Black Swan Affair(3)

By: K.L. Kreig

Killian Shepard loves me. He always has, and that’s not the neurotic projection of a psychotic woman feeding into her own mental illness. It’s true. It’s always been true. Which makes his own farce of a marriage to my sister all the more confusing. She must have a golden fucking vagina and mind-altering powers. Could be. I haven’t met a bigger witch than my sister, Jillian.

“You need to leave.” Before I drop to my knees and make a bigger fool out of myself than I already have.

He opens his mouth to no doubt try some other tactic to get me to change my mind, but the voice of my father bellows from behind him.

“Shep, there you are. You need to get back up with the guys.”

Neither of us moves. I feel frozen, dead. Empty.

“Ready, Tenderheart?”

I cringe inwardly at my father’s childhood nickname for me. How ironic that he gave me a boy’s name but tries constantly to turn me into a lady. It’s a lost cause I wish he’d just give up on.

“Yes, Daddy,” I answer evenly, my eyes never leaving Killian’s.

Don’t let this happen, they beg.

Don’t make me choose, I assume he replies.

Fuck you, I say. Fuck you and your misplaced honor.

I see Daddy’s head peek around Killian’s broad frame. “Come on, sweetie, almost showtime.” How apt. I couldn’t put on a bigger fucking sad play than if I’d scripted it myself. I catch his joyous eyes lined deeply with wrinkles and adoration and smile as brightly as I can while I let myself mourn inside.

Then, I skirt around Killian Shepard, take my father’s hand, and leave him behind, wondering how you go about falling out of love with one man and in love with another. I’ve tried for years and still haven’t mastered it.

I can’t breathe.


There is no air.

I suck gulps.

It’s pointless. All I hear is pathetic wheezing and my future breaking into pieces.

Black edges my vision, the inky rings drawing me under.

My head falls between my splayed legs in an attempt to get closer to the floor, where I pray the blessed darkness takes me at long last. I want her to. If he dies, I don’t want to live.

Oh, God.

This can’t be happening. Why is this happening? Why aren’t the doctors coming out? It’s been six hours.

That can’t be good, can it?

Distant buzzing fills my head, getting louder by the second.

You deserve this, Mavs, she whispers sweetly in my ear.

Karma, that ruthless bitch. Her saccharine tenor cuts through the incessant ringing with clarity.

You caused this. You deserve this.

Do I?

I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe this is the only way to atone for past indiscretions and sins. Losing the one person in this world I hold most dear. I start sobbing uncontrollably, my cries muffled by my position.

“Maverick, calm down,” he says sternly beside me. He reaches for my hand, but his touch burns. I jerk away, hissing like an infected animal ready to attack.

“Hey,” he says softer this time. The gentle, calming tone I’ve heard my entire life echoes loudly off these four bland white walls that hold chaos, suffering, and shattered lives. It sounds like nails being driven into my ears. “It’s going to be okay. He’s going to be okay.”



He was shot! Gunned down by a fucking lunatic at work, and he’s telling me everything is going to be okay in that eerily calm voice like I’m ten years old and my gerbil just died.

I hate him. I hate that he’s here, talking, breathing, living, and the man I want more than anything is fighting to come back to me.

“Just breathe. Nice and slow. You’re going to pass out.”

His hand lands on my shoulder and squeezes lovingly, reassuringly.

I snap.

I jump up and lose it. “I don’t want you here.” My voice is strangely even but poisonous. “This is your fault.”

My behavior is irrational, but how does one react when the love of her life is fighting for his? I need to transfer the bone-crushing agony and debilitating fear that’s threatening to overtake me. I’m suffocating. Drowning slowly in heart-wrenching torment and a lifetime of regrets and wrong decisions.

We haven’t had enough time. Not nearly enough.

His mouth drops open then closes. Without a word he stands, grabs my shoulders, and forces me back down into the hard plastic chair I’ve been occupying for hours and hours. I don’t even feel it anymore. My body is as numb as my soul. Kneeling in front of me, he takes my hands, grips tight, and just breathes with me.

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