Max was, to say the very least, exhausted. How many universes would she have to create and destroy to save everyone? How could she protect the town from the impending tornado of doom without sacrificing Chloe? Even the thought of going on without her partner in crime made Max want to break down and cry. It’d been a rough week (if it had been a week. For all Max knew it could’ve been months since that first run-through of Mr. Jefferson’s stupid lecture on daguerreotypes. It’s hard to keep track of time when you’re the one in control of it).
“There’s got to be something I’m not seeing… a path I haven’t tried yet,” she muttered quietly. Max flung herself backward on her bed.
She’d almost got it the last time. William and Rachel were still dead, and Kate had still been taken to the Dark Room, but she’d gotten Jefferson and Nathan arrested and ended up winning the Everyday Heroes Contest. How did I completely miss the main issue of the storm , she thought. Idiot. Now she was here, stuck in the four walls of the polaroid she had meant to submit for the contest, trying desperately to find a new way.
Rolling over in bed, she sighed, unable to see any new ways to try. Glancing over at her wall of pictures, she ran her fingers across a selfie she took with her parents when they’d first given her the camera. She had been about 14 at the time, already settled in Seattle for a little less than two years. She sighed wistfully at the memory before pausing, then shooting up in bed and tearing the photo from the sticky tack on the wall.
“Could I really go back to before this all starts?” she wondered aloud. But what would that fix? You’ve tried that already Max. Remember the alternate timeline and Chloe… She stood with the photo in her hand, staring into the vast emptiness surrounding her marking the photo boundaries. If there’s a chance this can save everyone… I have to try, at least.
Nodding resolutely, Max focused her energy on the photo in her hands. Everything faded into a dull grey before a bright flash of light appeared. Max blinked, barely registering the weight of a camera in her hand where the photo she’d held had been.
“I can see you’re excited about that camera already, Maxine.”
Max turned around to see where the voice had come from. Her mother smiled at her knowingly. Max forced a laugh and muttered out a quick “thanks”.
Her father gave her a concerned look. “Are you alright honey?” he asked. “You look a little out of it.”
“Oh, um, yeah,” she managed, “the flash was brighter than I thought. I was seeing spots for a second there!” she lied. Max always felt guilty about lying to her parents and avoided it as often as possible, but it’s not like she could say ‘oh yeah, I just time-traveled here from 3 years ago so I can save Chloe Price’s life and also make sure I don’t completely fuck over the town too.’
Her parents chuckled at her expense. “Well, then I suppose it’s a good thing you’ll normally be on the other side of the lense, isn’t that right?” her dad replied. Max made herself give a convincing giggle before setting the camera on their dining table with the snapshot beside it. She slid into one of the chairs and thought about what she should do.
Okay, Max, you got us here. What’s the big plan now genius? Max shifted and felt her cell phone move in her back pocket. That’s it! She pulled out the phone and briefly cringed at the older model. How technology changes so fast , she lamented before opening her contacts. Clicking Chloe’s last message, she felt a wave of guilt wash over her seeing that her last message had been in November of the previous year, even more so since it was such a flighty message and Chloe had responded instantly.
Okay, Chlo’s gonna be hella pissed at me probably. But I need to do this. This is the only way to fix everything. Here we go.
‘Dear Chloe’ Max groaned quietly and erased it. It’s not a letter stupid!
‘Hey Chloe i know ive been super shit about texting and im really sorry. i can’t even come up with a good excuse. youre my best friend and i love you and im sorry if you felt like i havent been there for you recently.’ Max paused, wondering what else to say. She’d probably need to say sorry about a million times before this version of Chloe even thought about forgiving her. ‘i’ve been a bad friend and im so sorry. i understand if youre super pissed at me but i want to start again. i dont wanna lose you.’ Max hesitated, her mind urging her to hit the erase key, but she steeled her resolve. Not talking is how they got in this mess in the first place. Without any further thought, she hit the send button and hoped for the best. It only took a few minutes for her phone to vibrate with a notification. She scrambled to look at it.
From: CHLOE 1/25/2010 5:37 PM
youre right. i am super pissed at you.
From: CHLOE 1/25/2010 5:38 PM
youve been flaking on me for months and cant even be bothered to look at a simple text.
are your seattle friends that much cooler that you totally forgot about me?
Max sighed and shook her head before replying.
From: ME 1/25/2010 5:38 PM
as if i could forget u.
i really dont have a good excuse but i am really sorry. i love you to death chloe and im gonna try to be better about texting
blow up my phone if i start being shitty again ;P
From: CHLOE 1/25/2010 5:39 PM
dont think youre automatically forgiven or anything. you really made me angry. you abandoned me.
AND NO EMOJI!
Max let out a full, real laugh for the first time in what felt like a long time. There’s the Chloe she knew and loved. She let herself smile and hoped her younger(current? time is hard) self would actually keep her promise and get better at staying in touch with the older girl. Everything faded into a dull grey again as Max let her eyes fall shut, hoping for the future she’d tried so hard to achieve.