I first saw Bridge to Terebithia as a fifteen year old and cried my eyes out. I rewatched today, five years later, and had the same reaction. This is mostly just for me to vent out my own feelings, but if you liked it, please review.
A shock of blonde hair. A pair of wide blue eyes. A kind smile. She was everywhere he looked. He half expected to run into her anywhere - - the supermarket, on the sidewalk, in class, at the art studio. Anywhere. Just the other day he was at the grocery store picking up a carton of milk and some bread when he saw her. At least, he thought he saw her. A girl with a beanie and mismatched clothing glided past him, not a day older than twelve. He had to shake his head and remember that she was gone. Dead. A decade passed, but he still saw her everywhere he looked.
He had ignored everyone in school, except Janice. She was the only person he could tolerate, and even still, she wasn't Leslie. He devoted himself to his paintings and nothing else. He barely spoke (only to Maybelle or his parents when required), and left the backwards town as soon as he had the chance. He took the first opportunity out, thankful that Ms. Edwards (now Ms. Edwards-Johnson) had written him a letter of recommendation. He felt a bit guilty for leaving his family, but he couldn't stay there. It was too much. Her ghost was everywhere in that town, in the woods. He'd see her near the bus stop, in the unoccupied house that the Burkes had left behind, at the local school. In his dreams.
He moved to the city for college. Art scholarship. Joy of joys. He spent his days and nights holed up in his little studio apartment, painting furiously. They were dark and eerie, a bit surrealist. Nothing made sense. Nothing had made sense for the past ten years. Eventually he'd grow frustrated and throw paint all over the canvas, effectively destroying it.
He was good at destroying things. He and Maybelle kept visiting Terabithia until he started high school. He went to preserve her memory. Because it's what she would have wanted. He had been going through his box (her box, really) and found a note.
Don't forget to bring the oreos.
He didn't ever remember that note. The wind chimes tinkled and he looked around expectantly.
"Leslie?" he had said, voice hopeful even years later.
There was no answer. Of course. Jaw set firmly, he tore the tree house down the same way he and Leslie had built it. What was the point of it all if Leslie wasn't there?
Maybelle had been upset, but she understood, as much as a child could understand. His eldest sisters looked at him with pity. He didn't want their pity. He wanted his best friend back.
After that, the sky didn't seem as blue. The grass wasn't as green. Leslie Burke had been this quirky, energetic ball of shining light that made everything better. Jesse was convinced that she wasn't quite human; maybe she was a fairy or an angel. But she had been gone for so long, it made sense that things would just get worse.
Every time he closed his eyes, he'd see her. Holding Petey in her arms, that dark rain coat, the rain soaking her to the bone. But she still smiled happily and waved goodbye. It was her goodbye to him. Had he known that would be the last time he saw her...his mind raced with all the things he could've done differently. He could've given her a hug. He could've (should've) invited her to the museum. He should've gone with her, then maybe he'd have been the one to drown instead. He never even got a chance to properly say goodbye. What he'd do just to see her one last time.
He liked to imagine what she would have been like today. At twenty two years old. She'd be a writer, and live in a small little apartment much like his own. She'd have stacks upon stacks of books strewn out on every surface, mugs of hot tea and coffee keeping her company as she wrote. She still wouldn't have a television set. Petey would be with her, listening as she read her latest short story or novel to him for feedback. Sometimes he'd be there, perched on her couch, watching her intently as she read her stories the same way she read that essay from class. He liked to think she'd grow her hair out for a while, but then return it to a choppy bob, because it suited her. Maybe she'd even paint her hair every color imaginable to match her bracelets. The two of them would climb up to the roof of the building late at night, just to watch the stars fade and the sunlight take its place at dawn. It would be there ritual. She'd write and he'd paint and they'd be together.
But what was the use of imagining a perfect life?
Girlfriends came and went. He didn't talk much, and kept to himself. Those girls thought they were getting a silent, brooding bad-boy type who would perk up under their influence. Instead they got a little boy who was still mourning the loss of the only real friend he ever had. The only girl he'd...
No. He wouldn't finish that thought. He needed to move on. Go forward.
So he stared at the painting he had just finished, breathing heavily. He'd started this painting more times than he could count. Each time he'd throw the canvas across the room and slide onto the paint splattered floor and stare off into space. Except for now. A girl with bright, shining blue eyes stood on a dirt path and stared back at him, kind smile playing on her lips, and blonde hair stuck to her forehead, a small dog in her arms as she waved goodbye.
Tears filled his eyes, as they always did. No. He couldn't say goodbye. He refused. All he had to do was whisper 'Goodbye, Leslie' and hope that one day he'd see her on the other side. But he couldn't bring himself to. So he grabbed his palette and dabbed his brush into the black paint. He held it hesitantly to the canvas and bit his lip. He moved the brush over the sky he had painted, darkening it, then moved to blur out the trees. All that was left was the slim girl and her dog, smiling. He couldn't bear to blur her out as he did the sky and trees.
Because Leslie Burke would forever remain the twelve year old girl he'd never forget.
"Dammit, Leslie. I loved you," he said bitterly, though he didn't know what love was when he was twelve, "I love you."
And she just stared back with that sweet smile, standing out boldly in front of the blackness. She seemed to glow ethereally, glowing with a light Jesse hadn't painted. He stared once more at the painting dropped the palette and sunk onto the floor. Why did he think this time would be any different? He laughed bitterly and let himself cry.
Because he was still the little boy who wanted his best friend back, and she was the ghost (or angel, or fairy) who would never leave him.
Like I said, this was mostly as an outlet for my feelings. If you liked it, please review.