Chapter 1: Alone and Hopeless
The young King of Terabithia gasped, his eyes snapping open at the sound of the familiar voice. Jess found himself standing in a forest. The forest. The same forest where the kingdom of Terabithia had been created. Except, Jess was standing by the river, by the bridge, on the side that separated him from reaching Terabithia. Down by the edge of the river, Jess spotted Leslie and old wounds immediately opened again, reawakening his slumbering grief.
Jess now knew that he had never accepted Leslie's death, because when he saw her standing by the river, her back turned towards him, he felt so happy to see her again. But it was surely a dream, even if Jess wanted to believe it wasn't…
Leslie… you're alive?
A few more moments passed where Jess continued to stare at Leslie, half of him trying to convince him that she was dead and the other half desperately trying to tell him she was alive. When Leslie turned around to face him, Jess obviously wanted to believe that she was alive.
Leslie slowly started to walk up to him, her knees bending as she climbed the short hill to where Jess stood. Jess was frozen. Leslie smiled softly at him and hugged him. Jess eventually hugged back, his heart soaring with happiness. But he knew she wasn't alive. This Leslie wasn't real. But the light that shone from her body which lit up the forest made Jess want to believe she was.
IDIOT! LESLIE'S DEAD! THIS LESLIE IS JUST...JUST A MEMORY…
Still, convincing himself that Leslie was dead when she had her arms wrapped around his neck, her cheek pressed to his wasn't going to be easy. After holding her in his embrace for almost five minutes, Leslie pulled away from Jess, standing at arm's reach. She looked worried and frightened. Her blue-ish green eyes darting in different directions of the forest. Jess could hear shuffling in the darkness but nothing came out of the shadows. Not yet.
Leslie grabbed him by the arms, fear easily seen in her eyes. Jess stared at her.
"Jess!" Leslie whispered. "There's trouble in Terabithia!"
"Leslie?" Jess was able to whisper. "What are you talking about?"
"Jess, Terabithia's in danger!" Leslie whispered. "You have to save it!"
Jess looked at her, confused. He tried to pull his arms away from her but somehow, Leslie managed to hold onto him. Her eyes scanned the forest again before locking onto his again. The light slowly began to fade. Leslie was getting worried, Jess could tell. Her thin red jacket, which was torn and muddy, wasn't helping her stay warm, since the light slowly began to fade. It was weakening, which meant Leslie wasn't going to last long.
"Jess! I'm serious! Terabithia's in danger! You have to save the kingdom!" Leslie whispered, repeating what she had said earlier, although it didn't clarify what she was trying to tell Jess at all.
"What do you mean Terabithia's in danger?" Jess whispered, completely confused, although his mind was racing at a hundred miles an hour.
"I can't explain right now but I promise it'll be clear to you soon." Leslie whispered.
Leslie suddenly running off in the opposite direction of the river's current, into the darkest parts of the forest, leaving Jess standing alone in the darkness.
"Save Terabithia, Jess…" Leslie's voice echoed in the forest, although her presence was nowhere to be seen.
Jess tried to run but he found that he couldn't move his feet and the darkness around him began to get blacker and blacker until he couldn't see anything. The darkness had consumed him.
Jess awoke, instantly gasping for breath, his body covered in cold sweat. Jess slowly looked up, his eyes scanning the dark room. He was in his room. He could see the crib that Joyce Ann was sleeping in and he could see his sister May Belle also asleep in the bed across from his. He was safe. But he was still confused and frightened and he surely wasn't going to go back to sleep either.
Jess sighed, resting his head against the headboard. He closed his eyes, Leslie's words echoing in his head.
"Jess, Terabithia's in danger!" … "You have to save it!"
Jess sighed, feeling hopelessly alone, even more now than when he did when Leslie had died in the first place.
How can I… when I didn't invite you to come to the museum with me…? How can I save you when I acted totally selfish just to have a day with Miss Edmunds…?
Jess sighed. He didn't like Miss Edmunds anymore, especially since she was getting married next summer and wasn't going to be called Miss Edmunds for so long either. Plus, all Jess could think about lately was Leslie and Terabithia. Miss Edmunds wasn't part of the picture anymore.
"You have to save Terabithia, Jess…" Leslie's voice rang in his head.
How can I when I'm just going to screw up again?
Leslie would obviously tell him to believe and to keep his mind wide open, like she always did when he felt down in the dumps but now, he was alone. Alone and hopeless...