Disclaimer: Bridge to Terabithia is the property of Katherine Paterson and her official affiliates. No copyright infringement is intended.
And the Fools Rush In…
A Letter to Myself Intended to Serve As a Means of Introduction, With Its Chief Goal Being to Present a Time Frame and a Brief Recollection of Present (Which Will Now Be Past) Emotions
There are things about loving people that no one bothers to tell you. The fairytales never talk about love that goes wrong, of course, that's a given. Fairytales are the place for the love that goes right; the love that will always pull through. Granted, not every love story ends happily. It can't, otherwise you wouldn't know what was good when it came along. You learn to expect a few of those, those heart hurting stories, too.
The stories no one ever bothers to tell are the in-betweens. Those stories are the hardest: the hardest to tell, and the hardest to experience. Those are the stories comprised entirely of blurred lines and gray areas, an endless stream of maybes with no end in sight. There are touches hungered for that are never fully felt; I don't cares that are nothing but lies.
There are calls in the middle of the night for things that aren't really the matter, things said while remaining unspoken. There are games to be played, hearts to be silently broken. Kisses to be imagined, and things – other things, things that burn unlike anything you've ever felt before – to be done and then erased as if they never happened. But those things can never be forgotten.
There are things to be admitted, things to be hidden, things to desire and things to despise. Anyone who told you that you couldn't love and hate someone at the same time lied. It is entirely possible, just as it is possible to love a memory with as much ferocity as you love the thing – the person – presently before you. It is possible to see shades of the man inside the boy, only to watch them fade into the background when he begins to become that man. It is possible to see more of the child in the man than you ever did in the boy himself; to not notice wounds until long after they have become scars.
It is possible to want, to feel, in ways that absolutely shake you. It is possible to dream of a touch that has never belonged to you, and yet feel it fully, only to wake up in the morning and remember that it isn't you he wants to touch. To remember you are nothing but the best friend, the oldest friend, the confidante, and nothing more. To remember that you will be nothing more than the childhood playmate, when he has become more – so much more – to you.
You will be forced to realize that no matter how much a simple, accidental brush of the fingers can set you on fire, that a familiar suit and crooked smile can one day send your heart plummeting into your stomach, it does not mean he'll feel you in the same way.
You will be forced to realize that no matter how much you feel it, sense it, even see it, what you believe to be reciprocated feelings can vanish entirely in a matter of seven weeks, if not more. In the time that it takes your heart to admit you want him, his can let you go, and find someone else – someone easier – to fill that space. In that time he will disappoint you, amaze you, save you and break you. In that time you will close doors you hadn't even realized were open – doors you now wish you had the chance to walk through. You will learn the difference between loving a memory and loving reality, and that perhaps they are not as different as you originally thought.
But most of all, you'll learn what you think love is. You'll learn that you are not as immune to physical desire as you originally liked to believe. You'll learn to swallow your pride and your fear and take a leap that seems to have nothing good waiting for you on the other side. So it seems right now, anyway. Who knows what's happened by the time you dig this up; by the time you want to remember what it was like the spring you turned eighteen and let yourself fall in love with your best friend. I can't wait to find out.
I'm writing this because it's come to my attention that we often forget the gravity of things once they pass. They seem inconsequential in comparison to what transpires as a result of said events. We forget the child because we're focused on the adult; we forget what we had to endure to get to this place. This is one such instance I have no intent of allowing myself to forget. I have worked too hard and learned too much to allow this time in my life to become inconsequential. This time will never be inconsequential. I know, even now, that it is largely responsible for the woman I am going to become.
I have no idea if the colorful characters that currently inhabit my life will even be worth remembering when I revisit this chronicle in my later years. To be perfectly honest with you – or shall I say me – I have no idea if I will even see them with any regularity six months from now. I have no idea if the lessons Jesse Oliver Aarons and I have taught each other over the last six years have reached their high point, if we have learned all we can from each other and must now go on our respective paths. Or maybe – as I currently hope and believe as I write this – we've only really just begun teaching each other all we're meant to learn. Maybe he will be standing over my shoulder when I find this again. Or maybe someone else – someone I never could've found without what he had to show me – will be behind me, and I won't even really miss him at all. I don't know, I can't know, and so for this very reason I write, so I'll never forget or take for granted how curious I was for an answer at this time.
I do, however, know one thing for certain. I will never, under any circumstances, ever regret meeting that shy, dark-eyed boy. I will never regret letting him into my life, my world, my heart. I will never regret entrusting him – one of the bravest, strongest and smartest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing – with all the confusions and bruises I have endured on this journey. I will never regret allowing myself to surrender to the whirlwind of desire with him in mind. I will never regret the pride I feel remembering the children we once were in comparison to the adults who are now being forced to face the world.
I will never regret loving him, in all the childish, grown-up, half-felt, fully felt, passionate, hormonal, and platonic and misunderstood ways I always have. That is the one thing I will never allow myself to deny. I have always, in some way, shape or form, loved him. Part of me thinks I always will. Because, I'm just now realizing, loving him has never been hard. It's the how that has confused me so much over the years.
Blessedly, fortunately, I don't need to be confused anymore. I know now, what I needed to know. At least for the moment. But that's the fun part, isn't it? The gift of a life so rich that you can never imagine what's to come, no matter how hard you try. A life so full you come to be thankful for every scar because of where it leads you.
I have been trying to write for months. I have started story after story, chapter after chapter, and have yet to finish any of them. I understand now that I couldn't finish any stories because I had to finish out this one of my own. At least I think I've finished. The best stories, after all, have no real ending, not truly.
My goal in recording the story that follows is a simple one. I want to remember the girl who was afraid, uncertain and terrified of failure, who leapt from the ledge with her eyes squeezed tight only to realize that simply by choosing to jump, she had freed herself from ever truly falling. I want to remember whom that girl was, before and after she jumped, so that no matter where she ends up after this, I can always, always be proud of her.
I hope, wherever she ends up, she is as proud of herself then as she is right now. And that she has found people to love her as deeply as she loves them.
(And perhaps improved as a writer too.)
Enjoy the story.
Yours Most Affectionately,
Leslie Sophia Burke, age eighteen
Author's Note: I realize another work in progress is bordering on inexcusable. I hope you'll enjoy anyway. My hope is that this new format/style will be slightly more flexible, thereby allowing more to be written around my busy college schedule. Wish me luck. Also, for anyone unaware, the title comes from the song Can't Help Falling in Love. My favorite version at the moment is performed by Ingrid Michelson.