All in Time – Chapter 12
All in Time
A Life is Strange Story by OuTsYdeR
Max carefully studied the photograph, probably a little more closely than she should. It was truly a beautiful shot: Victoria, winking, her short, dirty-blonde hair still messy from a night of sex and sleep. One arm outstretched, holding the camera, the other crossed beneath her exposed breasts, giving them a push-up effect. At the bottom of the photo, on the wide white border was written, “Since you seemed to like them so much…”
Letting you a heavy sigh, she finally put the picture down. Well, at least she didn’t leave a twenty on top of my dresser, or something, Max thought to herself. She wished she hadn’t slept so heavily, so she could have at least said goodbye. She realized that it might have been awkward, but she wouldn’t have minded getting away from that dream a little earlier, as well. The thought occurred to her that Victoria might have slipped out while she was still sleeping in order to avoid any awkwardness. Though, she imagined that it would have been mostly one-sided.
As the silence of her apartment began to envelop her, Max suddenly felt so alone. Of course, that heart-wrenching dream hadn’t helped. Giving up on the day, she lie back down and inhaled deeply from the pillow that Victoria had slept on. A small smile crept across her lips as it still had the other girl’s smell on it. It was so strange to her that she’d developed an emotional connection with someone she used to hate, especially in such a short time. But, there it was…
Rolling over, she picked up her phone and began to write a text to Victoria. “Hey, Vic. Thank you for an amazing night! I’m sorry I missed you this morning.” Thinking better of it, she held the backspace key, erasing the message rather than sending it. What the hell is wrong with me? She thought. The only person I can make a connection with is someone who doesn’t even care enough to wake me up to say goodbye? She sniffled as tears began to run from her eyes and down her cheeks.
Feeling herself sink into a deep depression, she suddenly remembered that she had neglected to take her antidepressant the night before. Opening and reaching into her nightstand drawer, she retrieved both her Lexapro and her Xanax. Swallowing a double dose of the former, she chased it with a single dose of the anti-anxiety medication. Within minutes, she felt at ease, relaxed, but still sad. She wanted so badly to not be alone right now. The emptiness and silence in her apartment was so crushing that she couldn’t bear the thought of getting out of bed, let alone going outside.
It was in this moment that she realized that her feelings toward Victoria were not real. Yes, she thought Victoria was beautiful, and sex with her had been dynamite. But, Max realized now that her brain had deceived her heart. It was simply using Victoria as a substitute for the woman she truly loved. Oh, Chloe. I’m so sorry, Max lamented internally. I would give anything for that to have been you last night, for you to be here with me today! Whoever said ‘it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’ was a complete fuckwit. If I had a dime for every time I’ve wanted to die since losing you…well, I’d have a shitload of dimes…
Pulling a cigarette from the pack atop the nightstand, she lit it, inhaled deeply, and flicked the ashes into the ashtray. There has to be more to life than this, she thought, as she took another drag. Why can’t I be one of those people who gets over things quickly and moves on? Hell, I’d even settle for being able to block it out. She took another long pull from her cigarette as she contemplated suicide for about the fourth time since allowing Chloe to be murdered. With tears filling her eyes once more, she picked up her phone and began writing another text message; “Hey, Kate. Are you busy?” This time, she confidently tapped ‘Send’.
“Max! Not busy at all. It’s good to hear from you again! We’ve missed you at church.” Kate replied, after a few moments.
“Yeah, sorry about that… Do you wanna hang out today?”
“Sure. When and where?”
“Um, how soon can you be at the Two Whales? I’m sorry for such short notice, I just… Need someone to talk to.”
“I understand, Max. I can be there in 30.”
“Awesome! Thanks Kate! See you in 30.”
Max stood outside of the Two Whales diner, finishing her cigarette before walking in. It felt weird to be walking into the front door rather than the back. Hell, it felt weird coming here on her day off, period. Waving to her coworkers as she walked back to her favorite corner booth, she decided to do one of the few things that never failed to bring her joy. Sliding two quarters into the jukebox, she selected “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. She grinned widely as the song started, accompanied by the collective groan of the entire staff, as well as some of the patrons.
Max waved to Kate as she entered the diner. Kate smiled warmly and came over to join her at the booth. She was dressed in typical Kate fashion; black cardigan atop a white blouse, black skirt, cross around her neck, and her hair was in her trademark “megabun”.
“Hey, Kate. Thanks for meeting me on such short notice.”
“No problem, Max. Are you okay? You seem a little down, today.”
“I am. I…I’m just…I couldn’t stand to be alone anymore, today.” Max said, struggling to find the right words.
“Well, here I am.” Kate said with a smile. “You don’t have to be alone any more, for the rest of the day.”
Max returned the smile. “Thank you, Kate. It really means a lot to me.”
Just then, the conversation was interrupted by the waitress. Max recognized her as Melissa, but didn’t really know her that well, as they worked opposite shifts. After Max had ordered a cup of coffee and Kate a glass of iced tea, the conversation resumed.
“You were there for me when I needed a friend the most, Max.” Kate continued. “I’m happy to return the favor.”
“You already returned the favor by being there for me at Chloe’s funeral, and afterward.” Max said, tears beginning to form in her eyes. “I’m starting to think I should nominate you for sainthood.”
“Oh, come on, Max.” Kate chuckled. “It’s what friends are for. Honestly, I was happy to hear from you today. It’s been too long.”
“Yeah, it really has.” Max managed to get out before Melissa returned with their drinks. “I guess I needed to talk to someone who has dealt with depression before. Do you mind if I ask you some questions, about the video incident? I know it may be a touchy subject, so I understand if you don’t wanna talk about it.”
“No, it’s fine, Max. Nathan is locked up for what he did to me, that Rachel Amber girl, and your friend Chloe. And, I’ve had my fair share of therapy and praying over it. I think I can handle whatever questions you throw at me.” Kate said, giving Max a reassuring smile.
Max already knew the answer to the question she was about to ask, but, Kate didn’t know that she knew. “I remember you feeling really down about it, when the video got out… Did you ever… Um, did you ever think about…”
“Killing myself?” Kate interrupted.
“Well, yeah…” Max replied, staring down at her coffee cup.
“Oh, Max…” Kate suddenly scooped up both of Max’s hands into her own. “Please tell me you’re not thinking of suicide.”
“I mean, I don’t think I could actually go through with it.” A deep frown crossed her lips as she continued. “It’s just that, sometimes I feel like the world would be a better place without me.”
“Oh, Max…” Kate gave her friend’s hands a gentle squeeze. “You may not realize it, but you have touched more lives than you know. I’m willing to bet that most of them are better for it.” She released a heavy sigh before continuing. “But, to answer your question, yes, I thought about it. But, just when I was at my lowest, Nathan got caught after…” She paused a short moment, choosing her words carefully. “After your friend passed… And, he confessed to drugging me. Nobody made fun of me after that. Even Victoria apologized to me. And, I hear you had a hand in Nathan getting caught, so you certainly touched my life in the best way possible.” Kate said, giving another of her reassuring smiles.
“Thanks, Kate.” Max replied, again staring into her coffee cup. “I really appreciate that.” The sentiment was genuine, and she was glad to have been able to help Kate in her time of need. Still, it wasn’t enough to make her feel better about herself in the here and now.
“Max, I know it hurts. Believe me, I do. But, trust me, ending your life should never be considered a viable option. I can’t believe that I ever even considered it.”
“I know,” Max said, taking a sip of her now cold coffee. “I just can’t seem to shake off these thoughts today.” She looked up at her friend and smiled. “I’m glad you’re with me, though. I don’t know what I’d do if I’d had to stay home by myself all day.”
“Well, I’m happy to help.” Kate said with another warm smile.
The two continued to talk for a long while, catching up on the events of each other’s lives over the past few months. As the sun began to set, they started to say their goodbyes. “Are you sure you’re okay to go home alone?” Kate asked. “If you feel like harming yourself, you shouldn’t be alone. I could stay with you, or you could spend the night with me.” She offered.
“I’ll be fine, Kate. I feel a lot better, now,” Max lied. “Thank you so much for spending the day with me, though. I really needed it.”
With darkness rapidly approaching, Max decided to take the long way home, bypassing the alleyway where the man who had attacked her last week liked to hang out. Her arm had just healed enough to go without a bandage on it, and she didn’t want to risk using her rewind power again.
Arriving home, she dropped her messenger bag to the floor in front of the door, as usual, and closed and locked the door behind her. Her first stop was the bathroom, as the coffee she’d drank with Kate was moving through her at a breakneck pace. After using the loo and wiping, she discovered that she had started her period. Great… This day just keeps getting better, She thought. Although, she was extremely grateful that her cycle hadn’t started the night before, lest it ruin the wonderful time she’d had with Victoria. Suddenly, last night seemed like ages ago.
After taking a hot shower and arming herself with a tampon, Max put on her nightclothes and made her way to the bed. Sitting on the edge, she opened her nightstand drawer and looked down at the three pill bottles within. For a fleeting moment, she wondered how many Ambien she’d have to take in order to never wake up. “Stop it, Max!” She said out loud. Not giving in to the darker side of her subconscious, she pulled out her Xanax and Ambien, and took one of each pill.
Sliding her body between the sheets and laying her head on the pillows, she could still catch the slightest whiff of Victoria’s scent on the pillow next to hers. Allowing herself to enjoy the smell one last time, she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.
Max found herself in the familiar setting of Chloe’s room once again. Chloe herself lie on her bed, smoking a joint, looking about as chill as Max had ever seen her. The hazy fog had returned, and was mixing with the tendrils of smoke coming off the joint, and the smoke that Chloe exhaled with each hit.
“Chloe?” Max said, tentatively. She seemed more afraid than ever of angering her blue-haired love, after she’d tried to kill Max in her last dream.
“That’s my name, don’t wear it out.” Chloe responded, sarcastically, but playfully.
“You’re not still pissed at me, about Victoria?”
“Nah, man. That fucking pharmacy you keep in your drawer kinda prevents me from being pissed at you.”
“What?” Max asked, a puzzled expression on her face. She was completely unaware that she was dreaming, despite Chloe’s fourth-wall break.
“Nothing…” Chloe said, rolling her eyes as she took another hit off the joint. “The point is, I’m not pissed at you. I can’t even blame you. Vic’s pretty hot, if you’re into that type.”
Max could only stare at her blankly.
“I mean, what’s not to like?” Chloe continued. “Resting bitch face, hot, boyish haircut, nice tits, nice ass, nice legs…”
“Stop it, Chloe!”
“What? Just calling it like I see it.”
“Okay, so, yes, she’s hot… But, I would’ve rather been with you.” Max said, defiantly.
“Oh yeah?” Chloe said, turning her head toward Max with a grin. “Then, we’re good.”
“Yeah, totally cereal.”
Max couldn’t help but laugh at the reference.
Chloe put out the joint and set the ashtray down on the floor next to the bed. “So, get your bony white ass over here and cuddle with me!”
“Okay!” Max exclaimed with a broad grin. She laid herself down on the bed, scooting her body as close to Chloe’s as possible. Resting her head on Chloe’s breast, she wrapped an arm around her waist.
“I’m really glad you didn’t kill yourself.”
“Me too, Chloe…” Max said, as she scooted herself even closer.