Steps, Breaths, and Seconds (Ed Sheeran one shot)

A/N: dear whoever is reading this, please never consider suicide. It is horrible. I wrote this very late one night. I was writing this while talking to my best friend and basically wrote this for her. Well, for us. So Maddie, if you read this, remember that we are staying alive for each other. Anyways, enjoy! <3


I know I said I would never do it. I’ve been this way since we were 15. You tried to help, and for a time, you were the only thing keeping me from this.

But you see, once you started dating Natalie… I knew she would make you ignore me. I guess I just sat back and let it happen. That’s the one thing I would change. I would’ve fought harder for you, Ed.

When you were dating her, my life just fell apart. And worst of it all, I had no one to talk to about it. That was the year mom and dad split. The year my cat got out and never came back. The year everything just……

stopped.

I stopped trying. I had nothing to keep me from my own monsters. I didn’t have you. Don’t you see that it’s all your fault?

I guess that’s a little harsh. It’s her fault for taking you from me. I just wonder, if you hadn’t been such a “rock star” if you would still be my safety net. My best friend. The only person who truly cares.

That’s probably what hurt the most. Loosing every ounce of care that I had. I woke up one morning and it was all gone. Almost as if someone came in the middle of the night and stole it all. I’m still not sure exactly what happened. But I have a pretty good idea.

We were sitting on your couch. It was just another normal Friday night. We were waiting for your parents to come home and kick us out. You said you were gonna make the popcorn, as always. I said I would start the next season of Fresh Prince, as always. But something wasn’t “as always”.

After all of the previews, you still weren’t back from the kitchen. I wasn’t too worried. I mean, we were in your house. What could go wrong?

2 episodes down. My stomach started growling. I get off the couch and pause the episode, mid-intro. It was then that I heard the giggles. I heard you shushing her. You had her up on the kitchen counter.

The popcorn was still in the microwave, unpopped. I don’t know what I was madder about. The fact that you just left me alone for her or that you were starting to drift away from me when I needed you the most.

Looking back now, I’m pretty sure that it was the first option. I wasn’t even aware of the second at the time. I didn’t know that loosing you meant that my life had to go to shit. But I quickly found out Ed. Because, without you, nothing made sense. And nothing mattered.

As I walk to the only bridge in town, I start to wonder if I should call you before I jump. I know you won’t answer. But I still consider it. It’s an insane idea. Natalie changed your mind. She made you believe that if you just cropped me out, your life would actually start.

Oh Ed… I don’t know how you could’ve ever let anyone have that much power over you. Honestly, I’m disappointed in you for that very reason. You let someone change you. Or worse, you changed for someone.

If. I remember right, you always said “If someone tells you to change, tell them to go fuck themselves!” I’m pretty sure that you did just the opposite.

My dear, dear Ed… I’m weak for admitting this. But I’m actually afraid. I thought I could do it. I thought I could take my own life. Maybe I am weak. But that’s why people do it. Right? Because they’re scared, weak, running from something.

But has anyone ever thought… What if they weren’t running FROM something. Perhaps they were running TO something. Maybe, just maybe, the people who actually did this, maybe they wanted clarity. Because really that’s all you get out of it.

A few seconds of knowing everything. A millisecond of saying goodbye. Then… And then, you just slip away. The strings that hold you down to the earth finally snap under all of the pressure. And you die. Not to make it sound sudden or creepy. But that’s all it is.

I’m almost to the bridge now. My mind still flickering to all of the images I have of you. All of the laughs I ever heard of yours. Every single thing that I adore about you. Details that I’m going to miss dearly.

I’m getting closer and closer. For some reason, I find my phone resting upon my face, ringing. I guess I really wanted to call you before I leave. It’s the third ring I’ve counted and I’m hopeful that you won’t pick up. I’d be fine with hearing that familiar voice machine.

The answering machine starts to play the recording that I know by heart. By the time the beep came around, I was possessed by some strange creature who talked for me. “Ed, it’s me. Look. I know you don’t want to talk to me ever again. I just wanted to say….” And then you picked up.

“When did I ever say that I never wanted to talk to you? If I recall, you stopped talking to me.” You sounded so bitter. All I could do was finish what this creature was telling me to say. “…. Goodbye. I’m sorry. And I love you.”

I hung up as fast as I could. I didn’t want you to try to change my mind. I slipped the phone back into my pocket and start to wonder if you know what I mean. We haven’t talked in 3 years, so I doubt it.

Even if you do know what I mean, would you remember enough to know where I’m going? Probably not. Natalie brainwashed you, Ed. That’s why I stopped calling. That, and I was pissed at you for standing me up at your house that one night. But mainly the brainwashing that she did, oh so well.

There is so much that I want to tell you before I go. Just so you know how this came about. If I had three more hours with you, I would tell you everything. I would start with what I did that night you hung me out to dry. I wouldn’t say much about that though.

Next, I’d probably tell you about how my cousin had a baby the next day. And how much I’ve hated Saturdays since then. I’d tell you what really happened with Natalie and I. How she cornered me in the locker room. Slapping, kicking, hair pulling, until I agreed to leave you alone. She said that it was what you wanted. So I agreed.

Even if I told you all of this, you wouldn’t care. Three years is a long time to forget about someone. You forget about their voice, their personality, their little habits that you can’t get enough of. So, how would you remember if I told you everything.

The thing is, you wouldn’t. You had no reason to remember. You’re one of the laziest shits I know. What you didn’t need to know, you pushed out of your mind. You locked it out. Sometimes I wonder if you ever locked anything in though.

I’m about a block away now. I should stop thinking about you. For some reason, I just want you here. I want you to tell me everything’s okay. That nothing is actually going to happen when I take that final step into the air. I want you. That’s all there is to it.

One step, breathe. One step, breathe. This is how I know I’m close. We used to come up here on summer nights. That’s how we could make our way home. Counting our steps and our breaths. I doubt you’ve done this since our final trip in 8th grade. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you brought Natalie up here. Taught her our secret ways.

If I remember right, I’m 25 steps away from the clearing. The trees are getting sparse and I’m feeling a bit naked right about now. I suppose this is how I always felt coming up here with you. I knew that you would make me tell you my deepest and darkest. You made me feel comfortable but at the same time, very very venerable. I hated you for it.

13 away now. My phone starts ringing. I dig it out of my pocket. It you. I want to answer. But I know if I do, you’ll try to stop me. You can only stop me if I talk though. So I won’t say a word. I slide it and I hear you breathing. Something I won’t be doing for much longer.

“Please, don’t. Just don’t. I know I haven’t been here for you the past three years. You probably hate me so much for it. I’m so sorry. I know you’re there. I can hear the birds. Please, just talk to me.” I think I hear a crack in your voice, but I’m not going to acknowledge it. I’m not acknowledging anything you say. No matter how much I want to.

“Please….” A tear was falling down my face. I didn’t think that you still had that much power over me. I hate you even more because after three years, I’m still in love with you. I a ever told you, but you knew all along. I thought that you made the scene with Natalie up to get me pissed and make me admit my love. But it was just the opposite.

One more step. I pause, briefly, soaking in the path that I’ll never take again. The one that I used to hold so dear in my heart. The one that, after today, you’ll probably never take again.

Still on the phone, I step through the final layer of trees and see the beautiful bridge. I think that he is probably my best friend right now. Understanding, encouraging. He’s perfect. Just like you Ed, but you… You make me weak. I hate brig weak in front of people. But, if I was gonna be weak for someone, might as well n you.

One last goodbye to you. That’s all I’ll say. One word. Then hang up. I swallow, clear my throat, “Goodbye Ed.” I hang up and drop my phone as I continue my final journey. Nothing had changed since our last trip. Nothing except for us.

I thought I heard someone coming through the woods. For a moment, I hoped it was you. I bent over and tied my shoelace. The figure stepped out of the trees, smiled and continued on with her run through the woods. Why couldn’t it have been you, Ed?

After she disappeared in the line of trees on the other side, I stood up and walked to the bridge. You told me once that they only make bridges out of oak. Because oak is strong. People who don’t like them are weak. But the people who love them, they’re the strongest of them all. I don’t know if you’re talking about me or not. I will forever be seen as the exact opposite of an oak tree to you.

My first step on to the bridge. Only three more until the middle. One over the railing. And one into the air. That’s all it’ll take. Easy.

I’m at the middle before I know it. Turning back is not an option now. Even if you do show up, nothing can change this. Sitting on the railing, waiting for a nice breeze to take me with it.

I was never good at timing things. That was you. You had the right time for everything. No matter how big or small, you were always perfect at that. Not me.

I count back from 100. In the movies, you would have saved me 230 steps ago. This isn’t the movies. In the perfect world, you would’ve picked up on the first ring of the first call and begged me to meet you at the coffee house on the corner of your street. This isn’t the perfect world either.

This is the real world. That’s why I will count from 100. In the real world, you would be racing here right now, trying your hardest to make it before I hit 1. I don’t knew what you’re doing. You are probably sitting on your sofa in your flat. Waiting for call from my mother. You would tell her that you tried to stop me. Knowing her, she’s gonna tell you that you didn’t try hard enough.

50. Just under a minute left. I hear a distant shouting. Just the runners from earlier. My dad would go back to smoking. Drinking too. He could never stay away from those. That’s the one way I was lucky in my life. My dad was addicted to everything but abusing us.

20. Ed, why aren’t you here yet? You said you’d always be there for me. No matter what. I guess that’s just something people say now. There doesn’t have to be any meaning behind it at all.

5. I think I’m gonna give you and extra second to get here.

3. Ed, please hurry.

2. Guess not then

1. I’m not scared anymore.

0. Please Ed. Just come out of the trees already! Please! At least try to stop me!

I stand up, grasping the inside of the rail. “Now or never.” I look to make sure no one is around. All clear. My hands slid away like paper thin sheets that couldn’t hang on any longer. Ed, I’m not scared. I just wish this would’ve been in a world. The one where you’re one second too late. So there’s still a chance for you to save me. We don’t live in that world.

I hit the water, but so much more hits me that that. I understand why everything has happened the way it has. It wasn’t to make us weak, or make us stronger. It was to bring us together. You and me, Ed. That’s what everything was for.

I had achieved the clarity. The thing that I craved most in this world and I get it for 10 seconds longer. Then it’s all gone. Everything. You, me, the woods, our troubles. My story comes to an end in 10 seconds.

I see a pair of feet, pounding into the rocks beneath the river. I wonder who it is. They’re getting closer and closer. By the time they reach me, I know I’ll be dead. I hope I will be anyways. Just as blink my last, something pulled me out of the water.

I was unconscious but I knew what was going on. Someone drug me out of the water. They’re giving me CPR right now. I wish they’d stop. But it’s not like I can tell them that. I read once that they can only do it for two minutes and after that, it’s useless. Two more minutes. That’s all I have left.

“Come on! I know you can hear me! You aren’t dead yet! Please! Don’t die on me! I can’t have you torn from my life! Not again!” Your voice was so close. I knew it wasn’t you. I was just imagining it.

“Just open your eyes! Breathe one last breath! It’s not that hard! I’m here! I’m here and I’m fighting for you! Don’t ignore me! Any other time is fine, but not now… Not like this… Please…” One last breath into my mouth and then you have you stop.

You lean over my body, shaking with sobs of sadness. I can’t put you through this. I will my lungs to work. I push my mouth to open and take a breath. As soon as I take it, you jump away like something had just bitten you.

I cough and cough until you have me wrapped up in your arms, stoking my back. You keep saying everything is going to be alright. But I don’t see how. Once you help me back to my flat, you’re gonna leave me again.

“Why?” I ask the vaguest question of all. “Isn’t it obvious? I loved you since we were 15. I was stupid to date Natalie. We all make mistakes. But during that time when we weren’t talking, I still loved you. I will always love you.”

I let this sink in for a minute. Trying to muster up enough energy to reply, but feeling defeated. “It’s alright babe. I know how you feel about me. You already said it once today. C’mon. Let’s get you home so you can get cleaned up and rested. We can talk about it tomorrow.”

I was shocked that you said there would be a tomorrow. Also, you said there was a ‘we’. With a shaky breath I say in the smallest voice ever, “you aren’t leaving me? I don’t want you to stay if you don’t want to. I’m not forcing anything.”

“Never again. I will never leave your side. Only when you need your space. And even then, I’m not letting you out of my sight. I love you. Forever and always. But, I always liked saying ‘always and forever’ better. So, I love you always and forever.”

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