Running Jump


What seems to be the trouble? he asks .

I cough and splutter all over the place.

He gets the message.

Sits down to write the certificate.

There, he says , handing the form to me . This should do the trick.

I peruse it quickly.

There’s something missing.

You haven’t written down the illness, I say . Why I had time off.

That’s right. If you had Alzheimer’s or a social disease would you want people to know?

Certainly not.

My point exactly.

But I thought you had to put something down.

No, he says . And if they ask, tell them to take a running jump . Better still, tell them to phone me and I’ll tell them to take a running jump . Only in stronger terms.

He stands up. Shakes my hand.


The next day at work I hand in the certificate.

The doc’s right .

They see the blank space but no one says a word.

I push it a bit further.

On the official form, the one you fill out yourself, where it says ‘Illness’ I put down ‘See Certificate’ .

It feels good. It really does .

I’ve found a new way to treat with the world.



You are a skilled carpenter. You whittle me away with your chisel voice to the shape you want, my failings, and infidelities, my rough edges, lie as so many shavings upon the ground. You pick me up and peer at me. I hope you are pleased. Now I sit upon my tiny chair like a ventriloquist doll waiting for you to jiggle my limbs and speak for me like Aunty did for Uncle Bert after he had his stroke when we were kids and sat with us stiff and vacant for afternoon tea.