Playing Age

Emma Robertson is an emerging fiction writer whose first pieces were published in 2020. She is a teacher of inclusive dance in adult education and community learning and has had nonfiction articles published in arts industry publications. She is a member of an online writing community and takes part in a weekly flash fiction event. 

Emma Robertson

“There isn’t enough money in the world.”

The older woman stared at her agent until she was forced to break eye contact. “Lucy, please,” her agent, a statuesque woman with a raven bob and ironically ugly glasses, implored. “This is a fantastic opportunity. Robert’s people have already agreed in principle.”

“Poor choice of words,” Lucy sniffed, having already made it clear that she thought there were no principles involved in this proposed contract. “I have always despised reality television and I will not play out a…a…what’s that ghastly word? Showmance,” Lucy answered her own question, grimacing theatrically, “with a retired footballer. Especially one with a drinking problem and history of violence to boot, if you’ll pardon the pun.”

Lucy’s agent sat forward in her chair, clasping her hands together earnestly. “Look at the big picture Lucy. It’s been a quiet year and budgets have been scaled back for drama. Reality TV is easy money for the short term and the increased exposure gives you a more competitive edge next year. ITV will be casting that new female detective show we talked about.”

“There must be something else.” Lucy ran an elegantly manicured hand through her expensively styled chestnut hair. “Did you hear back about the recurring role on Emmerdale? I don’t mind relocating.”

Her agent broke eye contact again to rifle ineffectually through a sheaf of papers. “Ah yes, sorry, they’ve decided to go for someone less senior for the mother.”

“You mean someone younger?”

“I mean, perhaps a little…”

“I’m forty-six. Perfect for the mother. What age are they casting?”

“Er…I think they said thirty-two to forty.”

“But the man playing the father is fifty-five!” Lucy was incredulous.

Her agent gave a half-shrug. “That’s just the feedback I got Lucy, I’m sorry.”

Lucy sighed and rested her elbows on the desk, head in hand as her agent watched silently. Neither of them spoke for a full two minutes.

“That’s it?” Lucy asked eventually, from behind her hands.

“That’s it,” her agent confirmed. “But honestly, Lucy, I think it’s going to be a fantastic comeback for you – ”

“Comeback! I didn’t go anywhere.” Lucy muttered, standing up. “I just had the temerity to turn forty. And invisible, apparently.”

“Oh, it’s not that! This is a fabulous age for fierce, independent women!” The agent stood up to follow her out but Lucy waved her away.

“No more bullshit, please. Just do what you have to do and send me the details.”

Lucy pushed open the door, stopping at the sight of a shiny, expertly contoured young girl sitting expectantly in the waiting area with a headshot balanced on her lap.

“A word of advice, my lovely.” Lucy smiled at her ruefully. “Don’t get old.”

The agent stepped out into the hallway as Lucy strode off, and invited the young unknown into the office.

“Wasn’t that Lucy Shane? The actress?” The younger girl was wide-eyed. “She’s amazing.”

“Yes,” the agent nodded, with just a hint of sadness behind her smile. “She was.”

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