Life is hella weird [Episode 1 – Chapter 4]
Start from the beginning
Chapter 4: Shitty gun control
1st Alternative Universe: Monday 10/07. Late afternoon
For the next weirdly long moments, Chloe stared at the ceiling, partially hidden behind the cloud of smoke pending over her head. The soft tunes of the hi fi filled the air and her mind was miles away already, not high enough to get lost in the cracks of the ceiling or in the curious forms the smoke curled into, but enough to realize something she was trying to hide, even from herself.
The realization that the plot of her life didn’t make sense to her anymore. The weird fact that she thought at some point that she was following the arc of a story, but she kept finding herself immersed in passages she didn’t understand, almost like they didn’t even belong to the same genre.
The fact that Rachel vanished was one thing. Just another person that just got up and left without a word, just erased from her life brusquely and all of the sudden with no reason, no explanation. But the fact that someone actually came back to her; the fact that Max came back, after all the time she went unheard from, was strange.
The whole situation was as weird as it was unpredictable and she didn’t know what to do with that. Or what to do with the weird feelings in her gut, the constant chills over her skin and the fact that she already knew the battle was lost before she even started to fight it.
Max came back a bit later, carrying with her a set of screwdrivers. Probably found them in the garage, among step douche piles of mainly crap. Chloe took special care in not stare at the brunette when the girl sat down on the desk and started to work on her camera.
Soon, the soft tunes of the guitar died and the room was filled with a weirdly awkward silence, keeping their company. It was only interrupted by the occasional frustrated sounds emitted by Max, more and more often until she leaned back on the chair with a sigh, letting go of the tool and running her fingers through her hair.
After a moment of hesitation, Chloe extinguished her joint on the ashtray and got up, walking slowly to the desk.
“And”? She asked Max, just a second before she actually could see the disappointment on her friend’s face.
“I can’t fix this thing” The smaller girl complained, moving the camera around with soft care, almost like it was a living being that was fatally injured. She leaned over the desk and sighed in sadness.
Chloe left the ashtray over the desk and walked around Max, her eyes suddenly stuck on the little pile of polaroids resting next to Max’s arm.
“Are these your new photos”?
“Yeah… I just took them today”.
“Let me see…”
Chloe took a look at the pictures. A skater boy on the floor, with a clear expression of pain on her face, a squirrel nibbling on a steel can, a statue that Chloe recognized from Blackwell and…
Almost like a reflex, she took the last of the polaroids on the pile. She recognized something in the picture that made her heart jump and start running at full speed. There was no mistake.
The picture featured the same odd blue butterfly.
“Wait… I’ve seen this before.”
She looked at Max and a weird feeling in her chest exploded the moment the brunette avoided her look. Chloe let the picture fall over the desk again and leaned over Max, incapable of ignoring how guilty and awkward Max’s expression was.
“No way!” Said Chloe. “When did you take this ?! You took this photo, you brat?!”
Max’s face covered in guilt and anxiousness almost made her smile. It was like seeing that little girl she remembered when they got caught in the middle of an unauthorized wine testing session in the living room.
Max kept her mouth shut and that weird feeling Chloe experienced went ballistic.
“In the bathroom today… you set off the alarm ! That’s why Nathan raged after you… it totally makes sense”!
For the first time after she came back to her room, Max looked at her right in the eyes. There was something else behind that guilty expression on her dark blue eyes. Something sad and… ominous even, like there was way more to it than just the fact that the brunette was actually the one who pulled the prank that saved her life.
The silence made Chloe’s hands itch with anxiousness.
“Tell me the truth, Max.”
“I was there… Hiding in the corner” Max confessed.
“Damn… you’re a ninja!” A grin spread over Chloe’s face at the moment she realized what was that weird feeling on her chest. Something she didn’t feel in a long time, warm and soft, almost numbing her constant pain.
“A ninja would have cut Nathan’s head off”. Replied Max with a hint of anger in her voice. “I just took a butterfly photo…”
“That is so badass…”
“Oh yeah, I almost wet myself when I saw the gun…”
“You and me both, sistah”
“So, did you recognize me”? Chloe asked, trying to avoid going straight into a discussion about her fuck up and stupid decisions.
“I wasn’t sure…”
“I know… I look a lot different”.
“I am different now. Maybe too different from who i was.”
“I was scared, too.” Max admitted, her eyebrows coming together in a worried expression that seemed to be her trademark at this point. “I couldn’t see straight. Like you said, it’s been that kind of day”.
Chloe crossed her arms over her chest and tried not to sigh in frustration about the whole situation. As much as she was grateful for, you know, not being dead, Max’s presence in the bathroom shot an alarm in her head.
She wasn’t sure if Max was trustworthy just yet, even if her heart was playing games, almost begging her mind to trust her again like no time has passed. There was no way Chloe made that mistake. Not yet.
“So… you must have overheard our conversation…” Assumed Chloe, with a sharp edge to her voice.
“Just a bit…”
“There is no way you didn’t hear every single vowel” Replied Chloe, her tone harsh and angry, staring at the brunette with her eyebrows furrowed and her light blue eyes narrowed in mistrust.
“Okay, I only heard something about money, drugs… but that’s it.”
“Now for the big question”. Chloe almost interrupted Max’s weak attempts to reply confidently.
“Did you tell anybody?”
“No, I didn’t know what to do…”
Chloe scanned Max’s face, looking for any signs that the girl was lying. But nothing showed up on her face aside from worry and concern about what happened.
All of the sudden, she remembered that every time Max lied, a little wrinkle appeared between her eyebrows, like almost a neon sign giving her away. A wave of relief ran through Chloe’s body in full as her eyes drifted off to the window, incapable of keep looking at Max’s.
“I don’t blame you…That’s some intense shit.”
“Maybe I should go to the principal.” Said Max, not too convinced.
Chloe repressed a snort of frustration.
“The principal ? Are you still twelve”? That statement made her force her eyes upon Max’s uncomfortable expression. “That drunk jackass only cares about cash for Blackwell Academy… don’t trust him”.
There was no way she could hide her hate against that clown of a principal.
“Seriously, I didn’t blab to anybody. Promise”.
After a moment of hesitation, Chloe left scape a sigh through her clenched teeth and tried to relax. There was no proof against believing what Max was saying. In fact, she had a point, if she talked with Wells or anyone, she’d know that by now.
Maybe that weird feeling, that she could only define as gratefulness, was messing with her instincts. But she knew very well at the moment that fighting that was not a possibility.
“Thank god… I’ll tell you more someday, and I seriously owe you, Max”.
A lonely thought came up in her mind suddenly. Maybe that feeling she tried unconsciously to fight, to avoid getting to the surface, was messing with her judgment. But at the moment, she didn’t give a fuck about that. It felt right and also she knew William would approve, wherever he was.
She turned around and knelt near the disorganized bookcase, just below the hi fi. She moved around stuff for a moment, old photographs, old letters she never sent, old memories of a better time, now piled up in a messy fashion, gathering dust. Shadows of what once were.
Among them, she found what she was looking for. With her fingers trembling softly, she took the old polaroid camera. The weight was unfamiliar, alien even. It’s been so many years since the last time she had the camera between her hands. It seemed way more bigger then.
“I, er… know it was your birthday last month…”
She got up, her back facing Max and looked at the camera and sighed. She knew it was the right thing to do but for some reason it was hard to really let that go. Maybe it was too soon but, that feeling in her chest, in her gut… She sighed once again and finally faced her old best friend, who was standing right there, looking at her in confusion.
“C’mon… Not everything changes, right ? You made your choice already… What’s the point of holding it back anymore”?
“This was my real father’s camera… I want you to have it”.
She extended her arm and offered Max the camera, with a little smile on her face. Her gut jumped awkwardly the moment Max took it, brushing her fingers against Chloe’s for a second.
A smile curled on Max’s lips and a soft bright spot went alive in her eyes, looking at the camera as a lost memento of those good old days.
“That’s so cool you remembered my birthday. But I can’t take this…”
She offered the camera back to Chloe but the punk shook her head and pushed it back to Max’s chest.
“Of course you can. My dad would be pissed if I never used it. And now I know it will be used awesomely.”
Chloe reached out to her desk and took the butterfly picture from on top of it.
“And I’ll snag this picture as a symbol of our reunion. Cool?”
She pocketed the picture in the back of her jeans and smiled at Max, whose lips curled up in a wide smile that made Chloe’s heart skip a beat.
“Yes. Not everything changes. Damn it.”
“Yes, of course it’s cool! Thank you… This camera is so sweet”! The brunette said, taking a closer look to it.
“I may go with this all the way then…”
“Now that we got the mushy shit out of the way, I feel like stage diving”!
Chloe turned around and went straight to the Hi Fi. She pushed some buttons frantically and, only a second later, the powerful guitar tones of Sparklehorse filled the room as she pumped the volume to the max.
Even over the music, she could hear Max giggling.
“Yep, yep, I’m fucking insane in the brain”! Chloe crooned enthusiastically, dancing her way wildly over to Max. She grabbed her by the arms for a moment and shook her a little, with a bright smile on her face.
“Let’s dance ! Shake that boney white ass ! Or take my picture with your new camera”!
She went passed the brunette, took the joint from the ashtray. Then in a single motion, she lit it and jumped onto the bed as she took the rolled up joint to her lips.
She danced away, enjoying the light feeling of the weed running through her system and that warmth in her chest spreading to every single cell of her body.
Max’s laugh filled her head like the smoke around her and she just let herself go, even if it was only for a moment. She fucking earned this after today.
The voice kicked in and washed away everything else. For a moment, it was like the rest of the world just faded. It actually felt like they were twelve years old again, young and… happy.
She blinked a couple of times when the flash of Max’s camera went off.
“This song fucking rules!” She shouted over the music. “Can’t dance, hippie ? Come on ! Rawk out, girl”!
Max laughed again, her eyes fixed on Chloe’s and started to dance awkwardly, visibly ashamed of it. The blush creeped over her freckled cheeks as she tried to keep up with Chloe’s wild rhythm.
“Yes ! Break it down, Max”!
And as soon as that happy and carefree feeling started, it ended abruptly. The sound of the front door closing with a slam and a manly pissed off voice crawled up the stairs reached her ears, making the little bubble of happiness in her chest explode, dragging her back to reality with a smack.
The warmth was replaced with a hot hate and the anger appeared again, burning her veins.
“Yo, turn it off, turn it off”! Chloe demanded, her eyes fixed on Max who’s expression of happiness was replaced with worry in a blink.
Max turned off the music as fast as she could and the silence filled the room for a second, while Chloe let herself fall over the bed and sat down, her brows furrowed so much that a slight shadow appeared over her eyes.
The silence broke like a crystal, shattered to pieces, when the manly voice shouted again.
“How many times have I told you to stop blasting that punk shit”?!
Chloe avoided Max’s worried look, incapable of holding it.
“Dude, the music’s not even on”! She replied, raising her voice. A trail of poison crowning every single vowel. Incapable of holding it back, she fixed her eyes on the floor and mumbled. “Asshole.”
“I’m coming up, we need to talk”!
Chloe’s eyes went wide open in disbelief. Her anger and hate, that a second ago were rising dangerously inside her, were sidestepped by another familiar feeling, cold like ice and relentless as a storm. Fear.
“Ugh, no fucking way”! She mumbled, shaking her head.
She got up and ran to the desk, leaving the joint over the ashtray. She couldn’t help the tremble to her voice when she found it again.
“You need to hide. Now ! My step dad will kill me if he finds you here”! Chloe said.
She exchanged a fearful and worried look with Max and went to hold the door back, preventing the man from getting into the room. Her back against the wood, her eyes fixed on Max while the girl looked around in desperation, trying to find a place to hide. Chloe could feel her heart hit her chest furiously.
“Chloe, what’s going on ? Open this door, please”. Said the man, knocking hard on the door.
“Chill ! I’m changing, is that okay”?! Chloe replied furiously. She looked straight at Max and whispered, with her teeth clenched. “Max, find a place to hide, now”!
Her heart beat louder in her ears with every single second that passed as Max ran to the wardrobe and tried to hide inside.
“Chloe, what are you doing”?!
“I’m not screwing around, soldier… Chloe. Open this door”.
“I’m changing, give me a minute”! Chloe snapped and let go a sigh the moment she saw Max finally closing the door of the wardrobe and disappearing from her sight.
She still could see her dark blue eyes watching her at the other side of the wooden blinds.
She took a step away from the door, releasing the handle and the man finally got into the room. The middle age man stared at her, walking to the center of the room, his dark eyes fixed on her’s under his furrowed thick black eyebrows.
“What’s going on in here”?
“Jesus, I’m just trying on Clothes.” Said Chloe, avoiding eye contact while she crossed her arms over her chest, almost as a defensive posture. “You’re so friggin’ paranoid”.
“Yeah, combat will do that to you”.
“Asshole. Asshole. Asshole”. Thought Chloe as she turned around and let herself fall over the bed again, her eyes fixed on her stepfather, as he looked around the place and walked slowly and heavily.
The man stopped in front of the desk, his eyes gazing through the window for a moment.
“One of my guns is missing”. He said and fixed his eyes on her. “Did you take it”?
Chloe leaned her head back in frustration.
“Oh god, I didn’t take your stupid gun.” She said bitterly and then her eyes returned the man’s look with so much hate she didn’t know how it was possible he could still hold her sight. “You do know I believe in gun control”?
The man looked at the desk and grabbed the joint, still puffing smoke with two fingers in disgust.
“Is that grass”?!”The man asked, though he already know the answer. “You’ve been toking up again in here”!
Incapable of contain her anger and hate anymore, she got up from the bed, her blue eyes practically stabbing the veteran. Her hands shook a little, knowing she was stepping in dangerous territory.
“Oh yeah, guns, weed… you are trippin’ balls”.
“I’m sick of your disrespect”! Shouted the man, approaching her fast and standing almost in her personal space.
A chill ran down Chloe’s spine as her eyes focused for a moment on the right fist of the man, clenched tightly. It would not be the first time that fist ended up hitting her.
“Tell me the truth, that’s an order”! He threatened, waving an accusing finger. “Who’s is it”?
“Now what ? Oh, why didn’t I toss that crap outta window ? I’m screwed now. Another fuck up to add to the list. This is great, this is fucking great. This is… ugh. UGH”!
Chloe opened her mouth to reply a smartass line that crossed her troubled and heated mind… when she heard the sliding door of the wardrobe moving and saw by the corner of her eye how Max jumped out of it, her eyes stuck on David. Her face was a mask of worry and shock, almost like she read Chloe’s mind.
“I’m sorry…” She said, her voice a bit shaky. For a second, the dark blue eyes of the brunette stumbled over the man’s clenched fist. “That was my joint”.
Chloe looked at her in confusion, with her mouth open for a moment.
“What the hell just happened ?! She’s… holy shit…”
Chloe noticed there was something was off. Max was shy, her voice was always soft and as far as she remembered, she wasn’t exactly brave when trouble showed up. But now… there was that look in her eyes… there was shock on her face and, if Chloe had to name the other emotion, it would be contained anger. What the fuck ?
“Well, well…” The man said, looking at Max with suspicion. “I don’t like strangers in my home. Especially dopers. So you’re bringing drugs into my home. How about if I call the police”?
Chloe’s stepfather walked over to Max and loomed over her, with the joint still between his fingers.
“That would screw up your spotless Blackwell record…” The man threatened angrily. “You do seem to get around… Max. I’m sick of you losers dragging Chloe down. You don’t have anything smart to say now, huh”?
The punk’s heart jumped in her chest at the sight of Max’s shocked and angry expression, as the fear kicked in, bright in her dark blue eyes. She looked at Chloe, almost in a silent beg to help her out of it, while her brief brave stand vanished, leaving her vulnerable and small in comparison to the man standing in front of her.
Chloe may be afraid of the man, but the anger boiling in her chest won the battle this time. She grabbed David’s arm and pulled him away from Max brusquely.
“Get the hell away from her, man”! She said, as she shoved his arm away from her. “Stop harassing my friends”!
Chloe stepped between them, almost protectively.
“If this fucker is going to hit someone, it has to be me. No fucking way you’re laying a damn finger on her, you prick”.
David looked at her in disbelief for a moment, and then recomposed himself.
“You don’t have any friends”.
Those words hit harder than any punch or any smack. The bitterness in her tone, the irrefutable truth to the edge of his voice. It was a statement. Something set in stone. And she hated how those words, at some point, were her reality for a long time.
It maybe still was…
“What do you know”? She snapped, trying desperately to hide her pain and grief with anger and fury. It worked wonders, like always did. “You’re not even a real cop, you’re a fucking security guard”!
Those words seemed to do the trick, since David’s expression softened a little, visibly hit by them.
“I was a soldier, Chloe. And Max, if I see you here again… You’ll learn all about real trouble”.
Without adding anything else, the man turned around and left like a whirlwind, slamming the door closed with a powerfully “bang!”. Chloe raised her arms and give him not one, but two fingers.
Once David was out of the room, Chloe couldn’t help but smile. Even if she was still pissed off because of the interruption and that less than polite exchange, the fact that Max actually stepped up and took the blame for her was something she didn’t expect. It was like they were kids again. Max always took the blame when Chloe’s plans went wrong. Of course their parents knew the truth. But since they never had to stand a really bad lecture, it wasn’t so bad. Chloe was the rebellious and adventurous of the duo.
“Because you’re such a badass, Max… Let me show you my new toy.” She say, her confidence boosting up considerably. Like every now and then, winning a battle against Sargent Dickhead was always good.
Chloe turned around and walked beside the bed, looking for something underneath it. She found the little metallic box, opened it and took something from inside it. She stood up quickly, with a playful smirk on her face as she hid the object behind her back. Max looked at her between confused and curious.
“I am Price…” Said Chloe playfully, taking a step closer to Max, her blue eyes fixed on the brunette. “Chloe Price… Bang!”
She raised the gun she was holding behind her back in a shot position… and Max panicked. She pushed the gun away, fear twisting her expression.
“Jesus, put that thing down!”
“Chillax, sista.” Said Chloe, rolling her eyes. She raised up the gun again and examined it in the light coming from the window. “Its not even loaded… yet”
“I thought you believed in gun control…” Max said, still with her hand against her chest in surprise. Her frown was clearly visible under her fringe.
“Yes, i believe i should control the gun.” Chloe replied confidently, walking backwards and away from Max. She hid the gun again in its spot and pushed the box away from the edge. “Its the men who need to be checked. You trust Nathan or David?”
“Fucking sargent pepper, fucking Nathan Prescott… fuck boys. Fuck men. Ugh.”
And then she realized… she didn’t thank Max for that last one bit.
“Thanks for taking the heat. We totally smacked his punk ass down, Max! He’s no match for you and me now… That was an epic win!”
She was so hyped, so excited… the idea of being again with Max, as friends, as a team, as fucking pirates like when they were kids, confident that someday they would kick the world’s ass and be famous and run into adventures…
All that excitement was dangerous, Chloe knew. She knew that the only way to be actually safe was push Max away because… because of fucking course she never would be a good influence. She’d never be what Max needed in any way. Not as a friend, not as anything else.
But that feeling was so intense she couldn’t help it. It was like this surge of energy every time she caught a glance from the brunette, a thrill that started in her stomach, arced up through her lungs and flashed into a spontaneous smile… A smile that pushed her to chase that feeling and never let it go.
“Anyway… Let’s sneak out the window… There is one cool place we can hang in this hickhole…”
To her surprise, Max sighed and walked to the desk. She opened the window, looked at Chloe one more time and went out through it without a word.
Chrysalis Start from the beginning
Here? I’m the punk queen of Arcadia Bay, of course.
In real life, I’m an artist, gamer, crappy musician, game dev and a wannabe writer. Oh, and I’m always running late. MaiQueti in a nutshell.