Listen to this story here:
She is born in the winter. It snows that year, and even more so the next year, like thick frosting on a cake, and the winter after that they move to Monroe, where her father has a new job waiting for him. Every day he comes home smelling of flour and cinnamon. She is four when her baby brother is born and nine when he has his accident. Gentle now, says her mother, when she hugs her brother, newly home from the hospital. After a while the scars on his legs aren't so noticeable. When she is ten, her father brings home a dog from the shelter. She insists on naming him Lady and cannot be convinced otherwise. He sleeps at the foot of her bed every night except for one week out of the year when they are on summer vacation. Those days they spend driving down the coast with the windows down and her hair whipping across her face. She collects sand from every beach they go to, scooping it into little vials and labeling them with tape. In the middle of a fight with her brother, he smashes one of the vials on the living room floor, specks of sand everywhere.
Then she is fifteen and telling people to call her Anna, not Annabelle; then fifteen and a half and she almost crashes the high school's Driver's Ed car, her hands sweaty and slipping on the steering wheel; then sixteen and sitting in a dark movie theater beside Alex Atwood, hardly breathing when he runs his hand over hers. She writes everything down in lined journals, which her brother steals from her nightstand drawer and reads, hooting with laughter, until he gets to the part about him. When she is eighteen she wins a prize for a poem she has written, and her mother hangs a copy of it in the house, which embarrasses her only slightly more than having to read it in front of the senior class at graduation. We all were once young, it begins. Nobody in the house remembers to flip the calendar hanging in the kitchen, and it lingers on July as the months go on. Then, suddenly, she is coming home for the first time from college. Her mother has put new sheets on her bed; how large and luxurious it feels now, after being away. Her father comes home from work, still smelling of flour and cinnamon, and turns on the local news while dinner is bubbling on the stovetop. The weatherman is predicting snow, days of it, the first flakes likely falling in a few hours.