My mother puts a lot of stock in dreams. She says she dreamed of me before I was born, knew the color of my eyes and hair. She named me Adrienne in her sleep, and that’s the name she gave me when I came along, blond haired and blue eyed just as she’d predicted. The night I lost my father, she dreamed a heart-monitor line went flat. But I’m not a superstitious person, or one inclined to believe in the magical or supernatural. So I’m not alarmed, or annoyed, when, the morning my stepfather and I are leaving on our trip, Mom wakes from a nightmare about what will happen to us in Siberia.
It was late winter in Northern Rus’, the air sullen with wet that neither rain nor snow. The brilliant February landscape had given way to the dreary gray of March, and the household of Pyotr Vladimirovich were all sniffling from the damp and thin from six weeks’ fasting on black bread and fermented cabbage. But no one was thinking of chilblains or runny noses, or even, wistfully, of porridge and roast meats, for Dunya was to tell a story.