Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sailor Gutzler: Victim, Survivor, Heroine, Little Girl

by Marjorie Brody

Here’s my fantasy. The setting is the interior of a Piper PA 34 twin-engine plane on a drizzly, cold, January evening. The roar of the engines change sound, maybe even go silent. The  chatter of three young girls dwindles as the strain in the adult voices forward in the cabin intensify. 

Life writes this story. The plane falls, smacks trees, flips and crashes to a stop. But Life—like a good author of fiction—must always increase the peril. 

So life throws these obstacles at the seven-year-old female survivor. 
  • kill everyone else so she will be alone, without guidance or support
  • break some of her bones
  • clad her in shorts and short-sleeve shirt
  • drop the temperature below freezing
  • add rain
  • put her in unfamiliar terrain, deny her a compass, provide no identifiable path
  • maximize darkness by surrounding the downed plane with trees, acres of trees
  • prevent her from using a lit stick to guide her way out
  • take away her shoes
  • take away a sock while at it
  • place briar bushes in her path, make sure she must walk around and through them 
  • scrape her legs and arms with sharp underbrush and fallen tree limbs
  • add a deep creek bed
  • make her trudge through this obstacle course for at least 3/4 miles before finding the nearest house
Good writers know the stronger the obstacles, the stronger the hero will need to be. We don’t know how Sailor will overcome the traumas she’s experienced. While she is a real-life heroine, she is still a little girl. How she handles her losses will partially be influenced by how those around her react. If her composure and her courage are any indication, Sailor will find a way to overcome. And even though she weaves threads of sadness into the chapters she writes of her future, my hope is she can create a happy ever after. Best wishes, Sailor!

Marjorie Brody is an award-winning author and Pushcart Prize Nominee. 
Her short fiction has appeared on stage, in literary magazines and anthologies. Her psychological suspense, TWISTED, received an Honorable Mention at the Great Midwest Book Festival and won the Texas Association of Authors 2014 Best Young Adult Fiction Award.

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