Max was given a power to go back and correct mistakes; a ‘rewind’ power, she called it. Early on, she tested it by not only fixing things for the better, but by making herself seem smarter, cooler, and more popular. It made her sick to her stomach thinking about that time; she felt naïve and ignorant to be so careless.
According to her phone’s calendar, that time was only about a week ago. It seemed like several lifetimes had passed between then and now, and she vowed to never manipulate time again without a specific purpose.
The only thing that mattered to the photographer in that moment, was the past and the future. She no longer cared about the present. As she came to this realization, a gorgeous blue butterfly landed on her best friend’s casket.
Below her moist, irritated eyes, she couldn’t control the muscles in her face, as a smile was tightening the skin on her cheeks, peeking through her slightly chapped lips. The only two thoughts that ran through her mind were the kiss they shared in her friend’s final moments, and the word “destiny.”
She would be facing a much different outcome had she not listened to the girl who begged her to photo-jump, once more, in order to save the town from a disastrous storm, sacrificing her best friend in the process. This best friend, who was Max’s favorite person she’d ever met, in a most selfless act, gave up her life for others. She absolutely considered Chloe Price a hero.
Max knew a little bit about bugs, and she had seen this particular insect once before. Was it a morpho, an adonis, a monarch, or maybe a hairstreak? It didn’t matter. She knew what it meant.
It was blue and reminded her of Chloe, who emerged as so much more than just a friend during the previous week. She definitely didn’t deserve to be murdered, bleeding out on the Blackwell restroom floor after being shot. If nothing else, Chloe at least earned a much better death because of her sacrifice. She was way too special to Max to end this shitty way. Despite her current circumstance, Max believed she still had an opportunity to save her. She had to try.
Wanting to be certain about what she wanted to attempt, she didn’t rush to do it immediately. She knew she was going to do it soon, she just wasn’t sure exactly when. The timing needed to be absolutely perfect. She didn’t want to fuck things up more than she already had. This time, she would wait for a sign from the universe. This time, things would be different.
The week following the funeral was fall break at Blackwell, and Max wanted to be back around her family for the time being. She desired to get the hell out of Arcadia Bay and live with her parents, so she used the last of her birthday money to hop on a bus with a destination for Seattle.
The choice was not easy at the end. Sacrificing her best friend, saving her hometown and everyone in it, or letting the storm decimate Arcadia Bay, saving the one person who meant more to her than her own life. It wasn’t as difficult a decision as it might have been for anyone else, but the only thing that mattered to Max, was the present – not the future, not the past. She wanted to be with Chloe, and she didn’t want to live in a world without her best friend. That world was too dark for her and she thought she understood why; she was in love… maybe. She didn’t even know if Chloe felt the same way, all she knew was what her heart was telling her. Having saved the girl’s life numerous times already, she was prepared to save her again.
And as many times as necessary.
After watching the storm destroy what they assumed was everyone and everything in the Arcadia Bay area, Max and Chloe hopped in the old, beater of a truck and left town, never looking back. They didn’t know where they were going. They simply… left.
After aimlessly driving in silence for nearly an hour, Max asked her driver to head towards Seattle, to her parents’ house. She had an idea she wanted to pursue.
After what happened to Chloe when she tried to save William, she knew what she planned to do would be dangerous. But she felt extremely guilty and grief stricken, and she knew her friend felt it too. Could they ever be truly happy with this outcome? It might have been too heavy for both if they didn’t at least try and make things right. She could feel the pain radiating outward as she looked into her partner-in-crime’s beautiful eyes.
It wouldn’t come immediately, but she knew the universe would surely let her know when the time was right. She didn’t want to fuck up things again, so she would wait for the perfect moment. For now, Seattle was the best place for them. For now, they were together in the present. It was all that mattered.
Max hugged her dad first, then her mom. Being around them again helped briefly mend her heart, at least temporarily.
She told her parents everything she could, stretching the truth and altering details about what happened. As time travel would have it, she never actually reconnected with Chloe in this timeline, and there’s no way in hell they would believe what really happened.
Her story involved meeting up with her best friend a week prior to the restroom shooting. She detailed events such as breaking into Blackwell for a night swim as well as junkyard shenanigans and reconnecting with Joyce.
They could tell immediately their little Maxine had grown up tremendously since the last time they saw her. After the insane events of the past two weeks or so, the Caulfield’s didn’t want to bombard their daughter with questions; they wanted to be there for support more so than anything else. She seemed more distant than usual, and it was understandable, as her childhood friend had recently been murdered.
Max recalled events form their recent time together. She remembered one particular moment with a clarity she wished she didn’t have. Closing her eyes, she was rushed back to that place with Chloe in her arms. Her best friend had crumbled into herself, hysterically breaking down, “Oh, Rachel, no, no! Please not her! How can she be dead? Who does this?”
The horrific memory will be forever tattooed in her mind. And that smell. God the smell! Yet, she could never tell them anyone about any of it. Plus, she was conflicted with a whirlwind of emotions: empathy, sympathy, helplessness, jealousy, anguish, and so on. The jealousy part felt ridiculous, but there was no denying the fact that she was a little bit jealous of a dead girl. Chloe had loved Rachel Amber so much, and they shared a ton of time together. She wished more than anything she wouldn’t have moved away at the moment Chloe needed her the most. Though she couldn’t control her family moving, it was still her biggest regret.
After Chloe’s murderer, Nathan Prescott, was apprehended, he informed the authorities about the darkroom and Mr. Jefferson’s “art”. It didn’t take long for the man to be apprehended and Rachel’s body discovered in the junkyard.
The news reported there would be no funeral. Despite being a prominent family in the community, the Ambers requested privacy and practically vanished. Who could blame them? Their daughter had been missing for months then found murdered by a student and was traced back to Blackwell’s photography teacher. They apparently were in denial about their daughter’s whereabouts for months. There was no indication they had even been searching for her, which seemed very odd to Max. She imagined, and hoped, her mom and dad would stop at nothing to find her if put in a similar situation.
Max’s mom, Vanessa, opened her heart the night Max returned home. The woman even mentioned how she regretted monitoring her daughter’s texts with Chloe after William had passed.
At the time, she and Max’s father, Ryan, thought it would be best to cut her and Chloe off completely. As understanding as they were most of the time, they practically forbade the freckled girl to speak to her best friend. They knew how close the pair had gotten, and as a young teenager, they determined she needed a complete reset to block her from the grief of losing a father figure, allowing her to move on and start over.
Max couldn’t even remember why she lost touch with her Captain Blue Beard; she only knew she hated herself for never reaching out.
Part of her also hated her parents for their decision. During their heart-to-heart, Max argued with her mother about she and Chloe’s need for each other back then. She was ultimately convinced her parents really were only doing what they thought was best. Truthfully, she was way too weary to fight anymore, and she knew her plan was to change things anyway.
At least now she knew the truth, and when she saw Chloe again, she would tell her why she didn’t contact her. She imagined the moment she could finally let her know: “It wasn’t my fault, Chloe. I wasn’t allowed to reach out to you! I’m so sorry! Fuck, I wanted to so badly!”
Vanessa and Ryan, together, hugged both girls when they arrived. They squeezed them so tightly she thought they would never let go. It reminded her of when she saw the back of Chloe’s head and slender shoulders after leaving the timeline where her partner-in-crime asked her to end her life. She was still in shock but overjoyed that the girl was alive and not paralyzed. All she wanted to do was wrap her arms around her blue-haired punk and never let her go again.
She would never forget the girl’s words: “Whoa, whoa, down Max. You get one kiss, now you’re all over me… You sound high, but thanks for the morning grope.”
Max’s parents, of course, heard about the storm and were worried sick. Chloe called them from her cellphone as soon as they left for Seattle. Max’s phone had died, and after she charged and turned it back on, it back up at the Caulfield’s house, she had hundreds of missed calls and texts. Nearly half were from her parents. They didn’t know just how bad the storm was and how much damage it caused until Max and Chloe told them about the phone call Chloe received just a few hours prior.
David Madsen informed them that he didn’t think there were any survivors besides the two of them, himself, and Victoria Chase, Max’s old nemesis from Blackwell. He and Victoria ironically survived in the dark room bunker. Chloe turned the speaker phone off when her and David started arguing. She heard Chloe saying, “I don’t give a fuck. We are together. We are leaving. You can rot in that shit hole for all I care!” before throwing her phone against the dash and hanging up.
The events of the week played in a loop in Max’s head as she showered for the first time in what seemed to be several days. The warm water felt nice in her hair and on her body, but nothing could wash the guilt from her heart. What could she have done differently? Should she have given up Chloe to save everyone else? Hella no! No regrets. Even though she practically begged Max to save everyone else, she would never let her best friend die scared and all alone.
But something was bothering her. She was given a gift. Why was she chosen to hold this responsibility? Maybe she’d never know. What she did know was she still had the power. Every few hours since the storm, she rewound for a couple of seconds just trying it out. She could feel it. It was a part of her, and she a part of it.
Max didn’t know a lot about her mysterious power, she only knew she still had it, and because of that, there had to be more work to do. It chose her for some reason she had yet to identify, but as long as it was with her she felt an overwhelming burden. She had an idea but knew Chloe would be upset about what she felt she needed to do. Chloe finished her shower and laid down beside her.
In the morning, Max would tell her, but for now, she only wanted to be in this moment. It occurred to her, she and her partner-in-crime would need to discuss their relationship at some point. She held off because her idea might change things again. And the perfect way Chloe looked tonight, with the moonlight shining through her window illuminating the girl’s face with shadows accentuating her cheekbones, she didn’t want to upset the incredible moment. She didn’t need a camera; her eyes were capturing every move the punk made.
Tomorrow would be a reset. One she hoped Chloe would understand.
The next morning, Max awoke in her bed calling out for Chloe. She was drenched in sweat. Her bed sheets were also saturated. The freckled brunette knew her dreams were peppered with images of her now deceased best friend, but she couldn’t recall much more. Having tested her powers every few hours since the storm week, Max panicked briefly. She slept much deeper and longer than she thought she would. Her fears were calmed when she realized the power was still within her. What was she waiting for? She knew what had to happen, and it was only a matter of time before she would hold her favorite person again. That single thought alone kept her going.
Finding her phone on the nightstand, Max saw she had one unread message from an unknown sender. It was 10:07 and the message had been sent at 9:30. Assuming it was someone from Blackwell or Arcadia Bay, she laid the phone down and decided to shower before reading. She wasn’t in any hurry to deal with answering questions or chatting about the events of the past week.
The warm water felt amazeballs, but panicked chills slid from the back of her head to the bottom of her spine when she considered she might have made a terrible mistake. She was playing with fate. She was holding onto a hope of reunion not knowing the exact path. But it was more than just hope. Her love would find a way.
After drying off, and putting on her typical hipster clothing, Max noticed her mom had left breakfast upstairs on her nightstand. The scent of eggs and bacon always reminded her of Joyce, the Price household, and the diner. Everything reminded her of Chloe. Her mom wasn’t particularly bad at cooking, she just wasn’t Joyce. She didn’t have the touch Joyce did in the kitchen. Chloe’s mom cooked everything to perfection. Max finished her meal and downed her orange juice. She hadn’t realized how thirsty she had become.
Laying her empty dishes down she remembered the message on her phone. She unplugged it and snuggled back in her warm covers. The skinny hipster opened her texts and read the message:
Unknown Sender: I know who you are, Time Master. You must save everyone.
Mouth gaping open in shock and disbelief, it took Max several moments to gather her thoughts. The room was spinning, and she had to control her mind if she wanted to make sense of things. “This is it!” she thought, both excited and scared. This was the sign she’d been waiting for. Somehow, she knew what she had to do, though she was terrified. She was supposed to save the only two she couldn’t, Chloe…and Rachel. She hated what happened to the blonde and somehow felt she was leading them along their path during the week of the storm.
Forcing herself to not be concerned with the text for the moment, the photographer grabbed a tattered, dusty photo binder from her bookshelf. The binder housed photos of her and Chloe’s pirate adventures from when they were kids. She was frightened, yet excited. The last time she jumped back to that era, she made things worse for her friend. This time would be different. It had to be.
Flipping through the endless pages, the hipster found the photo she was looking for. On one of the rare occasions Chloe stayed at the Caulfield’s house, Ryan took a picture of them in front of their Christmas tree, which was set up adjacent to the fireplace. Chloe had her tongue out and giving her friend bunny ears, while Max just smiled, oblivious to the fingers behind her head.
She laid the photo on her bed and began to focus. The distant sounds of a young pirate captain laughing filled her heart so much a tear slid down her cheek, breathing staggering as she attempted to catch a controlled breath of air. She finally inhaled properly, focusing once more on what she had set out to do. As reality began to wink and fade out around her, she could barely speak, “Chloe… My Chloe. We’ll be back together soon.”
Max did not even remember falling asleep. She knew Chloe slept in her room, in her bed. Before last week, they hadn’t slept together since they were children. It felt familiar yet new and curious. They still hadn’t talked much since the storm, which was uncharacteristic of the duo. But given the traumatic events of the previous week, it made sense. Both girls were comfortable with each other. They could sit in silence and not have to say a word.
Upon waking, the freckled brunette noticed her friend’s body resting against hers in the ‘big spoon’ position. Her arm was draped across Max as if protecting her from evil forces. Max attempted to wriggle out of her ‘little spoon’ position, as she noticed a text on her phone. She saw the message was sent by an unknown sender at 9:30 and it now was 10:07. Since everyone she loved, that was still alive, was safe and sound in this house, she figured the message could wait little longer. She also wanted to lie there and gaze at her partner as she slept. Max felt more like a kid at Christmas anxiously waiting to open her presents. She couldn’t wait to meet Chloe’s gorgeous blue eyes the second she awakened. The only thing she wanted was to be right there with her, but that same nagging feeling kept creeping back in her mind.
Max got up and located the tattered, dusty photo binder on the bookshelf she used as a sort of shrine for what she considered some of the best days of her life. Captain Blue Beard and Long Max Silver took hundreds of photos together, but Max searched for one specific picture. Chloe rarely stayed the night at the Caulfield’s house, so this one was extra special to Max. It was also Christmas, one of her favorite times of the year. By the time she found the photo her bestie had woken up.
The shorter girl hugged her taller friend and lovingly explained what she needed to do. Chloe did not like the idea of Max photo jumping. She used phrases such as, “Fuck that, I will not let you leave me again!” and “No fucking way Max Caulfield, I am NOT letting you go!” But in the end, she left the decision up to the photographer, even though she was terrified of what might happen. She knew Max had to do it. Their bond was too strong to let a little thing like time get in their way. They created their own fate many times and would do so again.
Knowing Chloe was by her side, Max considered letting it go. All she wanted was to be with her Captain Bluebeard, but the grief and regret she felt for the people lost in the storm was nearly unbearable. Then, when she remembered the text, Max decided to check her phone. When she saw what was sent, she stared in disbelief, mouth hanging open for several seconds.
Unknown Sender: I know who you are, Time Master. You must save everyone.
Max knew what she needed to do. She hoped she could save Arcadia Bay, of course, but there was one person she specifically felt she left behind; one person she didn’t save. She and Chloe spent a lot of time trying to solve the actress’s disappearance, only to find she had been murdered. If Max still had the power to go back in time, shouldn’t she at least try to save the girl?
Her favorite person was scared of something even more terrible happening to Max, and her concern felt nice. When she felt the warmth of Chloe’s love cascading through her, it made her feel… happy. A sense of comfort washed through the time traveler as she watching Chloe beg her not to go back again, even if there was a chance she could save Rachel.
The photographer knew a little bit about Rachel and Chloe’s past, but she didn’t know much. She believed the two of them were romantically involved, though it was never outright stated by Chloe. It seemed like Rachel may have broken it off and had a thing with the local drug dealer, Frank Bowers. Max knew how Chloe reacted, saying she has been betrayed, when she found out about Frank. There was also a fucked up rumor that Rachel hooked up with Mr. Jefferson. A stony chill ran through her as that psycho’s name bounced around her head. Even though Nathan actually killed Rachel with an overdose, Jefferson might as well have, as he manipulated the troubled boy. Shaking her head to clear her mind, Max quickly tucked those thoughts away.
Her choice was clear. Max had decided to go back to try and save the one person that could potentially drive a wedge between her and the girl she recently realized she was in love with. The final piece to her idea would easily be the biggest risk. Typically, she might feel that she was already taking a huge risk by photo-jumping at all, but this plan involved potentially harming Chloe, and that was a risk she NEVER wanted to take.
After showing Chloe the text, having a brief squabble about its meaning, and explaining her idea fully, both girls were on board. It was like they were pirates again heading off on an adventure.
Before they left, The Captain with tats and ‘tude impishly asked her first mate for a kiss before departure. It felt more like an obligatory goodbye-type request, but Long Max Silver wanted to feel the girl’s lips on hers again badly. The first time was a dare that didn’t last very long, but she remembered how cute Chloe was when she panicked and fell away.
Chloe placed both hands on either of Max’s cheeks, gently pulling her closer, head craning inward. With two sets of eyes closed, their lips inched together and locked in place. It felt tender and sweet, and seemed to last forever. A torrent of electricity pulsated through the photographer’s body. By the end, they were just staring into each other’s eyes, blue reflecting blue, tears beginning to fill – not because they were afraid, but mainly because of their shared awareness of each other’s unconditional love. It was perfect.
After slowly pulling away, Max clutched the photo with one arm, the other wrapped around Chloe. Studying and focusing on the photo, Max noticed the room blinking in and out of existence. Perception swelled then retracted as it had with each photo-jump she’d experienced. She heard the laughter of a younger version of Chloe, and she audibly gasped like the wind had been knocked out of her. Uncertainty and excitement filled her heart, and the two girls faded out.
“Whoa!” Max exclaimed, as the scent of balsam and cinnamon filled her nostrils. The camera blinded her with a bright white flash for a moment, and before she could fully react, she felt a tight squeeze around her shoulders.
“Max, oh god, Max!” Chloe called out not loosening her grip in the slightest. “This is wild!” She looked around, mouth hanging open in disbelief. Looking at her arms and hands and body, her mind was filled with shock. Even her voice sounded different.
Ryan looked at the young girls curiously. “You know you two have been together every day for like two months straight, right? How you keep that enthusiasm for each other, I’ll never know.” He chuckled as he removed his Santa hat and left the room disappearing into the perimeters of the picture.
“Maybe the two of us could learn from them,” Vanessa playfully commented from the distance. Her voice sounding warbled and muffled.
Holding each other tightly the two pirates sat down on the couch admiring each other’s younger bodies. They didn’t want to let go, but Max knew it wouldn’t last long.
“God, I can’t believe you just jumped with me!” Max raved after removing her eye patch. There was so much she wanted to say, but she knew she only had a brief few moments before they’d be back in the present. “We don’t have much time.” Her power felt more potent the last week or so, but this seemed insane. “The next part usually involves a jump to the present with me not remembering what happened; you remember, like after the Vortex Club party.”
Upon hearing herself mention the party, she wasn’t sure if it actually happened, or if Chloe was even alive at the time. Tears were forming in Max’s adolescent eyes, and she wasn’t sure if she could hold them back. Her sense of urgency was almost overwhelming and her blood pumped heavy beneath her skin. “We need to do something right now to slightly change things; to change what happened to Rachel. Dammit think, Max!”
“What if we write ourselves a note, uh, our future selves?” Chloe calmly asked, moving her shoulders towards her ears in a shrugging motion. Max usually had to try and figure things out alone, but this was a new experience. She felt a sense of comfort and trust knowing Chloe was there with her. Looking deep in the taller girl’s clear, blue eyes she smiled and knew everything would be fine.
Considering for a moment, Max replied, “That could work! But we need to make sure things only change casually. Otherwise…” she didn’t want to think about it, “I can’t see you in pain in a wheelchair again, Chloe.” It was a memory she wished she could forget, but those type of memories were starting to pile up. “I can’t watch you die again!”
“Mom!” the freckled brunette called out. “Will you help us?”
Vanessa appeared and approached the girls. “Of course, what do you need?” Her hands were on her hips, elbows pointing outward.
“Will you bring us an envelope and some paper? We want to write ourselves a note, then you put it somewhere safe. Mail it to Chloe a week before her nineteenth birthday, sort of like a time capsule.”
“Oh, is that all,” Max’s mother giggled. “Let me get right on that.”
“Mom, please. This is super important. Please!” Max looked her mother directly in her eyes hoping her seriousness was received in a convincing manner.
“Okay, okay, sweetie.” Vanessa left and returned with an envelope, a pen, and a piece of notebook paper. “Here’s a sticky note too. Just write what you want me to do, and I’ll do it.” She walked away disappearing again into the distance, leaving the two girls to themselves.
Max quickly and thoughtfully wrote out a letter on the notebook paper, put it in the envelope, sealed it, added Chloe’s address to the front, then attached the sticky note with directions. “Chloe, this has to work! It just has to!”
The older girl squeezed her friend and kissed her on the cheek. “You fucker, it’ll work.”
“That’s a dollar for the swear jar,” Max giggled through uncontrolled sobs as the edges of reality began to burn out of existence.
“I love you so much, Chloe Price!”
“I love YOU so fucking much, Max Caulfield!”
“Another dollar for the swear jar…”
Several years back, they moved from Arcadia Bay to Seattle because of work. They uprooted their young, teenage daughter and abandoned everything they had known. Vanessa felt terrible about forcefully ending the relationship between her daughter and her best friend. It wasn’t like she insisted on their friendship ending, but Max would begin at a new school in a new town and needed to completely start over socially.
It seemed right at the time, but she didn’t know if it was anymore. Max’s best friend had just lost her father, who happened to be a very good role model and father figure for the girl. They, unfortunately, had to leave Oregon the same day as William’s funeral still dressed in their nice blacks. She should have at least allowed her daughter to stay with Chloe during that time; at least another week or so. She should have encouraged texting, phone calls, even a visit or two, not prevented them from contact. They felt the death in Max’s life would surely impact the girl, and distance seemed to be the correct plan of action.
One day, when she was cleaning the garage, she rediscovered an envelope containing a letter in an unopened moving box. Things had been hectic around that time and this one had apparently been put aside and forgotten. Realizing what it was, she knew what she had to do. Her daughter asked her to send it to the friend she would eventually be forced to leave behind. There was a sticky note with directions still scarcely attached to the front. The timing couldn’t have been much better. The note, written in Max’s young teenage handwriting, indicated the letter should be mailed on March eleventh of that year. Currently, it was March second. This would be Vanessa’s main goal the next week. She was determined to fulfill her daughter’s wishes in an attempt to make things right.