the setup was easy enough set up a camera, adjust lighting. place microphone. get a casual look together. she sat in the chair across from the camera and took in a sharp breath before turning it on.

“hey guys. the past few months... kind of weird, so a lot of what i’ve been uploading is mostly backlog. but this, this is new. so, a while back, i promised you guys i’d talk about some things that were really personal to me. get a little deep, get a little real, but i said i’d do it when i was ready.” a pause. “so, i guess, a new year is a good time to get some things off of your chest, right? fresh starts? isn’t that what this is supposed to be all about?”

the words were difficult to form, so instead she gave a sad smile and shrugged her shoulders, before the smile dropped from her lips. control. she wanted to be in control, mostly, even if the whole point of this was supposed to be sharing vulnerability. there was something about showing too much, about putting too much of herself out there, that still terrified her. she had reasons for keeping some of her cards close to her chest. “there’s a lot about my childhood we can just.... skip. i was rich, then i wasn’t. i had a dad, and then i didn’t. i, uh, made some really bad choices and got involved with weird older dudes that had no business being around a teenage girl who was struggling. those are things i don’t know if i’m ready to talk about yet. i made a lot of really dumb, naive, choices and it... didn’t turn out to well for me, but that’s — that’s another day and time.”

“when i was in my early 20s... i was a much freer person. a different person. i embraced life a lot differently, I was the life of any party, i made my friends join in on that. i was that girl. i was... i was alive,” she said, as she carefully, deliberately, chose her words. “i was in school to be an actress. in new york. where i grew up. i had... i had an amazing boyfriend.” felicity laughed nervously, and looked downward. “even with everything that had... that had gone on with my dad, not that long before, i was having the college experience that only existed in dumb teen movies. i just wanted to be liked. have fun. that’s all that really mattered to me, then. that girl still exists in me, i think, but she’s... different, now. “

“anyway, i was really, really, happy. maybe genuinely happy for the first time in my life. i mean, maybe some of it was trying to act like everything was okay and nothing bothered me, there was some of that too, but there were other parts that just...” her voice trailed off and she shrugged. “i was in a good place. but, the story can’t end there, right? or else i wouldn’t be doing this. there was someone else, a friend of mine, and i trusted him. we had some classes together, i trusted him a lot, actually, and he always seemed... he seemed like a really good guy. smart. polite. funny. a little boring, but not all that bad. he knew i had a boyfriend and i thought he was okay with that.”

felicity took in a deep, steadying, breath to keep control of her voice. “i thought i had an actual guy friend who was totally cool with that. just being a friend, no other weird expectations, nothing coming out of it. he was, in fact, not totally cool with that. he...he acted as if i owed him something for his ‘kindness’ and accused me of leading him on. that didn’t end too well,” she spoke slowly. “i still think about that a lot, wonder what i could have done differently. if i had been stronger, smarter, maybe i could have stopped him. maybe, if i hadn’t put myself into that position, my life could be a lot more different now. maybe i would have finished school, maybe i would’ve— there are a lot of maybes, even more ‘what-ifs’... i don’t like to think about those. but, at the time, i couldn’t handle all of those questions and feelings. all because some dude thought he had a right to my body. a right to me.”

she pulled her knees to her chest and hugged them. “i tried to make it work, for a little while, tried to get my old life back. i wanted to be myself and to pretend like nothing happened. the more i tried doing that, the angrier i got because of it. why did i have to pretend while he was living his totally normal life? and then, before i could get closure — before i could confront him or finally work up the courage to report what happened — he died. i spiraled even more and it felt as if my brain was constantly on fire. i was consumed with my feelings and they got to be too much.”

“so, i left,” she said before she paused, tucking her hair behind both ears, and hugging her knees again. “i didn’t really... tell anyone. stupid, right? i didn’t think i could handle it. saying it out loud made it a lot more real and i don’t think i could have handled that then. it was easier to, you know, play cool girl. adventurous girl. free-spirited girl. felicity frowned deeply and pressed her lips together before taking in another deep breath. ‘but i was hurting so deeply and i was so... angry. i didn’t know how else to respond.” she gave a nervous laugh, leaning forward onto her arms. “and i ended up hurting someone that meant a lot fo me. someone who... someone who deserved a lot better than what i gave them.” her words were slow as her expression changed to something tinged with remorse and regret. “someone i may have actually— i messed up a really good thing. i let someone make me hurt a really good person, someone who deserved a lot better, and take away so much from me, for a really long time. i left new york and didn’t look back, made myself a new life in california. and i’ve been here since. ten years and, sometimes, i feel like i’m still running from something that i’m not sure i can name.”

felicity cleared her throat and exhaled. "there's a lot more for me to say, but we'll save that for another part. this is a beginning, not an ending. more can come later.

"everyone thinks they can take what's yours. your belongings. your freedom. your dignity. and they will. unless you show them they're wrong. nothing, and no one, will ever have that kind of hold on me again. i'm setting myself free.” a smile crossed her face and she nodded. felicity carefully stretched her arms out in front of her, before hugging her knees again.

"i'm felicity. and i'm taking back my story. whatever the hell that means."