Max dropped down to her knees and clutched her hands in front of her chest, clinching each interlocked finger so hard her knuckles began turning white. She held on tightly and did something she had rarely done before. “I don’t do this much, but… we’ll take all the help we can get,” she whispered as she ripped away several newly formed tears, promising herself she would dam the threatening deluge. After Chloe vanished inside the future window, fear began to flower in Max’s mind, sending thorny waves of doubt through her heart.
“Dear God or gods, or whoever is listening. Please protect my Chloe. I’ve never asked you for anything, and I’ll never ask for anything again, but please save our daughter and bring my soulmate back to me. Before we were even born, we were predestined to be together one way or another. She came into my life when we were kids, and she brought me hope. She filled me with joy, and became so much more than my best friend; she’s my everything.”
“Leaving her behind for five years is my biggest regret. Our bond was so strong we wouldn’t stay apart, though. When we reconnected it came with a fucked up cost. Yet, no matter what happened, we were together – it’s all that mattered. Now we’re on the greatest journey of our lives, and I’m scared to death. I can’t lose her, God. She and I are one; Chloe is my reason for living. She’s the hope in my heart and the love in my soul. Life means nothing without her, and you might as well take me if you take her light away. Please, I’m begging you… don’t take her! Bring that girl back to me. It’s all I ask… uhm… amen?” She ended the prayer how she thought she was supposed to. Admittedly, her only experience with talking to God came because she knew Kate Marsh from Blackwell Academy. She overheard her prayers on several occasions when they dormed together a few years back.
The imploring girl considered waking from the dreamspace and using a photo to jump back. But with Rachel now gone, and not knowing what would happen to the future windows, she didn’t think it was the best idea to awaken just yet. If Chloe somehow got stuck because she woke up, she would never forgive herself. The best thing she could do was trust the universe to bring the most important person in her life back to her.
The girl stood from her crouching position and approached the window, releasing the grip from her own hands. She remembered learning that time doesn’t exist in the dreamspace, so whatever was going to happen in that moment had already taken place. At least that’s what she assumed.
“I have to try something,” Max whispered to nobody. “I can’t just stay here in this place and do nothing.” She considered wandering around and looking at the other windows, but her only concern was the one that Chloe disappeared into. She closed her eyes and located the syrupy, raised spot and pressed down. A rotating beam spiraled out from her hand and struck the greyed opening. It powered the window momentarily causing it to flicker an illuminating yellow, then dimmed back to a darkened hue. As long as the window still existed, her hope would not diminish. But she still felt like there was something more she should do.
The brunette took a deep breath, puffed her chest, and unplugged the power a second time. The oval opening flashed and lit up again but the scene did not return. After she plugged the power, she realized the rim didn’t grey-out this time as it had before. It was like she half-charged it with her power, and all that remained was a second half of fast-forwarding power for a full recharge. She then realized she had accomplished all she could; the next step wasn’t up to her. It was the first time in a while she felt completely powerless. Her heart was still filled with hope as she sat down in front of the window and grabbed her knees. Chloe’s purpose would be to save their daughter, and Max knew her role was reduced to being the girl’s cheerleader, which was absolutely fine as long as her perfect person came back.
Like swimming through a violet pool of melted metal, Chloe wasn’t sure where she was going, but kept paddling with her arms and kicking forward. A brief uncontrolled moment of hysteria washed through the girl’s body when she realized she was unable to breathe. Suddenly, she found herself forced forward and was standing in the hospital room that she saw through the window moments earlier. Luckily, no nurses or doctors were present to witness the impossible event. That didn’t mean she went unnoticed, however, given the surprised looks from the two girls occupying the suite.
Max and Chloe, with eyes wide seemingly in astonishment, stared back at her in silence. The pregnant girl was under the sheets with only her head and arms visible while her wife stood by her side apparently ready to fight if it became necessary. Looking to her right she saw the hospital room door halfway open. The suspicious man was standing in the hall peering inside with a look of turpitude and malcontent. Noticing the blue-haired girl looking in his direction, he mumbled something under his breath. It sounded like the words “abomination” and “devil child” but Chloe wasn’t completely certain.
The girl from the past considered for a moment and came to an abrupt realization. “Shit, that’s it. Motherfucker! I need to make sure his psycho religious ass doesn’t find out about them.” She could only imagine the bastard’s next goals. He would seek them out, and follow them for a couple of years until he found some sort of proof about their daughter. Then he or one of his cult followers would snipe them while they were out having a lovely day together. “Piece of fucking shit!”
She immediately felt the earth shake and heard the future window buzz with a relatively quiet electric-sounding surge. From the emotional moment of seeing her future self, future Max, and the lurking man, she didn’t notice the opening had vanished until it returned momentarily with a new golden-rimmed charge, which quickly faded. She realized Max had rewound to a few minutes earlier, and the man in the robe hadn’t come by the room yet. Apparently, this time, Max and Chloe hadn’t detected her presence yet either. They were discussing the time they merged into one and conceived their daughter without the sperm needed for a typical conception. Chloe was proudly joking about not needing a man, and that their love defied science and religion. Per usual, when the girls were focused on one another, their tunnel vision blocked most everything else out.
The man returned and started watching and listening through the opened door. When she noticed him, again, he mumbled something about the kid being an “abomination” and was a creature from the devil’s lair that needed to be eliminated. It occurred to Chloe that her mission to prevent the man from hearing the words said by Max and the other Chloe would need one more rewind in order to have a chance at fixing the scenario. She hoped her Max could see what was happening but assumed not because of the greyed window.
Suddenly, another earth-moving jolt struck the girl and the scene had been rewound to several minutes earlier, yet again. “Thanks, Max,” she whispered, feeling their deep connection streaming through her veins and deep into her heart.
A sense of urgency took over as she drew the girls’ attention. “No time to explain. I’m Chloe from the past. Do not mention anything about how you two conceived. It’s bad news. While we’re at it…” She walked over to the door and stuck her head out. She noticed a group of men in robes going door to door blessing the births of newborn children. The man she saw earlier was intermingled with the disciples.
Stepping out and shutting the door behind her, Chloe greeted the man as he walked up. Now being up close and right in front of him, she noticed he was several inches taller than herself and had a stony ex-military look in his eyes. He was almost as wide as he was tall and basically dwarfed the girl. His dark features helped to amplify the girl’s fear and anxiousness. “Sir,” she gingerly spoke, “you can’t go in there, the parents are… uh, praying… and they requested complete privacy. You understand.” Using her best business smile, she hoped she had convinced him to keep moving.
The man squinted and looked down his nose at the girl’s blue hair. “Seems all is in order here,” he responded after carefully scanning and examining her with his eyes. He held his large arms over his head in the direction of the door and proclaimed, “Praise Yahweh for all things.” His accent was noticeable but she couldn’t quite place it.
“Yeah! Praise yah… uhm… way.” She hoped she was convincing enough for the burly man to not be alarmed and just keep walking. He lowered his arms and looked back at the girl. His disciples slinked up and stood behind and beside him. They stared in silence, as a bead or two of sweat pushed through the pores on Chloe’s forehead. The man turned and began strolling down the hallway with his flock following closely behind. She noticed him look back over his shoulder before vanishing inside the next room.
Slowly opening and backing into the girls’ room, Chloe shut the door and approached the couple. For the first time, she got a real good look at the lovers. The brunette was fully pregnant and radiantly beautiful; she looked as lively as ever. The pregnant girl’s partner was letting the blue fade out of her hair, and the strawberry blonde was pushing through making it appear mostly green below the roots. It reminded her of the year following the storm week, and she slightly resented the feelings that came with the memories. If not for Max’s love during that time to help her cleanse the pain away, she knew she would have been lost. It worked the other way as well. Her love for her favorite freckled photographer kept the girl sane, especially as the nightmares began to increase.
“Damn, that blue looks really good on you; I kinda miss it, kinda don’t too.” The green-haired girl spoke first, interrupting the brief silence that fell amongst the group. “So, tell us why you’re here.” She wasn’t rude about the question, though it might have appeared that way to anyone else. Chloe knew herself, and she understood her future self’s intentions behind the ‘get to the point’ mentality.
“Uh, so… from my understanding,” the girl with blue hair shakily replied, “this is the potential future my Max and I could share. It will be one of the happiest moments of our lives.” She had never spoken to herself before, and speaking to the duo at the same time was largely intimidating. “I am here to prevent something horrible from happening in your future… in OUR future. My purpose is to save that little girl getting ready to pop from Max’s belly. I’m pretty sure I just took care of a big part of it.”
Max sat up in the hospital bed and propped on her elbows behind her. “Do we wanna know what you did? Would it even matter?” Chloe locked eyes with the brown-haired future mother, and even in this reality, the connection felt electric and nearly overwhelming. It was tough to look away, though she knew she needed to complete her mission.
Breaking from the gaze, she responded, “I don’t think specifics matter, but you do need to realize what that child represents. Her existence will be questioned for the rest of her life by religious folks who are not quite as… progressive unless you keep her origin quiet. Do not discuss how she was conceived, like ever. It’ll only bring bad fucking things your way… OUR way.” Chloe watched as the girls looked at each other and mumbled something she couldn’t hear.
“We understand. Now, I imagine you’ll need to get back,” Max commented with that cute hypnotic toothy grin she loved so much. “Don’t keep her waiting. Though, since your Max is technically me, you probably know I would wait forever for you.” She watched as the girls kissed each other, and she could feel the power surging from their connection.
“Goddamn,” the bluenette responded. “We’re so fucking lucky we found each other.”
“You mean, it’s destiny,” the older version of herself replied while tenderly rubbing Max’s belly, as she contently grinned.
The blue-headed girl strolled up to the hospital bed and stared down in awe at the bump where the little girl was making her home for what couldn’t be much longer. “Do you mind?” she asked, looking back and forth from one pair of radiant blue eyes to the other. The girls shook their heads confirming it was okay, and Chloe bent down and kissed Max’s big beautiful belly. “We love you so much and can’t wait to meet you,” she expressed with her palm gently flat on the brunette’s stomach.
“Hey,” her future self called out in her direction. Chloe raised her head up to give the girl with faded green hair her full attention. “Taking care of yourself is more important now than ever. But taking care of this one,” she bobbed her head towards her gorgeous freckled bride, “is the most important thing in your life. As long as she’s happy, nothing else matters.” She balled her fist and extended her arm. The blue-haired girl extended her arm in the same manner and quickly bumped fists as a sign of respect and understanding.
“Damn skippy. That’s my purpose from here on out. Now, I don’t know exactly how this is supposed to work but I gotta go back through that window. Good luck with the birth, and please, don’t fuck anything up. This is the last time you’ll have me to save your asses.”
“Is that really what I sound like?” the girl beside the hospital bed asked with a playfully sour look on her face.
“Yep,” Max giggled. “Please don’t change. I love that about you. Always a pirate, always a punk… always my perfect person.”
With a heartfelt, goofy grin, Chloe turned away from the couple and stepped back up to the window. She placed her hand on the solid surface and searched for the sweet spot. Passing over the endless prairies of grey, she quickly arrived at her destination. Unplugging the pulse, reality began to speed past and bend around her. The power didn’t function the same in the real world as it did in the dreamspace, but it properly charged the window causing purple liquid-like ripples to appear. A scattering white light spread out as it had before, and she knew it was time for departure.
Before leaving she heard the amazing life-announcing sounds of her future wife’s screams but didn’t dare turn around. “Bye, bitches.” The fast-forwarder called out as she chuckled before diving in, disappearing through the melted metal.
From the ground where she was sitting, she felt the residual energy of a distant fast-forward. The earth shook and she unclasped her hands from around her knees to establish a sort of balance. Both palms hit the floor beside her to try and steady the shakiness. The earthquake-like effect wore off and Max moved herself to a more upright, attentive sitting position.
She could see a half-dozen other windows they hadn’t viewed yet to the side and in the distance. After waiting for maybe ten more seconds, Max noticed two of the remaining windows glowing brightly then fading down to their original charge. She released her knees and stood to get a better view. From her angle, she couldn’t discern what had happened, but she realized details about the scenes had adjusted. All being windows to happy moments in their future, Max wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing that they changed. What it did mean, though, is Chloe had completed her mission.
The window her partner had vanished inside, began vibrating and shimmering with a violet radiance. “Yes!” The brunette shouted, knowing she was about to see the love of her life again. Even though it hadn’t been very long for her, she realized her fiancé might have been in the future for considerably longer than she knew.
Without being able to see through its depths, Max glared as deeply as she could into the waves of murky molten metal inside the window’s rim. “Where is she?” the girl wondered aloud, eyes darting back and forth in search of her fiancé. As she peered into the opening, like a train coming down the tracks, she saw a tiny dark object swiftly increasing in size. Finally, the approaching object could be seen with a sharp clarity. It was the girl of her dreams kicking and paddling her way back.
The onlooker stepped sideways to give the incoming girl some room. When her partner reached the exit point, her outstretched arm cleared the plane first and hung outward towards Max, who stepped forward and gripped her hands around the girl’s wrist. Leaning backwards, using most of her strength, she pulled her best friend out and into the dreamspace. The returning girl landed on top of her soulmate who fell backwards and to the dark ground.
“Well, hey sexy.” Chloe waggled her eyebrows at the elated girl beneath her. “You smell lovely.” She was frantically catching her breath as she buried her face into the brown-haired girl’s shoulder and neck area.
“You’re back!” Placing both palms on opposite sides of the girl’s head, she tilted her back and slid her mouth across her best friend’s tender lips. It felt like an eternity since they had kissed, and Max knew this was the moment they had been fighting for, “I missed you so much.” It wasn’t an overly passionate kiss, but it was filled with relief and maturity. The words didn’t need to be said; both girls knew their future was now changed to one of joy and happiness. There would be disagreements and struggles along the way, but their daughter would be safe, and they would be able to hold each other until old age came to escort them into the next reality.
Nothing was more important than the moment they were currently sharing. The past couple of days were rough in many ways. Now, they could focus on one another and the more immediate future. Max had questions about what all happened, as she wasn’t able to witness the events of the future. But for now, all she wanted to do was hold her fiancé, her perfect person, her best friend, her soulmate, her lover, the light in her soul, her beacon through the darkness, and her reason for living.
After a while, the girls released each other and decided to make their way back to the far end of the warehouse where the large couch remained. It was the only object in the dreamspace besides the two of them and the future windows. Few words were exchanged on their walk, but the girls nudged and gently pushed each other around, being playful and mischievous while enjoying being near each other again. They were Max and Chloe and had just stared down yet another challenge. Another impossibility was made possible because of their love. Nothing could get in their way and nothing would keep them apart.
They sat on the couch and Chloe laid her head on her partner’s lap, stretching her legs across the span of the overstuffed cushions. “I love you, babe,” Max lovingly stated while looking down at her favorite person. She ran her fingers through soft blue hair, and couldn’t stop staring into her gorgeous eyes.
“I love you too, Maxi Max.” A galvanic sensation surged through the girls’ bodies at the deepest levels while locked in and focused on one another. It was as if they shared the same mind and heart, and they existed at a level beyond the tangible world. Without words, the duo agreed and closed their eyes. A tremor branched outward from the girls’ tethered souls, sending them from the dreamspace back to the cabin where their physical bodies remained.
Max’s eyes opened first, and she saw her future wife lying beside her with an adoring grin on her face. It was such a beautiful sight that part of her wanted to grab a camera to capture the moment for posterity purposes, but it was a moment she would never forget. No photo was needed, as the picture in her mind would remain for all eternity, just like the pure love she shared with her perfect person.