Nov 23

Special Like Leslie Burke

When I was six years old and getting to old to sit on my mothers lap, we read Bridge To Teribithia together
It’s a book about a terribly boring boy named Jesse and a very special girl named Leslie Burke who does funny things like race the wind and read long books
My mother held me close as we read chapter two, and we met this Leslie Burke who was not like other girls and she whispered in my ear 
“You are my Leslie. You are my special girl”
Eight chapters later Leslie is found dead, bloated in a river creek, head smashed in. She never made it to terabithia. My mother couldn’t take what she said back. 
Special girls always die. In books, they sweep into small town lives like tumbleweeds. They awaken the boring boy and they fix the mediocre boy and they love the 5/10 boy, and then they die. They’re hit by a semi-truck full of bouncy balls, they get cancer, they’re slammed by a drunk driver or their stepfather shoots them or they run away and freeze to death or they choke during lunchtime or they get poisoned by a surprise asbestos leak or they fall into a river and hit their heads. 
And the boy is finally interesting, he is finally whole, only after she dies. 
Special girls are not the main characters. If the book is a galaxy, we are the shooting stars. We gleam and we glimmer and then we crash and burn. We don’t melt away. 
 It is loud and it is brutal so the moon has something to look melancholy over. We are meant only for moons. 
When I was six years old I was a special girl, and like sleeping beauty or snow white or little red riding hood, I was destined to die.
Only there isn’t a prince for special girls. What we have to look forward to is a marveolus funeral service. A librarian crying for us. A bench dedicated in our names, a tiny constellation named after us by a boy who is now interesting. 
A brand new rope swing.
I grew up knowing that I am not supposed to make it to terabithia. I don’t exist when I’m not around mediocre boy. When he has faced his demons, when he yells at his grandfather or beats up those bullies or isn’t afraid of the dark anymore, there is nothing more for me to do.
I am not supposed to make it to teribithia. Scribbled into the margins of his story, it says I am supposed to drown. It doesn’t matter if I’m twelve or if I’m twenty. 
I’m supposed to whirl into his life with a purple streak dyed in my hair and quote obscure shakespeare and eat tofu and have no mom and wear skirts just a bit too short and then weigh down the rope and I am supposed to drown.
I am special like Leslie Burke.