Jess's father fills in the rest of the information for him. Leslie had tried to swing into Terabithia and the rope broke. She hit her head on something when she fell, which explains why the fact that she could swim did not help her. Jess denies it all point-blank, accusing his father of lying to him. In particular, he wants to assure May Belle that it is a lie, for he sees her looking terrified and knows she is remembering that Leslie was not a Christian and is therefore, to her understanding, going to hell. He shouts at May Belle that it is a lie and then runs out of the house.

The truth begins to seep in as he runs, and he counters it by running faster and faster, as if that can keep Leslie from being dead. His dad takes the pickup after him, and picks him up and carries him in. This seems to make something snap within Jess, and he allows himself to go numb. When they reach home, he quietly goes inside and lies down on his bed.

He wakes up in the middle of the night, not too sure what has happened. He knows in some part of his mind that Leslie is dead, but he refuses to accept it, "Leslie could not die any more than he himself could die." Instead, he lies awake, planning his next escape to Terabithia with Leslie. He structures whole conversations, apologizing for not inviting her to come to Washington with him and Miss Edmunds, describing the buffalo hunt. It occurs to him to tell her that he was scared to go to Terabithia that morning. But that hits too close to home, and he decides to stop thinking about it. He will tell Leslie when he sees her the next day. He recreates his day with Miss Edmunds in his mind instead, dredging up every detail, keeping the terrible memories at bay. Eventually he falls asleep.

When he wakes up his first thought is that he has forgotten the milking, but when he gets to the kitchen he discovers that his father has done it. His mother is strangely gentle toward him, and she has made him pancakes. Jess absorbs himself in eating his pancakes, thinking only how good they are. Eventually Brenda starts to heckle him for eating so calmly, saying, "If Jimmy Dicks died, I would not be able to eat a bite." Their mother tells her to keep her mouth shut, but she persists. All the time Jess is simply tucking away pancakes, not understanding much of what is going on around him.

His father comes in and tries to talk to him, to tell him that he is going over to the Burkes to pay his respects, and that Jess ought to come too, since he knew the "little girl" best. Jess asks what little girl, dully confused, and his father tries to explain to him, again, that Leslie is dead. As if sleepwalking, Jess goes to put his jacket on, and they leave for the Burkes'.


Jess is in complete shock throughout this entire chapter, and the chapter is absolutely heart wrenching. Paterson forces us to put ourselves in Jess's place, to try to imagine the anguish that would cause such a complete retreat from reality. The exact attention to detail, the conversations Jess imagines with Leslie, the pancakes he eats the following morning, all serve to evoke the scenes she describes with a precision and clarity which are amazing.