Max had an entirely new reason to be worried about October 11, 2013.
Max hesitated before she pressed ‘Enter’, staring at the ornate password. Chloe could see her inner panic. “Babe, are you sure? I don’t need to know. I can see it’s eating you up inside. You don’t have to show me.”
“That’s the problem, Chloe.” She quickly tapped the keyboard and spun around in her swivel chair. “I do. It’s my choice. You deserve to know.”
“At what cost, Max? You told me I might hate you for reading this.”
She stared off to someplace behind her betrothed from the chair, and thought to herself. “I’ve been selfish for a long time. You helped me realize that the night you proposed. I always thought about what’s the best choice for me, or the best choice for us. Never, once, did I think about what you would want.”
“Max…” she gently leaned against the arms of the chair, staring intensely into her eyes. “Don’t make me sound like such a cliché, sappy bitch, but what do you think I want? Who did I propose to? Who do I dream of, think of, sleep with, all at the same time? I know I can be a bit… doubtful, but I know, and you know how much we mean to each other. I don’t want to destroy that.” She reached over, and before Max could blink, she clicked the ‘X’ at the top right of the monitor. “I can’t.”
“I’m a time-traveler!”
“See? It’s all fiction! Now, you can read it, right? It doesn’t mean anything.”
“A fiction that you’ve been writing since you had that dream ten years ago?” She clicked the ‘Cancel’ button on the confirmation popup. “I’ve always been curious about what you’ve done on this computer, but I’ve never tried to peek. Not once. I knew you’d tell me when you were ready. It’s funny; now I don’t think I want to. But you win this round, Caulfield. If that’s your real name.”
“It’s not.” Chloe blinked, and looked back at her fiancée. “Sorry. Bad joke. I’ll shut up now.”
“No.” She turned back to the computer. “If it’s as bad as you say it is, I’m asking for clarification. Let me get the chair, and sit your pretty ass on my lap. And try not to distract me like you usually do.”
Not one question was asked as Chloe perused Max’s digital diary, reading every entry, or chapter, seeing every hand-drawn picture. What a fascinating story it told.
It was more in the form of a book, in a way, told in an almost diary-like format. Chloe read about a girl named Blue, and how she had never been the same after her father died. She had lost her best friend, Sam, and her mother re-married a… difficult man. They didn’t get along well, and while Chloe couldn’t sympathize, she could understand. She read how the girl began on a downward path, spiraling out of control.
Of course, she had asked herself multiple times why she would be angry at Max for whatever this was, but she could guess that Sam was based on Max. And really, with the liberties she was taking with everyone around her, there would be a number of people who could be offended.
It wasn’t until Blue was shot, and Sam was able to reverse time, did the first puzzle piece fall into Chloe’s mind. In her mind, Blue was more of a supporting character, but this was a unique spin on things. Still, the nagging feeling in her mind wouldn’t go away. She continued to read about the adventure they had, from Blue giving her friend a camera from her father ‘Billy’, to Sam almost shooting a man in Blue’s defense, to saving her from the train tracks.
More puzzle pieces started to fall as Sam slowly became the integral piece of the story. At some point, Max must’ve realized how difficult it was to write about someone who had a second-hand account on time-travel, never really witnessing the act. Blue wasn’t even there to witness Sam save Kate from committing suicide.
Chloe examined that carefully. Was that an artistic choice? Or did Max have another reason for writing the scene that way?
It was almost like she was writing in code. Max, writing this over the course of many years, seemed like she just wanted to get her facts straight, and to not confuse certain events to the real life counterparts – events that Chloe recognized. But why?
Several pages down, Chloe figured it out. Blue was meant to be the main character of Max’s story, but there were a ton of gaps missing. There were things actually happening around Sam, but it was skipped over in favor of Blue’s woes.
Because it was all written by ‘Sam’. Sam was trying to write her own story, in Blue’s perspective. And she could tell that Sam, or Max, realized it wasn’t working anymore. The second half of the ‘book’ began in first person, and line-by-line, Chloe felt compelled to rename the protagonist, to the actual writer herself.
When Sam prevented Blue’s father from being killed, only to find her friend in a wheelchair, Chloe blinked as a random memory came to her – when she first got her truck, and Max printed out a signed certificate that said ‘Shotgun for Life’, and stitched it into the front seat with her permission.
There were a lot of these suspicious circumstances that she remembered, tied to this truck. She was very aware of Max’s paranoia, on some degree. It didn’t control her day at all, she was just more cautious than the normal person, or girlfriend.
She didn’t bat an eye at the tale being based in Arcadia Bay, nor about the Lighthouse. But the name ‘Jefferson’ was familiar, and several of their school friends were in the story. The Prescotts were portrayed as almost comic book villains, despite her knowing nothing about them other than their wealth, and Kate being suicidal was more than a worrying twist for their friend, and a huge bastardization of character. She was sure the girl would not want to read something like this.
Really, the only unfamiliar names were Sam and Blue, and she could easily guess who Sam was based upon. And, seeing the fictional girl’s description of Blue – not the physical description, but rather, Sam’s overall devotion and opinion of her best friend – she had a sinking feeling who Blue could be. And it really sounded like she was getting the shit end of the stick.
So, there was the off chance that Blue’s character was unabashedly some twisted version of Chloe, she eventually decided. While she didn’t really see herself as a Wake-and-Bake kinda girl, and guns certainly weren’t her comfort zone, and tattoos… well, they certainly wouldn’t have been on her arm, despite telling Max that her body was a canvas, and that led to another artistic talent Max didn’t know she had in watercolor painting, and left Chloe with a tickling fetish she didn’t know she had.
Of all the characters in the journal/story, Max had taken the most liberties in this fiction with Chloe’s assumed character. Still, her favorite color was indeed blue. Her mother, ‘Joy’, worked at the Four Seasons diner, and she had feelings for another girl, apparently named Amber. ‘Blue and Amber’, she finally noticed and noted out loud, and laughed.
Seriously, Max was terrible at aliases. She really didn’t know how to straight up lie without keeping her facts in check.
That was the last time she laughed for the rest of the story. When she, or ‘Blue’, was shot and killed by a ‘Mr. Jefferson’, and Sam was taken to the Dark Room, the puzzle was complete.
A slow breath suddenly rushed out of her. This was a real fucking story, and the events behind it were more detailed than anything written in the media. Mark Jefferson’s arrest and trial were the stuff of legend in Arcadia Bay, and Max had never seemed interested in the trials. Yet everyone could see how pleased she was when he was sentenced.
Jefferson. The name of Max’s bully all those years ago. That was the final piece.
The final pages were read in silence, and Max appreciated the calm. It was hard to keep it all together, but that part was written a decade ago. Even she had gotten confused of the order of events while writing it. It was a terrifying, hectic barrage of emotions and timeline-mixing.
July 28, 2003 Diary Entry~
“Do you believe in Destiny, Chloe?”
“Until it stopped working in our favor? Yeah.”
I don’t. At this point, I really don’t. Destiny, Fate, it’s all bullshit.
But who am I to say what’s real and what’s not? For all I know, I’m a lab experiment floating in a pod, never to wake again in a drug-induced coma. That’s the most logical way I can explain that whole week.
I realized then, that the only way to make that week seem like a dream, was to make my life a dream. It never happened. I will never forget that dream.
It’s been one month since I left her. One month since I abandoned her – again. It was so hard to focus on that drawing board, My eyes were burning with so many tears. Chloe was hugging her knees in the other room.
I sent her away. Because she would have tried to stop me from doing what we’d both regret. Not this, but… well, I wanted to break the board. No shit, I almost did. I really didn’t want to leave her, and do this.
But neither of us could live with the guilt of what that could’ve done.
We were in a cheap motel room in Los Angeles, on our last dollars of the money we stole from Principal Wells, and never gave to Frank, with a truck that got some major repairs. No doubt, we would’ve had to move in that truck. Then there’s no chance what the future held for us.
And I still didn’t care. At that moment, before I made the jump, I didn’t give a shit about our future. I was just so tired of messing up the past. And I guess that was the lesson I was supposed to learn – live in the present, and deal with the future.
And I responded to that by making one final jump to the past.
I want to quote the last words of a dear friend I once had. Number One: Get You, and I succeeded at that if you’re reading this. Number Two: Get Famous, and we can work on that together, if you’ve made it this far with me. Number Three: Get the fuck out of Arcadia Bay; for us.
Update: February 15, 2013
This place is something else entirely, now. And that has everything to do with the second request on the checklist. I didn’t half-ass it, not for anyone, never for you.
Every time I see her blue hair in my dreams, I know I made the right choice. Because now, she can only remind me of the biggest mistake I made in the past, and that’s being apart from you. When I first saw her again, I couldn’t recognize her I didn’t even know it was her when she was shot. When I see you, I feel at home. I almost feel like I never left.
Sam and Blue was the real alternate reality. This is the way it always should have been. And I – literally – couldn’t have done any of this without you.
I’m no Super Max. Not this time. But you’ll always be my hero.[Insert Groan Here]
That was the end of the entries. There were several drawings on the page remaining – an epilogue, Chloe supposed. She recognized the changes before she could even finish reading them, seeing the sketches side by side. A familiar girl with blue hair covered in a black beanie looked back at her, next to her own reflection, and the two couldn’t look more alike and different. She couldn’t bring herself to keep looking at it. She instead chose to look a pretty, vibrant girl with cornflower hair that flowed down her back, next to the sketch of a prim, shy girl with an ornate bun and nervous eyes. She saw other hand-drawn pictures, the unrecognizable faces not having a corresponding picture next to them, and seeing Daniel DaCosta on the heavy side was obviously the other timeline.
Another timeline. Honestly, it should have explained a lot. It would explain why Blade Runner always made her sad.
She looked at Max, the girl she had so long ago assumed was simply a Russian spy sent to infiltrate her life and report daily on her computer – or maybe just an extraterrestrial, learning their enemy and perfecting the art of human interaction before laying waste. This explanation made things so much more complicated.
Chloe studied her lover, her head turned away. She gave a genuine smile. Perhaps, not so complicated.
Max was rocked out of the silence by Chloe’s thigh, as she tried to get blood pumping back into her leg. “So…” she began slowly, and Max braced herself. “I… uh… you know, forgive me for not ‘being there’, but how the fuck did you fall in love with a girl that says ‘hella’ so much?”
The brunette had no clue what to say. She looked at her fiancée, and she couldn’t even find disappointment, or even a touch of anger. All she could see was that beautiful smile, a smile that she had lived an entire life for another glimpse of.
The look slowly morphed into one of concern at her lover’s expression. “Seriously? You go back and live through fucking everything, sacrificing your own happiness, to figure out a way to save us all, knowing that you might break reality and time itself, after sacrificing them all, for me, and you think I’ll be mad at you because… what, really?”
She wrapped her arms around herself, and leaned against her fiancée. “I really didn’t know what to expect. And I’ve been really good at expecting things for the last decade. Not knowing scares me. And the fact that I didn’t know how you, the girl I know better than anyone else, would react, terrified me. ‘Blue’ would have felt manipulated.”
“Blue had abandonment issues. Blue felt that the entire world was against her, and it probably was. You didn’t manipulate me. You made the freaking world right again! You put away Jefferson, you knocked Sean Prescott out of power, and saved my life, even after – no offense to ‘me’ – the stupid mistakes I apparently made. And I guess that would be the only reason I’m angry. My love for you wasn’t generated. You never made a blatant move. You couldn’t have pressured me into thinking you’re cute, and you certainly didn’t give me those dreams at night. No, what we have is real, but your love for me came pre-installed. I’m maybe sad I didn’t do it myself. But the love you two shared… maybe it was more natural, in a way. You both didn’t know how right you were for each other. But you didn’t try to produce the same thing with me. You made something different.” She reached up to pull at the thin blue streaks in her hair. “With homage to the original, I guess. But that was my choice, as it was the last time around. You didn’t try to make me into that Chloe. That would have been manipulating me. I became what I was raised to be – meant to be; a girl that loves her mom, her dad, and her best friend so fucking much.”
Max sniffed, and wrapped her arms around her girlfriend’s neck. “I’m so glad. And I fell in love with what you’ve become. ‘Blue’ was so hard to get over, but you, Chloe… you’re a different person. And I fell so much harder. It wasn’t a love copied over for you. If I lost all my memories of my previous life tomorrow, it would all be the same. I love you. Not what you were. The fact that you believe me in all of this…”
“Your ‘nightmare bully’ clued me in. So he was a teacher in your time? I’ve always known him as the celeb with a summer home here. Now I know which house to burn down, huh?”
“Way ahead of you. I may or may not have a few of his expensive equipment in a vault for auction to go to his victims, and may have had an old friend do a bidding war for who gets to press the button that C-4’s his house. That made a cool fifty grand.”
“I imagine that went to charity as well. I wish I was there for that. Why sell his items, though? I know you want to be a world-famous photographer. Unless it hurts too much to use his crap?”
She kissed her cheek. “Trust me, Chloe. He hasn’t scared me for a long ass time. And I haven’t used his crap because compared to what I can afford, it is crap. I’ve been busy.”
“Oh, really? How busy? Busy enough to live in LA?”
Max allowed herself a moment of self-satisfaction before replying. “Enough to buy LA. Or at least get it on a timeshare. I need to introduce you to that old friend.”
~Ten Years ago~
Eliza Fields was a nobody; less than, even. The way she saw the world, beautiful and bright and filled with potential, was not reflected back upon her. That was glaringly on display by the squashed box she sat on, and the tattered clothes on her back, sitting in the back alleyway behind the Two Whales Diner. But, while the world never truly appreciated her, she didn’t let that keep her down.
If she did, she would have been dead a very long time ago.
Eliza looked up to see a little girl with a neatly folded blanket. “Oh, you’re the little girl that Joyce adores so. How are you, little one?”
Eight-year-old Maxine Caulfield grinned toothily. “I’m doing great, ma’am, but it’s not about me. I’m fortunate.”
“I wish I could tell you that fortune isn’t all in life. But it’s certainly most.”
Max nodded, and handed her the blanket. “From what I’ve seen so far. Would you take it? The fortune, I mean?”
She studied the small girl. Generally, it was a cruel thing to say to a homeless woman. Still, the blanket was the most comfortable looking thing she had seen in years. The girl looked innocent enough, genuinely curious in the answer. “For a more comfortable life? Certainly. It’s not hard to imagine that we all would. But I’ve found that money tends to create a life of its own once it gets ahold of you, and takes you places you’d never wanted to be.” She shrugged. “Then again, I’m an old fool who’ll never get the chance to face those problems, nor have I ever. So I’m the last one to give advice about riches.”
For some reason, the girl seemed pleased. “On the contrary; I’m glad I did ask. Do you think I could give you some advice?”
Eliza didn’t know what to expect when she nodded, but the curiosity got the better of her.
“I don’t believe in Karma. But, sometimes, I believe in luck. I can’t guarantee your luck will change, but if you believe in Karma, then I could be able to help you.” She smiled impishly. “I hope to see you around.”
The girl skipped away, far faster than the woman could come up with a reply.
She sighed. She was happy to see the positivity of today’s youth, but also, somewhat heartbroken at the naivety.
Still, given the uncomfortably heavy and unnaturally comfortable blanket, she was willing to take the girl’s words to heart.
She gently unfolded the blanket over her flattened cardboard seat, only to discover a full set of summer clothes, packaged in the middle.
Pinned to the beautiful royal blue blouse, was a ten-dollar bill, and a scrap of paper with hastily written numbers. Seeing a scrawl beneath the bill, she lifted it, far more curious at the words and their meaning.
Feeling Lucky? The Lucky Numbers are…
“I originally considered blackmailing the Prescotts,” Max admitted, now sitting in an ornate dining room with her lover, smiling at the way she looked around in awe, “before Sean skipped out, of course. But I do believe in Karma. Exclusively against me, anyway. Still, I’ve always had a gift for memory – which is why I’m here today. I remember my dad watching the lottery, and how he quit after that day. He was two numbers short of one of the biggest in the country’s history. He won ten thousand dollars, but he couldn’t stand seeing how close it was, and how it was ripped away from him. That power number he missed was adopted as his lucky number for a while.”
Chloe was still trying to adjust to being in the home of Arcadia Bay’s resident multimillionaire – a home her lover had the key to. “And, uh… you didn’t help your dad?”
“I gave him another number to put on the ticket – his ‘lucky’ number. Just one number short gave them several hundred thousand – he was a lot less disappointed. That, along with selling the house here, gives them a good amount. Imagine their surprise when none of it goes to college.”
“Wow. That’s incredible. But… didn’t that lottery get split to multiple winners? And wasn’t the lottery only a few million?”
A regal-looking woman, someone the country knew by the name of Elizabeth Fields, made herself known, wheeling herself into the room. “It was, yes. You must be the amazing Chloe Price. Pleased to finally meet you.”
“Oh!” The reality of what was happening had hit Chloe ever since she had seen her fiancée’s tears of relief when she believed her. But she still didn’t expect the woman who could have made the Prescotts her slaves with pocket change alone, to greet her as ‘amazing.’ “Um, Hi.”
“Hello, Eliza,” Max smiled, and Chloe couldn’t help but notice how informal the greeting was. She was slowly beginning to accept that it was Max, and not Fields, who was the most powerful woman in Oregon. “Have you been well?”
“As well as a millionaire could be, darling.” She stopped short of them, and after exchanging hugs with Max, like they were old friends, she continued. “I take it that you’ve been told of the investment?” After the two nodded, she folded her hands on her lap. “She gave me ten dollars; that’s how it all started. Four of those dollars went to the lottery ticket, six for food at your mother’s. And to believe, I was just hoping to put some trust in an optimistic girl. She found me sitting in the diner the next day, and we went together to turn in the ticket. I didn’t even know it won until she told me. I was able to get a motel, and clothing and food, and she checked in every so often. I think it was a test. She gave me full control of my account. Contrary to the estate you’re sitting in, I’m not materialistic. She helped me choose and build this place from the ground up.
“It wasn’t long after that when Maxine introduced me to the stock market. A lot of them failed – as she wanted them to – but it was all essentially her money, not mine. I couldn’t doubt her for a second, nor did I have reason to. I never considered asking any questions. I just knew this little girl was something special.”
“I couldn’t have anyone looking into it,” Max explained to Chloe. “Winning the lottery of the biggest, at the time, jackpot already put a few eyes on us. We had to get rid of some of it to get under the radar for a while. Just another tragic story about a lottery winner wasting their jackpot in a matter of weeks, right? The news doesn’t want to cover that – those lotteries fund the state, and you can’t start discouraging people to play, talking about how you could lose millions – it’s common, and that’s something they don’t want getting out. The stock market seemed like the fastest choice for us to lose enough that it would be tragic enough.”
“And you made it back, I assume?”
Max Caulfield began to grin deviously. “For a while, we only had enough for Eliza to live comfortably, and for your swear jar tips. And it took a few years for it to happen, but it did; remember that time I asked you what ‘A Facebook’ or an ‘Instagram’ was, and you told me to get into the twenty first century?”
Chloe’s mind shut down. There was only so much she could take.
She knew that Fields was a primary investor in social media sites from the very startup, funding them from day one, but she didn’t exactly know what that meant.
“Fifteen Percent,” Max whispered, and Chloe really wished she had gotten into weed like her other half had. “Each.”
“HOLY FUCKING SHIT!”
Max looked amused. “I think I can front the tab on the swear jar this time.”
“Max, this is… how… when… how… how much?”
“We sold last week,” Max confided in her. “All of Facebook. Instagram, I’ll keep a while longer. Of course, now that everyone knows, public company and all, our little town might never be the same again once news gets out, but… we’re walking away with billions, Chloe.”
“What do we tell mom and dad?” Chloe, bless her heart, after stirring into consciousness, could only consider the complications of such a wealth.
“The truth,” Max muttered, stroking her beloved’s hair with one hand, while fanning her with a thin book she found on the table. “The most honest truth I could come up with. We are both volunteers in the Big Brothers and Sisters Program. Not to brag, but we’re a pretty damn good team together. We’re practically Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny combined when we walk into the center, or more recently, Anna and Elsa – do you know how rare it is that Disney sends out costumes to people for advertisement, before a movie even comes out? They trust us to sell their next movie, Chloe, just by being ourselves. Disney’s not the only backer, either – Eliza here took notice. She herself runs a program that takes underprivileged or orphaned youths and takes them under her wing, financing them through grade school, college and beyond. So far, The Fields Foundation has helped over two hundred kids across the state. Realistically, we’ve only stuck to Oregon for now. She likes what we’ve done, and wants us to continue her work, by vetting the kids that she wants to support next. That, in the process, makes us her sole heirs, seeing as she doesn’t have a next of kin. Her ‘special friend,’ Samuel, doesn’t seem to care about the money, but I’m generous.”
The Native American smiled. “Thank you for introducing me to such a kind soul.”
Chloe blinked. “And it’s that easy?”
“Honestly, I thought it was a pretty complicated ruse at the time. All I could think of was that Biff Tannen didn’t have shit on me.”
“Max, I understand why you held this from me. I do. But mom and dad… I can’t stand to see them working every day, and knowing that they could have retired by now…”
“Butterfly, why do you think my parents left me in your parents’ care? Our college fund is set, even if Blackwell isn’t an option. They get monthly checks from ‘my parents’, and Miss Fields is considered a personal friend of the family. My parents know that much, and allows her to send your parents the check under their names. I think part of them still feels guilty that I’m not with them, but they know it’s for the best. The checks from Eliza go directly into the diner, and William’s Junkyard, and bought your truck. Your parents told me not to tell you at the time, thinking my parents told me, and I never looked much into it, because I couldn’t tell you, not yet. We went to Paris with it, as a family. Your mom may be working in a diner, but she doesn’t need to; she wants to. Even on slow weeks, she’s always given us bonuses, right? I imagine they both wanted it to be a surprise for you, or us. We’ve never really struggled to get anything in life. And, I’m thinking, we needed to learn the value of hard work.”
Chloe could see where Max was going with this train of thought. “So they did it for my sake? Or for theirs?”
Max shrugged. “Both. Your family – our family – we’ve never needed anything. And we spend so much time with each other, I think Joyce really likes to see you work, to see us hang out, and all three of us enjoying each other’s company. William… well, I think William’s a hoarder.”
That got a laugh out of the strawberry blonde. “Okay, Max, okay. I concede. So now that I see how wide this conspiracy spans, is there anything else you think I might be mad about?”
Max gave a respectful nod to Eliza, before hugging her again, and left the room with her fiancée. “There is something else,” she muttered as they got back into their truck – in a personal garage of classic cars, and Chloe was pretty sure even Miss Field’s tastes weren’t that old. A question for another day. “It’s pretty big.”
“That whole ‘End of the World’ thing that started all of this; I still don’t know if that’s going to happen or not.”
“October eleventh. This year.”
Chloe sighed. “Okay.”
“That’s it? Okay?”
“It’s far from the most unbelievable thing I’ve heard all day. Nothing apocalyptic has happened yet, right? I’m gonna agree with you, and say it’s not going to happen this time around. Frankly, this makes things easier for me. Now we have a date for our wedding.”
“…I love you so much, Chloe.”
“And now, more than ever, I believe the ‘hella’ out of that. Am I saying it right?”
Four hours. Four hours after Max and Chloe sent in their applications, they got a text from the Blackwell scholarship office. The words ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Full Scholarship’ were pretty vivid in both texts, even if they were heading into the ‘Seniors Only’ school as graduates of their own high school. They played fast and loose with the ages, really. There were many questions about how everyone knew each other, and old graduates, for a one-year academy.
Still, Max remembered the processing being quite a few ‘business days’, namely a few weeks. Apparently, Blackwell had been watching the both of them closely. She had made more of an impact than she thought.
She just hoped that everything was at least vaguely familiar.
So many things were changing, specifically, around Chloe and her. They just got… stronger, together. She had so many questions about her alternate life, and the differences made. “I knew you did that thing too well,” she said cheekily after being told of Max’s final days in the other life with her alternate self, intimately, before going back in time. Really, their sex life was the least personal, and the easiest to discuss.
But while Chloe may have taken the news well, about… everything… she felt that her parents definitely owed her an explanation for the buckets of money they were hoarding.
Frankly, William and Joyce were overwhelmed at their daughter and future daughter-in-law’s prospective future when they told them, showing them some permission slip on the stationary of Elizabeth Fields. Even as Max had told them long ago that her inheritance was quite hefty, they still wanted to contribute to the fortune with the unknown amount – the trust fund seemed a bit pointless, now.
And Max was right, when it came to the reasoning. Their jobs made them happy, and they weren’t ready to give that up. Joyce served her breakfasts and daytime meals at near dirt-cheap prices, and William loved using the tools and equipment at the junkyard for the chance to get his hands on something. Apparently, a fire had been lit under him ever since the family had finally completed painting the house.
Looking closely at the couple, Max realized that they were the same happy pair she had seen in the photo, all those years ago, when Joyce was still pregnant with Chloe; the photo still hung in the hallway. In the other realities, she had no choice but to work, and it gave her a great deal of stress. This time around, not only did she have helpful daughters, but she still had her high school sweetheart by her side.
It was surreal how much people hated something when forced to do it, yet can’t get away when so many other options were available. Never once had Max rejected the idea of photography, even as it practically contributed to destroying her sanity.
“I can’t believe you kept hinting at wanting a laptop for Father’s Day last year,” Chloe complained, very mindful of the fact that she and Max had gone half-and-half for the gift. Unfortunately for her, that was the best example she could think of. She really didn’t care about materialistic things, upon reflection. It wasn’t that they never had money problems – she never even wanted anything. The steady paycheck helped, but, she was remiss to admit, the value of hard work, really actually meant something.
Did she still want to be an artist now that she was a billionaire several times over? Of course. Was she going to be just as determined and focused in her goal as she always had? Easily. Was that what Max had planned? It was hard to say. But she loved her all the more for it.
Life was strange. And, compared to Max’s life, she felt like she had the least worries, and was the least qualified to think such a thing. But, there it was.
The Pricefield Art Gallery was a rather expensive graduation gift, proposed by Arcadia High in association with Blackwell, and funded by Arcadia Bay’s prideful natives, Elizabeth Fields and Katherine Prescott. Even Max didn’t know about the building’s purpose, only seeing the massive establishment being built instead of what Max used to recall as yet another Prescott Hotel Area, or maybe whatever Pan Estates was supposed to be responsible for.
This was so much better than the Super Starbucks she had hoped for.
And both she and Chloe were given a giant pair of scissors to cut the ribbon. Seemed like the whole town was old school, not that they were complaining. Their graduation was held on the front lawn in front of the ribbon, across the street of the High School. Max stood before all of them as their valedictorian, Chloe beside her as the Student Body President.
Max had long ago stopped comparing the two Chloes. While they had similar mannerisms, this reality was more related to the Chloe who had perfect grades, who had almost accepted a scholarship to France before getting into a car accident.
Still, it blew her mind on an atomic level, and she couldn’t be prouder.
The future was as unpredictable as she thought it was, and as bright as she hoped it would be. They were right all those years ago; Max and Chloe, with their powers combined, could take over the world, time travel or not. Arcadia Bay was enough for the two. For now.
Chloe seemed to read her mind, and smirked. Max almost couldn’t finish her speech, and she picked up William Price’s analog camera from the podium to hide her nervousness. Luckily, this part was planned out.
She smiled out at the audience. She had come a long way from the timid, uninspired Max of yesteryear. “I try to take a photo as much as I can. Since my future father-in-law gave me this camera ten years ago, I don’t think I’ve missed a day. Every day is a new memory, and I want to be able to cherish them all. The camera lets you capture that moment in time. I want to look back on this day and know that this amazing time wasn’t a dream. Each and every one of us, we waited for this day, and while we all look to the future, our pasts are where we see the moments that changed us, and made us better. Our past is where we learned our mistakes. Our pasts set us up for the future. I want to remember that. I want to remember all of you, today.
“So, here’s what I propose; the greatest yearbook picture ever. Don’t move. You might regret it.” She aimed, and without much preamble, took the photo. “Ladies and gentlemen, the first picture to go into the art gallery.” She pulled the picture and shook it. “It will take up an entire wall of the gallery, and everyone is expected to sign their name on the masterpiece.” She grinned impishly at the audience. “I don’t think any of you would’ve forgotten today, but I’ve always made it a point in life of making sure everyone is grateful for what they have now. And for some, all they have are their memories. It truly is the little things we do in life that makes us who we are. The big decisions don’t happen if we neglect the little ones, much like this picture would just be an empty lawn, if you didn’t decide to come here today.”
She looked over to her beaming girlfriend, and returned the smile. “We didn’t know about this museum until a few days ago. We didn’t even know who submitted our photo for the competition. And when our photo won, to be displayed as the first portrait in the ‘Pricefield’ Art Gallery – well, we were pretty shocked. Thank you, Miss Fields and Missus Prescott, for this. Chloe and I, and everyone here, we won’t forget what you’ve done for all of us. We won’t forget what all of you have done for us. Thank you for accepting us, and making me your valedictorian. This little photo, I guess, is a small way of giving back.”
Max fidgeted in her black gown, before, being as casual as she could, flipping her tassel to the other side of her cap. “Ladies and gentlemen, I present Arcadia Bay High School’s graduating class of 2013!”
She watched as the caps were tossed in the air, and heard a click next to her. She looked over at Chloe and smiled, watching her take several photos of the celebration with her phone. “C’mere, Madame President,” she pleaded, and Chloe didn’t hesitate to get pulled against her girlfriend and meet her in a passionate kiss, filming the audience with her other arm, blocking the kiss with her own phone, flashing anyone who dared to look. The hoots and hollers, the oohs and awes, the cheers and applause – it said enough for a lifetime.
“Is it everything you’d ever hoped for?”
Max shook her head. “Better.”
It felt right at home, lying in the Prescott Dorms, in a giant room all to herself and her roommate, her lovely fiancée. They had always shared a bed, and this time was no different, but for some reason, it felt more…official, to be in a room with only one, giant bed. Maybe it was out of respect for her guardians that the two never decided to push their twin beds together, or maybe they liked the tight fit. Still, they enjoyed the comfort, and years of sharing the small bed always made sure they were never more than a few inches apart.
“How so, Doe?”
“Well… Victoria’s not a bitch this time around. She’s actually really… personable.”
“I noticed that, too. Do you think it’s an act? She could just respect people who have more money than she does.”
“In alternate reality number one, I think we were best friends. But here even she and Kate gets along well enough, which totally mind-fucks me.”
“And Nathan? Do you think this one isn’t going to pull a gun on me?”
Max grimaced. “I remember his relationship with his sister last time around. I think she’s been a really good influence on him. I heard that she never left Arcadia to travel. I don’t know much about Katherine, but Kristine Prescott should have him on the right path. He certainly didn’t look like a psycho. But Chloe, I need you to promise me, if you ever feel uncomfortable around him – ”
“Of course. But seriously, he’s just another stranger I met in the past week. He and ‘Blue’ had problems. ‘Chloe’ hasn’t done anything to him, or vice versa.” She tried to remember the rest of the characters of the story. “And Warren?”
“I’ve already got a list of girls to set him up with if things don’t progress as they should with Brooke. If not Stella, then Taylor. Dana looked interested.” She paused at Chloe’s meaningful look. “My Butterfly; I am very publicly, clearly, unabashedly out of the closet. I’m also engaged. I don’t think that anything can send a better message than that.”
Chloe grinned, reaching up to stroke the reddish-brown hair of the girl whose head was lain across her lap. “I’d be happy to send one out if he makes a move on you.”
“One: he wouldn’t. We haven’t even met. Two: I’m pretty inspired enough to give one myself, thanks.”
“Just offering.” The grin never left her face. “So, any significant changes?”
“No monster teaching my photography class, of course.” It still disgusted her how much she had a crush on that man. He was the sole reason she had wanted to attend Blackwell, so long ago. But that brought up an interesting query. “There are more people attending here than the last time. But he was the biggest selling point. People are coming from all over the country to this school for… what? Who?”
Chloe rolled her eyes. “You know, for how brilliant you are, I sometimes forget why I gave you the name ‘Doe Eyes.’ You’re so fuckin’ innocent, it’s adorable.”
Max blinked owlishly (or rather, doe-ishly) at the implication. “What? Me?!”
“You. Us. We have an Art Gallery built in our name, Max, and it’s a tourist point already. Your photos and my paintings regularly get into the city’s paper. Do you realize how many weddings we’ve had to attend in the past month alone? God, I swear I’m bringing back the ‘couple’ portraits in a big way, and they always end up asking you to be in the portrait with them. I had to put up on the site that it wasn’t an option.” She grinned down at her lover. “The legend of Super Max and her partner in crime, Cosmic Chloe, have only escalated over the years, maybe twice as fast in the last months. I’m actually starting to grow on the idea of staying here in Arcadia. This place has done so much for us.”
Max considered the concept. Their names were out there, certainly. Their online gallery was garnering plenty of attention as well. And, of course, the gallery was now a popular tourist destination in Arcadia Bay, and Chloe and her having their own wing of their best work gave her no small amount of pride. But that much attention? “Really?”
Chloe tilted her head. “Only one way to find out, I think. I have an idea.”
Principal Wells loved the idea. It went without saying that Eliza Fields signed off on it, and in a matter of days, the monthly Pricefield Scholarship Submission Contest began.
The ‘scholarship’ part was Max’s idea, but the rest was Chloe’s: at the end of the month, Arts Majors students were required to turn in a photo, or a photo of their submission, whether it be a painting, a sculpture, or any art of their choosing. The winner’s submission would be added to the Gallery for two years, and all fees waived during their tutelage at Blackwell.
The ‘required’ part was also Max’s idea. Unfortunately, Mark ‘POS’ Jefferson was still a decent teacher, and had at least taught her one thing – there was no point of being an Arts Major, if you weren’t going to take advantage of getting your name out there.
Being the unofficial leader of the Vortex Club – or so everyone seemed to consider her – made her feel like she had sold out, in some way, like the first alternate version of her. Then again, that Max didn’t appreciate her parents, and shunned all her friends, and was, quite frankly, according to her texts, a total bitch in her opinion. At least, this time around, she had become friends with all, or at least, most parties involved. There was still a little bit of hipster Max in her, after all – her music tastes were no different, she was still a sci-fi geek (and yes, after all these technical years, she was adamant in her belief that Spirits Within was one of the best sci-fi movies of all time), and she had even taken up skateboarding again, if only to get from one place to another. The more advanced skate-heads didn’t accept her, but they still acknowledged her as a non-poser. Really, there wasn’t too much a difference, she was just more outgoing. And filthy rich, as Chloe reminded her, which definitely put them at the helm in the more ‘prestigious’ crowds. And, also according to Chloe, they were looked upon pretty highly, even as they were proven to not flaunt the riches they had.
Chloe considered it as a sort of ironic justice, embracing the leadership of the Vortex Club, despite the non-affiliation with Blackwell. The two having rarely gone to many parties that Max wasn’t commissioned as a photographer for, she relished the thought of hosting one every couple of weeks.
The biggest physical change to Blackwell was the lack of desecration, and Max, for a moment, felt incredibly out of the loop no longer having the graffiti to read. The markings on the bathroom tiles were practically her news feed before, her gossip without communication. A plus and a minus, she supposed. The Academy finally looked as prestigious as it was touted to be. That ‘freedom of expression’, this time around, was no more. This time around, she had to look for the original gossip source – actual friends who were in the know, and she had plenty of those.
More or less, everything looked to be relatively normal; better than, even. Really, the only problem was Nathan, and it wasn’t even his fault – this time. He was a model student, and he was so chill, and easygoing around others. But Max didn’t forget easily, as she had proven time and time again. It was difficult trying to forget that past, and accept that Nathan ultimately recognized Max as the owner of the school. He wasn’t raised his entire life thinking that the Prescotts owned Blackwell; sure, they donated, but the biggest contributor was, of course, Elizabeth Fields, and it was since announced that she and Chloe were her surrogate daughters.
It went without saying that everyone at Blackwell deserved the desks that they sat in, in this lifetime and the last – It was just no longer a popularity competition on deciding who the best was. Now, it was a friendly contest, filled with students who just wanted to do their best, and get noticed in the world. And Max and Chloe had made it quite clear that they were not girls to be sucked up to, but willing to be impressed by the talent presented.
She ran a hand through her reddish-brown hair while she took a sip of her water. Once she made her run back to the dorm, she needed a shower in a major way. Then, she had to water Lisa (“But not too much!”) and get ready to meet up with Kate for tea, and discuss the Meals on Wheels foundation they had started up together back when they were juniors in high school. Well, Kate was actively running it, Max was mostly in the category of ‘devoted volunteer and partner’. The blonde looked so amazingly happy, seeing such a positive reaction to her foundation, tears almost came to the time-traveler’s eyes.
God, she loved this life.
She spun around and began her jog back, a small bit upset that Chloe couldn’t join her – she made these runs go by so much quicker – but she knew the reason; their wedding was coming up fast, and she was chatting with Courtney, Dana and Victoria, planning out some aspects of it that she and Kate might’ve missed.
Their. Fucking. Wedding.
She stopped running for a moment. She felt dizzy every time she thought about it, and not in a reality-breaking, nose bleeding way, but in an insanely giddy, ‘this should’ve been the strangest thing she’d ever have to deal with’ way. Shaking her head, with a massive grin, she took off once more.
Chloe had begged her off this particular meeting, and Max had out loud assumed a bachelorette party. Chloe smirked, stating that if anything of the sort were planned, it’d be public news tomorrow. They were both shocked at how big the news apparently was around the school. Their engagement article, while garnering all kinds of attention on a state level and slightly beyond, wasn’t expected by either of the girls to spark a bit of a movement, and the actual passing of a law. All she was originally worried about was Kate’s opinion, considering her religious background and all, and they were the best of friends today, second only to Chloe. If anyone had a problem, they kept quiet about it.
There were several people that she hadn’t ran into so far in this timeline, people she didn’t know the fate of. Considering Rachel’s relationship with Jefferson, it was entirely possible that she never went to Blackwell. She didn’t attend Blackwell to further her modeling career, after all – there were no classes for that – she was looking for a photographer that could further her career for her. And Frank, well, if there was no Rachel, then he had no reason to live in Arcadia Bay, specifically. He had a mobile home for a reason. She had read about a bunch of abused animals being rescued. She wished him luck in his alternate life.
David Madsen was the real missing piece. She had no idea where he was, and that worried her. David had saved her life, and she wanted to return the favor, but how was she supposed to when she couldn’t even locate him?
Fortunately, that, along with her (fucking!) wedding, were the only sources of stress she had at the moment. A lifetime ago, she had gone to the bathroom to wash her face in the mirror and make sure she ‘didn’t look like a total loser.’
She shuddered, mid-run. Without Chloe in her life, her self-esteem was shit. Her confidence had been in the pits ever since she had left for Seattle. And she was positive that the problem didn’t only apply to her at the time. Blackwell was noticeably better, but what really mattered was the students.
A small drone flew over her head, and she smiled and waved as it flew ahead of her.
With so many changes transpiring around her, it was sometimes pleasant to see that some things could stay the same.
Max had truly underestimated how much her betrothed liked to tempt fate. Sometimes, it was distressing to see how some things could stay the same. “Really, Chloe? The End of the World Party?”
“Uhhh… I can explain?”
She sat up in the bed and crossed her arms. “I’m sure you can. And I’m sure it’s a really good reason. What I’m worried about is the chaos theory.”
“Don’t be so morbid, Max! It’s nothing to worry about – really! It was Victoria’s idea, but I couldn’t exactly shoot it down because I’m superstitious! I didn’t have a legit reason to say no, but I managed to change the day, because, you know… wedding. It won’t even be on the eleventh this time around, it’ll be next week.”
Chloe could tell that the fact didn’t impress her fiancée in the slightest. “I promise this isn’t some cold, weird twist of fate. We talked about this. It won’t happen. I promise.”
“I… I worry, Chloe.”
“You shouldn’t. Nothing’s happened. Time isn’t ripping itself apart. The moon hasn’t moved, or doubled up, or blown to pieces. Not one bird has fallen from the sky that I’ve seen. And we’re… we’re fucking perfect, Max. I haven’t been doomed, or crashed, or accidentally shot myself, or had someone shoot me, or hit by a train or… well, we did it. You did it, Max. You saved me. You saved Arcadia Bay.”
Max sniffed, on the verge of tears. “And… if we didn’t?”
“Then we protect them.” Chloe reached up and gently pulled her head to her chest. “I’ll protect you this time, Doe. This fucking storm, if it comes, won’t stop us. I don’t care if it takes an eternity.
“And… if all else fails. We’ll use the storm shelter. You, me, and everyone else we love. And we rebuild from there. Should only take a couple billion, right?”
She shuddered. She had promised herself to never step into that room again: The Dark Room. But she’d do anything to save Chloe, and the friends she had rediscovered and coveted. “We’ll need to expand the place.”
“They have. That’s what Victoria’s told me. The Prescotts turned it into an official party pad. It can fit at least a couple hundred, so I hear.”
The younger girl blinked. That could work. But a depressing thought suddenly came to her. “So, that means we should have the End of the World party – ”
” – Nope, not gonna happen. You’re a little busy on the eleventh, remember? Nothing’s gonna change that date. Apocalypse or not.” She grimaced. “Okay, we move it to the bunker if there is an apocalypse, but you get what I’m saying. Max, I’m making it a mission, and none of this should go without saying, but we’re not getting married in a fucking torture room. That just gives too many bad vibes going into our future. I’m going to be a Caulfield surrounded by natural sunlight, maybe a tree, and you’re just going to have to get used to the idea.”
She sniffed. “Caulfield-Price.”
“We’ll talk about it. Oh! Speaking of which, and hear me out; I heard from an old friend today.”
“Really? Someone I don’t know?”
“Don’t be jealous. I’m shocked, too. I think I told you about him, once. I never met him outside the diner. We talked a few times. He’s like some drifter, sometimes in town. Scary, intense looking fucker, but nice enough. He heard the news from California, where he’s preaching, and he wants to officiate one of the first gay weddings in Oregon, and the very first in Arcadia. I wanted to talk to you about it first. Did we have anyone else in mind?”
She shook her head. Kate’s dad was sick, so that eliminated him. She had recently gotten a call from Doctor Bill, but that guy was a tool. “What’s his name?”
“You know, I never got a last name out of him – I guess I have one of his cards somewhere, he wants to thank me for introducing him to ‘his calling’. And to believe, a couple of years ago, he was breaking a cup of coffee on my cleaning shift. And to believe I almost condemned a future preacher to hell. And he actually did when I told him that! Real… strange dude.”
“As long as he’s mellowed out since then, I don’t see a problem with it. At least we won’t have that awkward speech of asking preachers to marry us. I’m pretty sure that if they wanted to, they would’ve asked already.”
“Ditto. Alright, I’ll give Rev Dave a call.”
“Life is Strange by Max Price-Caulfield.”
“So whaddya think?”
“I see you like the last name choice. So what’s the book about that I guess I wrote?”
“Not sold on the last name yet, first of all. But this book? Eh, it’s a bit of a science fiction. It’s got the classics – a timeless love, pun intended, one of the most powerful stories of friendship ever told, and maybe a little bit of time travel. Just a smidge.” She smirked at her girlfriend, whose jaw was somewhat slacked at the news. “I was gonna make it a ‘choose your own adventure’ story, but I’d need a volume set. Not a bad idea, actually…”
“Chloe? You’re not going to publish that, are you?”
“Course not. I don’t want my fiancée getting probed by the government. That’s my job. I cleaned it up a little bit, and changed some names and locations up a little more to protect the innocent on the test copy, but I wasn’t going to release it – not without your permission, anyways. But this one’s special – it’s got all the right names and places, and it’s the only one that reveals the whole truth. It’s a nice story for ourselves, right? I know how much you prefer hardcovers, so I made up an early wedding present. We have all the money in the world, so I figured I should go old school one more time before it gets to my head, right?” Her blue eyes softened. “You worked on this thing for so long and everything this book represents – on me, on us, everything. I think, at the very least, you deserve to get to look at it, and really appreciate this. It’s my way of framing a really impressive picture. This is just a week of your life, a long time ago, Max. Imagine what we could do with a lifetime?”
The physically younger girl hugged the leather-bound book to herself. She even took a whiff of the fresh pages. She blushed at her girlfriend’s smirk. “You’re subtly trying to tell me to work on a sequel?”
“I gotta admit; I enjoyed this story, especially after I fixed it up. But I can live with a great big picture book.”
“That’s an album we’re not giving to the gallery, Butterfly.”
“Hm. Butterfly. That would’ve been a good title.”
Maxine Caulfield looked around the silent clearing, rubbing her bare arms, far from feeling a chill. She had no idea how Kate had managed to talk her into a strapless gown. Her pure white gown was comfortable enough, as far as gowns go, but the strapless part made her feel naked.
She was glad she didn’t step on the gown on her way down the aisle, it would’ve slipped off her slight frame and she probably would have walked on for at least a few more steps, ignorant of her state of undress.
God, she was a nervous wreck. And it had nothing to do with the supposed end of the world. Sure, she was seeing double at the moment, but that was pure nerves. She hoped.
It had taken a lot of convincing, a lot of distracting, and a lot of busywork to take her mind off the supernatural worries, and more on her regular, every day worries. Chloe, Kate, Dana, Taylor, Courtney, and Victoria took on the challenge with grace, and the circle of friends got ready for a trip to Seattle for Max’s eighteenth birthday.
She had never marathon-shopped before, nor had she ever gone on a road trip, but both were experiences she would love to do again. And while Chloe’s truck was a tight fit, it was surprisingly easy to convince them all to double up on the rides, even as Taylor and Victoria jokingly accused the couple of converting them.
Still, she absolutely had to take the photo of Victoria sitting on Kate’s lap. She would cherish that one. When she had promised Kate a girls-only trip so long ago, she didn’t picture it going like this. The girls were completely willing to do the tea-shop tour, and even more enjoyed it. Seeing Kate happy gave her a thrill like nothing else, and the girls found the positivity infectious.
Of course, Max had kept Chloe all to herself, even when they switched after the pit stop in Portland. And being the observant girl she was, she couldn’t help but notice some of the interactions with the others. It truly fascinated her to see the bonding process happen right before her. Chloe, while Kate was driving, announced to the girls in the back that since it was pretty obvious that most of them were skipping the college experience, she advised that they get their experimentation out of the way. Dana made a weird face, and the girls laughed, and Max thought that was the end of it. And she was thankful; an all-girl orgy, while very distracting from her other worries, wasn’t in the cards for this timeline, and she didn’t mind one bit.
The girls had chosen a hotel room, while Chloe and Max decided to spend at least one night at her parents’ house. It was a tearful reunion, as expected, and combined with sitting down the fiancée in an ‘official’ capacity, the family felt more together than they had in years. Video calls could only do so much.
The girls took a tour all around Seattle, and set the entire next day aside for wedding arrangements and garments.
The second day, Max wasn’t a big fan of, but it was necessary for today to happen. Today, she stood in her beautiful, silk and satin, all-white gown, waiting for her wife-to-be to come down the aisle.
It was a beautiful, open-air arrangement, and she was ultimately glad she wasn’t there for the meeting that decided the setting – next to the lighthouse, overlooking the seaside town. Their lily and petunia encrusted arc was staked on the cliff side, and she stood under it, just taking in the atmosphere.
Arcadia was normally a quiet, easily traversable town, so the sounds of cars didn’t make it to her ears, but by the looks of the crowd before her, she had to wonder if there were any cars left in the urban area at the moment. Rows upon rows of friends, family, graduates of their high school, perfect strangers, children that the couple had mentored together, and even some press were sectioned off to the side. Of course, no flash photography allowed. Chloe was adamant about that, and that made Max smile.
Her dress was blue – as blue as the streaks in her strawberry blond hair – and the bouquet she held were of lavender roses. Her blue eyes were so piercing, and bright, and shining, and Max thought it was contagious, as water pooled her vision of the specimen before her. She blinked it away, and just stared in wonderment.
She hadn’t asked for many things, and although she had actively worked for it, she knew she could do without. The sight before her, however, reminded her of exactly why and how all of this happened in the first place.
Chloe Price, in all her stunning glory, made her way down the aisle, arm-in-arm with her father, William Price.
The world could end, right at that very moment, and she wouldn’t have even noticed. And Max was finally beginning to accept that it wouldn’t.
They both chose to wear gowns that weren’t too frilly and complicated to put on or especially take off, but the price tag wasn’t a factor. So it was with a relative quick pace that she was led down the aisle, and the two were holding hands, waiting for the minister to speak.
And Max had a hell of a shock when she found out who their minister was to be a few days ago.
“Dear family and friends,” the voice of David Madsen filled the clearing, “we’re gathered here to celebrate and honor the union of Chloe Price and Maxine Caulfield…”
For once, Maxine had no idea what the future held for her. She had no idea what challenges could come her way, or what good she would do in the future, or even bad. She was absolutely clueless as to the far tomorrow, and the choices that would lead to it.
“You bet your ass I do,” Chloe whispered raspily, before clearing her throat. “I mean, I do.”
But nothing more than this very moment made her certain; she wasn’t alone this time, and she’d never have to be again. The place where they discovered their pirate kinship, was the place where they would begin their greatest, and hopefully, least exciting adventure yet.
And she had yet another memory to replace on this day; the air grazing against her goosebumped skin, the crowd that seemed so far off from her clapping and cheering for their union, her new wife’s soft cheeks against her fingertips.
Never before could she really feel Chloe’s lips on her own like she did today, an absolute turnaround from that stormy night so many years ago.
As they separated and looked out into the crowd, she was more than relieved to not see a ghostly doe staring at her ominously – as good a time as any to show up. All she could see were the people she loved, and the people she cherished. Her Mom and Dad, and William and Joyce, sitting together, the sides of families for their respective daughters blurring completely. Her Blackwell friends and high school friends, clashing stereotypes of personalities with a passionate common interest in the couple before them. Kate Marsh, her sister in all but blood, sitting next to Victoria Chase, someone she was beginning to see as a loyal friend and business partner, the two beaming with pride side-by-side, Maid of Honor and Bridesmaid.
Maxine and Chloe Pricefield stood together, best friends and soulmates, married and official, Pirates, knowing that out of all the changes she had made, this one was what truly mattered and worked towards for so long – the reason she was here, the reason she never thought twice in her journey.
Her Butterfly wrapped an arm around her Doe, twirling her fingers in her red strands, and Max guided her by her waist back up the aisle.
She’d do it all again – everything – in a heartbeat. She just really hoped she didn’t have to.
Max and Chloe were strange people. It was implied that their life had to fit to that standard. But if it was going to be strange, it was going to be their kind of fucking strange.
Hella strange, as a friend once said.