As Claire reads the findings of the DNA test she and her husband underwent, her hands begin to shake. She is in disbelief. She felt unwell. As she stumbles to the corner of the room, she feels tears starting to fill up in her eyes.
Her stomach was more constricted and painful with each step. She didn't want to accept the information written down. They can't possibly be correct, can they?
Just A Few Words
But she knew these words were the truth as simple as they looked. Even if she wanted to deny and fight about them, they were still true in the end.
Who’d have thought a piece of paper and a few words only meant to shed a bit of light on some matters could turn your world upside down?
She Knew He Was The One
As soon as Claire laid her eyes on Mike, she knew he was 'the one.' The two grew up in the same small town, but it wasn't until they were both 18 that Mike finally made his move.
From there, the two embarked on a life together filled with happiness, memories, and affection. But they had no idea how their world was about to get turned upside down.
Some Happy News
It was the couple's 10th anniversary when they found out Claire was pregnant. The two had been trying for a solid year, so they were over the moon to learn they would soon hear the pitter-patter of small feet on their floor.
But nothing could have prepared them for what would happen two years later.
Birthday To Remember
It was Mike's 30th birthday, and because it was a big one, Claire knew she had to do something big and incredible. So she decided to get her husband an ancestry kit. She filled their home with hundreds of balloons, got an extravagant cake, and threw a party with all their closest friends.
She was confident that Mike would have the best day ever. But in reality, it would be the worst birthday Mike would ever have.
He Loved His Gift
Mike's 30th birthday soon arrived, and just as Claire planned, she presented him with his gift. Mike was ecstatic at her thoughtful gesture. He had always been keen to learn about his roots.
And so, once the party was over, Claire and Mike sat down and did the test. They were both excited to learn and uncover the secrets of their family history. But they never expected to uncover what they did.
A few days later, Claire was flicking through her family photo album. With each page she turned, her smile grew. The faces of her family members tugged at her heart as she reminisced on her childhood.
A sense of Nostalgia filled the room as Claire relished in these blissful memories. Little did she know everything she thought was completely wrong.
Receiving The Results
A week after they sent the DNA test, Claire and Mike received their results. Claire waited all day for Mike to return from work so they could do it together.
As soon as she heard Mike's keys in the door, she raced towards him armed with the letter containing the results. They were both so excited! But their whole world was about to be turned upside down.
Nervous But Excited
Opening the page, Claire could feel her heartbeat in her throat. She was nervous but wholly excited, and endless theories ran through her mind.
And so, as Claire and Mike sat down, their eyes began to scan the contents of the page, and a sudden and uneasy feeling hit the pit of Claire's stomach.
This Had To Be False
"No way," Mike yells out. "This can't be true. It can't be!" He proclaimed, getting up and racing towards the toilet. But Claire didn't respond. She was lost for words.
You see, on the piece of paper, the results showed that Claire and Mike were actually closely related. They were cousins. And it was that moment then when the beloved couple's world was left in tatters. But Claire needed answers. And she needed them fast.
So Many Questions
The recent discovery left Claire completely unsettled. How was this true? How could they be related? Mike's parents had been married for 30 years, and he always held his mother close to sainthood.
But the only realistic theory Claire had was her mother-in-law having an affair with one of her uncles. Still, she didn't know who it could be!
It Didn't Make Sense
Since the couple learned about this, Claire and Mike decided to sleep in separate rooms and refused to talk about what happened. But Claire was still confused about how exactly they were related.
All her uncles were happily married - it just didn't make sense! And so, for a few days, Claire tried her hardest to put together the pieces in this unsettling story. But she wasn't able to. She was distraught. She had to tell someone but she couldn't. She was all alone. She would forever be living with this secret.
Living With A Secret
What was more painful for Claire was that she couldn't even share her secret with her sisters or her mom, who visited just a month after Claire and Mike learned the truth.
She was worried she would ruin her marriage. Worried that it would blow up the rest of her family. Her father-in-law loved to mention how he married the first girl he ever kissed. But he was wrong. Everything Claire thought she knew was, in fact, false.
Not A Happy Ending
Unfortunately for Claire, the revelation left her a mess of her former self. She'd once been a proud mom and wife with the best family anyone could ever ask for.
She was caught between wanting to find out the truth and keeping the man of her dreams. As much as she tried not to think of it, one thing was painfully clear.
Claire couldn't share her revelations with anyone. She couldn't even face Mike without breaking down or feeling the strong urge to hurl.
But she couldn't deny that throughout the ordeal, she still had some lingering feelings for him. She'd tried to suppress them, to forget the many years they'd been together. But with each day passed, an important fact drilled into her mind.
Claire realized she couldn't erase a whole marriage in a single night. She couldn't simply take her ring off, pack her bags, and call it quits.
She had a baby with Mike, a baby that was her entire world. She had friends in the town they lived, a career she'd worked hard to establish. How could this be happening to her?
He's Fighting For Them
As the days passed, Claire fell into depression. She felt like she was being pulled from all sides. Mike, who was also going through it, suggested they try talking it out.
When that didn't work, he suggested couples therapy. Clearly, he wasn't going to give up on what they had. But as the first weeks molted into the first month, it became clear that there was only one thing that the two could do.
His Worst Nightmare
Mike didn't want to see the woman he'd spent his entire life loving walk through their front door with her bags packed. He never imagined that one day he'd wake up to Claire carrying their kid, ready to go forever.
But he'd spent the month with her after discovering they were close cousins. He'd seen how torn she was. He could taste her pain. He knew he couldn't be selfish with her.
Can't Stay In The Same Room
None of it was their fault, yet Mike and Claire couldn't even sit in the same room together. Claire's eyes were constantly puffed from crying, and Mike spent his days with his head in his hands.
The two had to separate for a while. They needed to figure everything out before it consumed them whole. If they didn't, they would not only lose their sanity but doom their kid to a harrowing childhood.
One Last Meal
Mike called Claire one dull morning. He'd prepared her favorite breakfast and packed his bags. He told her that if she were okay with it, he would like to have one last meal with his family before he went out to search for the truth.
Although Claire felt her body reject his proposal, she sat across from him, their kid in her lap. She didn't talk much but asked if Mike would be alright.
Trying To Make It
"I don't think I'll ever be alright," Mike whispered. He tried to smile and failed. He then told Claire he'd spent many weeks contemplating her walking out of their home with her bags. He couldn't stomach it.
Hoping she felt the same way about him, he asked if she could take their baby for a short walk. He'd leave when she was out there. Neither she nor their kid would see him going. Claire's response broke his heart.
Tough Times Don't Last
Claire didn't utter a word. But the blooming tears in her eyes told Mike all he needed to know. She nodded, pushing her chair up and standing.
After a minute of searching for what to say, she crossed over to where he sat and placed a kiss on his forehead. She hoped he would survive what they were going through.
Searching For Peace
Mike left as planned after Claire took the baby for a walk. With a last look at the place he'd spent many years calling home, he walked through the door to find peace.
The first place he visited was his grandmother's place, hoping his nana would shed some light on his issue. She never hid anything from him and was known to be direct with her words. Mike hoped time hadn't changed that.
Going Back Home
After almost twelve hours on a plane, he reached his nana's place. One look at him, and she could tell something was wrong. He spent the evening opening up to her, sharing what had happened.
His nana, a loving 86-year-old lady, listened intently. When Mike was done, she took him to the kitchen and poured him a drink. "You'll need this for what I am about to tell you," she said.
It's Too Late
Mike's grandma told her there was a scandal involving one of her nieces and nephews back in the day. But she told him that none of it mattered now. It was too late for him to go around pointing fingers and blaming people.
If he loved his family, he should've never left them. What is done is done, and the only thing he and Claire could do was look forward and work on themselves. But her answers didn't cover Mike's biggest question.
The Big Problem
Mike's issue was that he'd built a life with his close cousin. How could he look past that even if they had a child together?
He explained this to his grandmother in detail, to which she replied that he and Claire had no idea they were related. Did he think it was their fault they'd fallen in love? If anyone was to blame here, it was the extended family who kept this secret for years.
Go To Her
She told Mike to go back home and talk to Claire. She told him seeking help from professionals would help a lot, although the two would have to steer everything themselves.
She also shared that it didn't mean Mike and Claire would have to return to their married life. If they felt strongly against having any romantic relations, they could cut that part off completely and co-parent their child. With these wise words in his mind, Mike returned home first thing the following day.
Mike called Claire and explained himself. He asked if she could meet him at a neutral place, a town diner where they could talk.
Claire had been doing some soul searching herself. She'd talk to her parents about the matter, and they gave her some advice as Mike's grandmother. "The ball is in your park now, honey," they said.
A Coffee And A Long Discussion
Claire agreed, and the two met over coffee. She saw how miserable Mike was, and an overwhelming sadness overcame her. Those feelings she'd tried hard to stamp down were still well and alive inside her.
The two sat through the evening discussing the way forward. Claire suggested co-parenting their baby, saying he needed both parents in his life. Mike's answer would leave her stumped.
A Year Later
Mike agreed without wasting any time. He told her he'd had a lot of time to think and wouldn't leave them behind no matter what.
Although the couple would soon separate, they would remain co-parents in each other's lives. A year later, their divorce was finalized. It was a strange feeling, but they both felt at ease. They knew it was for the best. Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.