Non-Fiction Prompt #24

April 11, 2016 at 11:16 am  •  Posted in blog, Contest by

In Gena Ellett’s essay, “The Back Roads,” which won EVENT’s 2015 Non-Fiction Contest, she writes about the death of a childhood friend. Early in the piece, she writes of the place where they grew up:

It’s a tight knit community, as are all the little towns you’ll find scattered up the Sunshine Coast—a peninsula that curves off the mainland of British Columbia, just north of Vancouver. Although it’s connected by land, there are no roads from the city. There’s a ferry that’s always too full and running late and carries a steep fee to travel from Vancouver. Fortunately, it’s free to leave. Davis Bay is a small enough town that they’ve since closed the elementary school and put cheap town homes up over the volleyball courts, so no one sits out there for summer afternoons letting ice cream melt down their hands anymore.

On a clear day, you can see all the way across to Vancouver Island from that porch. It’s overwhelming—the blankness of the water that surrounds the land of our childhood. We looked out at it or we looked at our feet.

Ellett’s story is nostalgic, full of beautiful but haunting descriptions, and deeply rooted in place, exploring the role this environment played in the formative years of her group of friends. It starkly depicts the way place can shape a person, and how the death of a youth means he is in some ways trapped in that place forever. She writes: “Didn’t you hear once that trauma halted your emotional growth, that if you were hurt at sixteen you’d stay sixteen forever?”

Write about an experience that revolves around the centre of your hometown. To read Gena Ellett’s full essay, check out EVENT’s Non-Fiction Contest issue.

There’s less than a week left until EVENT’s 2016 annual Non-Fiction Contest deadline!