Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Hereafter~

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
“Race you to the Quad!” Jude says, with light in his green eyes. I laugh, and we’re off. My red Converse tennis shoes beat against the pavement as I run to catch up to him, his dirty blonde hair up on end. I wave as I pass him, but he soon catches up. We’re neck and neck, side by side, the Quad quickly approaching. We’re pushing each other out of the way, scrambling to be the first to touch the statue of Thomas Tokinson, our great city’s founder.


Here’s the thing– I can’t exactly call this land a city. It’s certainly not on any map. Hereafter is the place every person wonders about. Nirvana, you could call it. Heaven. Paradise. Basically, it’s afterlife, and this is the place you go after you die.


But Jude and I won’t stay here for long.


One day a year, ten citizens of Hereafter are selected at random to be sent back down to Earth. This one day is called The Drawing, and everyone in Hereafter gathers in the Quad, which is in the center of town. The current president of Hereafter draws ten pieces of paper, each with a name on it. These ten people are sent back to Earth. Every person in Hereafter wants to hear their own name called– it’s their last chance to see their loved ones again back on Earth. Most of the time, their new life is on the other side of the world, but sometimes, their new life is near their old neighborhood.


“Ha! I win!” Jude says, panting. His left arm is slung across the statue’s shoulders as if they were old buddies. “Whaddya got to say for yourself?”


I take a modest bow and mock, “I am no match for your greatness!”


His eyes crinkle into a smile and my heart skips a beat. He looks at me for a second too long and then glances at the statue. Realization hits his face, and he turns toward me, a look of excitement on his face. “The Drawing! It’s tonight!”


I glance down at my watch. “...And it starts in five minutes.”

****


Standing next to Jude, I scanned the crowd. Everyone was in their very best, sending last minute prayers that they would be chosen. Jude was wearing his navy suit (my personal favorite) and was nervous, I could tell. My hands went to my side, where my simple white dress with brown lace hung.


“Ladies and gentlemen,” said the President, clearing his throat. The Quad fell silent. I glanced to the other side of the statue, and a boy’s electric blue eyes meet mine. The look sends a shiver down my side, and I turn towards the President quickly. “May I present: The Drawing!”


Applause fills the Quad, and anxiety is in the air. The President, eager to get started, digs his hand deep in a bowl of white paper strips.


Jude takes my hand in his, and we meet eyes. “Good luck, Yaffe,” he whispers to me. I give him a wink, as if to say, “You too.”


We turn back to the President, who has chosen a strip. He clears his throat for what seems like the billionth time. He raises the microphone to his lips, a glimmer in his eye. “Jude Johanson.”


I let out a small breath and turn towards Jude. Excitement fills his face, but there’s also a hint of concern. “Have fun, okay?” I tell him. He apologizes, and I shoo it away. “There’s nothing to be sorry for, Jude. I’m happy for you.” I give him one last reassuring smile and a hug goodbye. You see, those in Hereafter that are chosen are immediately sent you back down to Earth.


As I watch Jude walk away, I realize that today is the last day I’m ever going to see him again in person. I had a slight chance of seeing him through the portals. The portals let you glance down at the Earth, a city. People do this to check in with their loved ones. I don’t know which city Jude will be sent to, so who knows if I’ll find him.


I don’t listen to any of the further names the President calls. All I can hear is the President’s voice when he said Jude’s name echoing through my head.


Citizens of Hereafter clear out of the Quad, disappointed their name didn’t get called. I look up to find the electric blue eyes I saw before staring right at me. This time, though, he walks up to me. I dab the corners of my eyes, trying not to think about Jude.


The boy stops in front of me, his hands in his pockets. “Paul,” he says, introducing himself. His eyes are searching mine, and his brown hair is slightly mussed.


“Yaffe,” I say, looking at the ground. This is certainly not how I was used to being introduced. The boy seems to deem my name as acceptable and drops his gaze. He mutters a goodbye and walks quickly in the opposite direction, leaving me wondering about this new boy.

****


The next morning, I wander down to the portals to see if Jude ended up in our old town, Kalyce. We grew up together in the small town, and always hoped that if we were sent back down to Earth, we’d live again there.


I put in a coin and enter the city name. I squint my eye through the lens and see the town hall in its same white splendor. I recognize some of my old neighbors strolling down the sidewalk, the cherry blossoms in full bloom. But still no Jude.


The lens turns black and I can’t see my old town anymore. The time on the portal ran out. I glance behind me, but a line has started. I figure I’ve seen enough and walk across the street.


Walking back to my house, someone taps my shoulder. I turn around and find it was Paul. “Hey,” he says, more relaxed than he was last night. “Do you want to get a smoothie?” He gestured to our left, a cafe. I nod and we sit together at one of the outside tables.


Paul’s telling funny stories, about his life back on Earth, and I laugh at the appropriate times. But all I’m really thinking about is Jude, and all the things I never got to tell him. I’ve felt the sneaking suspicion more than once that Jude might have seen me more than the best friends we were, and all along, I hoped he did. I never knew if I was right, and now I will certainly never know. I just never considered that we would be separated, that one would be sent down to Earth without the other. But here we are.


“Man, it’s getting late,” Paul says after about twenty minutes. “I really have to get going.” I get up from the table, tell him it’s been nice talking to him, all the while with Jude still on my mind. “See you tomorrow, same time?” Paul asks. He has a hopeful glint in his eye.


“Sure, Paul. See you then.”


****

I head to the portals especially early this morning. I want to be able to search for Jude without any distractions, or any other people in the way.

I put the coin in and focus in on Paris. Jude’s always wanted to go there. I see a man strolling down a French street with the same green eyes– was that Jude?

I see a French restaurant and focus on that. I see a woman talking on her cell phone, her arms flailing in the air with rapid movement. Jude always did this when he was frustrated with his mom.

Figuring Paris was not the place for him, I go to New York, a place where he would have loved to visit. After growing up in Kalyce, a small town, he always dreamed of visiting a big city, where there was always movement and non-stop life.


I see a man on Fifth Avenue burst out laughing, throwing his head back. I couldn’t help but think that that was just like what Jude did when I told him a joke.

I was exhausted when the lens went black. It seemed like Jude was everywhere. It made me relive those last minutes we spent together and wish I had said something more meaningful to him before he left. It was the worst feeling, nostalgia, because I know that I could have changed the outcome. I could have at least confirmed his feelings before he left; I certainly had the time. We spent every minute together, we were best...

“Yaffe! Hi!” It was Paul, who greeted me with a hug.


Still startled from being disrupted from my personal thoughts, I replied “Paul. Hi.”


Paul lead me to our usual table, and we sit and order our smoothies. The wild Earth adventure today is him breaking his wrist when he was four. Or maybe he was talking about the time he lost his dog. Either way, I’m not paying much attention.


When it grows silent, I ask, “Paul, can we talk about Jude?”


He shifts in his chair and replies, “Sure.”


I force myself to take a deep breath and continue. “I’ve been looking for him, through the portal. It seems like he’s everywhere. I see his green eyes in France and his laugh in New York.”


What was that on Paul’s face? Discomfort? He shuffled in his seat and said, “Yaffe, I don’t think we fully understand what really happens when we’re chosen to go back to Earth. He pauses for a moment, and then continues quietly. “Rather than just being reborn there, characteristics of us are scattered places. Your wit and humor goes to a boy in South Africa. Your love for a science to a girl in China. Does that make sense?” He eyes me skeptically.


“Yes, it does, actually.” I smile, reassured. Jude really was everywhere.


There was silence after that, and I got up. Without a word, we walked to the portals together. I inserted a coin and went to Kalyce again.


It was almost dark there. In the street, a boy and a girl were playing hopscotch. The boy jumped forward three spaces, and they laughed together. A few hops later, I hear a mother’s voice, calling the girl inside. The two children share a knowing smile, and, without a word, race each other to her house, side by side.



Join the Discussion

This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

askMisterD said...
Jul. 20, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Well, done esnow. Well worth the reread. I like the world you created and its rules. Because the answers aren't so simple, it makes it all the more true. 

Mr. D.

 
singingwriter14 said...
Jul. 8, 2011 at 9:43 pm
Wow. That was really sweet...and kind of sad.
 
esnow824 replied...
Jul. 9, 2011 at 11:27 am
Hey thank you. That was just the type of mood I tried to stir up in my story. Your comments mean a lot. (:
 
paigeforemanThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Wow, I love this story! It's so imaginative and touching. I loved the end when I found out that Jude was actually everywhere. Even though it was sort of sad, it gave me closure to know that Jude was everywhere that Yaffe looked. I don't really have any constructive criticism. Awesome job!

Also, do you mind checking out and rating my song "Lunar Eclipse?"

 
Site Feedback