1967 WILLA DRAKE and Sonya Bailey were selling candy bars door-to-door. This was for the Herbert Malone Elementary School Orchestra. If they sold enough, the orchestra would get to travel to the regional competitions in Harrisburg. Willa had never been to Harrisburg, but she liked...

Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. Willa wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. Still, he must have done something wrong. She sank onto the couch and watched Elaine place the folded newspaper neatly-neatly on top of a stack of magazines. “She said she’d had it,” Elaine told...

The next morning, her father whistled his special wake-up whistle in the doorway. Tweet-tweet! he whistled—like the first two notes of “Dixie,” Willa always thought. She had been awake for ages, but she made a big show of opening her eyes and stretching and yawning. She already...

Of course she was going to be there, but even so, Willa told Sonya on the bus that she couldn’t go home with her after school. “I have to babysit my sister,” she said. She said it just in a murmur, so that her sister wouldn’t hear. Her sister was sitting all by herself across...

For supper they had grilled cheese sandwiches with peas. Willa ate silently, keeping her eyes on her plate, but Elaine and their father talked all through the meal in way-too-bright voices. Elaine told their father about the rabbit that Dommie Marconi had brought in for show-and-tell,...

1977 WILLA’S COLLEGE had a jitney that made several runs to the airport before any major holiday. She herself had never taken it—plane travel was expensive, and she went home by Greyhound bus if she went at all—but in the spring of her junior year her boyfriend suggested that...

Willa glanced at Derek again. He was still absorbed in his reading. His face in repose was so serene that it seemed childlike, with his lashes casting a shadow on his velvety cheek. So this was the person she was going to end up marrying! After all her years of wondering. She had...

Derek cleared his throat. “Also,” he said, “it might not have been exactly what it looked like.” Willa’s mother swiveled toward him again. “I’m guessing the guy was just some kind of joker,” he said. And then, to Willa, “After all, sweetie, you had only his word...

He had no idea how much he’d asked of her, suggesting she give up her work with Dr. Brogan. The discovery of language had been her great epiphany in college. Not just Spanish and French and such, which she already knew from high school, but the origins of language in general,...

Elaine let out a disgusted puff of a breath and set her fork down. “Geez, and then what?” she asked. “You just went back to reading your magazine?” “Well, I didn’t actually have a—” “I cannot believe this,” Elaine told them all. “How could she not make a fuss?” “Oh,...