Hammers And Strings; An Ed Sheeran One Shot
I have been working on this for a very long time. I have been debating whether or not to post it, because of how hard it hits home for me. When i wrote a lot of these passages, I was sick, and scared. These thoughts are mine, these emotions are mine.
I hope that you enjoy it.
For obvious reasons, I had to choose a name for the female character. It is told in 2 points of view
Please leave feedback, and like this post, or reblog it. It would mean a lot to me, especially if you enjoy this.
Hammers and Strings: An Ed Sheeran One Shot
The beginning of the rest of my life started at a piano, and since all things in life come full circle, that’s exactly how it ended.
I sat down at a piano when I was nine, next to my older brother who had been taking lessons that entire year. Seventy-six inches and 88 keys of ivory laying before me, and I couldn’t even comprehend the weight that this piano would hold in my life. My brother, he couldn’t play much, just the right hand of “Heart and Soul.” It sounded so lonely, that part he was playing without an accompaniment. A repeated verse begging for a harmony. His piano teacher had gotten up to get a drink, and left him at the piano alone. I looked at the sheet music, and down at the keys, and saw no correlation. The tiny black markings on the sheet in front of me sat meaningless on that page. I let the fingertips of my left hand rest quietly on the keys in front of me, and I pressed each key individual in an upward succession as he continued to play until I founded a key that was pleasing to my ear. That day, sitting next to my brother without any prior experience, I learned how to play the left hand of Heart and Soul by ear. That was the first time I had ever played the piano. The first time that anything made sense to me. 15 years later, I can still sit and play Claire de Lune with my eyes closed. I’ve never needed to see the music. I just needed to hear it. I feel most at home on this bench, my palms curved concavely, my fingers barely hitting the keys in front of me, all of my emotions poured into the sounds of the hammers and strings.
I met Ed the first time I publically played the piano, at an old rundown bar 15 minutes outside of the town I lived in. I had an incessant need to just perform a piece of music for someone other than myself, or my family, to hear. And that old run down bar was the closest open mic night I could find. I remember wheeling that piano into the room, the wheels squealing as I managed to position it in the middle of the floor. I sat down, placed the Clair De Lune sheet music in front of me, splayed out across the piano. I started to play, and like clockwork, as I got to the first set of arpeggios, my sheet music dropped from the piano swaying in the wind as it tumbled to the floor. I could practically hear the look of horror on everyone’s face; the sheet music curse. But they didn’t know that I knew this song like the back of my hand, and I closed my eyes, imagining that I was back in my own apartment playing for myself, and I finished the piece flawlessly. Ed Sheeran picked up all of my sheet music when I was done, gathered it in his hands and presented it to me as a smile spread across his face.
“You played that from memory?” he mumbled, unsure of his question, “That’s incredible.”
“I play everything from memory” I tell him, as I took the sheet music from him.
“Why is a girl like you in a bar like this?” he asked, raising his eyebrows, briefly looking around before back to me,
“Why not?” I shrug, almost narrowing my eyes at him in a playful way, “I just want someone to hear me play, even if it is a bunch of alcoholics. Nothing is lonely than the echo of your own music reverberating in an empty room”
“You’re practically reading my mind” he nods, letting out a laugh at the irony, “I’ve been playing shows for nobodies just to be heard”
“You play?” I ask, nodding towards my upright piano, “let’s hear it”
“Not piano” he shakes his head, motioning towards his half-size guitar, “but I’d love to be able to play something as beautiful as what you just played.”
He lets the compliment slip out of his mouth and I grasp at it, holding it tight to me.
“Tell you what” I bite my lip, looking at him to gauge his reaction, “if you show me how a guitar works, I’ll teach you how to play the piano”
A smile tugs at the corners of his lips as he holds his hand out to me.
“I’m Ed,” he mumbles as my hand slips into his cool palm.
I believe in fate. I believe in love at first sight. I believe in being in the right place at the right time, and taking advantage of that specific time and place. My life with Ed started in an old run down bar where I played piano for a bunch of alcoholics to hear. He was the only one who appreciated it. He never stopped appreciating me. We settled down, got married, had a beautiful daughter, Eleanor. and we’ve been running through fast dreams ever since.
Molly’s POV: Day 1
On a cold December morning, I slipped on a patch of ice as I was following Eleanor to the car. I landed on my back, knocking the wind out of my lungs, and I lay there for a few seconds before getting up. I took inventory on the damage, realizing that I hadn’t broken anything and that I was fine. I got up, drove Eleanor to Pre-school and came home to clean up the house and get all of the errands done. By the time I had a free moment to sit down, I had forgotten all about the fall, until I was laying in bed with Ed later that night. I was lying on my stomach, my head at the foot of the bed, reading a magazine when Ed appeared in the doorway after putting Eleanor to bed.
“E said you fell down today” he speaks up walking into the room, pulling his t-shirt over his head, “she told me to tell you that she hopes you’re okay”
I chuckle at her concern and shake my head, “I’m fine, Ed. I’m glad we’ve raised such a caring daughter though”
“What happened?” he asks, kneeling on the bed, his fingers finding the hem of my t-shirt, his cool fingers sending a shiver down my spine.
“I just slipped on some ice” I tell him, brushing him off. I hear his sharp intake of breath as his fingers push the material of my shirt up my back. I hadn’t realized the severity of the pain until his fingers traced across my skin. I winced in pain at the touch
“jesus, Molly” he gasps, lifting his hands off of my skin, “We need to take you to the hospital”
“What?” I look at him, raising an eyebrow in surprise at his ridiculous statement, “Ed, it’s just a bruise. I fell. I’m fine”
“Just a bruise?” his eyes widen as he motions towards the standing mirror. I get up off of the bed and turn to examine the damage. Breath catches in my throat as I see the purple and black spiderweb bruise extending from the middle to my lower back, the skin around it a bright yellow. I looked like I had been brutally beaten repeatedly in the back. My stomach dropped, the sight was nauseating, and the look of concern and fear in Ed’s eyes made me sick.
“Okay” I tell him, nodding, “I’ll call my mom, see if she can watch Eleanor”
That was the day I fell. The day my world turned upside down.
Ed’s POV: Day 1
I was holding her hand when we found out, in a stale doctor’s office.
I felt all of her hope, all of her strength drain from her body as her hand went limp in mine,
When they told us she was dying.
Stage 3 bone cancer is very unforgiving and stubborn as hell.
No amount of chemotherapy or radiation in the world could help her at this point.
But it didn’t matter
They had given her a deadline—a timeframe for her fragile life.
As soon as the words left his mouth, as soon as they flew through the air, landing in a designated spot existing in space and time, they became real. A projection of this moment will be permanently burned into our minds. I will be able to listen to it over and over again until I cannot stand to hear her name, age and diagnosis for another second.
I hold her hand until she can bear to stand up.
We don’t pick up Eleanor from her mother’s house.
I drive us home, entering the darkness of our bedroom when we arrive.
She crawls into my arms, her face buried in the skin of my chest as her arms claw at my back, like she’s trying to dissolve into me, and she cries.
Her sobs are heavy and loud for hours as she chokes on her own tears.
I hold her close and rub a hand up and down her back.
I muster up the strength to lie to her, as I whisper that it’s going to be okay, into her hair until she gives up the fight and succumbs to unconsciousness.
When I’m sure she’s asleep, I untangle myself from her arms and lock myself in the bathroom. I turn the lights off, sink down against the door, and lose it.
Tears stream down my face as I cry into the palm of my hands.
I am going to lose her to this.
And there’s nothing I can do.
Molly’s POV: Day 2
Life is not fair.
Life is not fair.
Life is not fair.
Life is not fair.
I’m only 25. I have a child, a 4 year old who needs me. I have a husband who is gone for most of the year on tour. I have a family, and a future and a plan and things I want to do. I want to grow up, and old, and see my 90th birthday. I want to see Eleanor grow up and graduate and get married and have babies. I want grandchildren. I want to spoil them. I want to have a 50th wedding anniversary with Ed. I want to retire. I want, I want, I want, I want. I just want to be alive.
I’m afraid of dying.
I’m afraid of leaving the people I love here.
I’m afraid of what my absence will do to Eleanor and Ed.
I’m too young to die.
I pay my taxes. I go to church. I believe in God.
Is all of this not enough?
Molly’s POV: Day 30
We have spent so much of our lives together not speaking. I suppose that’s what happens when you have a relationship like ours, where we are constants in each other’s lives. At first, speaking was the most important part of you and me. We spoke in turns, spilling our life stories. He’s one of those people who can tell me anything over coffee. For him it was always death before decaf no sugar, no cream, black –hold the bullshit. Together we were self-proclaimed poets, with a knack for good food and wine and emotionally charged conversations. I was a jazz listening, hipster hating, Arcade Fire Discover-ee who didn’t use Oxford commas. And he was a guy not concerned with material possessions, loving everyone he’s ever met in at least one way or another, who listens to The Black Keys and raps freestyle when he’s drunk. Those conversations, the ones we spent making plans and creating a future, well they aren’t important anymore. Had I known what I know now, I wouldn’t have spent a minute of our time together tied down to wordy conversations. I would have spent more time with him. I would have spent more time between the sheets, skin to skin, tracing my fingers over the freckles on his skin, appreciating fluttered eyelashes on my cheeks. I would have held him close, told him I loved him more and more each day, I would have made more memories in this house with him, with our children. I would have spent more time appreciating the life I was given, the breaths I’m able to voluntarily take, my strong reverberating heartbeat, the blood coursing through my veins. Had I known what I know now, I would have spent less time thinking I had more than enough time.
Molly’s POV: Day 47
There is a moment right after I wake up and take my first, what feels like voluntary, breath. At that precise point in time, nothing matters. I can feel my arms, feet, legs, all fingers and toes. I can breathe and swallow and blink and think for myself. But as soon as I sit up, as soon as I get up, everything starts. At first, I don’t feel good. There’s a tightness in my legs. My bones ache. It’s a bad day already’ and it’ hasn’t even’ started. I watch as the blood rushes to the surface of my skin with the slightest touch, bump, or scratch. I examine the yellow bruise marking my thigh, where I ran into the corner of the coffee table a week ago I wish telling Ed that I’m getting sicker was as easy as this. I wish I could let the words melt though the door between us, into his mind, like the pain and blood melts through my skin .
I get up out of bed and head into the bathroom. I stand in front of the mirror, admiring the dark circles under my eyes, my messy hair, the way the skin practically sags around my joints. I step onto the silver scale in the corner of the bathroom and watch as the 130lbs I weighed last week reduce to 128lbs. That’s not a lot, to a normal person. But 2 pounds, for me, means that I’m literally losing myself. I’m withering away to nothing. But I’m too tired to worry about my future.
Ed’s POV: Day 50
I hate the stubbornness that is radiating off of her body, like the heat of a thousand Christmas lights stuffed into a jar that have been plugged in for three hours. I hate the way the words roll off her tongue, like she knows what she’s talking about. We’re still so young, but the way she’s talking, I’m guessing she’s going on thirty-five. I hate that all I want to do is keep on fighting, keep pushing and prodding and searching for an answer, and she just wants to accept it and wait. There she is, with her porcelain skin, as though someone in the world actually dreams of being made of such a fragile material. She’s like glass, and I’m a nervous wreck.
“I don’t want your damn pain medicine” she wraps her arms around her, an attempt at introversion, as her face contorts in pain, “It makes me sick.”
“Come on, Mol” I tell her, practically begging her,
“I don’t want to be numb,” She yells at me. She picks up the glass sitting on her bedside table and holds it in her hands, cradling it in her palms as she musters all of her strength to throw the glass at me in anger. It lacks almost all momentum and travels slowly through the air, landing a few feet in front of her. I watch it shatter on the floor and I can’t hear anything over the sound of a sob that rips through her chest.
“Molly” I exhale, running a hand over my face as I step over the broken glass, towards her.
“Can we just accept this for what it is?” her question is muffled by her hiccups as she tries to stop crying. She won’t let me touch her, and I stand in front of her, feeling sorry,
“I won’t” I tell her. I can feel the lump in my throat form, filled with denial. As soon as I say it, it becomes real. It’ll be out of my control, something I can’t fix. She’ll be the girl I can’t save. The love of my life with an expiration date so much closer than mine.
“Ed” her voice is low, “I’m going to wither away into nothing. I will no longer be the person you love. I won’t be able to laugh, cry, argue, kiss you, hug Eleanor, or breathe. Everything is deteriorating and I’m going to die. But I don’t want to spend my time numb.”
“okay” I exhale, accepting defeat.
I help her out of bed and try to ignore her winces and groans of pain as she moves. I’m worried I’ll never see her face light up again. I’m worried that this is as good as it will be from now on. And I’m scared.
Molly’s POV: Day 65
There is a bird house in the tree directly adjacent to our back yard that houses a pair of cardinals. I’ve always been a bit fascinated by Cardinals. They mate for life. Once two cardinals find each other, they spend the rest of their lives with each other. When one mate dies, I’ve always expected the other cardinal to find another mate. But they don’t.
The widowed cardinal sits and calls out for his mate. He sees his reflection in the window and flies into it repeatedly only to be disappointed that it’s just a figment of his imagination. Eventually he’ll come to terms with it and move on.
They also symbolize death. Ed and I are cardinals. While I’m still alive, while I’m still breathing, while I’m still able to walk around and think and breathe for myself before machines take over, we will be together. And when I die, after every minute of our lives together, he’s going to hit the window. He’s going to see me in places where I’m not. He’s going to think I’m there, that I’m not really gone. A figment of his imagination. And maybe it’ll happen for months, he’ll eventually find someone else. And he’ll stop forcing himself to believe in something that isn’t there. He’ll stop searching for someone who isn’t coming back.
Ed’s POV: Day 80
The most memorable moment of my life should have been something extravagant and worth remembering. It should have been winning a Grammy, or the Nobel Peace Prize, or finishing David Copperfield, Moby Dick, and A Tale of Two Cities, all in the same day.
But the most memorable moment of my life was the moment I realized that I could never grasp and hold onto the thing that matters most to me. I couldn’t hold on to her. She meant everything to me, and because of that, I tried to anchor her soul to mine. It didn’t matter how tightly I wrapped myself around her, she still managed to slip flawlessly through my fingers, out of the space between my ribs, fluttering away into the wind. I had never felt that way about anyone before, and I may never feel that way again—knowing that nothing will ever be as good now, as it was then, with her.
Ed’s POV: Day 100
Her strength was the first to go. The ability to walk, to get out of bed, to do anything that requires any kind of momentum became difficult for her. I didn’t mind helping her, because that’s what you do when you’re in love. You help the love of your life. She got to the point where she couldn’t pick up Eleanor anymore. I think that stung the worst, knowing she’d never be able to hold her daughter in her arms again.
Her mind was next. She started to forget things. It started with little things, like telephone numbers, and dates. She couldn’t remember the last names of her teachers from primary school. She had a hard time remembering our home phone number, and the street we lives on. And then it got worse. She’d forget how old Eleanor was. Or what her name was. I would ask her questions or say things to me, and a few hours later she would need me to repeat the same things to her. I would talk, and she’d try to listen, but the words wouldn’t rest in her mind. She couldn’t think about things any deeper than surface level.
But she never lost her spirit, or her love for Eleanor and I. She spent the last few weeks spending as much time as possible with us. It has always occurred to me that Eleanor would have to grow up without her mother, that she would be deprived of the simple pleasure of having her mother when she needed her. Dad’s aren’t always the most understanding or empathetic, and sometimes you just need a mother. Eleanor wouldn’t have that, and that breaks my heart. But Molly gave her more love in those last weeks than Eleanor would ever need. And after I’d put Eleanor to bed, I’d crawl into bed next to Molly and hold her until she fell asleep. She told me that she loved me, over and over again, how life wasn’t fair. How she’d miss me. Even though she was sick, she still knew how to make me fall in love with her, with the way she wrapped her arms around me, the way she pressed her lips to mine.
Her hands were the last to go. Even with machines matching each breath that she took, her fingers could still move over those 88 keys effortlessly. And the final day, as she sat at the piano and a drop of blood from her nose hit the keys in front of her, I knew that it was truly over for her. She’d never touch those keys again. She had left her life, on an unfinished measure of her favorite song. As I helped her over to bed, I wiped the tears from my eyes before I sat down on the bench. I didn’t know what I was doing. I hadn’t played a song on the piano for years. Even though I could read the music, match what I saw to what I played, I had never done this as gracefully as she had. But I picked up from where she left off, and my fingers moved in time with the arpeggios of Clair de Lune, and Eleanor sat at the foot of the bed, and like it was meant to be, Molly’s last voluntary breath came as I finished the song. I called the ambulance seconds later, and watched them carry her lifeless body away. Eleanor didn’t know what was happening, and explaining it to her was the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do. Hearing her cry for her mother made me physically sick. But this was it. This was what I had been preparing for. To lose her.
This was the story of Molly. It started with a piano, and that’s exactly how it ended.
Molly’s POV: An Afterword
I have one shot at this letter. I have one shot to try to make this right, to try to make you understand, and to try to make you remember me. This will be between you and I, old friend. My best friend. The love of my life. I’m writing you this on one of my last good days. I don’t know if it is my last good day, but I am writing to you now, so you know. I hope that you find this letter on one of your good days. I don’t know how long it will take you to feel okay. I don’t know if you’ll ever feel okay, but know that I want you to. I want you to be happy, even if it can’t be with me. I’m sat at our kitchen table, and I keep thinking about how our house smells like you. It’s littered with your things, and I’m not even mad that there are so many things misplaced. I guess that’s what it means to be in love. I love finding your things everywhere. It feels like finding something really old and familiar and remembering it exactly the way it was when it was in your possession, like it never left.
Know that I have taken the time to misplace a few of my things as well, so that when you’re having a bad day, you’ll be able to find something familiar of mine to give you the strength to carry on without me.
Oh Ed, I have loved you my entire life. I didn’t know what it was like to be missing part of my heart until I met you. You gave me exactly what I needed, and you’ve given me all of the love I have ever imagined. I will always love you. You have always been the brave one, stronger than I was. And I want you to take that with you. Be brave, for me, for Eleanor, for you. I don’t know how to tell you how much I love you. So I will leave it at that. I love you. I love you. I love you. You have made me the happiest person in the world, and for that, I am grateful. But I want you to move on, and find love with someone else. You deserve to be happy. So, so, happy. And I want that for you.
I know that things are going to be hard, and that you will find yourself alone on some days, and you should never be alone. But you are strong enough to get through this. Take care of Eleanor. She’s going to need it. Hug her, listen to her, don’t get mad at her when she cries, or when she gets mad that I’m not here. Tell her about me when she’s older. And don’t kill any of her boyfriends. Walk her down the isle, be a part of her life, hold our grandchildren. She’s going to need a lot of hope and a lot of support to be okay. Tell her of all of the things that we did together. Tell her about me. Tell her how much I love her. Tell her this story. Tell her how it began, and how it ended.
I will leave you with this, and I know that this letter will never be enough, but it will do. I don’t regret one minute of our life together.
I love you so much, Ed.