What Started it All

When I was taking my first creative writing class at GPC, our professor instructed us to find two samples of creative nonfiction and bring them to class. Below is the second example I found, and the words that inspired me to be a writer. Enjoy.

by Denice Aldrich Jobe

“Danny’s Camaro was primer-gray and had a broken window crank on the passenger side that I cut my leg on when he took a turn too fast. I still have the scar.

It had sun-bleached burgundy seats, and the air inside smelled of too-sweet cherry licorice — a pot of air freshener under the seat to mask the smell of sweat, decay, vulnerability.

He spent too much on a set of rims. Flashy jewelry for a dying thing.


We chose a direction and drove, and I hung my head out the window like a dog, eyes closed against the whip of sun-streaked hair. He sped through intersections late late late at night, never bothering to stop, resting his heavy forearm on the window frame, looking at me, instead of the road.


We walked the grounds of our high school, leaned against its cool stucco walls, and stared at its doors — closed for the summer — as if to ask, What now?

I liked to step behind him, press my forehead between the blades of his shoulders, wrap my arms around his waist. With every breath his flesh filled my palms.


Vagabond, wanderer. Boy of no fixed address. I counted on you to just show up at my door, until one night you didn’t.

I heard you got married. Your friend told me in the 7-Eleven, somewhere between the cat food and the Slurpee machine.

“I thought you knew,” he said.


I marvel that the smell of cherry licorice can conjure up that old primer-gray Camaro and its driver, and I wish I could say that fourteen years later I can flip through these scenes as I do old vacation photographs, with mild interest.

But with one whiff I can remember, vividly, how damned hard it was to smile at Danny’s friend in the 7-Eleven and say, ‘I’m so happy for him.'”


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