• Quote:
    At night, when Laura lay awake in the trundle bed, she listened and could not hear anything at all but the sound of the trees whispering together. Sometimes, far away in the night, a wolf howled. Then he came nearer, and howled again.
    It was a scary sound.

    “Hey! Grandpa Smith has his four wheeler over, and he wants to give us some rides around the bluff!” my brother Taylor said with his big brown eyes dancing with the sway of the branches of the trees outside. Grandpa Smith wasn't really my grandfather; He was my stepfather Nikolai's dad, but we called him grandpa nonetheless. The warm, spring weather brought out the best in the trails, the mud and the melting snow added an extra excitement that one just can't get on the dry trails of summer. During the sap collecting season of late winter/ early spring, Wisconsin's mud trails were the best for four wheeling.

    I really wanted to go four wheeling, but so did Taylor and Robert, my younger brothers, who are 10 and 6 years old. We decided to take turns. Taylor would go first, I would go next, and Robert would go last. Taylor, Robert and I scrambled to the entryway where are winter clothing hung up. We all grabbed our stuff and threw them on the bench. It was chaos trying to get our stuff on, we kept bumping into each other as we jumped into our snow pants and shoved our boots on. Nikolai would have thrown a fit if we came back all covered in mud and trampled it into the house, so it was best that we put our gear on so we could strip of the mud instead of having to wait until it dried to go back in the house. Taylor, who got his stuff on quicker than Jason and I, went out for his ride first.

    My mom, stepfather Nikolai, brothers and I lived in a small trailer home in the middle of a large field on top of Johnson's Bluff. The field was surrounded by a fairly dense woods, but we were in the clearing. We had moved here last Halloween from Pleasant Prarie. I was glad to move away from there, I didn't have many friends in my sixth grade class, so it was a chance to start over.

    Taylor and Grandpa Smith came back. Taylor's cheeks, inflated from smiling, were as rosy pink as the Barbie's dresses that I had tucked away in my closet. He throws off his winter clothes and says, “Your turn.”

    I already have my snow pants and mud boots on, I just need to put on my jacket, hat and gloves. So I go into the entry way to get them and meet Grandpa Smith. Grandpa Smith was wearing the same old outfit he wore every other day, dirtied denim jeans, a dirtied denim jacket, and brown steel-toed boots.

    He walked towards the fourwheeler at the edge of the driveway. “Grandpa?” I asked, jogging behind him. “Grandpa?” His stride is a lot bigger than mine, so I am trying to catch up.

    “Yup?” he responded with his slow Mississippi drawl, that had been somewhat sped up with years of living in Wisconsin. He turned to me.

    “Are the calves old enough to be bottle fed yet?” I asked finally standing next to him, huffing slightly from the fast pace I had to keep. Grandpa Smith has a farm with cattle down the trail from our house, every spring, he lets us bottle feed the calves.

    “Pretty soon. They're coming along.”

    Last spring, when the calves were old enough to be separated from their mothers, Grandpa and Nikolai let Amanda Jean, Taylor, and I bottle feed the calves. Amanda Jean is Nikolai's oldest daughter; she was in kindergarten, a year behind Robert. Grandpa prepped the bottles with the formula. His hands, stained with oil from working on tractors shook the bottles to makes sure the supplements he added were mixed in well. hen sit next to a calf and begin to feed it. Then in turn he would hand off the bottle to us kids, his hands were calloused from working on the farm, his fingernails were blackend, but he grabbed the calf's head with utmost care to give it the nutrients it needed to grow and become a strong cow. He would continue to gently hold the bottle, so not to remove it from the suckling calf, while we would trade off places to finish feeding the young cattle.

    I can imagine myself that spring, the coarse hair from the calf's chin and neck against my arm while my hand becomes covered in the warm, sticky saliva coming from its mouth. The spring sun coming through the window above us and from the open barn door to our side brightens up the calf pen. It felt warm, and being cozied up with the baby cows had another sort of warmth. It was like a farming family picture perfect moment, dad and grandpa watching the kids, while they smiled and laughed with each suckle from the calves.

    I got on the four wheeler in the front so I could hold the handle bars and use the gas and the breaks, Grandpa Smith, a tall gray thread haired man with steel blue eyes, still smells fresh of manure and hay, got on the back behind me, and first his hands held tightly on to my waist, so we took off into the woods on the muddy trails. The woods around the property became thicker and thicker as we headed around the bluff.

    The mud of the trails became the scent of the first sign of spring to me. While the trees blur by in the first part of the woods, every so often we catch a glimpse a tree bleeding its sap into a white five gallon bucket for us to later turn into maple syrup. We trails snaked and forked all over the bluff. Each fork leading to a feeling of exploration and excitement. I asked Grandpa Smith if we could go to the the bear cave. It was an old abandoned bear cave, and thats all we called it, “The Bear Cave.” Taylor and I used to joke about going back there to see the bears, but every time we would begin our trek we would be both chicken out, and go back to the house to sled or play Sega. Grandpa Smith said it was ok,we could go deeper into the woods to see the cave, where he heard that a cougar that had claimed it had a couple of cubs. I was terrified and curious. I wanted to see the cubs, I imagined them to look like baby Simba from The Lion King, But I was more afraid of seeing the mama, and the potential it had in eating us. When we got to the old cave, which was just a big mound of rock, we didn't see anything. Naturally, I was disappointed and relieved at the same time. No predators there today, or so I thought.

    It wasn't long after the bear cave that Grandpa Smith's hands began some territorial exploration themselves, sliding up from my waist to my chest. At first I thought it was only because my winter jacket was slippery and the trails were rough, but then he started to sort of massage my budding breasts, paying special attention to wear my nipples would have been. I was uncomfortable, so I wanted to head back to my house. We arrived back and I took off my snow pants and winter apparel in the entryway and went to the living room where my mom was napping.

    I wasn't quite sure what happened, but I knew it didn't feel right. I felt like I needed to tell someone, mainly my mom. They always say you should follow your gut instinct, and I was inclined to agree.

    As I sat on the floor near the end of the couch that my mom's head lay, only the part of her hair can be seen; I worry about what will happen if I wake her up, what will happen when I tell her, and if I was in the right? So I sat there for a little while before I woke my mom up to tell her what happened. “Mom, mom. Wake up, I need to tell you something.”

    “What?” she said groggily.

    I have a hard time working up the courage, and I have seen this situation before on those videos they make us watch in health class. “It's always the right thing to do to tell someone what happened.” A monotone voice droned to us kids, whose attention quickly waned to the other kids playing outside for recess. The videos always proclaimed, easy enough for them to show it on the tv. They are actors paid to lie to you. They could easily tell their loving mom and dad that the creepy old man down the street touched them innapropriately after inviting them in to have some lemonade after the kid raked the leaves for the guy. But it wasn't the creepy old man down the street like the one in the video, it was the one I called “grandpa.”
    “I think Grandpa Smith just molested me.” I teared up.

    “What happened” She pulled the blanket from over her head, becoming more alert to what I was saying.

    “We went out four wheeling and he touched my chest” The tears that had been holding up in my eyes began to escape down my cheeks.

    “Oh, he probably just needed some place to hold on to” she said before nodding off again.
    I walked to my room, deflated, and sobbed a little, “Why is this happening to me?” My tears race from my eyes to my chin, turning from lament to anger. “Why can't anyone believe me. Those stupid videos were wrong.”

    And I bury my face into my pink psuedo-silk bunny. I began to think to myself, “Maybe it was an accident” and “it didn't feel right, but maybe the videos made me think that way; maybe it was all just a misunderstanding.” Maybe it was all just an accident. But to be sure I would be careful about being around Grandpa Smith. But I still felt dirty.

    Laura knew that wolves would eat little girls. But she was safe inside the solid log walls. Her father's gun hung over the door and good old Jack, the brindle bulldog, lay on guard before it. Her father would say, “Go to sleep, Laura. Jack won't let the wolves in. So Laura snuggled under the covers of the trundle bed, close behind Mary, and went to sleep.

    Mid-June that year we, Mom, Taylor, Robert Nikolai, and my new baby sister, Emily, and I moved into Nikolai's house down the road but still on the Smith land, which covers a good majority of the bluff are. I had my own room in the basement of the house. It happened again, but this time there was no refuting what had taken place.

    I am sitting in my bed with a book in my lap and the radio playing my favorite radio station. Nikolai and Grandpa Smith are working on something in the laundry room at the other end of the basement from my bed room. I look over my room and it looks pretty clean, my vanity is organized, my inflatable chair has a blanket thrown over it nothing is out of place.
    I am re-reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingles Wilder for the second or third time. I don't hear anymore hammering, so Nikolai and Grandpa Smith are taking a break. And Grandpa Smith came to visit me in my room. I looked up and said hi as he started walking towards me. His denim jacket and pants are stained with dirt. He towered over me as I sat on my bed. Then he reached over, and grabbed the right side of my chest. It was like he was measuring and weighing it as though it was a crop of corn from his farm, and he said “they are coming along pretty good, aren't they?”

    Then he turned and left.

    I cried as I ran upstairs, to find my mom to tell her, but I can't find her anywhere. Taylor and Robert are in watching tv. I remember the time of the four wheeling incident. She won't believe me again. The wolves were already in the house.

    One night her father picked her up out of her bed and carried her to the window so that she might see the wolves. There were two of them sitting in front of the house. They looked like shaggy dogs. They pointed their noses at the big, bright moon, and howled.

    Jack paced up and down before the door, growling. The hair stood up along his back and he showed his sharp, fierce teeth to the wolves. They howled, but they could not get in.
    The house was a comfortable house. Upstairs there was a large attic, pleasant to play in when the rain drummed on the roof. Downstairs was the small bedroom, and the big room. The bedroom had a window that closed with a wooden shutter. The big room had two windows with glass in the panes, and it had two doors, a front door and a back door.

    All around the house was a crooked rail fenced, to keep the bears and the deer away.

    It is said that one out of four children in the United States is sexually abused. I am one of those kids. It happened to me when I was 12 years old by a man who I thought of as my grandpa. For quite some time I never told another soul about it; I was too embarrassed. When I eventually told people what happened it was too late to do anything about it. I try now to protect others from having to suffer from sexual abuse, but I hope that I can offer awareness that what happened to me is not uncommon, but it is still not right, especially my younger sister, and eventually my niece as she grows up.

    My youngest sister Emily has recently turned 11 years old. She doesn't read the books that I read at her age, instead her entertainment comes from a Nintendo Gameboy and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus. The last time I saw her, she reminded myself of me. Her long, wavy blonde hair had her bangs pulled up and pinned back in the same manner that I had done mine that day. Her gap toothed smile was nothing but happy, it wasn't a mask. But she is growing up, and fast, and I became fearful that what happened to me would happen to her. She is sitting in the back seat of the car when I get out a piece of paper. I write my phone number on it, then open the door to talk to her.

    “Emily, I want you to have this.” She is still shuts off her gameboy and takes the piece of paper from me. “It's my phone number. I want you to take it. Don't let your dad know you have it”

    She takes the piece of paper and unzips a pocket in the inner lining of her jacket. “I will keep it in my secret pocket.” She says and smiles at me.

    I smile back, then lower myself to look her in the eyes. “If anyone ever touches you inappropriately, I want you to call me right away. Ok?”

    Her smile fads as her eyebrows raise slightly. “Ok.”

    “Even if it is someone who is related to you, call me. I will come back and take care of you.”

    I don't want to tell her about what her blood grandfather did. I don't think it would be fair for her to hate her grandfather for something he did to me, if he doesn't do it to her. But she still had a warning, and my phone number, her shield.

    I want to be the adult here, the protector. I feel it is my duty to protect Emily from this wolf. I want to carry her to the window and show her the danger of the wolf, and I want her to know how thick the walls are of my house, but inside I harbor anger. I'm angry at him for being someone I thought I could trust. I'm angry because he dirtied a small piece of my soul and well being. I'm angry that he kept a clean image of trusted old man, and I became a liar.

    I hate him. The mere thought of him leaves the bitter taste of blood on my tongue.
    If blood is thicker than water, and he does to her, what he did to me, I hope that he chokes on a clot.