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If You Love Me

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My truck rattled down the road, the wet and cold foreshadowing my mood. I was wet and cold. I had been for seven years. Those seven years, from ages ten/eleven to seventeen were the worst. You know why? Those were the years without her.

I looked at the dashboard in the fading light. A picture of her was there. I had taken it from her parents at her funeral. How could she be so happy there, and yet, be dead now? How could she be my friend, my best friend, the love of my life, and yet, I let her die.

I killed Leslie Burke.

No, not like that. She drowned, you see. But I could have changed it. I could've been there, she could've been with me…

I'm lost in my thoughts. I'm so lost I don't see the other truck. I see the bright lights as the lights in her beautiful blue eyes. I hear the honking as her loud, bright laugh. I hear the rain, pounding down, making the road slick, as the last time I saw my beloved alive, the time I fell in love with her.

I see her in my certain death.

The truck smashes into me, but I realize nothing until I hear the sound.

My windshield breaking, it shatters and snaps. It is a snap as the plastic breaks.

It sounds like a breaking rope.

I realize now what is happening, I scream. I close my eyes, I see her face. It's not like in my picture. It's sad, angry, hurt. I open my eyes, I see my death.

I take her picture from my dashboard, and put it near my heart. I want her with me.

I hear her voice inside my head.

"It's not your time Jess…"

"Yes! Yes it is! It's time for me to be with you, Leslie."

"No Jess. I don't want you here…"

"Leslie!"

"I mean it Jess. You have so much time left, so much you can do…You'll have a daughter. Don't you want a daughter?"

"Only if you're her mother." I argue back with the "Ghost" of Leslie.

"You'll find one you love Jess, you'll want that one to be your daughter's mother."

"Impossible. The only one I love died, Leslie."

"Please don't do this to me." She begs.

"I didn't do anything Leslie! You left me! You crushed me! I have to be with you Leslie, don't you see?"

I hear her sob. My heart is breaking.

"Jess, I died because I had done what I was supposed to."

"And what was that?"

"Teach you to keep your mind wide open. Give you a friend. Give you the push you needed."

"Leslie, no. Nothing means anything to me without you."

"Your daughter will be like me Jess." She's crying still. Why doesn't she understand my pain? She used to understand…

"Why have someone like you when I can have the real thing?" I whisper. I need her. I want her. I have to get to her. I want her to be mine forever.

"Jess, please! Don't leave here yet! I'll wait, I'll be here…"

"I want you now. Leslie, I…"

"Don't say it. Please don't say it!"

"Why can't be honest with my best friend?"

"Because I'll have to be honest with you. I'll have to tell you I feel the same."

She's drifting away. I want her to stay.

"Don't go!"

"I have to. Jess, let them save you. For me. Live for me."

But nothing she says will change my mind. She knows.

"Does it hurt?" I'm talking about death.

"Nothing, not even death, hurt more than this, Jesse." She whispers sadly.

"Now you know how I've felt for the past seven years." I whisper back.

She's gone. The crash is full on. Was she even there? It doesn't matter. I'll see her soon. I won't let them save me.

Darkness.

I see a light. I hear a siren. I hear a voice. Leslie?

"We've got to save him Doc." The voice says.

It's a man. Could he be the devil? He wants to let me live, he wants to keep me from Leslie…

"It's up to him." Another man says. I feel relief. It's up to me, or so he says. I can go to her.

"If he goes under, we'll shock him back."

No!

I have one final request. "If I go," I whisper. The doctor looks at me. "Tell them, tell her…tell May to either bury me in Terabithia, or beside my angel…"

The doctor looks confused, but he nods. "You're not going anywhere if you don't want to, sonny."

I crack a smile. "Don't you see?" He shakes his head. "If I go, I get to see her. She's waiting for me. I'll see my girl again."

His eyes fill with tears. I don't feel bad. I know I'm not the only one who's felt heart wrenching pain.

"I lost my girl too." He says.

"I'll tell her hello." I croak.

"I almost went to her. But she asked me to stay. She said I would make a difference in the world. She said her time was up, that's why she died. She had done what she was supposed to. She taught me to have an open mind. An open mind that made me a doctor."

I feel too much pain. I moan, I close my eyes. She's in my head. Why won't she go? Isn't she satisfied with the pain she has already supplied?

Leslie…I love you.

I hear her voice again.

I love you too. That's why I want you alive.

I smile. I'll finally get her back to all those times she beat me at running.

"Leslie…" I whisper. The doctor looks at me. I look at him.

"I see her." I tell him. His eyes fill. The ET goes to shock me. The doctor stops him.

"Let him chose." He whispers.

"Do you see her?" He asks.

"Yes. She's beautiful."

"Go ahead and do what you want, my boy." He's crying, though I don't see why. I'm happier than I've been in seven years.

"Tell them one more thing." He knows I mean my family.

"Tell them I'm happier than I have been in seven years. Tell them to call the Burkes. Tell them to tell everyone that me and Leslie won't be lonely anymore."

My voice is weak. "Leslie…" She's there.

"Yes?"

"You lose."

Beep…………………

"He's gone doc." The ET says.

"Give him five minutes with her. Give him the five minutes I never had."

I see grey. I see her. She's there.

"You didn't listen to me." She tells me.

"I had to do one thing."

"And what would that be?"

I grab her. She smiles. I realize for the first time that she's seventeen, just like me.

"Go ahead." She whispers.

I kiss her. She grabs me by the shirt. I did what I never got to do.

We finally break away.

"Leslie,"

"yes?"

"I love you."

"I love you too."

Kisses.

"Jess."

"Yes, my darling?"

Her heart is breaking. How she's longed to hear those words, how she's longed to feel him against her. But he can't be here. Not yet.

"Go back."

His face clouds. He pushes her into a corner and crashes his mouth onto hers, in a way so loving in makes her ache.

"Jess…"

He makes her want him again.

"If you love me you'll go back."

I stop. I see the pain in her gorgeous eyes. Why am I doing this to her? Why am I hurting the one I love most just to make myself happy? I would never dream of hurting Leslie. And yet I am.

I back away.

"I'll go back, but I'm never having a daughter with anyone but you."

She smiles tearfully.

"Okay."

"I love you, Queen Leslie."

"I love you, King Jess."

Darkness.

Light.

"Clear!"

I'm back.

The doctor smiles at me. "So you decided to come back."

"Leslie's waiting for me." Is all I can say.

I feel her blow me a kiss from Heaven.