Possible Ending #1: Jack Aarons Was Right
From Chapter 1... (everything where Jesse goes through the scenarios is the same)
"So you see," the angel says soothingly, "none of this was your fault, Jesse."
Brought back to the present, in the void with the angel, Jesse breaks down, laughing in bitter irony. He knows exactly what would have happened in Miss Edmunds' speculation, because in his actual life that did happen. But now his fifty-six years of regret are gone – a weight off his shoulders, even one that he had become accustomed to carrying. Jesse is at last convinced that Leslie's death was not his fault – it was God's will.
Suddenly, Jesse realizes the full implications of this thought, and rage boils up within him – all this time he was blaming the wrong person! Now he is angry, not with himself, but with the angel and the Heavenly Father she serves. How could God have killed this innocent girl who was the only light in his life? Before he even realizes it, he is screaming at his angel:
"Why? Why did you kill her?"
"She was an angel, Jesse," his escort replies, "by random chance, some souls are so fortunate as to be placed in circumstances and given personalities which greatly reduce their susceptibility to the Original Sin. Your friend was one of these souls. Even though she was not raised with faith, her heart was so pure, her spirit so light that after watching her first twelve years, we felt it most prudent to bring her here, and make her one of us, rather than risk the possible future contamination of her soul which might have occurred by her continued existence on the sinful Earth. You may remember, for example, her reaction – or lack thereof – to multiple provocations from your mutual friend Janice Avery. She was a perfect paragon – she never once attempted to retaliate by any means – until you, her only friend, became involved due to your sister's loss of a package of Twinkies. This is merely one example; had she lived an entire lifetime with you it is likely she would have naturally accumulated a greater burden of sins. We in Heaven never wish to see the tragedy of one such as her falling from angelic to ordinary – or worse – and unfortunately, we have only one way to guard against it. Furthermore, even though your friend was at low risk of damnation regardless, we had to consider those around her, who were at higher risk. She was one of those rare souls who needed no church to be saved. Yet, had she remained among mortals, she might have inadvertently, by her good example, misled others more in need of guidance into believing that they, too, no longer needed their faith. Those souls would have been far more vulnerable to the Devil's corruption."
Had Jesse heard these same words from any mortal priest, he would have felt only indignation and outrage. But hearing it from the angel has a strangely different effect; Jesse feels God's infinite compassion radiating from the angel before him, by a mechanism unheard of among humans, softening the blow of the message. The comforting feeling washes over him, draining his accumulated frustration and grief away, and Jesse at last understands why his mortal suffering was necessary.
"We are truly sorry that this was necessary, for we all knew the effect it would have on you. That rope should have broken on your final swing back across the creek, Jesse. When our Father ordered us to keep the rope from breaking at its appointed time, just so that it would be your friend instead of you on the rope the next day, we all cried. There was a bond between you, we could all see that either of you would have given your life for the other. We knew you would probably never complete the sacrament of marriage because of this. But it had to be so."
Jesse can only nod, and the angel smiles in understanding. Before he can ask his next question, the angel answers it.
"Leslie will be with us shortly," the angel says, and Jesse's heart soars. "Because she belonged to no specific religion, we had to provide an individualized final judgment for her. As there was very little to punish her for, our Father prescribed no additional pain or suffering but instead brought her into our service as an angel. Her assignment was to convert, or otherwise lead to salvation, all the members of your family as well as her parents, and she has done an exemplary job of it. At the moment she is out helping your youngest nephew pick a church to join, which should take a few more months, but time has no meaning in Heaven, which really means she'll be home any minute now. Let me drop you off at her treehouse, so you can surprise her when she gets back…"
A few minutes later, the angel drops Jesse off in front of a treehouse which looks exactly like the old Terabithian treehouse. For some reason, Jesse finds it hilarious that an actual angel of Heaven lives in a treehouse, even if it's Leslie (and of course, she would do something like that, too!).
"Thank you, angel," says Jesse. "Do you have a name?"
Jesse's angel escort pushes back the hood of her cloak, revealing the face of… Jesse's old English teacher, Mrs. Myers.
Jesse stares in shock.
"Congratulations, Jesse," says Mrs. Myers, "I knew you would make it through." She does not specify what she means, but it does not matter. Jesse's long trials have, at last, come to an end.
Shortly after Mrs. Myers takes her leave, Leslie drops down onto the balcony of the treehouse, landing on two feet. Whistling to herself, she folds up her wings behind her and enters her home as usual – then stops short. For one beautiful instant, Leslie stands frozen in her doorway, a positively rapturous expression on her face.
The long wait is over – for both of them.
On Earth, astronomers across the world record the appearance of a spectacular supernova, nearly the size of the Moon, so bright that it blinds their telescopes to all other stars in the night sky. There is no night on Earth for the following several days.
Heartwarming? Yes. But is God really so merciful? Not if you ask many of the Americans who have objected to Bridge to Terabithia's availability in school libraries. If you don't like this ending, maybe the alternative (next chapter) speaks more truth to you...