Before every Centrelink meeting, she puts in thick gelatinous eyedrops so she looks like she’s been crying. She’s perfected the amount of tremor to put into her voice so that the staff let her off her reporting requirements – too little and they roll their red eyes, too much and they faces grow stiff and flat like chipboard. But the littlest wobble, a jagged intake of breath, and they look around at their colleagues, lean in close and whisper ‘We’ll see what we can do.’ A few words work best, she’s found. Big explanations feel too overthought. But just gasping ‘My mother –‘ before she throws in a sob, like it’s too big to say, like she can’t go on talking, that’s the ticket, that’s the Oscar winning shot. And everyone’s got a mum who they look at and think ‘Jesus, she’s getting old.’ Getting them where it hurts, that’s what you have to do. Touch the little triggers that link in to the big feelings, the 4 am feelings when your head’s going too fast to turn off. She should be on stage, she reckons. She’s wasted on these work-wracked automatons. But there’s something addictive about the control when she’s pretending to be broken. She ties the strings round their tongues and they can’t even feel it. Can’t even see. And they all go home thinking ‘I did something good today. I helped someone out.’ And who is she to deny them that feeling? That joy?