Anna-Laila J

Junior Writer | Exeter

Anna is a passionate reader and daydreamer. She began writing creatively during her undergraduate degree in American Studies at Goethe University Frankfurt. Her poetry and short stories were published in the University’s Student Anthology as well as in Napizum Magazine. Anna holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Exeter and loves living in the South West of England. Whether they are told on paper or on screen, she believes that our stories connect us to one another in our shared human experience.
As a StoryTerrace writer, Anna interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below

The Wobbling Wadden Sea Tooth

Perhaps it was my cousin Lisa’s baby tooth that made me fall in love with the idea of living by the coast. I have always loved the sea. It can seem like a force of peace: water moving and retreating through sand, molecules sticking together, seemingly certain of where they belong. And yet, it is a force of unpredictability, destructive, and intangible in its consistency of connecting us: from one shore to another, from one memory to the present, and from our present to the future.

With only two years between us, Lisa was the closest experience I had to having a sister for the first six years of my life. When we were seven and five, my mother and our grandmother took us, and my baby sister, on a week’s holiday to the German Wadden Sea. Our grandmother had taught us how to swim. We had spent summer days in the public outdoor pool, nestled between the Rhön Mountains, practising. We practised putting our fingers together, then pushing arms out in front of our chest before turning our palms to push our arms through smoothness, feeling the water making room, brushing past skin, holding us afloat.

Naturally, at high tide, we went for a swim. We splashed about in the water carelessly until one day Lisa noticed that her loose tooth was no longer wobbling in her mouth. Frantically, we made our way back to the beach—it was the first baby tooth she had lost after all. When the tide had gone out, our grandmother took us by the hand and, recreating where we had swum hours previously, we searched for her tooth in the sand puddles, “oh-ing” and “ah-ing” whenever we saw something tiny and white.
We didn’t find her tooth that day, nor any other day for that matter. Like so many things, it had found its way into the sea. When I wade into the water in Devon, looking out onto the horizon from a different shore, letting my body be carried by each wave, I remember.

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