Trigger Warning: Domestic violence
Kaitlyn’s heart started slamming harder against her rib cage as she heard the front door open and shut. Her father was home earlier from his veterinary clinic by fifteen minutes. From her room, she heard him moving around the kitchen, checking cupboards and refrigerator.
“Kaitlyn?” He called and her heart skipped a beat.
She reached for the doorknob, trying to swallow her fears but they threatened to swallow her instead. The door swung open before she could open it and she gasped.
“What took you so long?” Her father stood in the doorway, frowning down at her.
“I-I-I was just about to open the door,” She answered.
“Well, get a move on. We’re going to get groceries.” He gestured for her to go.
She made to get her own purse but he grabbed her arm and marched her downstairs.
“Don’t need your purse, I’ve got everything. Get in the car.” He took his keys, pushing Kaitlyn out before turning to lock the door.
She went into the car as quickly as she could, not wanting to agitate him. He was always angry, easily furious. It got worse after her mother left him without a word. There was no warning, not even a note for Kaitlyn. She just upped and left, leaving Kaitlyn to her own devices.
Her father started the car. The trip to the store was made in silence. She didn’t initiate conversation unless absolutely necessary. Whatever she said, her father was always able to get angry at her. She tried helping him cope but it was the only time she tried, after she got slapped.
“I’ll make spaghetti for dinner,” He said, parking the car. “We’ll get some frozen pizzas too, I might have a few late days because of house visits.”
“Okay.” She answered.
“Don’t get any funny ideas,” He warned.
“I won’t,” She replied.
He made that warning every time, ever since she attempted running away but was caught. Not once, not twice, but four times. She got a harder beating each time she was caught. Her father called the school each time she was caught, to let her stay home for the week so that the bruises could fade. Eventually, he managed to beat the fear into Kaitlyn, and all the hope out of her. She stopped trying and started fearing.
They went down aisles, buying groceries and daily necessities. Then they were at the check-out. She waited as her father made payment. There was a dog tied outside and she watched it, suddenly aware of the similarities she had with it.
Someone bumped into her, jolting her out of her reverie, “Oh, sorry.”
“s’okay.” Kaitlyn mumbled. Making conversation with a stranger was sure to trigger her father.
“Are you alright?” The stranger asked, concerned.
“I’m okay, thank you.” She answered, a little louder this time.
“What’s going on?” Her father was done with the payment and came over immediately after seeing her with the stranger. He looked ready for a fight.
“Nothing, father. He bumped into me by accident, that’s all.” She said, clarifying the situation.
“Are you sure?” He asked, eyes narrowing.
“May I offer you a bottle of wine as my apology?” The stranger interjected, holding out the bottle.
Kaitlyn’s father gave her another look before turning to the stranger, “There’s no need for it. Thank you and apology accepted.”
They left the stranger alone and pushed their cart back to the car. After loading it up, they made their way home. As they drove out, Kaitlyn’s eyes searched for the dog, but it was gone.
It was late. Kaitlyn sat in the living room, her hands unconsciously clutched tight around the novel she was barely reading. Her anxiety levels spiked as she waited for any sound of her father returning home. She turned at every little noise, eyes constantly darting to the door.
Her arms were sore from the fresh bruises. She had dawdled in the library, thinking her father was doing another late day as he mentioned at breakfast. Her mistake for letting her guard down, because when she returned home, she found him waiting on the couch.
Kaitlyn put her book down and paced the room instead, walking away some of her nerves. She heard a car pull up the driveway and she looked through the window to see a cab. She went back to the couch in a hurry, picking up her book. It took a while before she heard him fumbling for the keys, dropping them, and finally opening the door.
The smell of alcohol hit her first. Her heart raced as she thought of barricading herself in her room or the bathroom.
“Take my coat, Kaitlyn.” He drawled, not totally drunk but still dangerous.
“Yes, father.” She went over to him quickly, taking the coat and hanging it up carefully.
“What were you doing by the window, eh?”
“I was looking for you, I was worried.”
“Don’t lie to me.”
“I’m not. It’s late and you weren’t home.”
“Don’t take me for a fool, I know you are always looking for a chance to run away. Right?” He snarled, hands fumbling to remove his belt.
“No, father, please.” She pleaded, backing away from him towards the stairs around the corner.
“You are just like your mother, always lying!” He managed to take off his belt and swung it at Kaitlyn, who dodged. The lamp behind her broke instead.
She scrambled for the stairs but her father caught her by the hair. She yelped in pain as he shoved her against the wall.
“You wanna run? That’s the only thing you learnt from her eh? Run?” He swung a second time.
This time, the belt connected with Kaitlyn. She felt the burning sensation immediately. She had no time to dodge when the next whip came down, except to cover her face with her arms.
“Do you know how hard I worked for this family? You ungrateful little brat!” He growled at her, slobbering a little. His whips came down one after another, with no intention of stopping.
He continued shouting about Kaitlyn’s runaway attempts, lamenting about her mother. After a while, he slowed as he got tired. Kaitlyn took the short gaps of time to inch towards the bathroom by the stairs. Every part of her hurt and her old bruises felt like they were on fire. She was sure something was bleeding but she couldn’t see in the dark hallway.
Kaitlyn barely got a foot away when she was grabbed by her hair again. She cried out for the umpteenth time, hands reaching up. But her father’s face came right into hers.
“Where do you think you are going huh? We are not done here. You need to learn how to be good.” He didn’t shout this time, but his voice was loud like he was giving himself instructions.
He threw Kaitlyn against the floor. Her head hit the wall at an angle and she recoiled at the intense pain. She couldn’t take it anymore. The last thing she heard before she passed out was a doorbell. She thought she must have gone bonkers after hitting her head.
Kaitlyn sat up in the hospital bed. The doctor and nurses fixed her up so she was no longer bleeding, but she was still sore all over. Two police officers were in the room with her as a nurse gave her a last check.
“If you feel any pain or discomfort, just press this button and we’ll come right over, okay?” The nurse said, smiling and giving her hand a light, comforting squeeze.
She nodded lightly, aware of the bandages on herhead, “Thank you.”
“She’ll be alright. You can ask her questions but know that she’s been through a lot so keep it short if you can.” The nurse informed the police. She was stern but not unrelenting.
“Miss Kaitlyn, I am Special Agent Paul Crawford and this is Special Agent Liam Graham.” The man in the black suit did the talking while the other with a tweed jacket observed her. “We just want to ask you a few questions for now.”
“Okay,” She replied.
“Did you see anyone or anything before you passed out?” Agent Crawford asked.
“No, I only heard a doorbell but I thought… I was imagining things after hitting the wall.” She answered.
“Did you know if your father met anyone suspicious or anything out of the ordinary before he died?”
She looked down at her hands, quivering a little before responding in a quiet voice. “No, I… he doesn’t really let me out of the house or wander anywhere without him knowing. I’m, I’m not… he, well… I think he meets a lot of people at work.”
“That’s okay, Kaitlyn. We’ll check with his clinic employees.” Agent Crawford paused before continuing, “There will be a man coming in after us, he’s going to help you through all this, alright?”
“Okay,” She gave a tiny nod.
“If you remember anything, any small detail you think may be helpful, let us know, alright?”
“Okay.” She repeated.
They were about to leave when Kaitlyn remembered. “Wait, a man bumped into me at the store we always go to a several days back. I don’t know if he meant to or it was purely an accident. He offered us wine as an apology, I thought that was not normal.”
“That is very useful information, Kaitlyn, thank you.” Agent Crawford smiled at her.
Agent Graham who was already at the door, then turned around and asked, “Has this… abuse been going on for a long time?”
Kaitlyn looked up at him, tears threatening to fall. “I-I forgot when it started, but my mother was also beaten before she left… She left… two years ago.”
There was a knock on the door and it opened to that man. The two police exchanged greetings with him and Agent Crawford introduced him to Kaitlyn before leaving with Agent Graham.
But, she already knew him.
“Hello, Kaitlyn.” He greeted her, pulling up a chair to her bedside.
“Hello, Doctor Lecter.” Her voice shook a little but her gaze was steady.
There was a moment as they both sat in silence, not uncomfortable but testing. Doctor Lecter continued after a bit, “I will be your psychiatrist until you are better.”
“Okay.” Kaitlyn answered. “When will I be discharged?”
“Soon.” He replied.
She hesitated, “I don’t want to live in that house.”
“I know.” He said.
“Will you help me?”
“There are people who will help you with your daily necessities.”
He looked at her, regarding her question and her state of mind. “Depends. Would you like me to?”
Kaitlyn swallowed, looking into the unfathomable face of Doctor Lecter. “Will you… kill me?”
He smiled at the question. “No, Kaitlyn.”
“But will you?”
His curiosity piqued. “Perhaps.”
“Oh.” She looked a little disappointed. “Do they all taste the same?”
“Maybe we can continue this conversation another time.” He did not answer her question, choosing to take back control of their little chat. “How about tomorrow?”
“Okay.” She was a curiosity to him. An odd balance between meek and bold.
Doctor Lecter tucked her in, brushing her hair into place lightly with his hand. He took a couple of steps to the door before saying, “I’ll look for a place that you can stay after discharge.”
“Thank you.” Kaitlyn managed the tiniest of smiles.
“And maybe you might taste different when you are older.” Doctor Lecter left her room with a chuckle, leaving Kaitlyn feeling both warm and cold.
A bizarre relationship was starting and nobody knew the dangers that were about to bloom with it.
Greatly inspired by my fascination/obsession/infatuation with Mikkelsen’s take on Hannibal. Kaitlyn is not a reflection of Abigail, she is a little more broken but not less dependant (emotionally) on Hannibal. I like to think of her as his treasure, something like wine to be aged but yet — to savour or not to savour? Kaitlyn has been oppressed, but I wonder if she has grown accustomed or addicted to it, considering she went from her father to Hannibal.