All in Time – Chapter 4
All in Time
A Life is Strange Story by OuTsYdeR
Breaking the Silence
Max suddenly found herself standing on a large rock. Looking up, she saw nothing but blackness and flames. Looking around revealed several large cracks in the ground filled with glowing hot lava. On the horizon, she could see nothing but rocks similar to the one she was standing upon, with the occasional flame spurting up from the cracks in between. The temperature, as expected, was unbearably hot. “Where the hell am I?” She said aloud to herself.
“You answered your own question, Max. You’re in Hell. You know, the place you condemned me to when you sat there on your ass and did nothing while a bullet ripped through my gut.” Of course the voice was Chloe’s. Max was now very aware that she was in a dream, and made the conscious decision to stick up for herself. “You told me to do it, Chloe! Don’t you remember?! It was the only way. We saved hundreds of people! I’m fucking sick of being judged every single night for doing the right thing! And the most fucked up thing about this is, you’re a construct of my subconscious, so you know all this is true, and you still torture me for it! You know damn well how much I loved the real Chloe, and how much this fucking kills me!” Chloe seemed legitimately shocked that Max was talking to her like this, like a bully whose victim suddenly stood up to them one day. Abruptly, her expression changed from shock to angry resolve as she drew a gun from behind her back and shot Max in the belly.
The pain was overwhelming. It was like being stabbed, over and over again, with a red-hot butter knife. She clutched a hand to the open wound, but blood continued to rush out of it like a faucet. She fell first to her knees, then onto her side. The entire surface of the rock was becoming covered in the red liquid. Chloe just stood there, laughing, backing away slowly to avoid getting any of Max’s blood on her shoes.
Max awoke to find red liquid coming from her nose, rather than her stomach. For once, she was almost thankful for her stupid nosebleeds. They might be annoying, but they would likely not kill her. She hoped. Sliding open her night stand drawer, she withdrew several tissues from a little cardboard box she kept there. Between the crying and the nosebleeds, they had become indispensable. Placing the tissues on her nose and giving it a gentle squeeze, she picked up her phone to check the time. 4:08AM. Great… She thought. Yet another sleepless night. This is so much fun… Clearly, she was becoming fed up with her situation. She wished she could just cut out the part of her brain that wanted to punish her via her dreams. Pulling the chain on her side table lamp, she found that she had bled onto her pillowcase…Again. Oh well. At least this gives me a little motivation to get some laundry done. I am out of towels, after all. She pulled the covering off of her pillow and walked into the bathroom. After cleaning up her face from the nosebleed, she tossed the pillowcase into the hamper and dragged it to the front door of her apartment. After changing into some less revealing clothes than the short-shorts and tank top she’d been sleeping in, she grabbed a handful of quarters and dropped them into her pocket before opening the door, picking up the hamper, and heading downstairs to the laundromat.
By the time she was done with her laundry, it was 6:43AM. She still had over four hours to kill until her appointment with Dr. Varnado. After the laundry was all folded and put away, Max just sat motionless on her bed, weighing the pros and cons of attempting to take a nap. On one hand, she was exhausted, as usual. On the other hand, she wasn’t sure she was even capable of sleep anymore, without those goddamned nightmares. For once, she wished she could fast-forward time instead of just rewinding. Though, she imagined that, somehow, this would be just as dangerous. What to do? She thought. She briefly considered sending a flirty text to Warren, but thought better of it. No need to encourage or tease him. Besides, she thought, He’s probably not even awake yet. I sure as hell wouldn’t be, if I could sleep. Lying back onto the bed, resting her head on the pillows, she picked up her phone and decided to pass the time watching some YouTube videos.
She arrived at the doctor’s office at exactly 10:45, giving her time to fill out the new patient paperwork ahead of her eleven o’clock appointment. After handing her clipboard over to the receptionist, she was told to have a seat, and that the doctor would see her in just a moment. After a few minutes, a tall, thin man in a freshly pressed suit appeared. “You must be Maxine? I’m Jim Varnado.” He said as he held out his right hand. Max stood, grasping and shaking his hand. He was much younger than she’d expected. He was ruggedly handsome, with a neatly trimmed beard and loose, curly hair. He reminded her of Bradley Cooper, the actor. “It’s nice to meet you, Dr. Varnado.”
“Please, call me Jim.” He replied. “This is a small practice in a small town. No sense in being pretentious. Besides, I want you to be comfortable with me.”
“Well, in that case, call me Max. Never Maxine.”
He smiled warmly and nodded in agreement. “Max it is, then.”
Stepping into the therapy room, Jim gestured for Max to have a seat on the couch which faced his own chair. As they both took their seats, Max thought that the big leather couch was actually more comfortable than it looked. She must’ve sunken into the cushions a good three or four inches, and she was not very heavy.
“Should I lie down? I’ve never done this before.” She asked tentatively. Dr. Varnado responded with another warm smile. “That’s how Freud did it. Me, I just want you to be comfortable. So, sit if you want to sit, lie down if you want to lie down.”
“Okay… So, where do we start?” Max inquired. She was nervous as hell, but hid it behind her usual mask of apathetic indifference.
“You tell me, Max. Where are you comfortable starting?” There was that word again. This guy is all about comfort. She thought.
“I guess it all started when my best friend was murdered.” Max said, flatly. She had a hard time making eye contact when talking about it, so she stared at a painting hanging on the wall.
“I’m so sorry to hear that. I know it must be very difficult to talk about, so, please, continue at your own pace.” Dr. Varnado responded in a very supportive tone.
Max told the same story that she had told Joyce and Warren before. The doctor had given her a bit more insight to what that kind of trauma could do to the human psyche, but understanding what was going on in her brain didn’t exactly make her feel any better. She did walk out with three prescriptions; Lexapro for depression, Xanax for anxiety, and Ambien for help sleeping. She didn’t really like taking pills, but was willing to try just about anything, at this point. As she walked her way from the doctor’s office to the pharmacy, she couldn’t help but realize just how tired she was. She had gone with little to no sleep before, who hadn’t? But, usually, after two or three nights in a row of that, she needed to crash for about ten or twelve hours. Lately, there had been no extended crash period. Just night after night of torturous nightmares, and what little sleep she did get was restless. She lit up a cigarette as she turned a corner onto the street where the pharmacy was located.
After picking up her new meds and a fresh pack of smokes, the walk home was rather uneventful. She was lost in a haze of her own thoughts and an overpowering feeling of emptiness. God, I miss Chloe. She thought to herself as her legs carried her toward her apartment building, as if on auto pilot. If I could just have had more time with her… Ugh! Stop it, Max! She shook her head furiously, trying to ‘clear the cobwebs’, as it were. Looking to her right, she saw the back of a building with graffiti covering a large portion of the red brick. On the ground in front of the makeshift mural was a can of spray paint, evidence of the crime. Max walked over and picked up the can. Judging by the weight, it was still about half full. Giving the can a good shake, she began to add to the graffiti… “WHERE ARE YOU, CHLOE PRICE? I LOVE YOU!!!” now resided on the wall of this building, in very large letters.
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