that, of course, and figure I owe him at least that much.Stil , I wake up every morning exhausted,
wonderinghow I can make it through the day, let alone how
I'l manage to study for my GED.19I try to avoid mirrors. I gained forty pounds with my pregnancy, and Hunter onlyweighed in at seven pounds,
eleven ounces. Minus placenta, water, etcetera, that leaves about twenty pounds of bel y flab, jel y thighs, and chipmunk cheeks I need to lose
before feeling positive about how I look again.And until I dothat, I knowI'l never find someone new to love.20So Maybe It Wil ComeAs no surprise
to you that
lately I have been hearing the plea of the monster, distant at first but creeping closer.Louder. Come back to me, Kristina. Hurry back, Bree.I closed
my ears for a long while, pleaded with itto pleaseshut up, please go away, please leave me alone.21But I'm startingto come around. Maybe a
short(and I mean no long-term commitments!) strol with
the monster might slim me down, rev me up and offer the impetus to slip into my future, better equipped to deal with the mindless tedium that is my
life.22I. KnowI should resist.Turnaway.Walkaway.Runaway.faraway. so far the monster wil neverfind me, neversniffme out, neverdaretouchme,
neverpretend to hearmy meager com-plaints,23neverget
even the slightesttaste of the fear in my heart, neverforce me to seewhat I'm afraid to see.24But SuddenlyWithout a doubtI linderstand the monster
and I are more than friends.We're blood brothers.Or maybe blood sisters.(Is there such a thing? And does that
mean I should include Bree?)That is a forever kind ofthing.Forever.25Al I need to do is find a way for the two of us[no, most definitely that's three of
us, including me, Bree]
to hook up again.26You Have to SemeniberIt has been months since I've been out looking to
score.Chase is gone, Brendan person non grata, my Mexican Mafiaconnectathingof the past.
Onlyone person comes to mind, and Robyn just might be hard to find, away at Col ege in California. And even if I can locate my oldpartypal, how wil
I ever make it overthe mountain to the Golden State? I used to have plenty of friends,27friends who could give me
rides. No more, and my own wheels are in for a major overhaul. I can't borrow Mom's carto
hunt down whiff.Canl?28I Cal TrentRobyn's brother is an old friend. In fact, that's how I know Robyn. Trent's great, even it he is total y
straight.Meaning he doesn't get high.
Because when it comes to sex, he's 100 hundred percent gay. And I'm fine with things that
way.Mrs. Rossel i answers on the third ring. Hel o!'Oh, it's you. Her voice is like a hail storm--hard, staccato, frigid."Hel o, Mrs. Rossel i. Is Trent
there? No? Wel , doyou knowwhen hel get home, then?"Long pause. Then, I'm not real y sure. Can I helpyou with

anything else?Something's up with her.29I'm not real y looking for Trent, anyway. "Yes.
Can you tel me how to get hold of Robyn?"Longer pause. Uh,youknow, she was moving out of
the dorm, into an apartment. I'm not sure...Things are growing clearer. "Is there a problem, Mrs. Rossel i? I just want to catch up with old friends."The
longest pause of al . You're not their friend, Kristina. You're nothing but trouble they don't need.30StungBut not real y smarting, I could tel her that
both of her children need al the friendsthey can get--trouble or not. One is eighteen and gay, in a city where homosexuality is almost as dirty a word
as "Democrat." The other wil be lucky to finish her freshman year in Col ege--too much timebuying affection with an omnipresent speed stash. But
saying that won't suit either of us at the moment.Tm not sure what you mean, Mrs. Rossel i. I've made some mistakes, yes. But I'm working hard to
straighten myself out.31Having friends in my Iife--good friends, on the right track themselves--is one thing I desperately need.I apologize if I've ever
done anything to offend you, or to hurt Robyn or Trent. I don't believe Ihave, but if you think so, please let me make it up to you." Oh yeah, I'm back in
the game, and damn does it feel great!32Not Only ThatBut it works.I'm sorry, Kristina.I shouldn't be so judgmental."That's okay, Mrs. Rossel i. I
uriderstand your feelings."Trent works for a lawyer after school. He usual y gets home around six."A lawyer? Wonderful! I know he wanted to go to
law school____"Robyn's at UOP in Stockton.
She stil has her old cel number, 775..."Thank you so much. I'l cal Trent later. Please tel him I was in touch."33I wil . And how's that baby? Growing
like com, l'l wager.Growing like com? Whatever. "He's beautiful, thanks. Looks just like me."She chuckles. I bet he does. Take care, Kristina."You
too, Mrs. Rossel i." I dick the phone dead, dial another number. "Hey, Robyn. It's Kristina.What's up?"34She Sounds Strung, like
her brain is disconnected from her mouth. Don't get mewrong.I remember that feeling wel --knowingexactly what you want to say, but yourlips can't
quite manage the correctcombination of vowels and consonants to form the words.Could be a bad sign.
that35incapable of cohesive language could very wel be crashing--another way of sayingRobyn is definitely stil using, but might be out atthe
moment, a sentence worse than death for a regular tweaker. How bad is my timing?36Let's Find Out K-Kristina?"C'mon,
Robyn. It hasn't been that long."Oh, yeah, right. Kristina. Whatcha been up to?"Not much.
Studying for my GED. Taking care of my baby."Sounds... like not a lot of fun."Which is exactly why I'm cal ing you."Oh, yeah, right.Wel , I could
maybe heip you out there."Very cool. I have to see if I can borrow a car. How about tomorrow?"That would probably work.
I'm in class until four.37She can do classes, sounding like that? , "Okay. I'l work on the car and give you a buzz tomorrow."Oh, yeah, right. Uh,
Kristina? Comealone, okay?Tweaker talk for This better not be a bust."Not a problem, Robyn. Al I want is to get my head."Thinking about it, I'm
startingto want that real bad.38But FirstI have to convince my mom to lend me her car, and to babysit Hunter--al on a Friday night. Party night, for
almost every partier in America. Hel , it's the American Way, as I think almost everyone wil agree. Get out of school or off work, put on clean
clothes, and look for a way to escape reality--whether that's with alcohol, weed, or my al -time favorite: speed.
Pot and beer mostly make metired. I only used to use them whenI was buzzed up real high,39didn't mind slowing down a little. But I haven't done
any of that in way too long.
Being good al the time isn't just hard. It's damn boring. There's more to life than babies and books, and I'm overdue to go out and find a little tun.
First things first. I have to find a way to Stockton. Al it wil take, I hope, is the perfect little (okay, big) lie.40I'm Out of PracticeNot having had to
manufacture a lie in quite a long time.I have to say, that isn't a bad place to be, where you don'thave to lie. Everything is just so much easier when
you don'thave to remember what you told who, and when, and why.What is
simply is. But notanymore, I guess. Now I have to not only come up with a reason to go, but also to remember exactlywhat it was, no matter how
tweaked I might be when I get home.Tweaked! It takes a modicum of thinking, but within an hour or so,I invent a great (I think) excuse.41It's a
Doozer "Mom, is there any way I could borrow your car? There's a Col ege tair I want to check out tomorrow,over in Sacramento.It Starts around
fourand should go untileight____" (I thinkthat wil give meplenty of timetohook up with Robyn--even if she isn'texactly on time--score, toot a little,and
start back.)I'd ask you to come along, but 1need you to watch Hunter. I can't real y take him with me. If it makes you feel better, l'l invite Trent to ride
along. He can Visit his
sister."Col egefair?Don't you want meto go along withyou? You'veNever drivenThat Farby your-self. It'sathree-hour trip, youknow, not easy.42I Wil
Invite Him TooOf course, I know he has to work until five thirty.But at least if it comes up in conversation, I cantel Mom I asked, but he had other
plans.I cal about eight. "Hey, Trent. It's Kristina. Long time, notalk."I heard you're working for a lawyer. Hope he's real y cute!"Trent hesitates, not at
al sure why I'm striking up a conversation.He's not bad, actual y. But that can't be why you cal ed. What's up?43To the point, and why not? We
haven't spoken since betore I had Hunter."Actual y, I'm driving over to Stockton tomorrow afternoon and wonderedif you'd like to ride along. I thought
you might like to drop in on Robyn."Thanks for thinking of me, Kristina. ButI have to work and even ifl didn't, Iwouldn'tgo. Robyn is on a fast track to
death."What do you mean?" Like I don't know exactly what he means.44If you don't know, you haven'tseen her lately. And if you haven'tseen her
lately, I suggest you steerclear. Shel take you down with her.Kristina, we haven'thung out together for a while, but you'vealways been a good friend
to me. Let me offer you a good friend's advice.Stay away from Robyn. And ifyou see her coming, run the
other way.45TonightSleep is impossible, anticipation swel ing nd ebbing like some sort of crazy tide.Strangehow when I dose my eyes, try to
concentrate on that little door between them that opens into dreamsI feel high already, locked in a battle between the need to dive into REM
slumberand the desire to start the damn party already! I remember that awful
tug-of-war wel . So why Jump right back in, release46the monster to stalk my days, haunt my nights; to bite through my skul and suck on my brain?
From a purely omniscient point of
view, it makes no sense whatsoever. I have freed myself from physicaladdiction, no re-hab

but to endure sweating, puking, and cardiovascular jumping jacks. The mentalbonds, however, seem as strong as ever, and the piece of me that
recognizes that knows I might bemaking a very big mistake.47Maybe That's WhyWhen Hunter makes his daily plea for a three
a.m. breastmilkfeast, I cal to Mom, I'l handle it."He's now four monthsold, and drinkingformula supplements from a bottle--a conscious decision on
my part.I had hoped to
havehim weaned--and mybreasts completelymy own again-- within five months.My new game
planwil expedite thatschedule, I realize, and I have to admit, that makes me sad.48I change his diaper, marveling for about the mil ionth time at his
perfect little body.The body I created.Al clean and dry,I carry him back to my bed, cradlehim in one pil owe-darm,
unbutton my top.And as the milk begins to flow, so do my tears."Mommy loves you,Hunter
Seth. No matterwhat, Mommy loves you."He looks up at me with spectacular greeneyes and,
around myvery sore nipple, smiles a toothless baby smile.49Now You Might ThinkThat tender
scene might make me change my mind, and truthful y, I have thought twice.But I don't want
to think again.I MapBlast directions to Robyn's apartment, load a smal ice chest with soda, to fight the wah-wahssure to strike on my way home.If it
gets too late, promise me you'I stop and spend the night, Mom insists. Here's some money.She hands me a crisp $100
bil .Suddenly it strikes me that I haven't even thought about the money end of the transaction to come.Lucky me. A hundred wil just50about cover it.
Stil , it prices haven't risen with inflation, another hundred wil score an eight bal instead of a gram.Yeah, yeah, my thought processes have already
graduated from casual to daily use. But
I don't want to have to drive to Stocktontoo often. Hel , an eight bal wil last me just about forever. Won't it?51So Where to FindAnother hundred
dol ars? In lieu of an al owance,Mom and Scott buy diapers and baby formula.My savings account is stil closed to
me, and wil be until my eighteenth birthday.That impressive turning point is only a couple of weeks away, but not soon enough to score the
monetary birthday rewards I hope
for from relatives, far and near. No, only one place comes to mind, an easyplace, al things considered-- Hunter's rainy-day piggy bank.52Al those
very same relatives sent him
a little cash, right after he was born. I was going to open a Col ege savingsaccount, but haven't gotten around to ityet. No problem.I'l replace it as
soon as I get my birthday stash. Meanwhile,Hunter won't miss it. And neither, I hope, wil Mom.Pack an overnight bag, just in case, she says,
interruptingmy thoughts. Always a goodidea to plan for that rainy day.53She Makes It So EasyHanding me her keys, helping me pack, giving me
money. I'd
like to blame her for what may come, take dead aim and whack this big bal of guilt across
the net, into her court, wait for her wel -deservedvol ey.Butthat wouldn't be accurate, wouldn't beright.I know as I climb into the SUV, crank the
engine, that what'sleft of Kristina wil have to battle the reemergent Bree, that despite my plan to comeback54and pick up where I left off, only more
positive and energized to goforth, get my GED and a great Job, find a nice little place, make my own way, the odds of things ever being quite right
again are clearly, completely, not in my favor.55But Playing the OddsIs not my bestthing, so I stow every Single nagging doubt and head off to
Stockton. It's a gorgeous blue September day, and I take my time.South on a straight stretch of Highway 395, turn west on Highway 88, leaving
Nevada behind, just out of Minden.The winding highway carries
me past Kirkwood, my family's favorite ski resort.Even without snow, the steep angular mountain brings back memories of stepping off cornices
and hanging, midair, for a scant second betore dropping down long, deep black-diamond runs.56I can almost feel the sizzle
of adrenaline, pumping from the back of my skul , zooming down my spine and into my legs,
makingthem reach for even more speed.Turn. Turn. Don't fight gravity.Suck into its jet stream.Once in a while I'd make a mistake, catch an edge. Or
a mogul. Most times, I corrected before taking a tumble.Once or twice, I wasn't so lucky, dumping headlong down
the hil , sliding out of control until the landscape leveled. And that made the adrenaline pump even faster.57Which reminds me.I have not had an
adrenalinerush since I took my little detour, one of nature's irresistible highs, denied by brain chemistry gone awry, at the claws of the monster. I
might not know the cause of such cerebral malfunction, if not for an article I once readIt defined for me exactly how crank scours the brain's pleasure
center, scrubbing away dopamine, adrenaline and other natural highs. It didn't stop me, of
course, but it did slow me down for a day or two.58Not slow enough to keep the damage from
occurring. Now only onethingcan give me that kind of feeling--like I have the world by its throat.And I am on my wayto it.59Several Miles Farther
WestI pass a smal mountain Community, hometo loggers, retirees, and telecommuters.My parents have friends who live
here, and for about thirty secondsI think about swinging by. They have a pretty cute son, who I once had a seriouscrush on. We used to visit, and on
overnight stays Quade and I would sneak out at night, for nothing more than a little conversation. Okay, we almost kissed once. But I was such a
total tool, when he leaned his face down dose to mine, looked into my dilated (by60the dark, not by stash, which I stil turned up my nose at) eyes,
and it came to me what he had in mind, I actual y turned my face away, pretending some nighttime noisehad drawn my attention. Piain and simple, I
didn't know how to kiss and didn't wanthim to know it. He was a couple of years older, and a dark-haired hottie who surely knew a thing or two about
kissing. Unlike me. I didn't learn those ropes for another year or so.61Looking back, I wish I hadhad a different teacher, one who real y cared about

me.Looking back, I wish I had partedmy lips--opened my mouthwide and invited
his tongue inside--for Quade. Maybe every Single thing that happened in my life afterthat night would have turned out differently. Then again, maybe
not.62Either WayI decide not to
stop by.My mom told me Quade plays bass in a metal band, so he probably isn't as straight
as he used to be. Just like me. Stil , I have a destination.I jot a reminder in mymental notebookto look up Quade oneday very soon.This time, maybe
l'l just let him kiss me. I mostdetinitely know how.In fact, thinking about it is starting to make mewant it. I haven't let myselfeven consider going out
with a guy since Hunter was born. Men are trouble.63But what the hel ? I'mlooking for trouble right now, aren't I? And onekind of trouble wil likely
lead to another, at least eventual y.The more I focus on thatkind of trouble, the better it's starting to sound.I do stil have the problem with paunch, but
crystalwil help with that, too.I just have to stay cool, keep Bree reined in.Little lines, maybe one in the a.m., to wake up, feel great, not eateverything
in sight.64Maybe another smal toot in the early P.M., just enough to limitdinner calories and stil be able to sleep at night.Or maybe go out at
night.No, no, no !This isn't about going out at night. Isn't about partying.Is not about turning into a lunatic again. I am and wil remain in
control.65StocktonIs an interesting little city--half-artsy, half-cow town, and home to the Asparagus Festival and other events that take advantage of
itswatery location
on the delta fed by the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers.Today I couldn't care less about
any of that. Al I wantistofind Robyn's apartment, not far from the University of the Pacific.Driving by the brick-and-ivy campus, I almost envy the
students,Walking alone or sitting in groups, looking at their books--and each other.Guys. Girls. Tight Jeans and T-shirts. Big Gulps here. Cigarettes
there.66It's al so normal. Then it comes to me that one of thosestudents is Robyn, who is anything but "normal." You can hide a lot, or maybe
just get away with a lot, if you play your cards right.I only hope the hand I'm about to deal myself wil hold an ace or two.67I Locate Robyn's
ApartmentBuilding C-9. Third floor.
I'm early, but not too, so I sit on the stairs to wait.And wait. Four o'clock comes and goes. Stil I sit, not too worried about Robyn getting
homelate.Even on her best days, clock-watching was never her greatesttrait.Did she have a greatest trait? Oh, yeah.
why I'm here, huh? Patience!Maybe she didn't comestraighthome because she had to make a
buy on the way. But when a watch-check sayseight68after five, I decide I'd better try her cel . Dumped into voice mail, something Ihate under any
circumstances. Just as I'm starting to feel real y pissed, thisgreat-looking guy Starts up the stairs. Okay, this is deja vu-ish. I met my Adam, who I
once believed was my soulmate, on a similarstaircase.
But this guy goes way beyond Adam--older, buffer, withSlate69gray eyes that fix on me, eliciting Chilis that I can't describe. He looks at me like a
scopingbait.Ravenous. Suspicious. Curious. Delicious. (Him, not me.) I feel like a freighttrain has steamed right into me, and when he smiles a
hungry smile, I decide Robyn's tardiness must betate.70I Watch HimClimb the stairs past me, try to keep al hint of drool inside my mouth, where it
belongs. Guess whose door he knocks on. "Robyn isn't
homeyet."Heturns, eyes narrowing into discerning slits. She's alwayslate. I swear she gets
lost, driving ten blocks from school to home. The name's Trey."Hey, Trey. I'm Kri...
[Bree!] The voice inside my brain practical y shouts. "Br..." No, I'm not her anymore.
"Kristina."Trey smiles. Good to meet you, Kri-Br-Kristina. You a friend of Robyn's? He saunters over, plops down next to me, leg touching
mine.71My heart picks up its pace.
he hear it? It he doesn't, he's deaf! Around the pounding, I manage, "I'm an old friend of Robyn's, just here for a visit."His grin says everything. I see.
Wel , Robyn's friends general y only "visit" for one of two reasons. Stash. Or money. Wonder which one you're after.I'm not copping to anything. "Do
you include yourself on that list? Or are you after something eise completely?" I'm trol ing, and he knows it.Guessyou'l have to hang around
to find out. Oh, look. Here she comes now. Time for the party to start.You up for it, little girl?72No one has cal ed me that in a very long time. I like
how it makes me feel.
"Oh, yeah. I'm up for it." And a whole lot more.Suddenly I'm very glad I wore butt-slimming jeans, a baggy shirt that covers my tummy, and for the first
time in months, a little makeup.73Robyn Greets TreyWith a massive, soggy kiss, one meant to impress.
impress him or me?)Al I get is a lukewarm, Hey, Kristina. Long timeno see. You look good.No hug? No warm, fuzzy friendship to rekindle? Oh, wel .
Not like we were ever the bestot friends. More like snorting buddies. She used me. I used her, and I'm using her now."You look great too, Robyn."
Yeah. Great. Like bones, in a bag of jaundiced skin.Robyn
opens the door.Sorry about the mess. I've been kind of busy.74Anyway, housework is such a

waste. It neverfrigging ends, does it?The smel --dirty ashtrays, sweat, and a slight hint of mildew--almost knocksme over and I enter at my own risk.
"Mess" does not describe the
battlefieldI've just walked into. The living room is strewn with dirty clothes, designershoes, and smeared paper Plates. Attached is a smal dining
nook. Books (text-and
other) spatter the table, along with beads, pastels, and various art supplies.75I've always got two or threeprojects going on at once, explains Robyn.
Some for artclass, others just to stroke my creative siele. UnfortunatelyI don't finish many.Trey laughs.
Spoken like a true tweaker. Oh, and speaking of tweak...He reaches down into his sock and
produces a plastic bag with some serious-looking crystal.So Robyn wasn't scoring for Trey.
He was scoring for her! Very interesting.76Robyn Is MakingA sizeable buy. I sit, growing more anxious with every passing second, watching her
weigh a half ounce of meth into eight
bal s. She's into the deal, heavy. I mean, there she is, holding enough crystal to send her away for a very, very long time. My hands shimmy as I
reach for the bindle Robyn passes me. It's different from the meth making the rounds last year. This is hard little rocks and not much powder. Robyn
pul s out a glass pipe, but I ask, "Can we do some lines?" I long for that punch to my sinuses. The one that hard-core users can no longer handle
because of the gaping sinus-cavity holes. Trey gives me a strange look, and Robyn
says, Jeez, it has been awhile sinceyou've used, huh? You77can't snortglass, Kristina.
have to smoke this... or shoot it. You're not Mo needles by any chance, are you?Trey laughs at my over-the-top horror. Needles? No way. And,
apparently, no fine white lines to
watch disappear into my nose. "Is it al like this now?" I ask, ignorant. Trey answers with a shake of his head. You can stil find street-lab crank. This
is Mexican meth, as good as it comes, maybe 90 percent pure. It's pricey of course. And worth every damn penny. How much is that, I want to know,
but before I can query, Robyn drops a sparkling rock into her pipe. She lights a Bic, holds it wel under the glass, and a fine plurhe
of78methamphetamine smoke lifts to greet her open mouth. The pipe travels next to Trey,
who indulges, then passes it on to me. My hand trembles, anticipating treasure. Long-Iost treasure. One slow, easy inhale sparks little explosions
inside my brain, firing directly into the pleasure center, igniting ecstatic bursts from eyebrows to toenails. Trey was right. Whatever it costs, it's worth
it. I want to feel this great al the time. With one hit, the life I have worked so hard to make normal perverts itself again. I came here, meaning to go
home reenergized. But now I don't want to return to the artificial "home"
created by my parents, my child. Al of a sudden I feel more at home with a forgotten friend and a complete, very cute stranger.79That IdeaVanishes
instantly, with the mere mention of money. Trey said the glass was pricey. Now he clarifies, So the eightbal is three hundred.I suck in breath like it
hurts to find it, confess, "I only have two hundred with me." Trey tsks. Can'tdo a bal for a deuce. More like a couple ofg's.Two grams is plenty. But
the monster is a greedy prick. "Can't we work something out? I'm good for the rest, I swear." Trey gives an uh-huh look. But he says, Wel , I do get to
Reno sometimes.
Why not? Why not!80Why Not?Can I real y have established a new connection so easily?Nothing in life is that simple.So I ask, just to make
sure,"Are you sure? Because I canbring the money to you."Not that I can real y tel himwhen, or how. But stil ...But he says, I real y do get to Reno,
more often than I'd like, in fact.I I have to come over in the next week or two. We can hook up then.But you 'd better be good for the rest, orelse... He
pounds one fist against the opposite palm, but his smile ets me know he's only joking.His smile. His incredible smile. Stop it, Kristina! [No,
don't.]81What I Don't Real y GetIs just why he's being so accommodating. Just what, exactly, is his game?Can he
possibly beinterested in me, baby blubber and al ? I want to be back in the game.Lately, I think about it more and more. Like a sick little kid, I want
to go outside and play.But I've never been especial y good at choosing play partners. Is Trey the gameI'm after, and is he after me? If so, I need to
learn the rules of his game so I canplay it wel .82I Meant to Pick Up a StashMake a quick about-face, head backto Reno. LikeI couldn't have
guessed it might not turn out that way.But I haven't talked to anyone my age in months.
Betweenthat and the toot, my mouth won't stop working.One bowl. Robyn and I talk about
Reno, how life used to be. Two bowls. We talk about how life is now--too many classes for
her, oo much home for me. Stil another bowl. We talk about our gay siblings.Trey perks up
at that. Apparently he wasn'tprivy to Robyn's more personal information, and gay relatives
are always interestingtothose who don't happen to have any of them.83Another toke.
sits between Robyn and me. His knee rests against mine. The warmth of it fights the crystal's chil s, and turns me on completely. My face flares a
deep, noticeable crimson.Robyn flashes a tweaker's smile, one that says, Don'tfuck with me, orl'l payyou back good. In fact,I I pay you back first.
But what comes out of her mouth is, So, tel me al about your baby.84I PurposelyHaven't mentioned Hunter. I mean, it's not like the first thing you do
when you meet an incredible guy is tel him you've got a baby.But Trey seems

moreinterested than offended. Baby, huh? You're not married, are you?His curiosity, and Robyn's evil glare, make me smile. "Nope, not married ..."
Even spun, the thought brings me up short.So, where's Daddy? Youliving with him or what? Is he watching Baby tonight?85The meth monster
threatens to pounce, but I rein it in. Not a Single vicious comment about Daddy the rapist. "I live with my parents. My mom babysits Hunter when I'm
not around."You stil live with your parents? Mine would have kicked me out. But hey, they
kicked me out, anyway.Bree laughs, lovinghow it makes Robyn squirm.Kristina knows it isn't
verynice, so she blames it on the crank, which fuels a very long ramble, Trey'sknee stil sizzling against mine.86"I'd like to move out but I need a job,
and to get one I need my GED, which I'm stil working on. And even if if I get a Job, I need someone I trust to take care of Hunter."Trey gives me an
odd look, one I cannot decipher. But al he says is, Makes sense to me.Very little makes sense to me at this moment. Al I can think about is how
great it is to feel so alive, so in lust again87Robyn DecidesTo break up the party.
It's great to see you again. she says. But it's getting late andI do have some projects to finish."Late? How late?" I stil have to drive al the way
home.I twist Trey-'s arm until his watch reveals the time:nineteen minutes past one. No wonder my boobs hurt, having not
been emptied in so many hours. They'rehard as stones and leaking a little. Another twinge
of guilt. No morebreast milk for Hunter.Trey hands me a scrap of paper. Here's my number,
and give me yours, too, okay?In case you forget to cal .88His hand brushes mine like a summer kiss. Heightened by the meth spinning circles in my
brain, his simple touch--not to
mention his request-- sparks shivers, thigh to neck. But it Is time to go. I spent my motel money, and anyway,I'm much too buzzed to sleep. Might as
wel drive on home.
hours wil go by like nothing, this buzzed."Thanks for everything, Robyn. Awesome meeting
you, Trey. Hope to see you again soon." Real, real soon.89I Start to LeaveReconsider, knowing l'l want to stop tor a smal pick-me-up along the long
road home."Oh, hey. Can you
spare piece of tinfoil and maybe a straw? I've gotzip for paraphernalia.Let's make you a pipe, Treytel s me. How about a lightbulb, Robyn?She
obliges, and in a matter of minutes,Trey turns it into a smoking device. Becareful. It wil getreal y hot. Oh, and you'I probably need this, too.90He
reaches into his pocket, extracts a lighter. Now justdrop a rock, right in hereHe demonstrates with one of Robyn's. Hold the lighterright about
here____A thinplume of smoke lifts, and Trey is quick to inhale.As Robyn and I help
himfinish it, Trey says, So,Kristina, next timeyou're up for the score, cal me. This shit travels the US-95 corridor up from Mexico. My connection
lives Near Reno. Ironie, huh?91No
wonder Trey gets to Reno sometimes.Ironie barely coversit. But hey, next timeI won't have
to drive al the way to Stockton. (Let alone have to deal with Robyn's evil eye.)"That's good to know,Trey," says Kristina.Then Bree takes over."Next
time you come over the mountain, be sure to give mea cal .I'l pay you back the hundred. And if you talk92real nice, I just mightadd a little
interest."Holy crap. Team Bree with the monster, younever know what youmight get. But Treylaughs. And just whatdoyou have in mind?This is
game. So why does she disappear now? I shrug. "For me to know and you to find out."Guess
I I have to make it soon, then. The curiositymight do mein. He wraps the hot bulb in a napkin, walks me to the door, bends to bring his Iips dose to
my ear. Careful driving home. I want you al in one piece.93He Wants MeAl in one piece. But does that mean he wants me?I take the stairs slowly,
head turning cartwheels.It's been so long since anyone has wanted me.At the bottom of the stairs, I turn to look over my shoulder.I want to believe
that he wants me. But it's impossible.Trey's backlit silhouette is stil in the doorway.Maybe it isn't impossible. Only highly unlikely.94He raises a
hand, waves a good-bye. Closes the door.I never used to second-guess myself. What's up?The porch light
winks out. Is Trey staying the night?Wel , of course he is. Why doyou think Robyn wanted you gone?Jealousy wel s up inside. I want him to stay with
me.Wanting and getting are two
total y different things.I want him to take me in his arms and kiss me.95Why must I torture myself? He's with Robyn. Right now.I want him to touch me
al over my body.Cut it
out, Kristina. You're just making things worse.I want him to tel me he needs me. Loves me.What am I thinking? I don't want that at al .Yes I do want
that. I want to be in love.Stop it! Don't you know talking to yourself is a sign of insanity?96It Is a ClearNot quite warm September night, the obsidian
skybrimming with stars. An orange harvest moon
lights the semideserted highway, and myconfidence in my ability to reach home, al in one
piece, grows with every mile leftdissolved in my wake. I am wide awake, buzzed to the nth
degree.I drive slowly, lost in thoughts of Hunter, hopeful y sleeping soundly; of the things that led up to having him;97of what lifewould be like if he
had never been conceived. I would never have thought Icouldconsider living without him; never would have

thought I mighteasilydistance myself from him. But I want someone--other than a baby--to love, and soon.I miss feeling special. Miss feeling
beautiful. I only hope I haven'tbecomeimpossible for a guy to look at with lust in his eyes.98Halfway Home I StopFor a smal pick-me-up, not
because I particularly need it (my eyes are wide, wide open), but because I can. I have stash. It's talking to me.One little hit, my heart revs high, then
settles into quick-step mode. How I've missed that race and pound. How I've missed the lack of control.It makes no sense. I know that. But I'm sick
of making sense.
Sick of being sensible. As I consider that, it hits methat I haven't cal ed Mom.Now it's much too late. Is she pacing the floor, ready to pounce when I
walk through the door?
she gone to sleep, assuming I stayed99overnight and forgot the cel phone in my purse?
Cel phone! I yank it out, and sure enough, there's a voice mail messagewaiting for me.
When youget this, please cal and let us know you're safe. I don'tcare what time it is.
Mom is pissed, and rightly so.I look at the time. Two twenty. Screw it, I'd better cal .
Mom answers on the second ring. Hel o? Kristina, is that you?Who eise would it be?
it's me. I'm fine. I stayed late at Robyn's, decided to come on home. No worries, I've had gal ons of coffee."100No worries? Kristina GeorgiaSnow!
Have you no consideration whatsoever for your family?We've been so worried! One simple phone cal ...She's right.
course she is. But I don't feel like giving much ground. "I'm sorry, Mom. Go on to bed.
I'l be home soon." I hang up without even asking about Hunter. I'l have to eat a table ful of crow in the morning, but why worry about it the rest of the
way home?101I'm Total y in the WronAnd I total y know it. And I total y don't care. That's the monster talking and I total y know that, too. ButI'm total y
ready to listen to every word, every excuse, every suggestion.I feel great, for the first time in months. I feel positive about the future, like I actual y
might have a future beyond babies and books. I feel like I've got the world by the bal s. I just have to remain cool, calm down my parents, regain my
power. I ask the monster how to manage that and he replies,Simple. You need money.
Of course. Can't have much of a life without102a steady supply of the green stuft. I I do need money, and that means a job. But what kind of job?
Only one thought comes readily to
mind.103I Get HomeA little before four. The house is dark.' Silent. Everyone fast asleep.
Except me, of course.Rather than chance waking up Hunter, I think I'l run on down to theal -night conveniencemart and pick up an application.
Almost every kid in the val ey works at the Sev for a month or two, while waiting to go off to col ege, get married, or find a better job. It pays
minimum wage, and the worksucks, but beggars cannot be choosers. I park off to one side, check out who's inside. Believe it or not, there's a
guyplaying a slot machine. They have slots in Nevada 7-Elevens. And groceryStores, airports. Anywhere people get bored.104Even up-al -night
bored. Turns out I know the guy
behind the counter. Grady's a year olderthan me and a total loser type.He'l probably never work anywhere but at the Sev, which is doubtless just
fine by him. "Hey, Grady," I say.He gives me a total loser smile, the kind that gives you the creeps. Hey, Kristina.
You're up early."I haven't been to bed yet, actual y." Those seven words say much more than he needs to know.Grady looks at my eyes, and his grin
grows real wide. Oh, yeah.I can
see it perfectly now.Whatever. If he knows, it's because he gets high too. "I came by to pick up an application."105Funny time of the day for that. Let
me see iflcan dig one up.
He goes into the back room.It takes a few minutes, but he final y returns, application in hand. You sure you want to work here?Mostly what's open is
graveyard. You'd have to put up
with people like him. He points to the slot addict.The guy doesn't even turn around.
Fuckyou, he says, feeding a ten into the money reader."It's not like I real y want to work here, but I need a job and my choices are limited."The
monster goes on to tel him al about Hunter. about living with my parents, studying tor my GED,106and wanting a way to
escape."I'l be eighteen in a couple of weeks. But I can't do anything until I can save up enough for a little place. Food. Diapers." I smile.
"Miscel aneous."Yeah, wel , if you ever need help hooking up with that, give me a huzi. You know where to find me.107Al the
Way to StocktonAnd it was right here, practical y under my nose (ha-ha) al the time?As I start out the door, the slot machine freak lights a cigarette.
Now, I haven'tindulged that habit in quite a while either. I quit when I was pregnant--figured I was eighty-sixing one bad habit, why not lose that one
too?But meth and nicotine buddy up real fine. The smel of fresh-lit tobacco sucks me right up tight against Slot Man.Could I bum one of those?"

I'm flat out of cash at the moment, and stil under108eighteen. Grady mightstroke me by pretending he doesn't know my age, but the cameras are
rol ing and stings for sel ing booze or smokes to underage people are common. I don't want to get him in trouble, not when he might be helpful in the
future.Besides, one cancer stick, with no more in a drawer, won'tget me hooked again. Right?Slot dude smiles a knowingsmile, shakes one from
the hard pack. You owe me one.Yech. He's scruffy. Kind of smel y. I definitely hope he doesn't think I owe him.109Grady hands me some
matches.No law against that, right?
"Thanks. I'l be in touch."I retreat outside, into the cool of sunless morning. My handsshake a bit as I fire the Camel Light.It tastes like heaven. Likeif I
could just keep smoking it, I'd never need to eat again.If you've never smoked, you won't understand that,
but if you have, you know exactly what I mean.I suck the poison slowly, with great, immediate pleasure. It's almost as good as...Okay, maybe not as
good as that. But it calms
me, convinces meto go on home,110do whatever is necessary to keep my mom and Scott off my
back. Apologize like I'mreal y, truly sorry. And, in several ways, I real y am. Butthere's no turning back now.111I Tiptoe Through the DoorHoping the
house is stil silent, and it is. Down the hal , into my room, where I quietly seek out a new stash place, then lie down on my bed. The pink Silk quilt is
almost too soft. Part of me--a smal part, growing smal er by the minute--demands penance.That smal part, the Kristina part, keeps whispering
what a fool the other, Bree part, is. "Not only were you stupid to sneak backto the monster," she mumbles, "but ten to one you're going to get
caught. Mom and Scott wil
know."112The Bree part just stares contentedly at the ceiling, real y comfortable for the first time in too many months. Meth. Tobacco. A chance at a
spectacular guy, even if he does live three hours away, over a major mountain.I get to Reno sometimes. Wil he come
just for me?"Yeah, right," Kristina says. "Trey is going to dump Robyn (who no doubt gives
him head after giving him money) and drive over the Sierras for a frumpychick with a baby,
who lives with her parents, who are going to bust her anyway."113[Shut the hel up.] Bree talking, damn her sharp, irritating whisper. [Don't talk too
much, keep your (my) temper in check, leave the ranting to Mom and Scott, you'l (we'l ) bejust fine. And whatever you do, leave your conscience--
and confessions--behind.]I sit in bed, arguing with myself until the sun peeks up over the eastern huls, eyes almost as red as mine must be. Just
about the time the skyshimmers light, Hunter wakes up. I go to him quickly, hustle into the kitchen to fix him a bottle, kissing him quiet.114Since
Mom was up so incredibly late last night (worrying about me!) [hey, conscience, remember?], she might just sleep in.
Maybe she'l be so rested that she'l only give me the second degree. I'm sure not in any mood for the third.115But It's SaturdayMom and a friend of
hers always go to the gym early
to work out. Which meansno way wil she sleep in.She pads into the kitchen, notices I'm feeding Hunter. Glad to see you made it homeokay. What
time did you get in?I suppose I could lie, but that's just stupid. "Around fourthirty, I guess. I'l take a nap when Hunter does."Mom gives me a solid
once-over, but if she notices anything, keeps it to herseif.So how was the Col ege fair?Col ege fair? Oh, yeah."Okay, I guess. It's a pretty nice
campus and al .Robyn seems to like it."She looks at me harder.Robyn's at UOP, isn't she?I thought you said the Col egefair was in
Sacramento.116One thing meth is goodfor--manufacturing lies sans hesitation. "I always mix up Stockton and Sacramento."She
stares me straight in the eye. Good thing you didn't mix them up whenyou were behind the
wheel."Heh-heh. Yeah, you'reright. Oops. Smel s like Hunter's breakfast wentright through
him____"I start to get up, but Momputs a severe hand on my arm. One second. I need to talk
to you about something.I swal ow hard. Does she hear Bree's voice in my mouth, see the monster in my eyes? "What?"Leigh cal ed. She's planning
on coming home for your birthday.
I thought it might be a good time to baptize Hunter.117Relief floods my face like a not, red tidal wave. "Baptize Hunter? Oh.Yeah. Wel , I guess
so."Good. I'l talk to PastorKeith at church tomorrowmorning. You shouldthink about godparents.Jeez, is that it?
Inquisitionover? "Godparents. Right. Meanwhile, diaper patrol."I make a hasty exit.Hmm.
Baptize Hunter? I'venever considered it, let alone who I'd want to take care of him, should somethingbad happen to me. I don'thave any friends who
could fil such big shoes.
Mom and Scott? Can grandparentsbe godparents? Maybe Leigh?But would I have to name her
partner, too? And how wouldPastor Keith feel about that?118Thoughts and ideas vol ey-back
and forth in my head. I put Hunter in his swing, watch him rock along.I feel exhilarated.
I feel rotten.I know I've made a terrible mistake. I'm ecstatic thatI found a way to make it.119Mom Leaves for the GymNow I have to face Scott, who
final y comes downstairs,
"pissed" written al over his face.Wel , look who decided to grace us with her presence. I can't believe how rudeyou are.I didn't have to take it from
Mom. Should I take it from husband numbertwo? "Sorry."Yeah, whatever. Just don'texpect to borrow one of ourcars again
anytime soon.Al the more reason to find a way to keep my own vehicle in tip-top shape.

won't."Did you apologize to your mother? She sat up half the night, worrying about you.Irritation blossoms. And I'm starting to want another little toot.
"Yes, I apologized."Damn straight. Kristina, you're a mom yourself now. Can you not relate, just a
little bit?120Like Hunter is going to borrow a car and stay out al night anytime soon.
"Sure."Good. Al it takes is a simplephone cal , okay? That's why we gave you the cel phone."I'm real y, truly sorry, Scott. Robyn and I just got to
par... uh, talking, and I lost track of time."Okay, Kristina. Ican understandthat. I know it's been a while since you've spent time with a friend.He's
letting me off this easy? Unreal. "Yes, it has.
Thanks for understanding, Scott."Just don't forgetyou won't find a better friend in the world than the friends you have in your family.121Scott Takes
Off to Play GolfJake is at a friend's. I put Hunter down for a nap, decide to try one myself. Mybrainmight be doing jumping jacks, but my body is
shutting down. It feels like a lead anchor, sinking in a sea of quilt, tugging metoward repose. I'm drifting. Sleeping? A parade of facesfloats behind
my closed eyes. An ethereal Robyn grins, her ecru facedistorting into a vampirelike apparition. Right behind her comes Trey (predator or prey?),
handsome122and hungry as a
winter-starved coyote. Segue to Grady, Grade-E loser, vileconvenience store slave and crystal meth submissive, fol owed by Leigh, my absent,
beautifnlsister, with her lesbian lover, the cheerleader. Then Mom and Scott, who must suspect the uglierside of last night's adventure. So why didn't
they lash out at me, bombard mewith123questions, search
my stuff, smel my breath, something? Do they just not want to know for sure, stress themselves with suchwisdom?Or have they, perhaps, simply
given up on me?124That FeelingOf
wanting to sleep, desperately needing sleep, fighting the monster for sleep, reminds me of
one reasonI have been happy to leave the meth in Hunter's wake.Though it's cal ing to me,Just one more little toot,I simply wil not give in.I wil keep
the monster in check. I am stronger than any addiction. Right?Somewhere, a telephonerings. I swim up into grayafternoon, the inside of my head
thick as chowder, tug myself from bed, go to find the
offending bel .125I don't get there quicklyenough. Hunter wakes at the alarm, and by the timeI reach the phone, nap-wetbaby soaking one arm, the
cal er is midmessage....
been out your way in a long time. I figuredyour eighteenth birthday was a good excuse.
Besides,I want to see mygrandsonwhile he's stil a baby. Weshould hit Reno on the twenty-eighth, so save a few hours to celebrate with your old
man.126My DadIs Coming for a
visit?(Why now, after al these years?) And not justany visit, but on the weekend of my birthday, when Leigh is also coming for an unexpected
visit.Leigh, who stil refuses to speak to the father who left her in his dust.A visit now,127the same time as Hunter's baptism? I can just hear Mom:
Thatbastard has to plan a visit to Reno, a place your sister and I figured he'd forgotten about? Why does he have to remember it now? a visit to
Reno,128I Expect Her to Say Exactly that. She doesn't.But what she does say is enough to
make you cover your ears.I never knew my mom could have such a foul mouth! You fil in the
blanks. They scare me!That mother-ing sonofabitch!Did he spend al year, waiting for just the right --suckingmoment to f-- up what should be a
perfect day? He has no -ing right!
right at al .I simply cannot believethat pr-- would dare show his face around here, not after last year. And as for his wanting to play "grandpa," I real y
don't think so!129I'm conflicted about his plans. I want no confrontations, no bad blood. (Especial y not if it's going to be spil ed in the baptismal
fount, or over the icing on my birthday cake!)But, despite everything that went down over my summer n Albuquerque, I want to seeDad again. He's a
freak, true, and a piss-poor father. But he stil belongs to me.130Mom Is Stil RantingAnd suddenly she seems to intuit my inner turmoil, which only
serves to make her angrier stil . You can't want him to come here, Kristina? Do you real y want him to spoil this special day?What can I say but the
truth?"Why does he have to spoil
anything, Mom? You've been divorced, like, forever. Can't you bury the hatchet--and not literal y? Can't you just let it go?"Hunter Starts to fuss--he's
stil soggy--and Mom takes him from myarms. I'l never forgive him for the way he treated his family, Kristina, or for the path he put you on last
year.131Okay, that's just not fair. "You can stay mad at him forever, Mom. I don't care. But you can't blame him for the choices I made. He didn't
make those decisions for me."She levels me with a single glare. [Damn, that's a real talent] I suppose that's true, and I guess I can 't stop him from
coming. She hands me the phone.But you have to tel your sister.132Mom Goes to Change HunterI dial Leigh's
number, praying she isn't home. No luck there. We exchange pleasantries, chat a few minutes. Final y, I break the news.Leigh takes it wel . No
fucking way! Kristina, I want to be there, you know I do, and I real y want you to meet Heather. It's taken both of us this long to make that meeting
happen. But how can we possibly come now? I wouldn't know
what to say to Dad, or how to reactwhen I saw him. Why hasn't he ever once cal ed me, Kristina? How can he care so little?133I don't want to tel her
drugs-- and maybe sex--mean more to him than anything, though I know in my heart that's the truth. I don't want to tel her that's the way of the
monster. "I don't know, Leigh. But you have to come, okay?"I haven't seen her in months, and want her here for my birthday, notto mention