Bridge To Terabitha 2: Another Time

Old Goodbyes Lead to New Hello's

“Jess, are you there?” Leslie yelled aloud. His mind just wouldn’t let him stop, would it? His mind didn’t know what words were actually spoken either! He couldn’t move his legs, couldn’t moisten his lips, couldn’t blink, he wasn’t allowed to do anything. Whether that cause was his mind or an unknown source was yet to be figured out.

“Jess, where are you?” The dream was always the same, which was ironic since there was no possible way for him to know what actually happened on that dreadful day. Only P.T. knew, and he was a dog so he wasn’t of much help.

The pain he felt seeing her face was unbearable. After all, he did have to see his dead best friend every night as a constant reminder. They had less than a year together, but that year was special. They even made their own magical kingdom, Terabithia, inhabited by the Terabithians.

“L-Le,” something was coming out of his mouth, which was a first for his nightmares. All he needed was a bit more time, but that was time that he did not have. Leslie jumped onto the rope, unaware of the weakness of it. The rope split into two, and Leslie fell once again. “Leslie!” Jess screamed, but it was too late, and he still couldn’t move. Her unmoving body flew down the river. “Let me go!” Jess screamed to no one in particular. Suprisingly, his left foot moved, but only about an inch. P.T. ran up to him, begging him to save his friend. He was moving a bit faster, but it would not be enough if he wanted to catch her.

She was almost at the bridge, yet Jess fought on, not willing to give up his best friend just yet. “Leslie, wake up!” He was at the beginning of the creek, but was not allowed to move faster than a walk. She seemed to be traveling slower than usual. Did she actually hear him before she swung? “Leslie, please just wake up! I need you!” No response could be heard from his blonde friend. He was in the water now swimming along the current. He was picking up pace fast. He could almost touch her. “Leslie!” he screamed, hoping she would stir, but to no avail. In a last attempt, he reached out for her arm as she was about to reach the bridge’s area.

He had her in his arms, yet the current was still carrying them. He attempted to drag her lifeless body out of the lake yet his muscles would not support him. There was nothing that would stop or delay the inevitable, they were going to cross the bridge’s area. So Jess held Leslie a little tighter, knowing that might be the last time he ever was going to have the ability to do that. He looked hard at her. This was the face that was taken ever so cruelly away from him. It wasn’t fair! He hugged her, but there was nothing that he could do. Jess and Leslie crossed the bridge’s area together, one having had been dead at that moment while the other was dead inside.

Jess shot up from his bed with a start, not realizing that he was normally paralyzed after dreams. He checked the time in his room. 6:30. Good, he still had time. Jess retrieved his notebook and his drawing materials while he sat down on the floor and began to draw.

He was happy with his work. He would even go as far as saying that it was perfect, but he wouldn’t let anyone see it. They wouldn’t understand anyways. No one would ever understand the connection that he had shared with her.

Jess started to cry. “Why’d you have to leave me, Les?” It would be around fifteen minutes before anyone else woke up in the house apart from one, so he went towards her. Joyce Ann was happy to see her older brother, anyways, even if she was still a little cranky. He picked her up out of her bed and plopped her down in front of the television. Sooner or later, Brenda or Ellie would come by and take control of the T.V. anyways.

He decided to make food for Joyce Ann and himself. Two bagels was simple enough. Neither of them liked theirs toasted, so that was one less and arguably unnecessary step. “Jess, there’s a package at the table for you,” said his mom from behind him, making him jump.

“Who’s it from?” he asked, curious as he normally didn’t get packages.

“I didn’t check.” Jess grabbed his food and sat at the table. He checked the package. It was from Bill and Judy Burke. Jess immediately lost his appetite and proceeded to open it. Inside was a letter and yet another package. He decided to open the letter first. It read, “Dear Jess, how have you been? I hope the answer to that is better than we have, but this is not to talk about that. Inside the package is Leslie’s virtual diary. Instead of writing, she decided to talk, since she wanted to be unique. I understand that you may not want to watch this due to her privacy reasons, or any reasons for that matter, so me and Judy will completely understand if you don’t watch it. We ourselves didn’t. There is also another matter, me and Judy have decided to make a book about Leslie, and we would like you to do the illustrations for the book, alongside other things of course. If you are interested, please tell your parents about this. From, Bill and Judy Burke.”

Jess immediately opened the package, as it very well could be the last time that he could hear her voice in real life. “Who’s it from?” his mom asked.

“The Burkes. They gave me a virtual diary of Leslie’s where she talks and they want me to do illustrations for a book they’re writing centered around Leslie, and I want to do it. Can you write a letter from me to them telling them that I’m interested?”

“Yes, I will. If you want to watch the diary, you can have the T.V. and I’ll make sure that no one bothers you.”

“Okay, thank you mom. I’m going to.” His mom called to Joyce Ann and they both ran upstairs.

The diary ran off of cassette tapes, which they had a player for. Each were titled with different dates, with the earliest being the day that Jess and Leslie had met. He decided to watch that one first. He pressed play and color lit the screen, and Leslie Burke’s voice began to play. “Hello to anyone watching this! My name’s Leslie Burke and these are my diaries!” She was standing in her room, alone. “It was my first day of school today in a town called Lark Creek. The teacher, Ms. Myers, seemed to like me. At recess, I met a boy named Jesse Aarons. He’s my neighbor. He’s the only one who stood up for me when I tried to participate in a race, but he seemed mad when I beat him. I beat all of the boys though, and he was the only one who really gave me competition. I offered friendship, but he didn’t immediately accept. He thought I was following him after school when we both got off of the bus, and that was when I figured out that we were neighbors. Then, Bill came and invited me to go to the store with him. Nothing interesting really happened there. I think May Belle, Jess’s sister likes me more for now, but I have a connection with Jess that’s hard to explain. It’s almost as if it’s magical. That’s it for now, but I’m sure that Jess will like me more soon.”

Tears glided down his face at the end of that tape. He remembered that day vividly as it was the day that had changed his life. Leslie Burke was introduced into his life, and his worries were left behind.

He continued to watch the remainder of the tapes, all of which he remembered with great detail, until he reached one. The date was a day before Leslie died, or the last time that Jess saw her alive. He carefully put the tape in and watched Leslie Burke appear on his screen for the last time. “Hey everyone! It’s been raining for a week! The creek got so high, but we still went to Terabithia. It was an amazing day, and Jess was amazing too! It’s crazy to think about, but I,” she paused. “I love him. I, Leslie Burke, love Jesse Aarons. I can’t wait to get to see him tomorrow and go to Terabithia! I might even get to tell him that I love him! I’m so scared! What if he doesn’t feel the same way? We’ll still be the King and Queen of Terabithia, no matter what. And no matter what, I will unconditionally love Jesse Aarons. He’s just amazing! I guess that’s it then. I’m going to tell him I love him tomorrow, and hopefully he doesn’t ditch me after I tell him. Bye!” She waved at the camera, then moved to turn it off. And the screen went black, leaving Jess alone.

Jess was having a hard time processing what had just happened. Was she going to tell him she loved him the day he died? Was that why she was so excited and went to Terabithia without him? Was it to surprise him?

“Jess you have to get ready for sch-” May Belle paused seeing her brother’s tear streaked face. “Hey, it’s okay. You don’t want to tell me if you don’t want.” She quickly ran up to Jess and embraced him tightly, not letting go either.

“She ha- she had a diary that she recorded and it’s just ... May Belle I can’t with this!” he exclaimed, his voice faltering many times in that sentence. It was hard to just get seventeen words out, nevertheless an entire day’s worth.

“Jess, I’m only seven and I know that she’s one of the most special people I’ll ever meet. I don’t know why God took her from us, but He did, and we’re going to have to live with it.” Only then did he realize how much his sister had matured in the past week.

“May Belle, I’m so sorry that I did this to you. No one your age should ever have to see anyone go through this, hell, even go through this themselves.”

“It’s okay. Can I watch the diary?”

“After school.” He saw May Belle’s face drop a bit, but only for a split second.

“Jess, are you sure you’re gonna be okay?” May Belle said. His heart skipped a few beats before having the ability to answer.

“No, I have no clue. I can get by at most times, but other’s are unbearable. Everyone’s getting used to her being gone apart from me. Like I’m used to her house not having any cars. I’m used to her not being in Terabithia. I’m used to when we’re in music class and not hearing her beautiful voice. I’m used to not being able to see P.T. anymore. He’s probably waiting for her to come home, like me, but he doesn’t know that she won’t. But I’ll never get used to her being gone.”

“Jess we have to get to school, are you sure you can come?” Her face was covered in concern.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine, I just need to wash off my face and everything. I’m sorry for unloading all of this on you. It must be hard to see this.” His hand automatically flew to his face and he felt the tears that had made a home on his face.

“It’s nothing, really. Are we still gonna go to Terabithia today?”

“If you want to, then of course.”

“We’re going to find the Dark Master today!”

“Not too loud!” he said, worried that his mother might have heard.

“Go get ready! It’s almost time anyways!”

“You’ve got to keep your mind wide open, all the possibilities. You’ve got to live with your eyes open, believe in what you see.” Jess was in music class, but not really paying attention. This song felt familiar, but he wasn’t sure why. The singer sounded like Leslie, or at least whenever he heard it on the radio, but she wasn’t a professional singer anyways.

There was Leslie again, invading his thoughts. He couldn’t seem to get rid of her, could he?

“You’ve got to keep your mind wide open, all the possibilities.” Was that where she got her famous phrase? “You’ve got to live with your eyes open, believe in what you see.” Close your eyes, but keep your mind wide open. The song certainly sounded like it. “Tomorrow’s horizon, full of surprises, don’t let them chase your dreams away.” It did sound an awfully lot like something Leslie would say. The words certainly spoke to him like Leslie did too. Maybe it was Leslie’s way of speaking to him.

After class was over, Jess approached Ms Edmunds. “Ms. Edmunds, what was that song’s name that we sang?”

“Oh you liked it? It’s called ‘Keep Your Mind Wide Open’ by Annasophia Robb.”

“Thank you! Yeah, I liked it a bit. Just spoke to me somehow.”

“Songs are supposed to do that, yet not a lot can really do that effectively. I’m glad that you found your one.”

Not much had changed with Ms. Edmunds. She was affected by Leslie’s death too, and she probably felt as responsible as Jess did. After all, she was the one who took Jess to the museum in the first place, but there was no way that she could’ve known about her death, or how Jess should’ve been with Leslie.

“I’m glad too, and thanks again.”

Jess left the room.

“May Belle, are you sure this is a good idea?” They were in Terabithia, preparing to look for the Dark Master.

“Yes, I’m sure. Call a meeting for all of the Terabithians.”

“And if they lie and lead us into a trap?”

“Jess, we’re the fastest in Terabithia. They couldn’t trap us if they tried.” Jess smiled. Whether his little sister knew it or not, her first sentence was the same exact words that he had told Leslie.

He uncovered a megaphone and said, “Terabithians, please report to the treehouse for a meeting.”

In the next five minutes, all of the Terabithians were packed into the treehouse, a tight fit, but it worked for the time being. “Everyone,” Jess called to the Terabithians. “Me and the Princess have decided to scavenge the area for the Dark Master. If anyone has any leads on his location, please step up.”

Out of about a million Terabithians, only one approached the King and Princess. A tiny, audible voice could be heard. “He’s deep in Terabithia, where no map can go.”

Jess and May Belle looked at each other nervously. “In which direction?”

“Directly behind the treehouse.”

“And, um, which way is behind?”

He pointed to a wall behind them. “That way. He’s about a hundred miles that way.”

“May Belle, I don’t know about you but I’ll be surprised if Terabithia goes for a hundred miles, and I definitely don’t want to walk a hundred miles.”

She laughed and said, “I don’t think an Olympic Gold Medalist would want to do that either. I mean, a marathon’s only twenty-six miles.”

“Meeting adjourned!” Jess said. The Terabithians flew away, not one staying back. They knew that the King and Princess had private matters to talk about. “So chasing after the Dark Master’s out the door, so now what?”

“Should we wait for him to come to us? I mean there really isn’t anything else to do, especially with him being over a hundred miles away. Can he teleport of something?”

“He must be able to. It explains how he’s able to just vanish into thin air. He’s not invisible, just teleporting. And there really ain’t anything else to do apart from wait for him and twiddle our thumbs.”

“So it’s decided, we’ll wait for him. But what do we do now?”

“Fight off his servants until there aren’t any more.”

“Oh yeah, I meant to ask you why are there so many of them? It’s not like they have control of Terabithia, right?”

“May Belle, before we discovered Terabithia, the Dark Master ran it. The Terabithians were not treated very kindly.” He had to sugarcoat this part because of her age. “The Dark Master’s servants were high in population, and did terrible things. But we stopped it, and saved Terabithia and the Terabithians. Now the last thing to do is to find the Dark Master and to fight the servants so they become scared of us.”

“Have you ever talked to the Dark Master? Maybe he doesn’t want to harm anything.”

“The Dark Master’s intentions are clear, and they aren’t very good.”

“Jess, we probably should head home now. It’ll be dinner time any minute now.” She was right, as the sun was setting. They had spent the last hour brainstorming ideas on how to attack the Dark Master, yet not one seemed concrete enough.

“Yeah, you’re right. I’ll clean up here, you go ahead, and if you get attacked, just scream and I’ll come running.”

“Okay,” she said while smiling and hopped out of the treehouse.

Jess sighed. They had been eating apples and Oreo’s and left a pretty big mess. It wouldn’t take him that long to clean up, it just shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

“Jess!” cried out a female voice. It sounded like Leslie, although it certainly wasn’t. It had to be May Belle.

Jess ran towards the sound, scared as he hadn’t heard a follow up to the original scream. The scream had come from the bridge. Had she fallen in?

It only took him a minute to cover the distance between the treehouse to the bridge, but it felt like an eternity to him. “May Belle!” he yelled. There was no response.

“Where are you? May Belle? Hel-” he paused as he had found her. She was sprawled on the floor of the bridge. Instinctively, he checked for a pulse, which she did have. She was breathing too. He picked her up and began to run towards his house, fearing the worst.

“Jess, where are we?” May Belle asked.

“Are you okay? What happened?” he asked. He hadn’t gotten far, he was barely out of the woods.

“Jess, something happened in Terabithia.”

“I don’t care about that right now, May Belle! Are you okay!” he said, clearly not understanding his sister. He had stopped running but hadn’t put his sister on the ground.

“Jess, Terabithia has a problem. There was a shock, like an earthquake, and then something happened and then just black.”

“May Belle, we have to go home. We can check it out tomorrow.”

“Jess, it wasn’t anything normal. I felt a minor version of it yesterday at the bridge. It feels like someone is trying to get in who doesn’t belong.”

“Get in where? Terabithia?”

“I don’t know yet Jess,” she said with tears forming in her eyes. “I’m scared!” The tears fell from her eyes.

“Hey,” he said while embracing her. “It’s okay. We can figure it out tomorrow. We’ll figure it all out tomorrow. After all, it is a Saturday.”

She sniffled. “Okay. You pinky promise?”

“Pinky promise. Now can we go home?” She nodded.

“Oh my god, Jess, look.” For May Belle to say that, it must’ve been very severe. He immediately looked but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. It was after all, the Burke’s house.

“What? There’s nothing.”

“The house sold.”

“Already? How? That’s crazy!”

“Jess, watch out, there’s moving trucks everywhere.”

“There’s no way they’re already moving in, right?”

“I don’t think that it’s possible, but anything at that house is, so I have no clue. Ask Mom or Dad when we get back.”

“Ther- there’s just no way! I thought the entire process is supposed to take like five months!”

“I’m seven, I don’t know the first thing about buying houses. Like I said, just ask Mom. They haven’t moved ... ever, but I’m sure that she’ll know more about me. Hey, wait there’s a girl your age!” Standing around 50 feet in front of them was a blonde girl. “Should we introduce ourselves?”

“Too late,” Jess said, as the girl began to approach him.

“Hi! We’re moving in here. Are you guys the neighbors?”

“Yeah, we live over there,” May Belle said while pointing towards their house, which was barely out of view. ” I’m May Belle, and this is Jess.” Jess gave a little wave. “You have any sisters?”

“Nope, it’s just me and my parents.”

“Oh, well, do you have any barbies?” she asked hopefully.

“I think I have a few, but I have to get back to unpacking. It was really nice to meet you guys though. See you guys tomorrow?”

“Yeah, sure,” Jess said, agreeing. “See ya!”

“Hey, Courtney. I have to run to the grocery store to get some stuff. You want to come with?” said a male that was most likely her father.

“Yeah, sure,” she said. “See ya!” she said while waving.

“See ya!” exclaimed Jess. Once Courtney and her father were out of earshot, Jess whispered to May Belle, “Did that conversation seem familiar to you at all? It seemed that way to me at least.”

“A bit, but it’s probably nothing.”

“If you say so, now come on, we have to tell Mom about the new neighbors!”

Jess and May Belle ran towards their house, somehow managing to have a miniature race between the two siblings at the same time. It was almost as is they had some sort of mental connection which allowed the other to hear their thoughts, although that couldn’t be true. That was something you’d see in a wild and unbelievable science fiction movie.

“Mom!” Jess half quietly whispered, half banshee shrieked into his house. “The house sold! New neighbors moving in!”

“Yeah, right. Where’s your sister?” his mom asked, clearly not believing him.

“She’s right behind me! And look outside! Moving trucks are there and we met a girl who said she’s moving in.”

“Jess, there’s no way. Check your eyes again, because they’re playing tricks on you.”

“Mom! Look outside!”

His mom moved the blinds on a window to look out. “Wow, that’s crazy! I’ve never seen that happen before! It’s been less than a day! Did you guys see anything going to school? Like moving trucks or anything?”

“Nope, there was nothing. Maybe it’s like that book where they’re ghosts and don’t know it and new neighbors move in next door with no reason.”

“May Belle, we aren’t ghosts,” Jess said. “Oh, and mom there’s a girl my age next door too!”

Well, that’s nice,” she said, obviously nervous. Jess knew why; she was scared that Jess was going to get his heart broken again, even though Leslie didn’t technically qualify as him getting his heart broken in the first place. No one would replace Leslie, no matter what. She held a special grip on his heart, and it wasn’t going to be released anytime soon. “What’s her name?”

Jess and May Belle looked at each other. They had forgotten to ask her, yet her father had said it. “It’s Courtney, I think. She seems nice.”

“Well that’s good. Now sit down an-”

“Mom, we have new neighbors!” screamed Ellie from upstairs.

“You’re late to the news!” Jess screamed back.

“I was going to say to sit down and eat before I was interrupted, but it’s okay. Oh well, I guess.”

Jess laughed and sat down.

“Hey Les, can you come back? I miss you so much. We all do. I need you, but I guess it’s impossible.” He had made it a routine to talk to Leslie before going to bed, and he was entirely certain that she was listening to him. How else could you explain the feeling he had felt last night, and felt right then? “Something’s wrong in Terabithia,” he said, finally realizing the extent of that problem. “and I don’t know what. May Belle told me something happened, and I told her we’ll check it out tomorrow. It has to be something special. What am I missing?”

“What are we missing, Jess?”

Jess’s head shot around, yet he couldn’t seem to find the source. “Who’s there?”

“Chill out. I’m not your dead girlfriend, buddy. Although I’m sure you wish I was.” It was Brenda.

“Get out of my room.”

“What were you talking about before? What happened? Is everything okay?” she seemed genuinely worried, which was a first for Brenda.

“Everything is fine, just leave. Now!” Brenda scurried out of the room. “Sorry bout that, Les. She still ain’t any different. Ellie’s a bit nicer, though.” The feeling hadn’t fleeted for a second so far. It was like he was at two places at once, one with Leslie, while the other was with him. “People moved in next door. Your house. I guess I can’t refer to it like that anymore, though.”

“What are you doing, making a bucket list or something?”

Why did everyone have to interrupt him? “For educational reasons, let’s say I am, Ell. What would you do then?”

“I’d be shocked. I came in to say goodnight. So goodnight and sweet dreams little bro.”

“Night, big sis.” She had exited his room. “There’s a girl my age too. Name’s Courtney. I ain’t gonna lie, I thought she was you for a second, ’til reality came back. Then it sucked. She’s blonde, like you too.”

“I’m not blonde!”

“May Belle, can you go away for a second?”

“It’s a free country!”

“Please? I just need some alone time. It won’t be long, I promise.” She rolled her eyes, but left the room. “Your parents put it up for sale yesterday, too. Oh, I almost forgot, they invited me to do the illustrations for their book! I think it’s based on you! And, uh, they gave me your diary. Hope you don’t mind! So that’s it, I guess. Love you Les, night.”

He let May Belle enter the room after that, and went to bed almost completely content.

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