All in Time – Chapter 3
All in Time
A Life is Strange Story by OuTsYdeR
Chapter 3 Damaged
A wave of panic began to wash over her. She couldn’t help but think that maybe she had somehow accidentally reversed time in her sleep. Maybe it was actually 9:08am yesterday? She finished cleaning up from her nosebleed as quickly as she could and strode back into the bedroom. Picking up her phone from the night stand, her eyes went to the calendar. The date was what it was supposed to be. Maybe she’d had two distinct dreams last night; one involving Warren, and one involving Chloe? Certainly not out of the realm of possibility, she thought. Just as she opened her SMS app and started to text Warren, she heard her front door unlock from the outside.
“Warren!?” She exclaimed as he came in through the door carrying two paper cups with lids and a white paper bag. She was at once relieved and annoyed, and hoped her voice carried both emotions. She threw on some clothes and covered the distance from the bedroom to the door in what seemed like a millisecond. “Oh, hey. You’re awake! Sorry, but I borrowed your keys to get us breakfast.” He smiled that perfectly cheesy Warren Graham smile. “You know you have, like, no food in your kitchen, right? Not that I could cook it anyway, but I totally could’ve tried.”
Max rolled her eyes and sighed. “Warren, I was totally freaking out. You couldn’t leave a note, or a text, or…anything?”
His smile gave way to a more solemn expression. “Yeah, I’m sorry about that. I didn’t expect to leave. It was just kind of a spur of the moment decision when I couldn’t find any food here, except cold pizza. But, yeah, I guess I should’ve left a note. I’m sorry.” His tone carried a hint of sadness, as if he felt truly badly for disappointing Max. “I got coffee and doughnuts, though. So, that’s something, right?” He half smiled as he held out one of the cups in Max’s direction.
“Nice recovery, Graham.” She quipped as she took the cup offered. Peeling back the tab on the lid, she inhaled the bittersweet aroma of the beverage that seemed to fuel her life of late. Taking a small, tentative sip to test the temperature of the drink, she gave Warren a thumbs-up. It was a little too hot for her liking right now, but tasted quite good. Once again, she kicked herself for not having any tables in her apartment. It occurred to her, however, that that may not be her biggest problem. After what happened last night, Warren was bound to be even more interested in her. Her mind started coming up with ways to let him down gently, almost automatically. Leading him over to the bar that separated the kitchen from the living area, Max withdrew a pair of paper plates from a cabinet, and set them down on the bar, along with her cup. “Okay, breakfast man, let’s see what you got. Unleash the feast!”
After the two had enjoyed their sugar-laden breakfast, they remained standing there around the bar, sipping their coffee. Neither one seeming to want to acknowledge the proverbial elephant in the room. After what seemed like several minutes of silence had passed, Max finally spoke up. “Look, Warren…” Before she could even form an entire sentence, Warren interrupted. “Max, I think I know what you’re about to say, and I just want you to know that I get it.”
What’s this? Max thought to herself. I thought I was the only one in town with super powers, but, apparently, Warren Graham can read minds, now?
“You get…what, exactly?” She said, narrowing her eyes just a bit.
Warren blushed slightly as he felt a pang of embarrassment over being so presumptuous. “I mean, I just…” He stopped talking for a moment and took a deep breath to try and compose himself. “I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m not expecting a relationship just because we had drunken sex one time.” He reflexively set his jaw, fighting back tears.
Max could sense the sorrow in his voice, and immediately felt more than a little guilty for what was about to come. But, then, guilt was something she felt almost constantly, the last several months. “Warren, I’m sorry. It’s not because I don’t like you or anything. I don’t know if I can really explain why this can’t work, but I need you to know that it’s not your fault.” She reached out and gently touched his forearm with her fingertips.
“Could you try to explain?” Warren asked, swallowing hard at her touch. “I mean, I never said anything, although it was probably pretty obvious, but I’ve had a crush on you pretty much since we met. Last night was basically a dream come true for me, although I wish we’d been sober. But, despite all of that, I would never try to pressure you into a relationship. I never did before, and I won’t now.”
Max was slightly taken aback by his candor. Warren never talked like this. His honesty was refreshing, and confirmed what she had pretty much accepted a long time ago, that he was in love with her. She kind of hated herself for breaking him out of the friendzone for a one night stand, only to put him right back the next morning. Still, it had to be done to protect her sanity. “Okay…” Max cleared her throat, fighting back tears of her own, now. “Since, I seem to be telling everyone my business lately, I guess I’ll try my best to explain my situation.” Warren, seeing how upset she was, gently grasped her upper arm and encouraged her to continue at her own pace. Max took a deep breath and continued. “Remember my best friend Chloe? The one whose funeral you came to with me?” Warren nodded that he did. “Well, she and I were becoming…more than friends, before she died.” Max’s eyes lowered to the counter while Warren’s lit up with understanding. He grabbed both of her arms then and pulled her into a tight but gentle hug.
“I feel…damaged. Emotionally, psychologically, sometimes even physically.” Max admitted, allowing herself to fall into his grasp. “I am just not ready for a relationship right now, with anyone.” Warren nodded in understanding, still holding her in a firm embrace. “I understand, Max. I can only imagine what you must be going through.” Suddenly, a thought occurred to him. “But, wait. If you’re gay, then I never had a shot with you. But, then, what was last night all about?”
Max had begun to literally cry on his shoulder, but had to chuckle through the tears. “I don’t know. That’s also hard to explain. I don’t think I’m completely gay. I guess I’m bi?” She cringed just a bit. “That sounded really weird to say out loud. But, yeah, that’s what I am.” Pulling away from the embrace to look him in the eye, she continued, “But, I want you to understand that I need you in my life. I don’t know what’s going to happen from this point on, but I do know that I need you.”
To his credit, Warren was an absolute rock when it came to holding back tears. She never really thought of him as the macho type, but now she wondered if the guy even owned a set of tear ducts. He was visibly willing himself to not cry as he swallowed hard and just nodded, rather than giving a verbal response. After taking a few moments to compose himself, he finally did speak, “I’m not going anywhere, Max. Whatever we end up being, we will always be friends.”
After Warren had left to go to class, Max sat alone on her bed with her knees pulled up to her chest and cried for what seemed like hours. In reality, it was about twenty minutes. Still, it was long enough for Max to have the realization that she needed to do something, anything, to help her move on. She wondered how other people did it. Obviously, people lost their loved ones every day. Some took longer to get over it than others, she supposed. Maybe she would have another talk with Joyce. Perhaps she could share some of her experience with losing William… But, right now, it was time to have a “conversation” with another Price.
After putting on some nicer clothes and grabbing her bag, Max headed out into the world. Or, at least, the tiny part of the world known as Arcadia Bay. She stopped by the florist and bought a dozen white roses on her way to the cemetery. Pulling a single rose from the bouquet, she gently laid it atop the grave of Rachel Amber. I wish we could’ve met, when you were still alive, Rachel. She thought to herself. At least you finally got a proper burial. She hadn’t even made it to her actual destination yet, and she was already sniffling and wiping away tears. Just the thought of what happened to Rachel was so unsettling, not to even mention the way she and Chloe had found her during the week that never happened. After standing there for several moments, she finally moved on to a much-too-familiar site. Chloe Price was buried next to her father, which Max thought was kind of nice. It wasn’t exactly the way she’d tried to reunite them, to be sure, but they were back together on some level. Ugh, I am really reaching for these silver linings at this point, aren’t I? She thought.
After laying another of the roses on William’s grave, she lovingly placed the rest of the flowers in front of Chloe’s headstone. Max then sat down on the grass just beside it, gently leaning back against the side of the granite slab. “So, I’ve heard that talking to the dead can be therapeutic… Personally, I kinda feel silly talking out loud, essentially, to myself.” She frowned and let out a long sigh before continuing, “Chloe, I’m so lost without you… And, I’m sure that would sound ‘hella’ dumb to you, if you were alive, being that you haven’t even seen me in years. But, I’ve definitely seen you.” The tears were flowing freely now, rolling down her cheeks in torrential fashion. “I just miss you so much. I miss your crazy blue hair, your perfect face, your impossibly long legs…” Once again, she managed a small chuckle through the mess of tears. “But, mostly, I’m just sorry. I’m sorry that this world shit on you at every opportunity. I tried to fix it, I really did.” She had to pause for a moment as her sobbing was making it too difficult to form coherent words. “You weren’t even aware of it, but you sacrificed yourself so that your mom, and everyone else in Arcadia Bay could be safe. That is the noblest thing I’ve ever witnessed. I wish I could tell your mom how brave you were… You are my hero, Chloe Price. I love you…So much.”
As Max walked home from the cemetery, she felt no differently than she had before she came. She decided that, if it was closure she needed, she would not be able to get it from talking to ghosts. Reaching into the pocket of her hoodie, she withdrew her phone and the business card Joyce had given her. “Hello? Yes, I’d like to make an appointment…”
Next Chapter: Breaking the Silence
Previous Chapter: Cradle by the Sea