Losing Kyler

By: Siobhan Davis

Chapter One

The room spins. Everything fades into the background as his words rebound in my mind. I sway on my feet, stumbling as I lose my balance. Ky steadies me, holding me around the waist, even though he’s struggling to stay upright too. My lungs constrict, flattening like pancakes, and I can’t breathe properly. My breath snakes in and out in panicked spurts as my lungs desperately suck in air.

This cannot be happening.

I pinch my arm hard, praying I’m dreaming. That I’m going to wake up in a world where James’s words and an awful new reality don’t exist. Where the last five minutes is just a figment of my sick, overactive imagination.

My traumatized gaze bounces from Kyler to James and back again. Ky looks as shell-shocked as I am. His arm is still wrapped around my waist, and I want to reach out to him, to cling onto him, to show him he’s not alone in his horror and grief, but I appear to have lost control of my body. My arms hang loosely at my sides, and I’m numb all over.

James’s confession reverberates in my mind like the lyrics of a catchy song that refuse to go away. You know, the type of cheesy, corny song you wouldn’t dream of ever singing in public—not if you wanted to hold onto any shred of dignity—but it latches onto your mind, replaying on a continual loop in your head until you feel you’re going insane?

I’m stuck in that place.

“You’re my daughter. I’m your father.”

The words repeat over and over, taunting me cruelly.

“What?” Kyler’s cracked voice is barely a whisper, as he finally breaks the strained silence. Hearing his gravelly tone snaps me out of my trance. “What kind of sick joke is this?” he demands.

James folds his arms across his torso. “I wouldn’t joke about something like this.”

“I can’t be your daughter,” I choke out. “Then that would mean you and my mum …” I trail off as the many implications of his admission ricochet through my brain.

“We were like you two,” he admits quietly. He, at least, has the decency to look ashamed.

Kyler releases his hold on me, and I’m instantly bereaved. Peering up at him, I spot the conflicting emotions tearing across his face, mirroring how I feel on the inside.

“No!” I shriek, staggering back, getting all tangled up in the sheet. I drop to the ground with a thud.

Is this why Mum kept James’s identity a secret from me?

Because she had an incestuous relationship with her brother and then got pregnant with me?

I can’t even … I can’t process. Emotions clutter my head, and I can’t make sense of anything. Nausea builds quickly at the back of my throat, and my stomach lurches violently. I fight with the sheet, kicking out, my arms thrashing about. Sobs start in earnest as I try to yank it off me. Ky and James stare at me as if in a daze. Finally extracting myself from the tangled linen, I start crawling toward the bathroom. “I’m going to be sick.”

The nauseated feeling surges forward, and vomit swims up my throat. Climbing awkwardly to my feet, uncaring that I’m in my underwear, I dart to the en suite bathroom, arriving just in the nick of time. I crouch over the toilet bowl, heaving up the contents of my stomach until I have nothing left to expel. Silent tears pour down my cheeks as I try to grasp the magnitude of what’s been revealed.

My initial instincts were right. I should’ve stayed as far away from this house, and this dysfunctional family, as possible. Should have run away the first chance I got. I sink to my knees, cradling my head in my hands as tears continue to pump out of my eyes.

This can’t be happening.

It’s as if I’ve stumbled into my own version of soap opera hell.

After a few minutes, I stand up, flush the toilet, and wash my mouth out with water in zombie mode. Snatching my robe from the back of the door, I wrap it firmly around me, although it does nothing to quell the violent tremors rocking my entire body.

Raised voices coming from the bedroom barely register. I can scarcely hear over the thrumming of blood in my ears and the frantic pounding of my heart. Resting my hands on the counter, I stare at my ashen reflection in the mirror. I look like I’ve seen a ghost. My startled eyes are glossy and red-rimmed from crying, and my skin has a grayish quality to it, as if someone has drained all the blood from my veins. As if all the color has been sucked out of my life.

The arguing accelerates outside, and I force myself to get a grip. Taking deep breaths, I walk on shaky limbs back into my bedroom. All conversation ceases mid-flow. James hovers uncertainly in the center of the room. Ky is on the floor, leaning against the wall, with his knees pulled in tight to his chest. He has put his jeans on, but his upper body is naked, and my eyes feast on him with familiarity.

Until I remember.

I can’t look at him like that anymore.

I clamp a hand over my mouth as the repercussions of the situation sink in. Averting my eyes, I look away from him, pain slicing a line straight through my heart.

The gravity of the situation hits me like a bolt of lightning.

I’ve been conducting an illicit, incestuous affair this whole time, and I never knew it.