Hey everyone! Before you read this, you should either watch the movie “Bridge To Terabithia” or read the book! Also, this story will be kind of sad, at least at the beginning, so just a quick alert here! I personally would rate this story 10+ since the original book is read by fifth graders all over the United States and the movie is PG but it’s up to you. Also, I do not own any of the characters or Terabithia, that all belongs to Katherine Paterson. This will be almost a direct continuation of the movie! I have decided to make Leslie, at the unfortunate time of her death, the same age as the movie. The same goes with Jess, May Belle, and almost all other characters. Also, this book was originally published by me on Wattpad! Here's the link if you would like to read it on there! Well, now that that’s all aside, have fun reading, and keep your mind wide open!
“Jess, are you there?” Leslie yelled aloud.
His mouth wouldn’t let him talk. His eyes wouldn’t let him close them. It was the same nightmare that he had been having for the past week. It never changed, never stopped. Jess was scared that they would never.
“Jess where are you?”
He tried everything he could, but his body stood still, nothing moving. Prince Terrien was in her arms. He already knew what would happen. There was no hope left in him.
The nightmares hadn’t stopped for the week that Leslie had been dead. They were nonstop. And were always the same. In the past week, Jess had brought May Belle back to Terabithia multiple times, almost everyday. But that didn’t fill the hole that Leslie had left when she had exited this world. Janice Avery tried everything to help him, but it almost always didn’t work. They had never been that close anyways. Leslie befriended her before she died.
Leslie was smiling from ear to ear. She was probably thinking of what Jess was doing in Terabithia. She grabbed onto the rope. Jess’s body was aching from how hard he was trying to move, to prevent her from swinging on the rope. But it was useless. Leslie’s weight shifted onto the rope and she began to move through the air. It was disturbing seeing her blonde hair change in motion from sideways to completely downward while rotating. The rope snapped and she fell, her head hitting a stray rock. She fell completely unconscious. And Jess couldn’t do anything. Just like the first time, or the past six times. Her body flew down the raging rapids of the river, but time seemed to slow for Jess. It was almost as if his body was telling him to look at what he had done. Look at what he had caused.
LESLIE! he screamed in his head. She was floating, but she was face down. Her body reached where the bridge was in real life. And just like that, it was over. He was waking up. No saving Leslie for Jess. No being a hero. Or preventing something that he had caused.
His body felt as if it weighed a million pounds, although he knew that wasn’t the case. He put too much strain on his body in his dream trying to get to Leslie that it had basically reset itself. He would have to wait for a bit until it returned to normal, but that was fine with him. It was morning, but he had disregarded his morning runs a day after Leslie died. He missed her with his entire heart, and nothing seemed to fill it.
Most things had returned to normal a few days after Leslie died. It was almost as if his family wanted him to forget her, although he was almost certain that he could never do that. The Burkes had moved away a few days after the memorial, and he had built the bridge to Terabithia. That was one of the only things he wished that he never had to build.
He soon regained control of his body, and began to walk around. Based on the clock in his and May Belle’s room, it was around 7:30. He gently shook May Belle awake. “Hey sleepyhead, it’s time for breakfast,” Jess said once her eyes had fluttered open.
“Jess, you were talking in your sleep again.”
“I know I was.”
“You were saying Leslie’s name over and over again. Telling her not to go. Telling her to not leave you.”
“I know, May Belle. The nightmares haven’t stopped yet.”
She rubbed her eyes. “What day is it?”
“It’s Thursday, I think. Now hurry up or we’ll be late for breakfast.”
Jess and May Belle hurried down the stairs. “Morning, Mom!” Jess called out once they had reached the kitchen.
“Good morning, Jess. Morning May Belle. Why are you so cheerful?”
“No reason, really.” It was true, he was feeling as bad as he had become used to. The feeling was almost as if it was a stranger to him. It certainly hasn’t been used often.
“Well sit and have breakfast,” Ellie said. In the past week Ellie had gotten a bit nicer to him. She was still a little mean to him but definitely not as much as she once was. And she had made the extra effort to include him in things, a little thing but which meant a lot to Jess especially with their history. He wish he could say the same thing about Brenda, but that hadn’t happened yet.
Jess and May Belle sat down, both children just noticing their rumbling bellies. “So Jess,” Ellie began. “has anything changed with, um, Leslie and you?” It had been a week and she was still afraid to say her name in front of him. Not that he didn’t appreciate it, he did, as it wasn’t a constant reminder of her, but his mind was always on Leslie. Nothing could change that. Nothing would ever change that.
“No, not really. The nightmares haven’t stopped or anything.” The words rolled out of his mouth as he was used to having to tell his family about the issue.
The rest of breakfast was silent after that. No one dared to say a word, but Jess’s good mood didn’t seem to pass just yet.
“Jess, it’s time to go,” May Belle said.
“I’m waiting for you! You’re the one who has to say bye to all of your barbies!”
“They’re nice! And I’ve been ready!”
“Okay then let’s go.”
Jess and May Belle took off down the road to wait for the bus. It would be any second that the bus was supposed to arrive.
He didn’t dare look at the Burke’s house. Old house technically. It was a tradition that he had fallen into. He felt that if he looked at it, he would break down again. He would not let Scott Hoager or Gary Fulcher see him like that.
Their consistent torture had almost stopped. Being friends with Janice Avery had been the cause of that. Whenever Janice saw Gary or Scott talking to him, they always somehow ended up with some part of their body bleeding afterwards.
However, once they were passing the Burke’s old house, May Belle’s face lit up in surprise and confusion which was almost enough for Jess to break his unwritten rule. However, he didn’t and trudged along. If May Belle wanted to tell him, she would. However, she didn’t seem interested in doing that and continued with her brother.
The bus stop arrived as soon as Jess reached the end of the road. Both of them got on without saying anything. He immediately walked to his normal seat and sat next to Janice. “Hey, Jess! What’s up?”
“Not much, I’ve just been doing stuff with May Belle. What about you?”
“Same. One day you guys have to show me where you run off to everyday.”
Jess choked on air. “You know about that?” He was surprised. It was only supposed to be him, Leslie, and May Belle who knew about Terabithia. Only two alive people knew about it.
“Yeah, of course. Every time I see you get off the bus, you just run off somewhere into the forest by your house.”
“We don’t really do much of anything back there,” Jess lied. “We just like race and stuff.”
“Why does the fastest kid in sixth grade have to race the fastest kid in second?”
“It’s fun. She’s getting close to me too. She’s really fast.”
“And how are you getting over Leslie?” It bothered him how often people said her name.
“I’d do anything to get her back, but it’s impossible. I miss her so much, but there’s nothing I can do.” Tears began to form in his eyes. This was the first time that he had told Janice anything of the sort. ” There’s so many questions that I wish I could ask her. Did she know she was dying? Do you think she was hurting? Was she scared? Cause I am.” Tears freely flowed from his eyes. This was the first time he had ever been as open as he was at that moment with anyone, nevertheless Janice. Luckily, he could only see Janice and May Belle looking at him.
“Jess I don’t know,” she said as tears also began to form in her eyes. “but that’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“I can’t anymore. I’m tired of pretending that this doesn’t affect me, because it does! Why did she have to die? I would gladly give my life if it meant that she had a good one! And the only reason that she’s dead is because of me!”
“Jess, you can’t s-”
“It is, Janice! Why don’t you think I was there with her when she drowned? I wasn’t there because Ms. Edmunds invited me to the museum and I didn’t invite, didn’t tell Leslie about it. And she thought I would be there and she hit her head and drowned! If I didn’t go or if I invited her she would be alive and be with us right now! It’s all my fault and no one else!”
“Jess you can’t blame yourself for something you had no control over.”
“I had complete control over it. If we never became friends, she would never have gone down by the river and drowned! There’s so many if’s but somehow the one that happened is the worst one!”
“Are you done? Yeah, there are many if’s but only one happened, and that is the one that happened. There is no changing it. And you can’t blame yourself. I’m sure that if you knew what was going to happen, you’d do anything to prevent it. But you couldn’t, and I’m sorry that it has to be like this, but it does.”
“I can try something. I can try anything. I’ll invent time travel if I have to.”
“No you can’t. Come on Jess, I know it’s hard and I’m not asking you to forget her but just do something to help ease the pain.”
Jess paused for a moment. “Okay Janice. I’ll try. No promises or anything though.”
She sighed in relief, most likely thankful that the conversation was over. “Thank you Jess. It means a lot to me. I can’t even begin to understand how hard it was for you to lose her like that.”
“I’ve tried to explain it, but it just doesn’t work. Thank you for listening, though. I feel better.”
“Of course, Jess.”
“You know, its weird. I’ve felt happy today, even a minute ago I did. And it isn’t fading. I haven’t done anything to cause it, and I’m certainly not forgetting about her. But it’s like I’m full again.”
“That is weird. Just try hang onto that feeling for the rest of the day.”
The rest of the bus ride was lively, and Jess and Janice didn’t stop talking for a second, and for the first time in a week, Jess found himself talking about something other than Leslie. Sure a lot of their conversation was about her, but they did talk about grades and school. They even talked about racing. He smiled many times, which was another thing he hadn’t done in a week. And once they had to depart the bus, he wished he could talk with Janice longer.
The majority of the school day had gone by quickly. He had participated in the race at recess, but it was too easy without Leslie as his competition. He had easily won against Gary Fulcher and Scott Hoager with Janice cheering him on. But that was the only interesting part of the school day.
The bus ride home wasn’t really any different than its predecessor and soon he found himself in Terabithia with May Belle. “May Belle, I’m sick of it,” Jess said, and then continued after seeing her confused face. “Being sad. It sucks, and I’m over it. I’m happy from now on, okay?”
A smile spread across her face. “Really? Thank you, thank you, thank you!” She hugged Jess tightly.
“Now I’m not gonna forget about Leslie or anything. I just have to focus on other things and let her spirit live on through Terabithia.”
“Jess, thank you! Do you want to fight squogres and hairy vultures now?” May Belle asked, glistening with happiness.
“What kind of question is that? Of course I do.”
For the next hour, Jess and May Belle fought off different Dark Master creatures. “Jess, what was that shadow that flew by us?” May Belle asked.
He must’ve forgotten to tell May Belle about the Dark Master. “May Belle, the scuogres and the hairy vultures are all controlled by one being. That being is known as the Dark Master. He is that shadow you saw. There really is no way to fight him, or at least we haven’t been able to yet. But I’m sure when the time comes, we’ll win. The King and the Princess are unstoppable! And we’re the fastest in all of Terabithia!”
“Nothing crushes us! Let’s find and capture the Dark Master!” May Belle exclaimed in excitement.
“Now hold on for a second. We have to be better prepared. Tommorow, we’ll come back and we’ll ask the Terabithians if they know where the Dark Master lives. If they do, we’ll send an army and us to the hideout. If they don’t, then we’ll just have to figure it out for ourselves, won’t we?” Jess felt like laughing because of the look on his younger sister’s face. It was filled with excitement, the most he had ever seen on her face before.
“Why not today?” May Belle asked anxiously.
Jess nodded his head towards the sun. “See that thing? It’s getting low, and I’d say it’s getting close to dinner.”
She rolled her eyes. “Fine,” she said after having a small argument with herself in her head. “but first thing after school, we come here.”
“Deal. Now let’s get back before we get in trouble. Race to the bridge?” Immediately, May Belle took of sprinting, leaving Jess far behind her. “Hey, no fair!” Jess yelled and hurried after his younger sister.
Jess always ended up winning their races no matter how much of a head start either of them got. The almost five year age gap was the probable cause for that. And this race wasn’t any difference, Jess got to the bridge about a minute before his sister did.
Jess stood on the bridge, waiting for his sister. He was still hurting from Leslie’s death, but he decided to keep that internal from now on. No reason to hurt his loved ones for his problems. Leslie was floating under where he was standing just a week ago. If only that tree fell faster. If only there was another way to get across to Terabithia. If on-
No, he was not going to do that again. He decided that he was going to stop feeling sorry for himself no matter the cost. Feeling sorry didn’t get him anywhere. He would still grieve, just in private where no one would have to hear his whimpering cries.
“Jess!” called out May Belle from behind him. “Something’s wrong in Terabithia! Something’s different!”
“What do you mean? I don’t see anything.”
“It’s a feeling I have,” May Belle continued, now on the bridge with him. “Something changed and I’m not sure what yet.”
“If something did change, I’m sure that it’ll be here tomorrow, right?”
May Belle sighed. “Yeah, you’re right. Just hope we’re not missing something important though.”
“I’m sure that we aren’t. Now come on, we have to get home,” he said. He was about to suggest another race, but decided against it as he saw that his sister was out of breath. He took her hand and began to walk towards their house.
“Jess, look!” May Belle exclaimed.
Jess had to break his unwritten rule. How could he not? His own sister was telling him to. What lay in the yard of the old Burke’s house was a sign that had two simple words on it. ‘For Sale’. “Are they selling the house?” Jess asked although he was almost certain that his sister would not know the answer.
“They must be. I saw people in the front yard in the morning but didn’t know what they were doing.”
“Do you wanna go in?” Jess asked, catching both him and his sister off-guard.
“That’s illegal Jess! Of course I wanna go in!”
“You can’t tell anyone about this, May Belle.”
“I won’t. I’m excited, I’ve never been in there.”
Jess and May Belle approached the front door. Jess rattled the door handle, only to see that it was locked. “Locked. We’re gonna have to go through a window or something.”
“There’s one up there!” she said and pointed up to a room. A wave of sadness overtook Jess, yet he didn’t dare show it. She was pointing to Leslie’s old room. “May Belle, you know how hard it would be to climb up there? We’ll use that as a last resort.”
Sure enough, all of the other windows on the first story were locked. “Last resort yet?” May Belle asked.
“It’s our only chance, I guess. We’re gonna have to climb a tree though, and Mom would kill me if you got hurt. You okay with climbing a tree?”
May Belle nodded vigorously. “I can handle climbing a tree. I’ve fought servants of the Dark Master.”
“True, I’ll go first to make sure the window is unlocked.” Jess quickly ascended the tree. He banged on the window and then tried to lift the window up, which gave way easily. “It’s unlocked!” he yelled to May Belle.
“Okay, I’m coming!” she said. She almost slipped twice while climbing, which would’ve resulted in at least one broken bone. Luckily, she made it up and into the house without harm. “Jess, this is Leslie’s room, isn’t it?” she asked.
“Yeah, I think so.” It felt as if a fire was ignited from within him, and no matter what he could not put it out. “I-I’m going to explore the rest of the house.” He stumbled around. He was having trouble walking, and speech didn’t seem very likely.
“Jess, maybe you should sit down for a second. What even happened?”
“I’ll be fine. I don’t know what happened.” And the fire raged on. He recognized the feeling, it was determination, but why did he feel that as soon as he entered Leslie’s room?
“Maybe it would be best if we left. It is getting late anyways,” May Belle warned.
“Come on, you’re the one who wanted to come here! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m heading downstairs for a quick minute,” Jess said. He exited the room and flew down the stairs. His mind was already set on where he wanted to go. He knew every turn to get there, and soon found himself standing in the golden room. Everything yet nothing had changed. All of the furniture had been removed, but Jess could still picture it. He was watching the wall set fire for the second time in his life.
“Jess!” called May Belle. “We have to go otherwise we’ll be really late for dinner!”
“Coming!” yelled Jess back. Oh how much he wished that he could watch the sun set with Leslie, Mr and Ms. Burke again. He sighed. That would never happen. The only connection that Jess had to the family now was P.T.
“Jeez, May Belle, you’re an Aaron’s child, so you should learn how to climb a tree better.”
“That’s unfair, and I’m not the worst by any means.”
“You almost fell out of the tree.”
“Don’t tell Daddy. Or Mommy. Or Ellie. Just don’t tell anyone.”
“What if I told Alexandria you still suck your thumb and sleep with Mr. Blankie?”
“I thought we had a deal!”
“Calm down, I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.”
Jess was outside of his house with May Belle, and based on the smell, was on time for dinner. “Hey, we got spaghetti tonight! Yes!”
Jess ran into the house, barely remembering to take off his shoes first. Spaghetti was his favorite. “Did you leave May Belle in the dust?” asked Ellie.
“She’s coming in now, but I smelled spaghetti.”
“Where have you guys been anyways? It seems that you’ve been somewhere after school since it started.”
“We just race and stuff,” he said, once again having to lie to maintain the secrecy of Terabithia.
She laughed. “You’re lucky, dinner’s in five minutes.”
Jess retreated to his room. Light was barely radiating anymore from his window. He could barely see Leslie’s house from his. His mind once again traveled to Leslie Burke. He started to cry, not very loudly as to not alert the rest of the house. The guilt he felt was unbearable. He couldn’t deal with the sadness anymore. He wasn’t sure when she was alive but was now entirely sure that she loved him. And he loved her. That thought was almost completely foreign to him. It was almost incomprehensible that he could love anyone else that wasn’t immediate family, but Jess was entirely sure of it. Jess Aarons loved Leslie Burke. Jess Aarons loved a dead girl. And a dead girl used to love him.
“Why did you have to leave me here alone Les? Why me? I love you, Les.”
It was likely his imagination, but he could’ve sworn that he heard Leslie’s voice say, “I love you too.”
It shocked him. Did he just communicate with the dead? “Leslie, can you hear me?” He didn’t get a response, which made him chalk the earlier incident up to his imagination. After all, he did create Terabithia, so it would make sense for him to have a little wild imagination.
“There’s a ‘For Sale’ sign on the Burke’s front lawn,” Jess said.
“Oh,” his father said, having returned from work. “and how do you feel about that?”
“They already moved away, now it’s just official. And it wouldn’t hurt to have neighbors again, would it?”
“Yeah, just don’t go on planning a marriage with a girl if someone like that moves in.”
“Shut up, Brenda,” Jess said. “Does anyone know about the state of the house? Like if it has any viewings yet?”
“I do,” Ellie said. “It got a viewing. I saw the people today.”
“I saw them too!” May Belle said, obviously happy to have the ability to participate in the conversation. “They have a girl about Jess’s age, I think!”
“Well now, I wouldn’t get your hopes up just yet, May Belle,” his mother said. “That house is going to be hard to sell. It is huge and it’s beautiful but with its history, that would have to lower the value by at least half, maybe more to even get an offer, nevertheless an acceptable one.”
“Do you know where the Burke’s are living now, Mom?” asked Jess.
“I think they’re a town over, staying in hotels for now until they find a permanent place to live.”
Dinner was lively and chatty, but nothing really interesting happened after that. So, as usual, Jess made his aloud prayer to Leslie before going to bed. “You changed my life, Les. Thank you for that. I heard there might be people looking at your old house. To like buy it. I talked with Janice Avery today on the bus. It was kinda nice. Me and May Belle went to Terabithia again. I told her about the Dark Master. Then we kinda broke into your house, but through your window since it was unlocked. I sat and watched the golden room just how your mother told me too. And I could swear I heard you tell me you love me, but that’s probably just me imagining stuff. That’s really it for today. Talk to you tomorrow, Les. Love you.” And with that, Jesse Aarons went to bed completely content.