“Felicity, you have got to go!” Iris exclaimed. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”
Felicity Smoak and her best friend Iris West have been video chatting for the last thirty minutes. Iris has been trying to convince Felicity to join a reality TV dating show that was scheduled to shoot in Starling Town, where they both had grown up in. Felicity had stayed in Starling all her life, but Iris had moved to Central City after college when she had landed a job there as a celebrity news reporter.
Being a celebrity news reporter, Iris kept herself abreast with entertainment news, gossips, and rumors. She was also a huge fan of reality TV shows. And when she got wind that the popular television dating show H.E.A. Today was going to be doing an episode in their hometown of Starling, she just knew that her best friend needed to be on that show. It wasn’t just because she wanted her friend to experience how wonderful and amazing it was to find true love like she had found with Barry Allen. It was also because she knew that if Felicity were to finally find true happiness with someone special, it would have to be with someone who wasn’t from Starling. In her humble opinion, no one in their small, once-obscure town deserved Felicity Smoak. Her best friend was far too special to settle for someone less than what she deserved, now or ever, even when her biological clock started to tick.
Felicity was beautiful, bright, and brilliant. Sure, she babbled here and there whenever she was nervous, tense, or excited. But if intelligence and wit were superpowers, she would have saved the world time and again, given the chance. But life had been hard for her. Too hard.
Her father, from whom she had inherited the genius genes, had died when she was only seven. It had devastated her, having lost the only person in her life that had truly understood her quirks and the way her mind worked. Noah Kuttler Smoak had dreamed big dreams for his daughter. Her mother Donna had worked two jobs as a waitress in a diner and as a housekeeper and nanny for the wealthiest family in town, the Bertinellis. Later on, Frank Bertinelli’s wife of Russian descent had died, leaving the businessman with two daughters, Helena and Isabel, whom Donna Smoak had taken care of like her own children. Unsurprisingly, Donna had fallen in love with Mr. Bertinelli and eventually married him, making him Felicity’s stepfather.
Moving into the Bertinelli house at the heart of Starling Town and adjusting to her new life had been difficult. Felicity had been very understanding, because she loved her mother and wanted her to be happy. She had only asked her mother for one thing – that she keep her father’s name and not be adopted by Frank Bertinelli. She had seen that marrying Mr. Bertinelli not only made her mother happy; the marriage had also provided well for both of them, and her mother no longer had to work to give her a future. However, something about the Bertinelli family had always been “off” for Felicity, and she had wisely seen in advance what was to come.
During one of her mother and stepfather’s vacations, just a year after their wedding, a skiing accident in Aspen completely orphaned Felicity Smoak. Frank Bertinelli had promised to take good care of her, telling her that he owed Donna as much. He had told her that she had already become a part of the family – which had also meant that she had to share not only in the privileges, but also in the responsibilities that came with it.
After her mother’s funeral, which was done following the Jewish traditions of Donna’s side of the family, Felicity soon discovered exactly what her stepfather had meant. Mr. Bertinelli and her stepsisters had shown their true colors. The wolves had shed off their wooly sheep’s clothing.
“Lis? Hey, where did you go off to?” Iris asked her friend.
Felicity was staring right into her iPhone’s camera, and it looked like she was still listening to her best friend’s long list of reasons why she should consider lining up with close to a hundred single girls in town. But really, her mind had wandered off minutes ago the moment Iris had mentioned that Oliver Queen was the celebrity bachelor that was to be featured on the episode of H.E.A. Today – the guy that one very lucky small-town girl will get to go on a dinner date with, if and when she gets picked by him.
Oliver Queen. Drop-dead gorgeous Oliver Queen.
Felicity had never liked action movies, but when Iris had introduced her to Oliver Queen’s conspiracy theory and action-suspense movies, she had made sure to watch every single one of them, including the movies and indie films that he had appeared in before he had become one of Hollywood’s most famous leading men and won an Oscar for his very first superhero movie, The Green Arrow. Oh, it was more than just his superb acting ability. It was also his perfectly chiseled jaw line, stubbled just right, and his attractively cropped hair. It was his broad shoulders and the well-toned muscles of his arms, chest, and abs, often hidden underneath his shirts onscreen, but still very much noticeable. Most of all, it was definitely his captivating blue eyes. She loved staring into those blue hues whenever she flipped through magazines and gazed at his fantastic headshots, or whenever film edits had him looking straight at the camera as if he were staring back at her, as she watched his motion picture on the silver screen. He was just so, so good to look at.
Felicity had always wondered what it would be like to actually listen to his voice or maybe even his laughter, to carry on even just a casual conversation with him, to smell him, to touch him or hold his hand. Yet, she knew that given the chance, she might not even be able to say a word or even blink. She hadn’t even met her crush in person, but she was already far gone. She had been able to keep her fangirling a secret from her step-family and hometown acquaintances, but not from Iris West. Her best friend knew her all too well.
“Come on, Lis. Please say you’ll go,” Iris pleaded with her. “I know how much the most gorgeous Queen in the world means to you. Don’t tell me you’ll pass on this very rare chance.”
“Admit it, Felicity. You want to do this. You have to. You once told me that you’ve always dreamed of at least seeing him in person. Now you have a chance to get your wish. Hey, if I wasn’t already engaged to be married to Barry, I’d also be pressing my luck.”
“Yeah, yeah. I’m just kidding. Look, just go to see him. You don’t even have to win – although, I’m pretty sure you have it in you to win. You’ll never know until you try. Right?”
Silence. The only thing Iris sees and hears is Felicity heaving a deep sigh.
Felicity really wanted to, at least her heart did. But her mind begged to disagree. It was telling her that going on national television on a dating contest was a bad idea.
Why was it, again, that she never mustered the courage to leave the Bertinelli home or even Starling Town? She was already a grown woman with a fairly stable job for the last couple of years, for crying out loud. Her fears were just far too many. She wasn’t a big fan of uncertain change.
What if she drools right in front of Oliver Queen or embarrasses herself with one of her uncontrollable rambles or inappropriate innuendos? Her greatest antagonist was herself.
Felicity carefully considered her options. First of all, she couldn’t believe that the handsome, wellbuilt Canadian superstar was really coming to Starling. She never dreamed that her wish of seeing him in person could come true in the tiny hometown that she had never left since she was born. She had always thought that she would have to save up money, take up the challenge to travel to Los Angeles, and go on a Hollywood studio tour just so that she could chance upon seeing him there. But no, this time, she did not even have to leave Starling to see him. He was coming over. If that was not a sign that this opportunity was for her, then what was?
Also, knowing that she was a big fan of Oliver Queen, Iris had been keeping her up to speed with details about his professional and personal life. Whatever she could not learn from celebrity magazines and TV shows, she got from Iris. Ask Felicity anything about his personal background and filmography, and she would be able to recite the answers from memory. Nevertheless, the best thing she had liked about him was the fact that he had been changing for the better. Ever since the time Iris had covered the news about Oliver Queen being detained for a DUI charge about two years ago, Iris had been filling her in with off-the-record news bits about how he is doing his best to reform himself. The tabloids and gossip columns couldn’t seem to let his playboy-bad boy image go, and his critics wouldn’t get off his case even if he was clearly getting his life straightened out. Felicity felt for him. This rare opportunity to get to know him in person might just confirm whether or not he was indeed a changed man.
But there were just as many cons as pros. For instance, what would her stepfather and stepsisters say when she told them that she was planning to join a reality TV show? They’ll just laugh at her and make fun of her. It was that, or they were surely going to insult her and say that a geeky nerd like her who had never even dated a guy since high school and never had a serious boyfriend deserved such a chance. She could almost hear her stepfather changing her household chores schedule just to make it difficult for her to get out of the house. She could almost hear Helena and Isabel teasing her that she had nothing in her closet that would come close to “appropriate” for meeting a superstar like Oliver Queen. She didn’t even want to mention it to them anymore, because she was absolutely certain that they would “steal” the opportunity from her just like they’ve stolen countless opportunities for her in the past.
For instance, Cooper Seldon had shown interest in Felicity in senior high, but Helena had gotten her way and charmed the guy even before he got to ask Felicity out on a date. Felicity’s teenage dream of studying in MIT and majoring in computer science had not materialized because Frank Bertinelli had claimed that he had a limited budget for the girls’ college education and had thought that Isabel was smarter and deserved more to go off to college out of state to study business and finance to carry on their family enterprise.
Felicity had given way and just took up her IT studies at the community college in Starling, graduating at the top of her class with the reputation of “knowing so much more about programming and computer engineering than any of her instructors.” She had kept herself up-todate above and beyond her college education by taking up online courses in advanced coding and cybersecurity, earning two graduate degrees from home in a year’s time just by doing so. She had become the most sought-after IT specialist not just in Starling but in the neighboring towns in that part of the state. Almost every business and establishment there was protected by her security systems and supported by software and programs that she had invented, mostly unknown to her arrogant stepfather and stepsisters, who only chose to see her as a freelance computer technician, a designation that she was overqualified for.
“I know what you’re thinking, Lis, but you have to stop.” Iris did know her too well. “You can’t let your stepdad and your mean, ugly stepsisters control your life any more than they already have. All these years you’ve allowed them to treat you like dirt when you deserve so much more. Just ask yourself this question. Is this the kind of life that your mom and dad would have wanted for you?”
“Iris, it’s not that simple,” Felicity replied.
“Yes, it is! And you know it. Aren’t you sick and tired of always giving way or giving in? When was the last time you did something that you really wanted to do instead of what they tell you to do? You are not their slave, Felicity. And you can’t keep living your life like one. Because you aren’t!”
Felicity took a deep breath and dropped her gaze. Iris immediately realized that she might have come on too strong for her friend.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”
“It’s okay, Iris. I know you only mean well,” Felicity responded, lifting her head to face the screen on her phone once more. “I just… I’m not sure it’s worth a shot.”
“Felicity Megan Smoak, you are worth this shot. And you have to believe it. I believe it. Don’t you at least want to try and do something to make your dreams come true?”
“I… I want to. But…” Felicity hesitated.
“But do you even think Oliver Queen will give me a second look?” she asked her friend for an honest appraisal.
“Are you kidding me? Felicity, you are an awesome person and an amazing woman. You are beautiful and sweet and smart. That alone is a guarantee that he’ll want to get to know more than your first name. Trust me. Oliver Queen is going to give you more than a third look,” Iris answered with a chuckle.
“I don’t know…,” Felicity muttered.
“I do,” Iris continued confidently. “Now, just give me the green light and I’ll make sure your name lands on the short list so that you don’t have to fall in line at the studio with all those other girls who don’t stand a chance against you.”
Felicity smiled at last. When Iris saw it, she said, “Great! Your wish is my command. I’ll call you when it’s done.”
“Okay, thanks. Love you.”
“Love you more! Bye, Lis!”
As soon as Iris hung up, Felicity drifted off to dreamland where Oliver Queen was the leading man in a movie that she debuted in.
“Felicity!” She heard her stepdad holler from downstairs. “Felicity, take the garbage out please!”
Her heart sank. It was Isabel’s turn to dispose of the day’s trash, but this kind of thing always happened. She was always the default daughter when it came to doing the dirty work around the house. This was reality.
“Coming!” she hollered back from her room in the attic.
As she closed the door behind her, she began to regret saying yes to Iris. Maybe she was better off just dreaming about Oliver Queen than actually getting to meet him.