I swear this post has nothing to do with religion, believe it or not.
I remember one, and only one, Sunday School Teacher. He wasn’t particularly nice; he wasn’t particularly mean. It was second grade, and we had to earn a brand new Bible with fun little stickers that tabbed the books of the Bible. (We just wanted to play with all the stickers, I bet!) The way to earn it? We had to memorize the whole list of books, in order, and recite them to the class. We worked all year to do it, and boy, when you got your Bible, you were PROUD of yourself!
He asked a lot of us, and I think that’s pretty cool. I’m sure some people today would say, "Second-graders can’t do that!"
Anyway, he also spent a Sunday asking us one question that has stuck with me for over thirty years. It’s one of those stories with one of those tough questions that really make yourself and what you would do.
I just did an internet search on it, and it seems to be told as if it’s true, sometimes. I have no proof either way. It’s usually used as a Christian story, but I prefer the more literal story/situation. Here’s the BDSRA (whatever that means, LOL) version:
This story happened in 1936, when a drawbridge operator took his young son to work with him. The father and son were enjoying a typical day, raising and lowering the bridge to let the boats pass.
Late in the day, without warning, a passenger train appeared in the distance, speeding toward the open drawbridge. The man and his son raced down the catwalk to pull the lowering lever.
With the train quickly approaching, the son slipped, getting his leg stuck in the drawbridge gears. Horrified, the man quickly realized that he could either save his son, or lower the drawbridge to keep the passenger train from plummeting into the river below.
Who would live? His son? The unknown passengers? Who would he kill? His son? The passengers?
The man pulled the lever to lower the bridge. He watched the train pass over the lifeless, mangled body of his son, caught in the gears below. The man sacrificed his son’s life so that 400 railway travelers, oblivious to his sacrifice, could live.
See? I love those kind of questions. They’re heart-gripping, soul-gripping, and gut-grabbing. Jodi Picoult does a fabulous job of finding those situations where you lose your breath and think, "Ohmigod, what would I do in that no-win, horrible situation?"
I’m working on a synopsis this week, for a little homework challenge from our local RWA group. Ugh. It’s hard. But I thought, what if I center it around three of those type of questions as the major plot points?
I hate coming up with plot before I’ve written it. What about you? Do you have any cool stories like that? Situations that grab you in the gut? Any evidence that the above story is true or false? Does it matter, LOL?