Portrait of a Character – Gabrielle Nolan
Gabrielle Nolan comes from real events.
Gabby started off as almost a plot device. I had been working on a series of ficlets surrounding the Breen attack on Earth, and I was analogizing them to the Five Stages of Grief. The Breen attack also felt a lot like 9/11, so I wanted to tell the story from the perspective of a pregnant widow. Gabrielle is not the widow (Gina is); she’s the daughter. So she doesn’t show up until the sixth stage, which is healing.
While I wanted to move the story beyond grief, I also wrote the healing aspect in order to introduce Gabby. This was done as the response to a weekly free write prompt about art. When I saw the prompt, the first thing I thought of was art therapy, and I immediately got the image of a child’s red-colored rounded scrawl into my head, and that would not go away.
As a part of the commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the Breen attack, Gabby’s school has its students draw, paint or sculpt their impressions of that day. Gabrielle isn’t the only bereft child, as she learns. For Gabby, it’s a day to make a friend, as it is for her mother, Gina. A part of healing is, I feel, to go outside yourself, and see that others might be in the same boat as you. Art brings it all together, as Gabby’s piece and another piece bring them close to people with a similar bereavement.
“It’s a tomato.”
(when asked about the red scrawl on her drawing).
Gabby is shown as both a child and a teenager. For her time as a small child, I see MacKenzie Foy.
As a teenager, I don’t really have a visual for her yet. She’s a child of the twenty-fourth century, and a child of tragedy. So she is much like any of the children of 9/11 victims, whether they extant or in utero on 9/11/01. As a teenager, she is a lot like a typical human teenager. She’s engrossed in her PADD, bored with slow-moving adult things, and intent on fixing up her friends with each other, a little like Jane Austen’s Emma.
In her eyes, her mother sees her lost father, Michael Nolan, much as I expect 9/11 widows see their husbands in the eyes of their children.