Kate quietly walked upstairs to the comfort of her room, and closed and locked her door. At least her room was still safe, however small it might have been, or rather, as long as the door was locked she could escape the danger that lay on the other side. It was all wrong; your home was supposed to be your haven, not your hell.
It hadn’t always been like this. When Kate’s mother had moved her and her brothers next door in the middle of the night, things had been different; they had been looking up. By that point, Kate’s parents had been fighting non-stop for a while and in the process, her mother had made friends with the guy next door. Sure, Russell had been a little rough around the edges; he drank too much, had a wood shop in his garage and owned one too many plaid shirts, but he had piercing blue eyes, a warm smile and the ability to charm a married woman and her three children. Who could have known the type of monster that laid beneath his inviting exterior.
For a while things were great. Russell had welcomed them with open arms. He seemed to bring Kate’s family together in a way that they hadn’t experienced in a long time. Russell could never replace their father completely, but he quickly became like a second one. Kate, being ten at the time, would sit on his lap as everyone watched television together; how she had always done with her father. When Kate had been younger, she had gone through a phase where she hated brushing her teeth. Her and her dad had invented a game where she would sit on his right knee – his MacGyver knee – and brush her teeth while her father sang brush, brush, brush, brush over and over again. It was also the same knee that she would sit on to watch MacGyver with him, hence the nickname. At that age, there was no possible way that Kate could have really understood the show, but it had become a father-daughter ritual and she loved it. Given all of that, she thought nothing of treating Russell the same, and neither did her mother.
Kate wasn’t sure when the change had occurred, but things weren’t right anymore. Her innocence was gone and Russell had taken it away from her. The change had been gradual, so slow in fact that she never realized what was going on until it was too late.