The (official) final chapter of One More Time. Thank you all for reading.
“Where is me crew? Tell me, girl, what have you done with me blasted crew?”
“I’m sorry to bear the bad news, captain, but the crew had the sudden urge to walk the plank.”
She let out an exaggerated scream, and the audience laughed. “You dare to commit mutiny on my ship? You want to embarrass me? To start a war with the notorious Bluebeard?”
In her dirty rags and wrapping, she managed to produce a cutlass. “I guess I do.”
And then the scene froze.
Off to the side, Kate held up two small colored signs to the children. “Okay, kids. What do you think happened next? Do you think they fought each other bravely on the crashed ship, or do you think Cadet Max tried to outsmart the nasty old Captain Bluebeard?”
“ARGH!” the children replied instinctively at the name, before the majority began to yell for the swordfight. Still, Kate held up the sign for the first option, a picture of two swords clashing, and after seeing the hands raised, held up the sign that showed her illustration of Max leapfrogging over ‘Bluebeard’.
“Oh, wow. You guys are pretty clever.” In her opinion, the password that told them what to do next, ‘clever’, was just as clever. “Well, as you’re about to see, you chose the right one.”
Bluebeard unsheathed her own sword, a thinner blade, and pointed it at Max. “Don’t underestimate me, missy. Prepare to join me comrades in Davy Jones’s locker!”
She ran forward, and Max silently counted down until she stabbed into a large crack in the platform. Under the tall stage, Victoria, on cue, let go of the spring-loaded board, and it popped up, hitting the tip of the beard directly, but Chloe sold the near miss well, jumping up and falling back on the foam bedding. Max ran forward, and as Bluebeard rose to her hands and knees, quickly used her hands to pounce over her adversary, indeed like a frog would. “Argh!” she growled, and the kids followed suit. “Get back here, or I’ll make you pay!”
“What are you gonna do?” she teased, her hand grabbing the flag pole to spin back in the captain’s direction, leaning off it. “Send your friends after me? It’s just you and me, Captain. And, by the way – blue is totally not a good color on you.”
She growled. “You take that back, traitor!”
Max hopped off the beam and spread out her arms. “Come at me, Cap’n!”
With another war cry, (Argh!) she charged again.
The set that they had put together was something all four of them were proud of – It was a giant ship, really, built around Arcadia’s lighthouse, posed as a shipwreck. On the outside, it was elaborately done, but it was very basic on the inside. Nothing really extravagant except for the spiral staircase that took the guests to the top of the scaled down ship.
Still, Max and Chloe had a lot to explore on the boat, using their cardio to leap and hang off the edge.
It was in the script for Chloe to dangle off the back, and Max sat on her haunches, her chin resting against her fist. “I’m waiting for the part where you ‘make me pay’, Captain.”
“I’ll have your head for this, Max!”
“If the crocodile doesn’t have yours, first.”
“W-what? You can’t be serious! You’re a good guy! You can’t let me drop!”
“As a captain, it would be very disgraceful if you couldn’t beat a crocodile.”
“Of course I can beat him, that’s not the point! You let me up here right now!”
Through the hidden speakers in the ship, a menacing growl was echoed through the clearing, and Bluebeard yipped and lifted her legs. “Please…”
“Okay, kids? What happened next? Does Max drop the nasty Captain down into the crocodile pit, or does she save him from his fall?”
This one was a tougher choice than the rest, and Kate could tell. “Some of you didn’t raise your hands.”
“He’s bad!” a kid yelled.
“But she’d be just as bad letting him fall!” a girl yelled back.
“He was gonna make her walk the plank anyway!”
“He said please!”
Honestly, Kate could have done without the yelling, but she loved the participation in it all. “Calm down. You’re both right. For the people that didn’t vote – what would you have done?”
The children were all talking at once, And Max, laying on the edge of the platform, her head resting on her arms and her legs frozen in mid-kick, chuckled discreetly. “This is always the hardest choice,” she whispered.
Chloe sighed, hanging off the edge below her wife, her Velcro gloves and pirate pants easily keeping her up and frozen in place. She turned her head slightly, keeping her mouth away from the audience, who were clearly distracted at this point. “It even manages to get the parents riled up.”
Max, her smile hidden by her reddish brown hair, licked her lips. “Being pirates can still entertain us. We’re adults, right?”
“Do you realize how many ‘booty’ jokes we put into the script?”
“They’re only going to hear half of them.”
“But you have to live with making all of them. You burden yourself so unnecessarily with your life decisions, sometimes.”
“Must be the beard.”
“Maybe.” She wiggled her nose. “Oh, shit.”
Max peeked over to the audience, very aware that Chloe couldn’t see them due to the eye patch. “Wow. They’re still going.”
“Oh, this is killing me,” she muttered, rubbing her nose across the Velcro patch in front of her; unfortunately, it was the soft side of the fabric, which only made the itch worse. “These clothes are not made to scratch noses. Help meee…”
“Oh, come on, it’s our last show! Toughen up for the kids!”
“Gah… it burns… it feels like fire ants fucking riiiight under the skin.”
Max managed a smile, and surreptitiously moved her left arm, the one away from the small group. Chloe stealthily moved her head to the side, and nuzzled her nose into the Velcro glove, purring towards the end. “You’re just a living emoji at this point.”
“Ah, that hits the spot.” She breathed deeply, and rested her cheek against the lingering hand. “My hero.”
“Not for long. Looks like I have to drop you.”
“Really? This is the third time today. I’m getting too old for this shit.”
“I saved you six times today. So, progress, at least.”
“Yeah. They’re getting less bloodthirsty.” She scrunched her eyebrows together. “I just thought of a totally inappropriate joke.”
“You know I’m too curious to let that go.”
“Do you think you could yell ‘Long live the king’ before I drop?”
“You sure you don’t want to go with ‘I killed Mufasa?’”
“That hits a bit close to home. I didn’t want to bring up bad memories.”
“William is alive. This reality is the only one that matters.”
“I’m glad.” She could hear the sincerity in her tone. It came as a genuine relief to her.
Max smiled softly, stroking her wife’s cheek. “Kate would so hate us if we changed her story like that.”
“Because dropping me to the crocs is kid-friendly.”
“Risqué. But you still escape. Get ready.”
“The fearless Cadet Max, with a heart of gold, knew that she could only do one thing in this situation.” Kate beamed at the audience – a smile reserved for the group of kids that voted for her favorite choice. “She knew she couldn’t leave the ruthless captain’s fate to his doom.”
The two took the surprising change in stride, Max using her visible arm to reach down and grabbing Bluebeard’s. With heavy exaggeration, Max overacting for the sake of Chloe’s ego, she got to her feet and slowly began to pull up her arch enemy.
Victoria, still under the deck and out of view, cranked the lever back and forth, causing the entire ship to rock. The speakers began to boom, the signs of a thunderous storm approaching.
The two lead characters of the story lost their grip, and fell off the deck and out of view.
There was a collective gasp from the crowd, and Kate turned away from the audience to stifle her giggles. “Oh my,” she muttered, staying in character. “This is unexpected.”
The two recovered quickly from the trampoline. “Well, that’s act one.” Chloe sat down, and Max joined her at her side. “Last time we get to do this, babe. How you feelin’?”
“Relieved. Haley and Jeffrey will do a good job. We’re leaving this little stage and show in good hands.”
Chloe sighed, and rested her head against her shoulder. “What a year it’s been, huh?”
“Hell of a year. A fun one, though.”
“I can’t believe we’re leaving our comfort zone.” While she was saddened at the prospect of leaving her home, she was still looking forward to the days ahead of them.
“We’ll be back. Someday. But this is where the real adventure begins.”
“It’d be nice to have that honeymoon, too.”
“We went to France.”
“Doesn’t count. We’ve already been to France with mom and dad.”
“You really wanted to go to France again.”
“True, true. I did, and I loved it, but…”
“Well, I guess it’s because we didn’t leave our room much. I’m into hot monkey sex with you as much as the next girl, but it almost felt like we might as well have been at home. We both could’ve benefited from a longer stay there. I was thinking about a small villa in Italy, actually. We first went to Europe as best friends, then married, and it’s a huge difference, you know?”
“I see what you mean. So, an abstinence tour around the world, then?”
“If you mean ‘abstaining from taking pictures,’ then that’s just as likely.”
“You two are children,” Victoria muttered through the screen, from inside the ship. “You’re up in twenty.”
“Come on Vic, have more energy! It’s our last show!”
They could practically hear her rolling her eyes. “Being the tech takes the fun out of it. But it’s gonna be a hell of a road trip. Kate’s looking forward to it.”
“Around the world in 80 months,” Chloe grinned, stretching as she stood. “It’s good to be the point-one percent.”
Max jumped to her feet, possibly more excited than even Kate, going into the finale of their charity show. “The final adventures of Cadet Max; playing pirates for what might be the last time.”
“It’s never felt like a job,” Chloe admitted, holding her hand. “It has been an honor to pillage with and against you, babe.”
They shared a kiss, before the speakers played a louder, menacing growl, and Max and Bluebeard stomped towards the front of the broken ship to escape the crocodile, and work together to survive on the shore.
How well did they work together? Well, that depended on the children. The first ever live-action ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ story would have a happy ending, one way or another, but as the four women had proven, it was a unique, and fun, adventure every time.
It made for a long storybook for children, but as sales had proven, it was worth it.
Max and Bluebeard learned a valuable lesson in working together, and friendship, as they had almost weekly for the past year.
At the end of the show, the girls took their bow, took photos with the children, and got one last ‘ARGH!’ out of the crowd, inspiring another generation of pirates. That group photo would go in the gallery, for sure.
Using her money to take a tour of the world with her best friends? Possibly, a dick move. But she felt she made up for it by all the good they had all done.
Arcadia Bay was right next to Portland as the fishing capitals of the northwest, and one of the top tourist destinations of Oregon. And yet, it managed to still be their small ocean side town.
Max, Chloe, Kate and Victoria would finally leave Arcadia Bay, as she had set out to do in the beginning of her journey. She just didn’t think it would be this hard to say goodbye.
Travelling the world, exploring the exotic, was something Max had wanted to do for two lifetimes now, and Chloe was more than happy to join her. When Kate had started questioning Victoria about their own honeymoon plans, the Max and Chloe had made a radical suggestion – one that both had jumped at the opportunity of, not bearing the thought of actually being away from their best friends.
Max stood as the Maid of Honor to Kate Beverly Marsh, and Chloe stood for Victoria Maribeth Chase, in a wedding that wasn’t nearly as high-profile, but easily considered as the second most important wedding she had ever attended.
Kate even broke away from her father to give her aunt a hug as she walked down the aisle. Victoria was in tears by the time her bride-to-be got to the front, and neither tried to hide their tears as Kate’s father officiated.
One last portrait was added to the Priceless gallery, before the four boarded the plane, ready to explore the world, finally ready to go on that adventure they had dreamed of.
~October 11, 2015 Diary Entry~
This could probably go without saying, but I love the fuck out of my wife.
Just realized I have never actually written that down before. Huh. I think I need a diary.
For now, I’m writing in your diary, so you’re probably reading this at some point. In case you’re checking your impenetrable memory, no, I didn’t ask, and I hope you’re okay with that. You gave me access to your most secret of diaries two and a half years ago, and I will always be grateful for what you did for me, and all of us. Always.
We needed this extended vacation, you and I. There was a time where we both complained that we were never alone, never by ourselves, to be ourselves, with each other. Our room, the lighthouse on the cliff side, and now, wherever we go from here on out. Kate and Victoria may be with us, but they feel pretty much the same about their own situation. It’s almost downright disturbing how comfortable the four of us are under the same roof, really.
Only in the Art business, have we been able to have so much fun, and have so much work accomplished. Hell, at this point, we could almost make these travels a tax write-off.
We’ve never been very materialistic in life; before you pulled back the curtains of our life, the most expensive thing I’ve ever afforded was that ring that I cleverly hid in my half-as-expensive done up hair. That, and gas money, but let’s not get all topical.
I sorta miss my truck. Mom and Dad can’t stop talking about how smooth the ride is. No complaints from me, though. I’ve always wanted an expensive hobby, and you picking up classic cars is so Max. A part of me wouldn’t mind collecting modern cars, but I don’t think I will. I have a history, or alternate history, with cars, and I don’t want to give you a heart attack. I owe you that much, given our compromise we made that first week in our Arcadia estate. I have to keep up my end of the bargain, after all.
I’ve thought a lot about that. And really, thinking about it hurt, but not nearly as much as it hurts you.
God, I hope no one is reading this. I need an old school fountain pen and some lemon juice. I’m sure you’d appreciate that for invisible ink.
You can’t go back. We both know what would happen if you decide to go back. If something happens to me, this time around, it’s something other than your powers, something much stronger, that just doesn’t want me around. Keeping in mind that Science is something I’ve excelled at more than any of my other subjects (and that’s saying something), Chaos Theory ran wild in my life. I can’t fully explain what happened – good luck to anyone who can, I’d love to fund that research – but reality breaking aside, I seemed destined to die. You can blame yourself all you want, and I will do whatever it takes to convince you otherwise, as a loving wife should, but it’s my life that’s always been in jeopardy.
However, all we’ve done is make Arcadia better. Not once have we been too selfish, or destructive, or done anything to warrant the hate of God, or the Universe, or whoever it is that wanted me dead.
Everything is right again. I could literally bet my life on it.
Still, it’s up to me to make sure that I don’t do something stupid. (Like jinx it, so I’m scratching that statement out.) That responsibility lies on me, and me alone. Not you. You’re my wife, and my hero, and my guardian angel, and my dream catcher and all that, but it ultimately lies on me that I don’t die. Sorry, babe, but that’s how life usually works.
It goes without saying that I will do whatever I can to stay by your side, and keep you by my side, for as long as you live. This time, you are my number one priority.
You blamed yourself so much, and I was the one who kept wading directly into the death pool. Who the fuck asks their best friend to kill them – twice? I mean, I get it, but… that’s some heavy shit.
Not one time-skip. Not one ripped hole in the fabric of space. No dead birds. No beached whales. Plenty of fishing to go around.
Not even one nosebleed, except, you know, the first time I saw you naked. I was twelve at the time but yeah, I’ll own up to it. You’re fucking beautiful, Max. You turn me into an anime character sometimes.
New memories. Better memories. The only memories I’ll ever know. My only wish, if I could ever have one, is that you don’t have to remember the pain that brought you here. My deaths, the nightmares, the fucking psychopaths you had to deal with, all of it.
You’ve been through so much, and unsurprisingly, you have so much to show for it. You didn’t get what you deserved, but you deserve every bit of what you have right now.
This time, I tip my grape glass to you, Maxine. Long live Max and Chloe; long live the Pricefields.
Fuck, my hand hurts. Have you considered putting this diary on your computer, too? Sometimes, your old school tendencies are hilarious.
I think I’m done, here. By the time you read this, I’ll have taken you on a gondola ride down the river, playing my guitar. It’s not a horse-drawn carriage, but hey, nothing is.
Really, any date we ever have will pale in comparison. You blew your load too early – it happens to the best of us. But I’ll be damned if I don’t try, Maxine Caulfield-Pricefield-Price.
Reiterating; I love you. In this life, and the next, we’ll have each other. So let’s ride this bitch we call ‘life’ in style, okay?
And I mean that in the best way when I call life a bitch. Life is good. Strange, but really good. Thank you, for everything. Happy Anniversary, my love. May our days be filled with our dreams formed into reality, and whatever else the hell we desire. Time to live our lives, for us, and with our friends.
Now if you don’t mind, I’ve spent enough time hypothetically draining your metaphorical balls, so I think I’ll go directly to you and do it in the physical metaphorical sense. Such a romantic, I know. You know you love the B.
– Your Butterfly.
Chloe sat down the pen, and rubbed at her wrist, yawning.
Honestly, she had meant to write about the past year they had all spent abroad, but apparently she had a lot to get off her chest.
They had traveled to Australia, New Zealand (she didn’t care what anyone said, she couldn’t tell the difference between those two for the life of her), and Germany, as they were beginning their tour of Europe.
The reaction had elevated their business to proportions they had never even dreamed of; news that the biggest shareholders of Instagram had been travelling the world, shooting and drawing the exotic landscapes and people, and posting it on their group account, for free, skyrocketed their website sales dramatically for the prints of their escapades.
They had a ways to go, travelling the world, but they showed no signs of slowing down. Kate and Victoria were practically still in their honeymoon phase, and if she were honest, so were Max and herself.
She loved her more a little bit each day, and that was just by seeing her so happy, watching her explore the sights and sounds with a childlike wonder, as she had dreamed of for two decades. And, as Max kept reminding her, it would have meant nothing if she weren’t right by her side.
While Chloe and Kate took every opportunity they could to draw portraits and their surroundings, even enough to set up booths on the streets and do free artwork for the patrons who walked by, Max and Victoria made a hell of a team, always knowing when and where to find the right shot. They were of course, gracious enough to spare a fair amount of shots, in favor of their significant others to recreate the beauty, and even though Kate was more in favor of cartoons, she adapted to the realistic style very quickly. Her cartoon-style of drawing impressed a great deal as well, putting her animations adaptation side-by-side to her wife’s real world capture.
While they had their fair share of fun in the cities they explored, they all explored their passions through their art, and spending time together. That was what truly made it fun.
Chloe yawned, once again, before turning away from the desk to join her wife in bed.
What she saw made her heart stop. For a long moment, it really did look like time itself had been paused.
And she had every reason to think that. Max, sitting up against the headboard in their bed, had an open book in her hand – a very familiar, very important book – while her other hand was reached out in front of her, her fingertips grasping for – something.
She had a look of such concentration on her face, and even if time was frozen, Chloe didn’t need any at all to figure out what was going to happen.
Or, rather, what should’ve happened.
She jumped, and dropped her hand to her side. “Oh! Chloe. You scared me.”
The strawberry blonde looked at the book, and back at her wife.
Max seemed oblivious to the obvious concern. “I… I need you to tell me something. And be honest with me. Please.”
Chloe, almost on the verge of tears, nodded. She needed to hear this one out.
Then Max began to look scared. Terrified. “Did all of this really happen, in this book? Because… because I don’t have a fucking clue what’s going on right now. All of it… it’s a blank. I woke up, and I can’t remember any of it. I forgot – everything! But I think I remember having those memories. Am I crazy?”
Chloe stumbled back into the desk. “What?”
“I’m not crazy, am I? This really happened? I could… I could travel through time? Help me, Chloe!”
Ever since Max could remember, she was always in love with her best friend. That was the one constant that had never changed throughout her life.
And maybe, sometimes, she had been a bit overprotective and paranoid. Everything she had accomplished in life, she did it with Chloe in mind. And she knew the answer to why she had done it that way; because she couldn’t bear the thought of Chloe dying again.
She honestly, for the life of her, couldn’t remember her friend dying. But she knew it happened, multiple times. And she was there. She just couldn’t recall it. It was more of a fact than a first-hand experience.
And that was a serious fucking problem, to see the love of your life dying, but she could only recall it as well as her first steps.
Actually, she could remember her first steps, now that she thought about it. Barely, anyway. She had spectacular memory.
So why the fuck couldn’t she remember her best fucking friend dying?
There were so many memories – or rather, unconfirmed thoughts – that sailed through her mind. So many people that deserved remembering, and cherishing: Warren, the loyal friend and science nerd; Kate, the shy recluse who was intimidated by the harshness of the world around her; Victoria, the vindictive bitch who lashed out because of her insecurities; Nathan, the psychopath in training who was used by his father and his teacher, and responded to that in the worst way possible; Mark Jefferson, the genuine psychopath who had literally no excuse for the sins he committed against her, Chloe, Kate, Victoria and everyone else.
And a blue-haired goddess, who was so pissed at her for her abandonment and betrayal, yet in a matter of four days, gained her trust, friendship and so much more, and they kicked the world’s ass together, until she was forced to make the ultimate choice.
None of it was there, in her mind. None of it. Far beyond memories, or even dreams. It was just… information. The book helped her remember, but it only confirmed what she had suspected when she awoke – they were no longer her own memories.
Max looked up in relief at her best friend and partner. “So it’s over? It’s really over?”
Chloe sighed, a giddy smile on her face. “Yeah. It looks like it’s really over.”
Kate and Victoria had made it a point early in the tour to look at and visit different customs around the world when it came to her religion, and others, in an effort to expand their knowledge and understanding. Max and Chloe made it a point to go with her the next time. And the time after that.
Being hugged by Pope Francis was an experience unlike anything she had ever known before. It was something all four of them had shared.
And even then, the greatest thing that had ever happened to Chloe was still the fact that Max, retaining none of the memories of her former life, the pain and the sacrifices, still loved her as much as she ever did before.
And Max was genuinely happy with that sudden revelation. They still had the book, all of it recorded. She didn’t need that mental baggage, those nightmares haunting her.
The old Chloe – Blue – was far from a figment of her imagination. She was very much real. And she would never be truly forgotten.
But Chloe – her Chloe – could only remember the good times, and now, so could Max.
And what good times there would be.
~January 19, 2016 Diary Entry~
Oh, Chloe. You can’t keep me away from my writing for long. Now, more than ever, I can’t forget where I came from. Talking to myself on paper? Yeah, I still do that. Some habits never go away.
I’ve actually kept a book of index cards that I’ve been writing on every single day since the incident. It’s an addiction. I never considered being a writer, but I think I could actually put a thousand words to every picture I’ve taken.
We’re in Asia, now. Tokyo, Japan, to be more specific. I wanted to try those tiny little pod hotels, but Chloe put her foot down. I wasn’t serious, but she’s so cute when I try to take away sex from her.
I want to keep this short. Chloe’s really said enough for the both of us in the last entry. That took up a lot of pages. I may have to go digital. Max Pricefield, selling out? Even after everything, I don’t think I did just yet.
‘Everything.’ It’s hard to figure out what that entails anymore. There’s a pre-era and a post-era. I don’t even know what to call it. Pre-life? Post-Apocalypse? Pre-jump and post-jump? Does this – the new, powerless, practically clueless Max – count as a new era? It feels like it should be labeled as something so much more than that.
But at the same time, it doesn’t. It’s just not that important to me anymore.
I love Chloe. And, maybe for the first time in twelve years, I don’t need to separate the two. They’re the same in my mind, now. Well, same in name, at least.
I don’t think I would’ve minded the taste of beer and cigarettes in her mouth, or the taste of metal embedded in her skin, or the body art, or the lack of shaving, or the bullet necklace, or even that beanie, that hid her beautiful hair. Because I associated all of it with the woman I love.
Even her love for Rachel Amber. I didn’t mind it at all, I think.
Now all of that is gone.
Now, this Max does mind it all. That’s not Chloe anymore. That never was Chloe.
Okay, maybe one tattoo. I have just the animal/insect in mind.
We’re two different people, now. The blue-haired rebel and the shy little hipster are distant memories, dreams even. Perfect for each other, perfect for that era. A tragic love story; victims of destiny.
This story is far less dramatic. So boring, and uninspiring. So… so much better. Kate would likely agree; so would Victoria. William and Joyce would like this story better, surely. My parents, I’m not so sure, but at least they get to fulfill their dreams and do their own tour of the states. I think I’ll have them visit us for a while – I’d like to spend more time with them. I’ve spent the first fourteen years of my life with Ryan and Vanessa, and that’s it; I took four years of family time from them. I’ve never been to a Seattle game with my dad, my mom never took me to the Emergency Room because I swallowed my teddy’s eye. Even the good memories are gone. But I’ve made so many more good memories here.
To whomever out there, watching over us now, I want to thank you. The shit that I’ve been through, the both of us, once upon a time, was all a setup. Now I get it.
A stupid lesson on love and sacrifice, I once called it, according to the book. Chloe and I would’ve lasted with just a truck and a dream, I’d bet my life on it, but this life was a second chance. A final chance. I kept jumping forward after a few minutes because it was all a waste of time. I just wasn’t going back far enough. I got to cherish every second of this life, and it feels so organic. It feels like this reality is the only one I’ve ever known.
I never left Chloe. She never died. Her family was never broken before its time. I kissed my best friend for the first time (outside of dares, because she suspiciously did that a lot) when I was fifteen, and I told her I loved her on Prom Night, on fucking Valentine’s Day, for the first time, the same night we lost our virginity to each other in and around the Blackwell Pool that I incidentally paid for (you’re welcome, Otters); the same night she proposed to me.
I’ve never pitied Kate, and I’ve never felt intimidated, or angered, by Victoria, and I’ve always considered Nathan Prescott a decent person. I’ve always appreciated my own talent, and I never doubted myself. That’s the Max that I remember, and that’s the life I chose.
Never, once, have I idolized my best friend’s killer, Mark Jefferson. He is only a stranger who died in prison years ago. And that, from a true outsider’s perspective, may have been the greatest gift of forgetfulness – according to my diary, that was the nightmare fuel.
So in the end, I guess I really was given a choice. Sorry for yelling at you all those years ago. Whoever, or whatever you are, great ghost doe in the sky.
This isn’t the story of Chloe and Max, Part Two. It’s not even a reboot. This is the story that was always meant to be told. It’s the original Director’s Cut.
I feel like this book – this thoughtful, leather-bound wedding gift from my best friend – should have a warning in the beginning of it. ‘This is a work of fiction’ and ‘horribly parodied characters’ and ‘Sorry’ has to be in there, somewhere. I love my friends, and they would never speak to me again if they saw their characters. Time to get a safe deposit box.
And maybe, I could give Chloe the go-ahead for the alternate book release.
Max-era and Sam-era. Blue-era and Chloe-era. A lot of cross-over there, but doable.
The book next to me, beside my journal, is the story of the adventures of Sam and Blue. Their adventures began and ended in a beautiful tragedy. Shakespearean, only they were the last ones standing.
The continued life and tales of Max and Chloe – The Doe and the Butterfly – doesn’t need to be told. And it probably never will be. But, in context, compared to all the shit I’ve been through – what Sam and Blue have been through – it’s a hell of a story. A story about redemption, hard work, and making the best possible choices in life. Now that sounds like a lesson I can get behind. Much better than ‘Be selfish and kill everyone’ or ‘Allow your best friend to die because fuck you, that’s why.’
Maybe it’s unfair for me to only remember this life, and the best parts, and the choices I made, and not the fumbles and mistakes that led to them. Maybe I shouldn’t go through the rest of my life missing that same sense of gratefulness, and feel more free in my decisions, not being as cautious in the consequences that could follow.
But Goddammit, after living three decades, and only being twenty years old, maybe I deserve to forget. And that’s how life is supposed to be, right? Making choices. Lately, I’ve been making a lot of good decisions. I don’t know what the future holds for me after that second, because making the right choice isn’t necessarily getting a good outcome; I may have raised myself to do what feels right, but lately, even before the memory loss, it’s consisted of rolling the dice, rather than turning the page. So many outcomes, and I’m feeling a comfort in that now. The feeling of being unsure may never go away, but I don’t need time travel to know how that affects me, and everyone around me.
I meant what I said in the school paper, the week after our engagement; making all the right choices is hard as shit. I, more than anyone else, was qualified to make that statement. Even with the cheat codes to life itself, I royally fucked up.
Moving to Seattle after William died was the first time I truly felt helpless. It was the first time I felt like I didn’t have a choice in the matter, and truly hated myself more than even Chloe could hate me. Even without the pain of that memory to back that statement up, I could tell you that by reading the book. ‘Had things gone differently…’ Asked and answered, thank you.
My job as an advice columnist reminds me every day that the choices we make are our own, even if they affect everyone around you. Changing my answers was a choice. Helping Alyssa was a choice. Saving Chloe, and Kate, and Victoria. Going back that final time. I needed those powers – those memories – then. I don’t need them now. Never have, in a sense. It was necessary for Sam to have that, for Max to live the life they both always wanted. The life everyone needed. The perfect storybook beginning, and middle. And with the help of my friends, we’ll all have our perfect ending. It’s possible, now.
But our story’s far from over. Hella far.
Sorry. I couldn’t resist.
Butterfly, from one romantic to another, I love the fuck out of you, too. You love that nickname so much, and I know why I gave it to you, but I have no context behind it anymore. Still, the name stays. I owe what I used to be so much more than a nickname. You know you love the D.
You’ll always be my Butterfly, and I’ll always be your Doe. I may not have first-hand experiences of the mistakes I made, to get to the sacrifices I made for our happy story, but I don’t need to. What I remember, right now, is the love I’ve always had for you, and I can always, from this point on, say that you’ve done that, naturally, and no one else.
Wait, that made no sense. Time travel is so fucked up, so I’ll try to say it in a different way, so even I can understand it. I’m not in love with what you’ve become; I’m in love with what you’ve always been.
Now, I see the difference. Now I completely understand why you didn’t want me to start over. Not just for my sake, but for yours, too.
It’s a dead topic, but I need the last word on this. If anything happens to you, my world shatters apart. That’s why you’re my ‘Butterfly’. Your life and happiness are the easiest choices I’ve ever made. Always and Forever.
But we’ve paid our dues. We’ve got long, beautiful lives to live. I’d bet my life on it, too.
So let’s live our lives. Let’s cause chaos. Let’s have fun. Let’s do what we want. Let’s be pirates. Partners in Crime and Time.
We may not have all the time in the world now, but we have each other for a lifetime, and that’s all the time we need. Long live the Pricefields.
– Your Doe.
Final Author’s Notes: Once I finish my Harry Potter Stories, I may find myself branching out. Maybe not completely phasing out everyone’s favorite wizard, but I would love to find out what I could do in other fandoms. Eight years in one fandom tends to burn you out. I may return to Life is Strange, or, more suspiciously, the sequel that has been confirmed, because I’d definitely be picking that up. I’ll need your support to do that, whether it be through Patreon or reviews. I also recommend the PDF file I have on my website for One More Time. It reads like a book, and looks… fucking beautiful, If I do say so myself. Cover, original game font, some nice art. Please, check it out. If I didn’t make it for paying customers, I’d be selling it.
Anywhere you can review on the multiple sites I’m on, like right here, please try to leave a comment. I’d love to hear your opinion.
I hope you enjoyed my tale, and I hope you stick around for future endeavors.
And even if I don’t write another Life is Strange story, other than the occasional one-shot, please remember the moral of this epic – Long Live the Pricefields.
On a special note, if anyone plans to be a Momocon, or Anime Weekend Atlanta later this year, I hope to see you there. That is all. I’ve never met a fan before, and if anyone sees my little advertisements littering the hallways, I might be near.
Stay hella strange, Butterflies.