“Anna, how does this one look?” Minerva said as she thrust her hands in my direction trying to show me what she was holding.
“It looks amazing, all juicy and ripe,” I replied. “You should try making an Apple Cinnamon Pie. My kids love it. I add just a little bit of peanut butter to give it that creaminess. Oh wait, Craig's allergic to peanuts, right? Damn! Well anyway, Craig will still love whatever you’re going to do with it.”
She didn’t answer, just shrugged and looked down at her feet, refusing to make eye contact with me. She knew that I was prodding her, trying to see how she’d react. She was well aware of the fact that I hated Craig. He always treated Minerva like a cheap whore. Minerva didn't deserve to be treated like that. She was as strong and beautiful as her namesake and she deserved to be treated as such. Craig, the narcissistic misogynist, was not even worthy of the dirt beneath her feet. I never really understood why she tolerated his bullshit. I just couldn't comprehend why she stayed with him.
We walked ahead to the next tree. As she reached up to pluck another apple that was hanging off a branch that was rather high, her t-shirt rose, exposing part of her back.
“Isn’t this one great?” she said as she finally managed to pluck the apple she had been reaching for. “Anna?” Receiving no answer, she turned towards me and noticed me gaping at her.
“What happened?” I shouted, storming towards her. I gripped her t-shirt tightly, lifting it to get a better look at her back and in the process exposing the large purple bruise across her back. She tugged the material out of my hands and tucked the ends of it into her jeans. “Nothing, I just walked into the kitchen counter.”
Upon seeing my disbelieving expression, she said, “You know me, I’m a klutz.”
“This isn’t the first time.”
“I don't understand what you mean.” she said. I knew she was lying again, covering for him.
“Please Mina, you can talk me. He isn’t here right now,” I begged. She stared down at her feet, refusing to make eye contact with me. I bent down, forcing her to look into my eyes. She blinked, her eyes tearing up slightly. “Fine, Craig got a little upset that the lasagna wasn’t ready on time last night. You know him, he has a hot temper, that’s all.”
“Why do you always defend him? It is not okay for him to do this to you. Ever. Do you understand? Just leave him. He doesn’t deserve you.”
“Do you think I want this? Spend the entire day cleaning after him, throwing out all the beer bottles, the cigarette stumps and the other stuff he does the night before. I know he's an asshole. Hell, he's been stealing money from his own father's company for years. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the FBI to land up at our doorstep to arrest him for all the illegal shit he's been doing.” she shouts, swiping angrily at the tears that rolled down her face. Her voice dropped, barely above a whisper and she said defeatedly, “But then when I think about it, I realize that in the ten years that I’ve been married to him, they haven’t once come to save me when he’s slapping me around like a little rag doll, when he’s forcing himself on me when I don’t ‘put out like a good girl’. Why would they come now? I’m trapped. I have no choice.”
“You have a choice. I’ll help you. We’ll go to the police right now and tell them everything. Come on,” I said holding her hand and pulling her towards my car.
She tugged her hands out of mine. “You don’t understand!”
“I’ll help you. Come on.”
“I can’t leave because of Cody!” she said.
“You can’t stay with Craig because of Cody. Cody is one of the reasons you have to leave Craig. He’s not going to be a kid much longer. Soon he’ll be at an age where he will start understanding what is going on. Do you really want him to grow up seeing his father beat his mother, even rape her? Is that the right atmosphere for him to grow up in?”
“You don’t understand,” she repeated, looking frustrated. “He's Craig Harrington II. CEO of Harrington Limited and sole heir to Craig Harrington Senior and his Forty Billion dollar fortune. Who's going to believe me? Besides, he's already warned me that if I leave, he will take sole custody of Cody. Craig will pay off every judge in New York to ensure that I get nothing. No maintenance, no house and most importantly, no Cody. And which Judge is going to grant custody to me, huh? I'm the definition of a trophy wife. I can't leave my son, Anna. I can't!” said Minerva. “Right now, I’m around to protect Cody. I can make sure that he doesn't get hurt. I can distract Craig when Cody does something to annoy him. But if I leave, who will protect Cody? He will be the one bearing the full brunt of Craig's wrath. Don’t you get it? I can never leave Craig. If I do, I’ll be leaving Cody too and my son will be taking my place as Craig’s punching bag. I can tolerate Craig hurting me but I can’t have him hurting my son. I will not let him!” she said fervently.
“But don’t worry,” she continued. She looked around nervously. “Craig’s not going to be bothering me and Cody much longer.”
I stared at her dubiously.
“Minerva, just tell me what’s going on. Spit it out. You know you can trust me.”
“Anna.” She shot me a pleading look.
“Minerva,” I said, refusing to back down.
Just then, a car pulled up to the curb. In the driver’s seat sat Craig. “Minerva, get in now. I don’t have time to waste. Did you get what you wanted, other than wasting my time by making me drive all the way out here? You and your little bitchy whore of a friend. Why did you have to come all the way here to pick apples anyway? Why couldn't you just go to the supermarket like all the other sluts?” he shouted, glaring at Mina.
As she rushed towards the car and got into the passenger seat, I heard her say, “Yes honey, I did. We’re having your favorite tonight. Apple cinnamon pie. I'm gonna use a secret ingredient just for you.”