He led me into the little room. Hideous floral wall paper peeled near the window overlooking the courtyard.
“Here is your kitchen.”
This was my kitchen just as this was my husband.
“You can decorate any way you wish.”
Like that was a gift. Perhaps it was. I hated it. Hated him. For a brief moment hated my parents for causing me to love them enough to agree to this. The instant they were gone from this world so was I.
A movement caught my eye. I looked over to see a girl, woman maybe, in the doorway. She peered out from long, stringy hair.
“Ignore her. The nurse comes three times a week. Otherwise I’ll see she stays in her room.”
The girl lingered.
He squirmed. “My sister.”
An undisclosed sibling? My heart soared. “Was this in the contract?”
He took my hand gently. “Your parents were aware and satisfied her condition would not breed through.”
If they were so satisfied they could share his bed.
Husband left the next morning with an awkward kiss and a hesitant glance.
He could have my wifely duty but I’d be damned if he’d have my enthusiasm.
“Don’t skulk, come in.” She crept into the morning light. “What’s your name?”
“Good morning Mina. Coffee?”
Her voice the barest whisper. “Yes please.”
And so it began.
She giggled and ducked her head as I held up blouses against her robe clad chest. I chose the green. It brought out the warmth of her brown eyes.
Husband forgot to throw a fit over her wearing my clothes. He was too distracted with the news I’d fired the nurse.
“She has no ailment. With modifications she can care for herself. Whatever assistance she needs I can provide.”
He paced, unconvinced.
“It’s a waste of your hard earned money.”
Mollified, he went to bed.
Getting Mina to look in a mirror was difficult, even after the haircut and makeup. When she finally met the stranger’s eyes she cried. “I’m pretty.”
“No you’re not.” She looked up at me, shocked. “You’re beautiful.” And I kissed her.
Mina sat at the table in a new outfit, a new hairstyle, her shriveled arm hidden. Husband greeted her politely as a guest. She giggled and said hello, and the roaring began. Despite the red face and empty threats Mina never again ate dinner alone.
Months later Husband came home unexpectedly and hugged me. I went stiff. “You’ve heard?”
“I’m so sorry.” I didn’t need the details. I felt the truth in my bones.
The tether of my destiny, my vow to my parents had snapped. I was free. Then I looked across the room and meet Mina’s eyes.