Super Short Story: Leave the room

“That’s not acceptable behaviour,” Elaine said. She could feel her body tensing up again and her breath shortened. Elaine lowered her shoulders and controlled her breath.

After taking a few deep breaths, she was calm again. Elaine looked at the woman in front of her who had spoken. An up and comer who had done some TV projects and now the studio had signed her up for another superhero film.

Seven picture deal, the girl would be set up for life if she played her cards right. So far she was showing her hand.

“Where are you having a stroke there?”

“I was centring my concentration there. I didn’t mean to snap at you there. We’re trying; the studio is trying to do the best it can for you. Your safety is of paramount importance. When you say “It’s only a dick” I get worried because this is how old patterns of behaviour repeat themselves.”

“Yeah, well, you and I, we come from different worlds, we don’t expect you to understand Elaine,” said the girl.

“Well Phoebe, I do understand,” Elaine said feeling herself tighten up again. Elaine didn’t want to get bogged down with Phoebe about ethics. “Someone like you has a long career ahead of you. More importantly, older Phoebe needs to be able to look back to younger Phoebe and not regret. You need to be able to look yourself in the mirror in twenty years time.”

“If I still have my original face by then, I’ll kill myself,” Phoebe said. Some of the other women in the room nodded in agreement.

“That’s not what” Elaine started, “Take Carla Odets for example”. The faces before her became expressionless. “Carla Odets, she won the Oscar for Take Me Now” some of the women arched their eyebrows, others shrugged. “You may not remember her, but she was set to star in Fate’s Requiem.”

“Sandra Channing was in that,” one of the women in the crowd exclaimed.

“That’s right, Carla Odets was originally set to star in it, but a producer tried to get her to do activities. She refused and didn’t it,” said Elaine, steepling her hands and scanning the room.

The women sat there for a moment, motionless, aside from blinking. Phoebe raised her hand.

“This isn’t a classroom Phoebe,” Elaine said.

“What was the point of that story?”

“That you don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to,” Elaine said.

“We know that but who the fuck is Carla Odets?” Phoebe said.

“You don’t have to swear,” Elaine said.

“You said it wasn’t a classroom.”

“That doesn’t mean, go on.”

“Like with all due respect, what was the point in that story? You say no to the role, and then everyone forgets about you or? I mean, are you saying that Sandra Shanning is a dirty little slut? If you are that doesn’t come as a surprise but, I’m trying to work it out, you’re not making a whole lot of sense” Phoebe said.

“The point of the story is that you have to be able to hold your head up high and conduct yourself with dignity. You have to be able to live with yourself” Elaine said.

“You don’t need to live with yourself when you got other people to live with you,” Phoebe said.

“That will come to an end there will be a next, next big thing.”

“I’ll let future Phoebe worry about that” Phoebe said.

“You have it all sorted out then,” Elaine said. She didn’t mean for the edge to slip into her voice, it just kind of happened that way.

“I know that I gotta make hay while the sun shines. Maybe you don’t like, know how they make hay. Don’t matter; you won’t be bailing forever.”

“Great attitude,” Elaine said, a smile on her face.

“Look if it makes you feel any better, if I do happen to fall on hard times then I can always come back with a tell-all story. Get a book deal out of it, sell the film rights and then I can be the one asking for the services.”

“No, no, no. Phoebe that is why the studios asked me to take these seminars. We want to avoid that sort of thing happening in the first place.”

“Look, Elaine, it’s the nature of the business,” Phoebe said, a smirk on her face.

“The nature of the business is changing,” Elaine said, the women watched her closely. “That waiver that you signed at the start of the day.”

“That was a register,” Phoebe said, no longer smirking.

“It was also a declaration that you take on your responsibilities to remove yourself. We’d prefer it if you didn’t get into that situation in the first place.

“This shouldn’t be down to us, tell the men.”

“The men are going to seminars like this one. The studio knows that we all need to do our part and accept our share of the responsibility.”

“We shouldn’t have our power to accuse taken away from us. Sometimes it takes a victim years to realise that they were victims.”

“Well, that’s something for future Phoebe to worry about,” Elaine said.

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