All in Time – Chapter 10

Image courtesy of Harpuia @ LiSF

All in Time

A Life is Strange Story by OuTsYdeR

Chapter 10
Outshined

Max was already in her work clothes, sitting on the couch, eating a bowl of cereal. Victoria, in her designer outfit du jour, sat at the opposite end of the sofa, also enjoying a bowl of cereal. Max felt about as awkward as she ever had. She wondered if Victoria felt just as awkward. The silence between them seemed to point to an answer of “yes”.

Strangely, Victoria was the first to break the awkward silence. After clearing her throat, she spoke softly, “Thank you again, for letting me stay here, Max…” The tone of her voice was as gentle as Max had ever heard it. She was nowhere near her bitchy Blackwell tone. “You’re welcome, Victoria. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable for you.”
“Well, to be honest, this couch is lumpy as hell,” She laughed. “But, I have a roof over my head thanks to you. I’m really glad we’ve been able to put all the high school drama behind us. Now that I’ve been abandoned by the people who were supposed to be my friends, I feel like I can actually be myself.”

“What do you mean?” Max asked. She had an idea from their conversation during the week that never happened, but didn’t want to give away her foreknowledge.
“Well, the thing is, Max… I never hated you. Not really. I just acted like a megacunt toward you because you didn’t fit in with the ‘cool kids’. But, in reality, I actually admired your eye for photography, and… Yes, I actually like some of the same things you do. I feel like we could’ve been friends in a high school, in an alternate universe.”

“Wow, Victoria… I never knew.”
“Yeah, well… There is no cool kids versus nerds anymore. Just adults trying to get by, right?”
“Right. Speaking of which, I need to get to work.” Max said, as she rose from the couch and walked into the kitchen to put her bowl into the sink. After running some water into the bowl to prevent the excess milk from congealing, she strode back through the living room to pick up her messenger bag.

“Oh, Max! Um… I hate to ask this, but can I bum a smoke from you before you leave?”
“Sure,” Max responded with a smile. “No problem.” She fished around in her bag and pulled out her pack of cigarettes. When she looked up, Victoria was already halfway across the room to retrieve it from her.
“Thanks, Max…” Her eyes lowered in a moment of what seemed like shame. “For everything.”
“It’s no problem, Victoria. Really. I enjoy helping people when I can.” She pulled not one, but two cigarettes from her pack and handed them to her short-haired ‘frenemy’.
“Well, all the same, thank you again. And, Max…”
“Yeah?”
“Be careful on your way to work.”
“Thanks, Victoria,” Max said, smiling once again. “I will be.”

 

As Max stepped outside and lit up her own cigarette, she began her walk to work, not completely sure if Victoria was acting or if she was genuinely being nice to her. It was always so hard to tell. Probably because of the shitty way she’d treated her in the past. It took a lot of good talks to wash away a few bad ones, it seemed. Max still didn’t know if she could fully trust Victoria, but she’d be damned if she wasn’t starting to like her.

The work day was a disaster. She’d gotten several orders wrong, which seemed to be happening more and more, lately. This led to a “coaching” session from Joyce. Everyone, herself included, found it odd that her memory would be slipping so much at the ripe old age of eighteen. Possibly the most unfortunate consequence of this was the fact that mixed up orders led to angry customers, which led to either very small tips, or none at all.

To add to that frustration, she’d also had one of her headaches, accompanied by the obligatory nosebleed. This was the first time this had happened to her at work. She was beginning to think the Two Whales was a safe haven from her physical ailments, but it seemed that was not the case, after all. She couldn’t help but wonder if this was a result of having used her power the night she was mugged. If that were the case, she was glad to endure the pain and inconvenience rather than be tasked with trying to stop a giant tornado.

As she thought about that night, her right hand reflexively went to the bandage on her upper left arm. The cut was deep, but was healing nicely. It’s definitely gonna leave a scar. She thought, as she rounded the last corner before she would arrive at her apartment building.

What the fuck? She thought to herself as she realized that she was literally walking down the wrong street. She’d passed her apartment building, and was now a good four blocks away in the other direction. What is wrong with me? First, I send that weird text to Victoria, then I start messing up orders at work, and now I walk four blocks past home without even realizing it? God, maybe I really am losing it!?

Finally arriving at her apartment, she shrugged her messenger bag off onto the floor next to the front door, which she closed and locked behind her. She felt tired. Almost as tired as she usually felt when she wasn’t sleeping. Wanting nothing more than to wash the diner filth off of herself and relax for the rest of the day, she made her way toward the bathroom for a shower. Hearing the water already running, she surmised that Victoria was already using said amenity. Letting out a heavy sigh, she wandered to the bed instead and flopped down. Lying on her back, her feet still on the floor as the lower half of her legs dangled off the foot of the bed, she stared up at the ceiling.

At some point, her eyes had closed, and she had almost drifted off to sleep, when she heard the water stop running in the bathroom. Instinctively, her head turned toward the door, as she waited for Victoria to emerge, so she could take her turn at the shower. Little did she know that she was about to get more than she’d bargained for. After a few moments, Victoria stepped out of the bathroom, in all her glory, naked as the day she was born.

“Christ! Victoria!” Max yelled, as she reflexively covered her eyes with her hand.
“Shit! Max, I didn’t know you were home! I’m so sorry!”
“It’s fine,” Max said, chuckling awkwardly. “Just get some clothes on, woman!”
“Right!” Victoria responded, as she ran out of the room. Max couldn’t resist sneaking a peek before she closed the door behind her.

Finally getting into the shower, Max cranked up the hot water and let it run down her back, soothing the tired and tense muscles. After scrubbing the diner grease from her hair and body, she carefully washed her still healing knife wound and new tattoo with anti-bacterial soap. After stepping out of the shower, putting a fresh bandage on the cut on her upper arm, and applying some Vitamin A&D cream on her tattoo, she wiped the steam condensation off the mirror, and screamed.

The face looking back at her was not hers. Slowly, Max waved her hand. The body in the mirror mimicked her movements, but, in the center of it all was Chloe’s face, wearing a very condescending expression.
“C’mon, Max, you’re gonna make both our arms tired!” The woman in the mirror said.
“Chloe? How are you here? This doesn’t make sense!”
“Doesn’t it? I mean, did you really think you could have a dream without me showing up?”
“Dream? No, that’s not right. I’m wide awake. You can’t be here.” Max said, but the sick feeling in her gut told her otherwise.
“If you’re wide awake, who is that on the bed over there?” Chloe replied, pointing out the door into the bedroom. Max turned her head to look into the bedroom and saw her own body, still lying in the same position it was in before; feet on the floor, lying on her back. It was then that she realized that, not only was she still asleep, but she hadn’t taken her Xanax.

“I have to say, I’m pretty fucking disappointed in you, Max.” Chloe continued. “Not only are you banging Warren, but you’re checking out other girls, now?”
“What? No! I mean, I looked at Victoria, but I wasn’t ‘checking her out’.”
“Bullshit!” Chloe spat. “You might’ve covered your eyes as a token gesture, but you totally checked out her ass on the way out.”
Max could feel her cheeks burning as she blushed deep red. “Chloe, I…I’m sorry.”
“Maxine Caulfield, if you think for one second that, just because I’m dead, I’m not going to get jealous, you are seriously mistaken!”
Max began to cry as she spoke between sobs, “I’m so sorry, Chloe… I don’t mean to hurt you. I love you, and only you… Please know that.”
Chloe simply folded her arms and looked away in disgust.
Suddenly, Max was alarmed to hear a third voice… “Max, wake up!”

 

Next Chapter: I’m No Angel

Previous Chapter: Slip to the Void

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