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When facts lie

Drones fly overhead 24 hours a day. It’s like having a factory upstairs that never switches off and whose humming you cannot escape.

At night, when the navy attacks it’s worse. You listen to the whizzing of missiles sliding overhead and the inevitable explosive follow-up and wonder where did it hit? Who did it hit?

There is violence every day but when there is an escalation like this, there is no break, no shelter and no safety.

Karl Schembri described the recent violent surges in the Gaza Strip where he lives and works with such poetic elegance that, for a moment, you share some small part of that discomfort.

With a journalistic background, Schembri holds facts sacred but says they rarely serve to move people.

“I could tell you all the facts about the Palestine/Israel conflict and you wouldn’t flinch. You cannot measure suffering with a statistic,” said Schembri.

“Fiction is what you need when facts no longer speak the truth.”

Jennifer Mills isn’t loyal to truth either. She agreed with Schembri, articulating the inability of facts to touch your emotional life.

“As a storyteller, I think your responsibility is different, ethically. We are saturated in information but it means nothing. Fictions gives meaning,” said Mills.

Mills spent some time working along the Arizona/Mexican border with the humanitarian organisation ‘No more Deaths’. Their mission is simple. Leave food, water and other vital supplies along border crossing routes to save the lives of those attempting the crossing.

After publishing an article detailing her experience with the organisation, Mills couldn’t stop thinking about the experience.

“There was a story that needed to be told that couldn’t come out in the article. I kept thinking about this memorial to an 11-year-old girl who became separated from her parents and died alone in the desert. I couldn’t stop thinking about that spot and all the tiny flowers that had been left there,” said Mills.

Closure came with fiction.

Mills wrote her short story Prospect to tell the truth that the facts silenced.

Emily Handley is a Southern Cross University Arts student.

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