- by Barbara Ehrentreu
- Genre Young Adult Romance
- Tags YA, realistic, teen romance
- Imprint MuseItYA
- Cover Designer Carolina Bensler
- Words 47193
- Pages 176
- ISBN 978-1-77127-600-9
- Price $5.50
“After” is a story about the struggles Lauren Walstein, a fifteen-year-old girl, has to go through when her father suddenly has a heart attack and undergoes bypass surgery. In one phone call her life changes completely. Lauren is a character with whom most teens will relate. Her best friend since kindergarten, Joey, is going out with her enemy and they have grown apart. Before the phone call all she thought about was getting a scholarship for softball, and the Mets. Suddenly she must deal with both her father’s illness and being in school. The demands on her from both ends complicate the story. In the middle of all this, she finds she is developing feelings for her best friend that are more than friendly. Is he feeling the same or is he just comforting her? In addition there is Joey’s mean girl friend Amber, who doesn’t appreciate Lauren being in the picture. Will Lauren’s father recover? How will Lauren cope with her new feelings for Joey?
Let me go back and tell a little bit about myself. First of all, you might be thinking I’m a boy, but you’re wrong. My name is Lauren. I’m fifteen, and my sister is seventeen. I’m one hundred percent female. We learned about stereotypes in social studies and thinking sports can be only a boy’s thing is one of those. The teacher used blondes—and how people think they’re dumb or playing dumb—as an example. We had to come up with a few stereotypes of our own as our ticket to leave that day. It was then I realized my own parents thought in stereotypes.
I go against the stereotype for girls. I’ve always loved baseball. Joey loves it differently than I do. He likes to play it, but he memorizes all the facts and can spew them out any time they’re needed. I like the flow of the game and the feel of the perfect pitch leaving my hand.
Our friendship goes against the stereotypes, too. He and I clicked in kindergarten. The first day of school, Joey and I sat together and didn’t stop talking the whole morning. My parents told me that when the teacher tried to separate us we both put our feet on the ground and refused to be moved. She let us sit together for the rest of the year. But the next year the teachers were onto us and separated Joey and me for the whole year into different classes. We’d see each other in the hallway and wave. Sometimes I’d have a little tear in my eye when I saw him and it didn’t go away for a long time.
Before the phone call, there I was, eyelids drooping, in front of the TV, about to go upstairs to bed. Mom joined me for the last couple of innings. It looked like the Mets might do it. Though I tried, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I was in the process of raising my tall, lean body off the sofa and placing one foot on the floor when the phone rang. Dad usually called Mom late when he worked nights, so I handed the phone to Mom and started upstairs. I didn’t get far. As soon as my foot touched the first step I stopped in mid-step. Mom was screaming into the phone.
“What? You want me to go out now and buy you Alka-Seltzer? You have indigestion?”
Dad never has anything wrong with his stomach. You could say it’s made of iron. I turned around and went back to the living room, catching bits of Mom’s conversation as I approached her. Even though I didn’t understand the reason for the phone call my heart started pounding and a sick feeling started in my stomach. I stood behind Mom.
“You have pain in your back, and indigestion? Go to the hospital! No, I’m not going out to buy you Alka-Seltzer.” She slammed down the phone and gave into hysterics.
“That stupid man. He has to go to the hospital. He’s having a heart attack. He is so insufferable. I’m calling the doctor.” Tears rolled down her face as she frantically punched in the number for the doctors we use. She described Dad’s symptoms to the answering crew and they put her through directly to the coronary doctor on call.
“Okay, I’m calling him back. He’s insane,” she said to no one in particular, but really to me and my sister. Diane, hearing all the screaming, had run down the steps and put her arms around Mom, who was now sobbing uncontrollably, but still punching in Dad’s number.
Holding the phone and wiping away tears she spoke to him again. This time it sounded a lot more like the way she spoke to my sister and me when she wanted something done for her. I wrapped my arms around myself and prayed this was a nightmare.
“I called the doctor and he said you need to go to the Emergency Room as soon as possible.” Then she added her own Mom advice. “Take two aspirin and we’ll meet you there.”
My life changed at that precise moment: 9:30 p.m. Sunday, September 24.And I never even realized it had happened.