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Stepping

Forward. Forward. Forward.

Come one, move. Move forward. Run. Walk. Whatever. Just move. But he can’t.

Why hasn’t the world ended yet? Why is everything around him still in motion? Why hasn’t it stopped, too? He wishes that it had, if only to give him a moment to process. But it doesn’t, so he has to go forward.

He tries to run. He really does try with all his strength to get to her quickly, but it’s not working. He feels as though there are large iron chains preventing his feet from moving faster than a snail’s pace. Lifting them is a feat of Herculean proportions. The shock weighs them down so that he feels like he’s sporting lead.

One step.

Images of her face flood his mind. Her caramel hair catching the light when he walks her to class. Her green eyes sparkling at him as he excitedly discusses theories for the next season of Sherlock. Her sitting on the couch watching television with her hair tossed into a bun without a care in the world. Her face alight with laughter as she listens to him go on about the new Spiderman movie. The broken look on her face after her mother died. The tears. The laughter. The vitality. The humanity.

It could be gone now.

Two steps.

New images are in his head now, forcing the others away. Images of her broken body. Of her blood spread across her chest. Of a glassy, vacant look on her face. But those are imagined images, and he tells himself that he’s imagining the worst. It won’t be as bad as he fears when he gets to her. But he has to keep going. He has to confirm or deny it. The worst bit of it all is the not knowing.

Three steps.

It’s possible, quite possible, that she’s dead. It’s far too possible for his comfort zone. But, he reminds himself, it’s also quite possible that she’s alive. He doesn’t like that, the feeling of uncertainty. He just needs to get to her. He just needs to know. Why did she have to be so far away?

He must keep moving forward. He must speed up. But he can’t. It’s terrifying, the idea of getting to her. The idea of seeing her body broken, bones twisted at odd angles, blood everywhere, is terrifying. That wouldn’t be her. That would not be the bright, lively person he knew. That would be a corpse. He didn’t want to see a corpse. He wanted her, alive. But he knew he wouldn’t see that. He’d see someone broken at best, dead at worst.

Just please be alive. Please.

Four steps.

And what if she’s not okay, he wonders. What then? He doesn’t want to think about it, but the thoughts are forcing themselves into his mind and he doesn’t have any say in the matter. Would he just go home? Try to adapt? Go on with life without her by his side? Just go back to normal? How could things be normal, though; how could things possibly come close to being okay without her? When you lose someone you love, things don’t just return to the way they were. He wouldn’t be able to do that. He wouldn’t be able to return to the way he’d been. Not without her.

Breathe, he thinks. She could be fine. She’s probably fine. She has to be.

Five steps.

He feels so powerless. Dead or alive, what can he do? Is there anything he can do to fix it? What is he even worth in this situation? What is there for him to do other than stand there helplessly?

He can run. He still has that power.

Six steps. Seven. Eight. He breaks out into a jog, and his fear is overwhelmed by his need to get to her and see her face. It’s a gravitational pull. He doesn’t seem to have an option. He needs to get to her. It is not a question.

She’s so far away. She’s so hard to reach.

He’s sprinting now. He’s pushing through the crowd, disregarding the existence of everyone other than her. The sea of bodies is simply an annoyance. They are all insignificant and unimportant, and everything is noise. Just noise. Useless. She is the only thing to matter.

The images flash through his mind as he runs, happier ones. Her face, full of joy. Her head leaning against his shoulder as they sit together. A picnic they’d had together. The sound of her laugh. That pout she got when she didn’t get her way. The strange things she’d sometimes say. He keeps those thoughts strong in his mind.

Sixty-four steps later, he reaches her. He is helpless.



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