The thumbnail for the video would show Lizzie sitting in her usual place, the background seen in the video itself cut out and replaced with a purple-and-yellow cartoon spiral, a thick white outline separating Lizzie from the spiral.
Her hair is up in a ponytail sprouting from the top of her head, a style she rarely adopts. She’s wearing the deep-necked T-shirt she chose just before filming, her cleavage on display to an unusual degree, and her eyes are unfocused, crossed, and staring at a point somewhere above the camera. Her lips are parted, lower lip glistening slightly, mouth vacantly open.
A text caption on the thumbnail reads
WHO I REALLY AM
(when i’m hypnotised)
It would be a sleeper for some time after release, not getting as many immediate views as most of Lizzie’s videos, but also having a high proportion of first-time viewers. Some months after release its viewing numbers would start to overtake all but her most popular efforts.
On playing, Lizzie would be found in her usual seat, the broad, welcoming smile she always had at a video’s start in place. Her hand came up for the usual half-wave, simultaneous with her cheery “Hell-lo everybody!”
The first of the many quick cuts that were her editing trademark began. “Welcome to the latest - and the final - video in my ‘Who I Really Am’ series. We’ve talked about,” and the camera cut to stills from each video in turn, “my family history, my life story, my romantic history, personality quizzes, we’ve even heard from some friends who they think I am.”
Back to Lizzie and her smile, and she brought her hands together in a sweeping, clapping gesture. “Well, that’s all great, but I spent a long time thinking about how I was going to wrap this all up, and I wanted to do something a bit special. Each of these episodes has allowed me to focus on something I’ve mentioned in passing in other videos before, and I wanted something that would top all that. So we’re going to answer some questions I’ve chosen from the ones you sent in.
“But these are the questions I couldn’t answer earlier in this little series. They’re ones I have complicated feelings about. I can’t untangle those well enough.
“So we’re going to see if my subconscious can. And that brings me to my guest.”
The screen switched to a splitscreen, both windows of Lizzie’s chat program. “This is Ivan. He works as a hypnotherapist, and some of you might have seen him in action before - he’s showed up in a Mary O’Connell video before. That’s how I heard about him.” Ivan grinned, looking almost bashful, and almost copied Lizzie’s little half wave.
“Hi,” he said. “Nice to meet you - and all of you.”
“Nice to meet you,” Lizzie said, and a number of her dedicated fans noted a surprisingly affectionate tone of voice, one they normally only heard from her when she was visiting friends.
Ivan disappeared from the screen and Lizzie’s eyes opened wide as she continued.
“Anyway. Ivan here is going to hypnotise me, and then he’s going to be asking me some questions - and you’ll get to find out the answers pretty much the same way I do, because I’m going to find out when I watch this all back.” She smiled. “I’m looking forward to it! Right, Ivan?”
The video cut to Ivan. “Right,” he said. “And I should mention, we did just hypnotise Lizzie once before this, but just to make sure it was going to go well.” He grinned. “If you’ve heard that some people can’t be hypnotised, it’s not true. But it isn’t always the first way you try. So Lizzie graciously agreed to go under first, and save me from my embarrassment. And just while we’re discussing urban myths about hypnosis, no, I haven’t told her to Venmo me all her money.”
Lizzie laughed as the screen cut back to her. “No, he hasn’t,” she said. “He’s been a perfect gentleman.” And if the cadence of her speech was a little more set, and the tone a little flatter, nobody noticed.
The life was back in her tone when she brightly said “So, we’re going to hypnotise me. I’m not sure how much of this you’re going to see. It’s not me hiding anything! But I’ll have to see what it’s like in the edit.”
“Right,” Ivan chimed in from offscreen.
Some of Lizzie’s quick cuts were easy to ignore. For this one, though, she went from cheerful to clearly laughing. “Anyway, you’ll get to see… however much you get to see… now.”
Another cut, and Lizzie’s face still filled the screen but rather than looking out at her fans, she was looking off to one side at her second monitor. Her face seemed keen and alert, though her eyes were starting to glaze.
“So you can’t see this, viewers, because we’re only looking to hypnotise Lizzie, not any of you,” Ivan said, “but she’s looking at a little animation I use. And it’s pretty, isn’t it, Lizzie?”
“Yes,” Lizzie said happily. “It’s so pretty. Did you design this yourself?”
“I did, although it’s based on some ideas from other people. Like your channel. It’s useful to be able to see what works well and take the parts of that which fit what you do well, then add your own flair. Isn’t it?”
“Yes.” Lizzie’s eyes could be seen to dart from one point of whatever she was watching to another.
“So Lizzie’s being hypnotised by a visual focus. She knows what’s coming now, and she knows it can be pleasant. But if you look, you can see her eyes moving, tracking what’s on her screen. That’s fine! That’s natural. Don’t try and stop it happening. You’re going to let it happen, aren’t you, Lizzie?”
Another “Yes,” escaped the vlogger’s lips softly.
“That’s great. So you can see how her eyes are flowing from point to point. And just so you know, as she watches the screen, I’m watching her eyes to look for what I need. And believe it or not, she’s showing signs that she’s already almost ready to drop. Right, Lizzie?”
“Yes…” And certainly, anyone watching the video could see that her jaw had slackened, her mouth gently open, her eyes sweeping mechanically from one point on the screen to another at a rate as steady as the ticking of a clock. But those eyes, even as they tick-tick-ticked from one point to another, seemed unfocused and vague.
Anyone watching the video who had some familiarity with hypnosis could hear the dullness of her tone, and if they were watching for it, they might recognise that the hesitations were precisely long enough for a foggy, fuzzy head to recognise a question had been asked and supply the ‘yes’ it expected the next answer in the pattern to be, but not long enough for that same foggy mind to assess the question and answer it honestly.
“Past a certain point, her eyes start to pick up the patterns in advance. She starts looking ahead of time. It’s like her mind is running on automatic,” Ivan’s voiceover explained. “Right, Lizzie?”
“Yes,” she agreed.
On the video, there was a visible motion as her shoulders slumped, her slack jaw dropped a little further open, but no more. After a moment Lizzie sat upright in her chair again, and turned to face the camera, attentive as the keenest schoolgirl, smiling giddily, happily, but vacantly at its lens.
The video cut three or four times to the same smile, her head tilted through different angles as she considered answers, before cutting back to the beginning. It was clearly a look that the editor wanted to play up.
“Now Lizzie, the goal of this video is to answer questions you can’t. So in this state, we want you to find it nice and easy, nice and simple to answer those questions. You won’t second-guess. You’ll give the first answer that comes to your head, and you’ll keep talking until you finish answering. It’ll almost feel like you’re not answering, like the answers are emerging without your help. Do you understand?”
“Awesome. Well done. Right,” Ivan said in voiceover. “I’ve got a list of questions from your viewers here. But before we get to those I want to ask a question they’re going to be curious about now but didn’t know to ask.”
Lizzie sat there, smiling happily. There was a gentle shift of her shoulders and while almost not moving at all she now gave the impression she was leaning forward attentively.
“What’s it like being hypnotised?”
Her lips parted a little wider. A dreamy sigh was barely audible on the video. “It’s so good,” she said. “Partly that’s just that it feels really nice to let go, like I’m lying in on a Saturday and I haven’t woken up all the way yet. Partly it’s that when you hypnotised me you told me to really notice how good it feels - that was nice of you - but mostly, I think, it’s just that I don’t need to worry.”
“What are you worried about?” Ivan asked after a moment. He was trying to pass it off as a lighthearted question, but it was clear to those listening that the answer had disconcerted him; he wasn’t at all sure what to make of it.
“Oh, everything. YouTube changing its rules and my fans going away or financial crises meaning they can’t pay me even if they stay or running out of ideas. Or even just my camera breaking in an expensive month. I worry about the fact I’m worrying showing through, too.”
There was a moment’s silence.
In another cut, a clearly wide-awake Lizzie appeared. A much more conservative polo shirt was in place though she was still wearing the high-tie ponytail; it might have been later that day but was more likely to be another. Her hand came up for the usual half-wave, simultaneous with her cheery “Hell-lo everybody!”
She immediately pulled a face, a cartoonish exaggeration of a wide, nervous grin. “Sooooo deciding whether or not to leave this question in was hard. I really do worry that if I seem like I’m worrying, these videos will lose what they have that makes them enjoyable for you. And that feels like a peek behind the curtain that I really wasn’t sure should stay in. But I want to be honest with you. That’s kind of the point of this series, right?” She laughed, a genuine laugh rather than a nervous parody.
“I might talk about that more in a future video. Let me know what you think in the comments below.” She smiles. “Back to the video you were expecting!” Her hand cane back up for the wave. “Bye!”
The video returned to smiling Lizzie, back straight, head jutting forward slightly, eyes bright and wide, waiting for a question she could answer promptly and honestly, eager for a question she could answer promptly and honestly.
“Here’s one from a paying supporter off-site, SUniverse92,” Ivan said. “How did you find the confidence to start making videos?”
“I didn’t really,” Lizzie said. “My first video I wrote and filmed and edited bit by bit. I wrote a script because I was angry and I wanted to blow off steam. I filmed the script because I wanted some practice before I showed up in the background of a student film. I edited it because I was bored and wanted to see if I could edit. But I never intended to post it.”
“So why did you?”
“I got drunk,” she said easily. Her smile turned briefly into a dopey grin and she giggled, before her expression rolled back into that happy, vacant smile. “It takes way too few clicks to put a video live. And then I forgot about it.”
“But you’ve told the story of what happened once people started finding your videos before,” Ivan picked up. “Let’s try another question. This is from MissMiller1001. What do you do to relax?”
“I think now I get someone to hypnotise me,” Lizzie said dreamily. “Can I keep the pretty picture you use?”
“Well, we’ll have to talk about that,” Ivan offered, sounding reasonable. “But before you’d been hypnotised, what would your answer have been?”
For the first time, Lizzie paused.
“I think probably I would have said I like to sit in the same place as my boyfriend while he was busy,” she said. “He’s a very peaceful presence.” The words DON’T TELL HIM! appeared in white on the screen, in a comical font.
“That sounds like a good answer,” Ivan said neutrally.
“Yeah,” Lizzie agreed, but it didn’t sound like her heart was in it.
“Oh, here’s another one,” Ivan offered. “From xxx66xxx - I’m probably not pronouncing that right,” he continued with a laugh. “Sorry! But she - I think she - wants to know, uh, it’s going to be easier if I just read this out loud.
“Hey Lizzie, I just saw that video where you were talking about a trip to a fetish club your partner was going to take. This was a couple of years ago I think. Did you ever follow up on that? If so, did you discover anything about yourself?”
“Oh, sure, I went,” Lizzie said, still smiling openly and honestly. “There was a lot of stuff I saw that looked fun but I was too nervous to try then. I feel like there’s some unfinished business there, but that relationship ended.”
There was a pause.
“And your current boyfriend?” Ivan prompted.
“Oh. Very vanilla. Fun! But very vanilla.”
Another cut to Lizzie on her editing day. This time one hand was up on her forehead, she was slightly flushed, and she wasn’t meeting the eyes of anyone looking at her through the camera. “Oh, boy,” she said, trying to keep her tone light but definitely sounding embarrassed. “So… this is a weird one. But you might have noticed that I kept kind of… overlooking Mick this episode. I’d been prompted to give full answers but Mick didn’t really come up without prompting. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m a little flirtier than I should be, and part of that is playing down my relationships?” Her gaze finally met the camera’s lens. “That doesn’t sound right! But I did overlook him. And it’s…” She lowered her voice. “Recently things have been… very vanilla. A bit…” She trailed off, her voice faltering. Her eyes were wide as she glanced from side to side. “I don’t know. It’s not that things are bad between us. They’re basically fine. But it’s complicated all of a sudden.”
She looks off to one side. “Ivan did ask me a couple of other questions you guys had sent in that were just about my relationship with Mick. I’m not going to be showing those. I don’t say anything bad about him, but it’s got me thinking. And I’d rather… you know, I’d like to figure this out in private before talking in public. I know you and me, we kind of have this agreement that I don’t do that. But it’s not just me involved this time. It’s Mick too. So we’re not showing those questions.”
Cutting back to Lizzie’s spacey, hypnotised grin, the video saw her swaying, very gently, around the shoulders. “So that takes us through most of the questions you’ve been asked,” Ivan said. “Do you have a drink nearby?”
“Uh-huh,” Lizzie smiled dreamily.
“Take a drink, then. You don’t want to get dehydrated, and you’re not listening to your own head right now.”
Almost mechanically, she reached out and picked up her bright pink water bottle. She took a long pull at it, then set it back down again.
“That’s very good,” he said. “Alright, even assuming you cut that last one, I think we’re coming up on your video’s usual kind of end time. So whatever preparations you usually make for the finish… do you want to make them while you’re awake or under?”
Another quick cut followed.
Still smiling dreamily, Lizzie took a breath.
“And that was our show and our series! I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know me better as much as I’ve enjoyed exploring my history and looking at why my head works the way it does. Maybe you’ve had a chance to think more about yourself, too.” She blinked. The smile became closer to her normal smile, though the gaze was still glassy.
As her signature, she put two fingers to her lips and mimed blowing a kiss to the lens. “If you’ve enjoyed this series, or if you have any questions, please do me a favour. Leave a comment down below, ask a question, or just share the link to a friend who’d like it. And as always, don’t forget to like and subscribe - it really does matter to this channel.” She shuddered slightly. Her eyes rolled back for a moment, and then she blinked several times, and was herself again. “And, of course, thank you to Ivan for joining me. He doesn’t have a channel - do you do any social media, Ivan?”
The screen split and he rejoined her on the video. “Not as a public person,” he said and smiled. “I just chat with my friends. I don’t have anything to plug here - but thank you, all of Lizzie’s friends, for having me; I’ll try to be active in the comments when this video goes live if you have any questions. I think Lizzie did something very brave today - it can take my clients weeks or months to build up to that kind of honesty. I think talking to you has given her a lot of practice.”
“You’re too kind,” Lizzie said again with a smile. “Again, comment, like, share the links, and subscribe if you haven’t. What do you think about hypnosis? Do you want to try it now? Were you put off? Whatever happens, I’ll see you all again next week when we’ll take stock of all this and start thinking to the future.
She smiled for long enough for her outro music cue to play in her head, then ran through the last couple of sentences and smile again so she’d have options in editing. Lastly, she struck a couple of different smiling poses for potential thumbnails.
Then she paused recording. “We’re done,” she said. “Thank you for all of that.”
“Not a problem,” Ivan said with a smile. “Oh, and Lizzie?”
Her breath came out of her in a soft, happy whimper as her eyes crossed slightly and rolled back. Her posture shifted back to fully upright and stiff-backed, her mouth opening slackjawed.
“Good girl,” Ivan purred. “Now, Lizzie, when you wake up, it’s important you don’t remember this trance any more clearly than you let yourself remember the first one. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” Lizzie agreed, her soft, breathy answer so eager, so fast on the heels of Ivan’s question, that he almost missed hearing it.
“I’m going to want you to call me again tomorrow so you can ask to be hypnotised again. You’re going to want that too.”
“Yes,” Lizzie echoed again. It was so true!
“I’ve cleared a space in my schedule for you. You’ll call at 10am sharp. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” she murmured again.
“What is being hypnotised?”
“Being hypnotised is best. Being hypnotised is… blank… mmm… being hypno… tised… is… arousing…”
“Good girl,” Ivan reassured her again after her rote repetition. “Who is always right?”
“Ivan… is… always… right…” Lizzie’s tone was sing-song now.
“Who doesn’t matter?”
“Mick… doesn’t… matter.”
“Very good. Oh, and one last thing. You haven’t admitted to me, when conscious, how arousing you find being hypnotised. You think of it as a secret, in fact. But it’s really on your mind right now. When you wake up, you’re going to be so squirmy, so horny, so needy. It’s going to be hard to stop yourself from showing it before you end the call, not realising you’ll be calling me again tomorrow.
“On the other hand, it’s going to be impossible to leave that chair before you’ve cum to the thought of being not just hypnotised but controlled. To the thought of having ideas put in your head. Of being given commands you must obey. Of having your opinions changed as you sit there helplessly. As soon as you get me off the connection, that’s going to be your priority. By the time we speak again tomorrow, you’re going to be well on the way to a full-fledged fetish for it.
“Do you understand?”
There was only a moment’s hesitation. “Yes.”
“Good girl. It’s almost time to wake up, then, in three… two… one…” Ivan snapped his fingers, and Lizzie’s eyes refocused.
As Lizzie recovered her awareness she felt so much bubbling up at once that anything her mind was prompted to overlook was completely unnoticed. She looked back at Ivan’s calm, confident expression and flushed, her thighs squirming together.
She was pretty sure her whimper wasn’t audible.
“So, uh… thank you,” she said simply.
“Oh, you’re welcome,” Ivan grinned. “It’s been a pleasure. I’m glad you had this idea; I think I quite enjoy doing hypnosis on video.”
“Right.” She nodded. “Um. Well.”
“Will I get a chance to see the finished edit before you go live, or should I wait?”
She froze for a moment. Decision making was more than she felt she had the willpower for; it was all dedicated to not yanking her T-shirt off, pulling her bra down and giving in to the fantasies she kept flashing onto. Fantasies that involved this man intimately, a man she should be ashamed of herself for even dragging herself into it.
It was hard to decide. A fragmentary thought saved her.
Ivan is always right.
“Do you want to?”
“I do, a little.”
“Then sure.” There. That was better. And now maybe he’d leave and she could-
“Thank you for a novel experience. If you decide you want to do something like this again, let me know. Only I don’t really want to become a YouTube celebrity so I might limit myself.”
She’d suppressed the squeak she made at his first invitation. Well, she was pretty sure she had. She must have; he’d not acted like he’d noticed. But the idea of getting to go under again was too inviting and - no. She couldn’t do this. Couldn’t inflict her burgeoning fetish on this very professional man.
“That… could be… very useful,” she said, keeping her words slow because if they’d come out any faster they’d just have been Yes.
“Well, you’re welcome. I should get on ahead of my next appointment, if you don’t mind?”
“Not at all,” she said, her words now coming too fast not to be suspicious as she leapt at the opportunity. “Okay, bye!”
She cut the call in a hurry, her free hand already fumbling with her tight tee. She ripped it slightly getting it off and yanked the cups of her bra down to give herself better access, almost humping the air as she slid further forward on the chair so her other hand could more easily get under her waistband. It felt too good and it was too important. She was already picturing herself sat like this in her chair, eyes empty, mind empty, body limp, being used for Ivan’s pleasure.
Later, she would wonder what had gotten into her. Later, she would think about opening up the recording of Ivan’s pre-talk to see what had been going on. But that was later, after a long time desperately giving into fantasy after fantasy, first in the chair, then over and over again, on her knees, on hands and knees, and finally in her bed, gasping out surrender and submission on ragged breaths.
Lizzie came over and over to fantasies she felt like she’d always had, which had only been part of her head for hours.