You Don’t Have To Live Like This

By Jo Phillips

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– “Did you get the call sheet?” Her voice cut through her serenity like the wheezing her alcoholic ex-boyfriend used to make when he slept. It was over two months ago that she said she was leaving. She’d told her mother, she’d told her friends, she’d told her doorman and the girl behind the counter of the cafe that she went to again for lunch today. They had all politely forgotten she’d ever mentioned it. Her boss had been a model who’s best friend had married a movie star, a movie star whom she’d had an affair with, and had now been married to for three decades. “DID YOU GET THE CALL SHEET HANNAH?”

“Yes, sorry, it’s been on your desk since 8 AM.”

“I asked you to email it to me.”

Hannah knowing full well that she’s received a drunken email this morning at 2 AM expressively clarifying that the call sheet not be emailed to her but be on her desk for her arrival by 9 AM sighed.

“I’m sorry, my mistake. I’ll email it over to you now.”

“Silly girl, can you make a lunch booking at Le Gavroche for 2:30?” the moulded mound of plastic skin said.

This was impossible. It was 2 PM and Le Gavroche books up 6 months in advance, not to mention they stop serving lunch at 2. –“They’re closed”, she replied tightly. 

“Tell them it’s me.”

“Ok”, Hannah replied.

She’d had the same conversation with the same hostess countless times already. Will her famous husband be joining her? No, he was on location, or with his mistress, or with prostitutes like he always was. They wouldn’t be able to accommodate them. She had fantasized about leaving within three days of starting. She’d been here for a year, she’d gone to an Ivy League, she could find another job. Her parents could help with the rent. She was supposed to be running production but she’d been relegated to being a PA because there were no productions. Hannah thought about her options, she had a masters in Feminist Theory, she wanted to work in popular culture to make films that mattered, and failing that at least stem the rot of the ones that were being made. That was her purpose and this was just her life. She’d stick it out, she’d deal with this. It would get better. It couldn’t get worse.


Hannah walks into her office and takes the one piece of paper off her desk and brings it to her on the chaise lounge.

“Did you make the booking?”

“They told me they’re closed”

“Did you tell them it was me?”


“It’s overrated anyway.”

“Just get me a table at the Ivy.”

“They’re also closed until dinner.”

“Are you completely useless?”

Hannah started doing her breathing exercises, in and hold for 3 seconds, out and hold for 3 seconds.

“Are you?”

“No”, Hannah said.

“That’s all, go back to your little desk.”

Just like that, it dawned on Hannah that she had never had a desk, she worked off a coffee table and she knew that it was now or never. She could have told her the litany of vile things people had told her about her, she could have lived out her fantasy of crushing her, but at that moment she’d realized that she didn’t hate this woman, she pitied her. She knew she didn’t have to live like this.

“I have to go now.” She walked over and gave the shocked woman a short tight hug.

“I hope you’ll be ok. Thank you.”


By Joseph Francis


Illustration by Mahsa Dehghani


About the author: Joseph Francis is an Anglo-American creative director and writer based out of London. He was born in Texas and raised in North Yorkshire, England. He’s been published by the Liars’ League and is working on a series of screenplays. @jofmcc


About the editor: Our literary Editor Katy Darby also is part of Liars’ League, a monthly live fiction event where writers write, actors read, audiences listen and everybody wins. Videos and MP3s can be found at


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