Jess Aarons stared at the jewel in his palm. He wasn't sure what he should do with it, if he should chuck it into the river, or…
It was a message from Leslie that he had discovered a week after she had died. Jess hadn't even known that such a thing could exist in Terabithia, or anywhere else for that matter, but as Leslie had tried to tell him: Keep your mind wide open.
Unsure as to whether or not he really wanted to hear what the message might say, and uncertain if he could face her image after having let her die, Jess absently placed the jeweled message-keeping-device on the ground and stood up to leave. As he did so, he felt a single tear roll off his cheek and watched as it hit the message-keeper-jewel square in the center.
The jewel began to glow.
Suddenly, before Jess could fully comprehend the meaning of the shining object's illumination, a bright, shimmering image of Leslie appeared right in front of him.
Jess gasped. He couldn't believe it; it was her.
She was wearing her normal clothes: the blue Pegasus shirt and jeans. She was smiling.
"Hi, Jess," she said, in her beautiful voice. Jess had almost forgotten how beautiful her voice truly was. "Hi, Leslie," he said in response, forgetting for the moment that it was just a recorded image and that it couldn't actually hear him.
"The reason I made this message," the ghostly image began, "is because I wanted to tell you some things that I wouldn't get a chance to say, otherwise."
Jess felt a stab of guilt, then. He knew that he was the reason that she couldn't say those things to him in person. He began walking in a half-circle around the ghostly image of his friend, so as not to have to look her in the eye when she said whatever it was that was so important to her that she had thought to invoke the magic of Terabithia to record it.
Leslie's apparition-image continued to speak in the direction she was facing.
"You see, my family moves a lot, and that really bothers me, because I don't get to take any friends I make with me when I go-not that I had any friends before you, Jess. Anyway, I just wanted to make this recording so that you would be okay when I left. I guess if you're watching this, than my family moved away again, and you're probably moping, as usual." Leslie huffed before going on. "Figures. Listen, don't worry about me, Jess. I'll find a way to survive without you."
Those words cut through Jess' soul like a knife as he stopped directly at Leslie's side, staring at her profile as she went on with her message.
"And I hope you find a way to carry on without me, after I'm gone. You probably want to do something special for me, like buying a gift or making a card or something, but listen: you don't have to do anything for me because you already did something amazing; you chose me to be your best friend, and I could never ask for anything more."
Jess thought about the meaning of that last sentence, realizing that if he had truly been her best friend, than he wouldn't have let her drown. The image continued to speak straight ahead.
"But if you feel that you really have to, than there is something that you can do for me."
Jess staggered back as the ghostly image of his dead friend suddenly turned to look him in the eye. He realized now, that, somehow, someway, she was speaking directly to him.
"Have a good life, Jess," she said. "That's it. That's what you can do for me." She smiled. "Have a wonderful life."
And with a final smile and a wave, the image vanished, leaving Jesse Aarons alone in the woods to ponder the final words of his best friend, Leslie Burke.