Melinda's world is very small. Her dour parents, members of a religious sect, forbid the celebration of birthdays or holidays. Melinda finds solace in small things: a spun silver spider web, her box of treasures, and a stolen afternoon at Silver Lake on her "day of days." As the movie and the year progresses, Melinda experiences ageless comforts and pains. A disgraced famous writer and a waylaid college professor, two exiles in the small Mid-Western town, haunt the edges of her sheltered life. An earthy, warmhearted waitress introduces her to the blues and a fizzy drink called Cola-Cola. She receives her first explorative attention from a boy. Escalating tragedy shatters Melinda's innocence. Devastated, she flees into the night where, by drawing on her tenacious spirit, she ultimately triumphs.