Planning was important so the furniture they selected weeks prior would arrive together on the day they moved in. Boxes were scattered amongst the newly refurbished townhome in the redeveloped part of the city, and the girls were too exhausted from the move to do much more than ensure the larger items were placed in their desired locations. Thankfully, Max marked the boxes with a black sharpie indicating which room each one belonged in, so at least they would have a good start when they decided to unpack. Having lived with the Caulfields for as long as they did, it was surprising how much stuff they collected. Their upstairs bedroom had been cluttered and jam-packed with wedding gifts, baby shower gifts, and other miscellaneous items they couldn’t use until they had a place of their own.
A middle-aged developer purchased property around the center blocks of the town square to rejuvenate the once booming district where she spent many years in her youth. Due to the economic housing disaster of 2008, foreclosures and bankruptcies plagued the inner-city community. She wanted to give back and help the town return to its former glory. It was a successful passion project that landed a very affordable upscale townhome in Max and Chloe’s lap. They discovered the small community during an M3 photoshoot in which the married couple fell in love with the trendy area almost immediately. It wasn’t until the festival began over the weekend that they realized they had been there before, in a way.
It wasn’t uncommon for the mother and daughter duo to let the taller woman sleep late. Max, on the other hand, enjoyed watching the sun peek above the horizon while sipping her morning beverage. The first light of dawn helped set the brunette’s mood and offered a peaceful and relaxing moment before jumping into whatever adventure the day would hold. The girls enjoyed a casual lifestyle and only occasionally had to get up and hustle to a photoshoot early in the morning. Some days, the photographer would edit photos or work on her blog while the little girl played and Chloe slept. The computer hadn’t been set up, however, so blogging was out of the question the first morning.
Upon waking, Max poured Destiny a bowl of Skweekinax and enjoyed a cup of coffee. After turning two, the young girl decided her favorite type of food was cereal, and she could eat her weight in the sugary mixture. She would eat it for every meal if her moms would allow her to. The day was beginning in a typical fashion with two girls awake, the other still fast asleep. Max knew today wasn’t just any day, however. The future had caught up with them, and the dreamspace vision they worked so hard to change had arrived in the present.
After breakfast, Max opened the container marked “Fav Toys” and set up a spot between the living room and kitchen for Destiny to safely play. She began opening other boxes and placing kitchen items like silverware and pots and pans in cabinets and drawers. She loved the mahogany hardwood floors and the cream-colored walls, which were a big part of the reason they chose the place. The floorboards and trim matched the crown molding, and the photographer loved every square foot of their new home.
Max spent an hour or so rinsing and drying the unpacked dishes to ensure their cleanliness before putting them away. As the last set of cookware was being washed, the brunette felt two arms slither around her waist on both sides and squeeze almost too snuggly. Her partner’s warmth, beginning from her back, radiated outward and through her body drawing an adoring smile from the younger of the two. The sound of a deep sniff in her hair and a kiss on the top of her head was followed by a raspy voice that still made her heart flutter anytime she heard it. “Morning, love. You smell amazing today. How’d you sleep?”
She turned to face the recently awakened blonde grabbing her by the hips and aligning their perfectly clear sapphire eyes. “I always sleep well beside you, babe. But you were out… I mean out out. Haven’t heard you snore like that in a while.” Max tilted her head upward and pecked her favorite person on the lips then quickly turned back to the sink.
“Whoa, Maxi Max.” Chloe began, as she pulled her wife back into her chest. “Is everything all right?”
“Why wouldn’t things be all right?” The brunette turned her head to the side and stared at the floor.
The older girl squinted and craned her head forward after tenderly grabbing her partner’s chin, pulling it back up towards her face. “Really, dork? By now you must know that I know when something’s bothering you. Spill the beans, love. Let’s hear it.”
“I don’t know, Chlo. It’s just… I realize we fixed everything, but there’s this nagging thought in the back of my mind wondering if we’re making a mistake by going to the festival today. We could just stay home and work on getting the place set up. That way, we would avoid the potential for anything terrible happening.”
“I know what you’re feeling, and I feel it too. But shit, we have to do this, Maxter. Destiny will be fine, I promise. It’s hard to describe, but I know in my heart there’s no danger anymore and we’re supposed to follow through on our path. If we stay here, I think that might change things somehow, ya know? We saved our future and now we need to live our lives. There’s nothing to worry about.”
“Hmm,” the shorter of the two considered, “I never thought of it like that. So, you’re saying if we don’t continue towards the future we saved, we might not have saved anything at all?” She glanced at the ceiling and rubbed her chin. “You’re so smart. That makes me feel a ton better. Thanks, girl.”
Simultaneously, the perfect couple turned their attentions towards their daughter after hearing a box topple over and fall to the floor. “Oh, shit!” Chloe called out. “Des, no.” The two-year-old wasn’t hurt, but she had gotten into a box marked “Bedroom/Storage” that had erroneously been left in the living room. When the little girl turned towards her moms, she had a pirate patch over her eye and a bandana in her hand with a toothy smile stretching from ear to ear.
The sense of urgency was extinguished, and the married couple put one arm around each other’s lower back, touching at the hips. Heartfelt grins shone on their faces and a warm adoring feeling of nostalgic love filled Max’s heart. She laid her head on the taller girl’s shoulder and watched as their little treasure had located a treasure all her own. Max and Chloe first bonded over their love of pirates when they were kids, and it was beautiful watching their daughter dig through their old gear. She would have quickly located her camera to capture the moment, but she was recording it in her mind and would never forget what they were experiencing.
Chloe withdrew from the hug, walked over to the cute little girl with blonde hair and freckles, and scooped her up in her arms. “Arrr!” she burst, spinning her daughter around in the air then playfully tickling her on the neck with the tip of her nose. “Aye, ye found me buried treasure.” Destiny giggled and squirmed around, luring a large cherishing smirk from the brunette onlooker. Captain Bluebeard sat the new member of her pirate crew back on the floor and headed towards the kitchen. “Got some more coffee, love?”
Max waved her off and grabbed a freshly cleaned mug from the cabinet where it was placed moments before. She poured her soulmate a cup and suited it the way she liked. Waiting on and serving her perfect person filled the photographer’s heart with a sense of loving devotion. Chloe had promised she wanted to make every moment special for Max, but the shorter of the two felt energized by the same responsibility.
“Damn that coffee’s delish, love. You got that magic touch. Maybe you won’t fall asleep tonight before I can give you a proper thank you… and show you MY magic touch.” The older of the two waggled her eyebrows up and down and winked from behind the rim of her coffee mug. Max suddenly remembered the previous evening when she fell asleep while Chloe was in the shower. They planned on having some alone time together barring any interruption from the two-year-old, but that plan was snuffed out early because of a pair of heavy eyes.
“Oh, damn. I really wanted to, babe. I was just exhausted from the move. I feel terrible. Forgive me?”
“No worries, love; no need for forgiveness. When you make me wait it just makes me want you even more.” She clutched the front of the brunette’s tee shirt near the collar and pulled her in for a deep kiss that lasted several seconds. The shirt was originally Chloe’s and illustrated an image of She-Ra holding her sword in the air above her head in a powerful stance. Max tasted coffee with a sprinkle of her partner’s natural flavors and she cherished each drop. She felt her lover’s fingers run through her hair from front to back and it made her shiver leaving goosebumps all down her body. “You’ll just have to let me play tonight.”
“Deal. As long as I can play too, you don’t get to have all the fun.” Max arched one eyebrow in an attempt to appear impish and maybe a little sexy. Though she felt like she couldn’t pull off the sexy part quite like her beautiful wife.
“Damn, love. You’re making me not wanna wait until tonight. You still have no idea how hot you are, do you? Go jump in the shower before I attack you, and let’s hit the festival before lunch. I’ll handle Shorty over here.” She bobbed her head towards the toddler playing in the floor. “Gotta teach this scallywag the ways of the Captain.”
Max turned towards the bathroom and heard a voice call out from behind that stopped her in her steps. “Hey, Maximus? Happy one year.” Chloe strolled over and wrapped her arms around her wife from behind, squeezing with a tightened embrace followed by a quick kiss on her cheek.
“Wait, I’m confused. One year?” The shorter girl turned to face her favorite person who was looking back at her with an adoring glance.
“Yeah, Max. You know I love you and am like, literally obsessed with your hippie ass. Well, I’ve been tracking your nightmares. You haven’t had a bad dream for an entire year as of today. I didn’t want to say anything until we got to this point so I wouldn’t jinx it. So… happy one year, dude.”
“Aww, babe. Thank you.” Max felt their deep radiating connection flowing strongly from within as their eyes latched onto each other’s souls. “I fall more in love with you every day. You’re so beautiful, inside and out… and so damn thoughtful. I would say I’m lucky, but we know how that phrase ends.”
“I didn’t use to be thoughtful at all. You showed me an unconditional love that changed everything. You’re my superhero, Super Max.”
“I’m just hopelessly in love with my best friend; not a superhero at all. Probably more like super lame. Do you remember the dumbass puns I used to say? Gosh, those are embarrassing to think about now. I’m cereal, Chlo,” she said with an emphasis on ‘cereal’ as a reminder of one of her old phrases, “I’m such a better and more confident person because of you.”
“Of course, I remember,” the tall blonde laughed. “You’re my beautiful dorky, goopy, best friend. Yin and yang shit, ya know? I could be like Dr. Evil and tell you… ‘you complete me’.” Chloe did her best impression of the Austin Powers character and the girls giggled. “You make me as happy as a seagull with a French fry. Fuck! Why didn’t I think of that line for my wedding vows?” The duo laughed even harder, which enticed an unintentional snort from the younger adult. When the laughter died down, the girls slapped hands before bumping fists. They had perfected the handshake years ago, but recently started to pick it up again. Max left for the bathroom to take a shower so they could get ready for the festival. After she was clean and dressed in her favorite black and grey hoodie and blue jeans, her wife showered while she played with their toddler.
The small family of three walked the few blocks from their new home to the town square. It wasn’t very far, but Destiny insisted on walking instead of being carried or riding in a stroller. She was the most beautiful mixture of both Max and Chloe but also had a stubborn side to her that sometimes ended with a yelling and screaming meltdown. Both adults blamed the other for her mulish and headstrong personality, and they were both correct.
It was lunchtime when the trio arrived at the center of town, and the two-year-old kept asking for ice cream. Max promised they’d get her dessert after they ate a real meal. When she noticed the blues and yellows of the Marination Mobile truck, her mouth watered and she insisted they grab lunch from the Hawaiian-Korean fusion restaurant on wheels. The toddler shared kimchi fried rice with her brunette mother while the taller of the group selected kalbi beef tacos. They ate as they walked enjoying the crafts and art from the locals who had reserved booths in hopes of selling their items and promoting their businesses.
Max originally suggested they claim a spot for M3 to mingle and mix with their new community but her wife was completely against it. After this morning’s conversation about not changing things, it made sense why she was opposed. Plus, Max didn’t feel comfortable sitting around trying to sell her artwork in that manner. She was used to earning her keep through gallery entries and online sales, and M3 was doing very well; it wasn’t a necessity for them like it was for most of the other businesses in attendance.
After lunch, the little girl nearly pitched a fit specifically desiring a scoop of chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone. It blew the photographer’s mind seeing and hearing how quickly Destiny was growing up. It seemed like just yesterday she came weeping into the world naked and afraid. Now she’s using the words she’d memorized to explain exactly what she wanted. To call the creation and evolution of life ‘a miracle’ seemed to be an understatement, but Max knew no other way to describe the spectacular experience.
Chloe ordered their daughter a dessert and paid with the company credit card. As they walked away from the vendor, she joked about writing the purchase off as an expense through their photography business. Max was beginning to feel suspiciously uncomfortable when she heard her partner’s laughter, followed by a few words from Destiny. “Mama, I wuuuuv chocat,” the girl said with a brown ring around her lips and melty ice cream drips on the napkin that was wrapped around the base of the cone.
The moment froze in the brunette’s mind, and her heart raced at the memory of what she went through in a false reality that resembled this exact spot in time. She hadn’t realized she was in a conjured dreamspace setting when her soulmate was shot and killed. Even worse, she was shown a potential future where her partner’s life was spared but her precious two-year-old was the one who took the bullet. Despite being certain they fixed their future, she was terrified.
Chloe reached down and weaved her fingers through her wife’s, which marginally helped the girl feel more at ease. “It’s okay, love. Everything’ll be fine. Trust me.” Max nodded to confirm her understanding of the taller girl’s words, but her eyes were still peeled open with frightfulness. Thirty seconds went by, then sixty. After two or three minutes and a good distance between the family of three and the spot of the potential incident, Max finally breathed a sigh of relief.
Destiny and her strawberry blonde mom sat down to rest on a makeshift bench beside the main road entryway, that had been blocked by orange road cones, before heading back home. “Well, that felt more stressful than it should have been,” the photographer bubbled with a relieved bounce in her voice. The bench was angled towards an old over-sized wooden pharmacy sign that added an interesting texture to the background. Max pulled out her cellphone, leaned in, and took a group selfie, which she immediately set as her phone’s home screen wallpaper.
As she joined her family on the bench, she noticed a tingling sensation running up and down the back of her neck. She looked over at her partner, who had Destiny sitting in her lap, and saw the blonde’s hand behind her head searching the same spot with her fingertips. “You feel that, babe?” Max asked with a pretty good idea of the what the girl’s response would be.
“Yeah, it’s like a prickly tickle on my neck.” Both moms had a heightened sense of awareness as they scanned the area for signs of anything out of the ordinary. When Destiny was a newborn, she unknowingly opened a golden-rimmed portal exactly two times. Since then, she hadn’t used the power to their knowledge. Only a handful of other times, that she couldn’t quite place, Max had experienced the hairs on her neck stand on end in the same way.
“I don’t see a portal or anything strange going on. Maybe it’s just a fluke,” the freckled adult suggested. Then, from the corner of her eye, she noticed a girl who had to be in her late teens propped against a streetlamp looking in their direction. She was on the opposite side of a red-bricked half-wall that separated the sidewalk from the benches about twenty meters away. “Look.” She bobbed her head in the teen’s direction, motioning for her partner to discover what she was seeing. “Where have I seen her before?”
“That’s the girl from our wedding, Max. Check out the red streak in her hair. What the F is she doing?” Chloe was working on not cussing in front of their daughter since the girl repeated a choice word a couple of months back. It couldn’t always be helped but she was trying her best.
“Oh, damn, you’re right.” Upon noticing them looking back at her, the girl turned and briskly started walking away. “I gotta find out who she is, Chlo.” Max stood to her feet and looked down at her wife.
“Go. I’ll stay with her.” Chloe’s chin was resting on Destiny’s head. “But be careful. I know how you get when you’re confrontational; don’t do anything crazy, yeah?” The lovers speedily brushed lips and Max turned to follow their teenage observer. She pushed through the crowd on the street and saw the girl making her way towards an alley beside the back entrance of a two-story parking garage. The deck’s front entrance was located on the adjacent street, so the brunette decided to run inside the garage to cut off her path.
Exiting the parking area on the far side street near the back of the alleyway, Max turned the corner and nearly bumped into the stranger. “Hey,” she sternly called out, “who are you and why have you been spying on us?” She took several steps backwards as to not crowd the girl and noticed how beautiful and tall she was. Up close, the teen had to be nearly as tall as her wife and her face was peppered with gorgeous freckles, mostly on her cheeks and nose.
“I… uhm… I thought you recognized me at your wedding yesterday,” the girl shakily spoke. “It’s so weird to see you here.” The tall blonde looked cute standing with one arm by her side and the other angled upward across her black hoodie, hand latching onto her shoulder.
“Our wedding was two years ago, not yesterday,” Max confusingly disagreed. “Anyway, you didn’t answer me, who are you?” Frustration was taking over, as her arms were tightly crossed at in front of her chest. She could feel her eyebrows angled downward, anger beginning to boil in her mind.
“You really don’t recognize me yet, Mom?” Max relaxed every muscle in her face, mouth gaping open in disbelief. “I’m your daughter, Destiny.”