Source work and author: Original Character Door: Ocean's Eleven Character Journal name: ~simple_life Character Name: Ashleigh Donovan Character Age: 31 Character Played By:Ashley Madekwe
Character History and Personality: Mr. and Mrs. Donovan may not have been able to claim Ashleigh as being of their own blood, but there was no mistaking the fact that they were her parents. From the moment she took her first breath and let out that first infant wail, she was part of the Donovan family. Her birth mother was a young thing, barely even sixteen, and a chance encounter at a clinic had given the girl the promise of a good home for her unborn child, medical expenses paid, a sum to ensure she would not want for some years, all under the condition that she not attempt to contact them once all was said and done. The wants and needs of a sixteen year old girl overrode any maternal instincts she might have had, and so Ashleigh became part of the Donovan family.
The Donovans were good, although distant, parents. Every child in the family coped in their own way with this type of parental guidance, and with Ashleigh, it manifested itself in a girl who was headstrong and stubborn to a fault. More apt to be playing outside with the boys than inside with the girls, Ashleigh wasn't afraid to forge her own path through life, less concerned about fitting in than she was about simply living her life as she felt best for herself. Sent off to boarding schools like her other siblings, Ashleigh poured her energy into athletics, and the frustrations she felt in her parents was worked out on the field. It wasn't long before Ashleigh emerged as a promising athlete. A devil on the soccer field, it was that black and white ball that carried her into and through university.
It was in university that Ashleigh met a man by the name of Matthew MacKeltar. A young man from a family in Edinburgh, Matt and Ashleigh were often described by their friends as the perfect couple. They didn't quarrel, they got along famously, and the pair seemed destined for happiness. And to Ashleigh, their relationship was just as good from the inside as it appeared from the outside. Where Ashleigh had always been a little hard on the exterior, Matthew taught her how to be softer, that it was okay to need help and to accept the help that was offered. Raised in a family where you made good for yourself, where you fought your own battles and bandaged your own wounds, it was a difficult thing for Ashleigh to learn, but with Matt, it was easier. After university, Matt and Ashleigh moved into their own place in Edinburgh within walking distance of the pub that Matt's family owned. The only son of elderly parents, it was expected of Matt that after university, he would take over the family business, and with Ashleigh at his side, he stepped up to do just that. With Ashleigh's business degree and Matt's personable nature, the pair made a great team in business just as they did in their personal life, and beneath them, the pub flourished.
It wasn't so long after university that wedding bells were ringing for the pair, and in a ceremony at a church in Edinburgh, Ashleigh Donovan became Ashleigh MacKeltar. Married life was good for the couple, living above the pub in the small one-bedroom flat, and they never quite left that honeymoon phase of their life. It was the happiest that Ashleigh had ever been, and very little could have prepared her for what would happen shortly after their second anniversary.
She was working the night the officer knocked on the front door of the pub. They suggested, in the quietest of voices, that perhaps she might want to close the pub early, and Ashleigh, unsuspecting of what was going on, did as they asked, closing the bar, ushering the last of the customers out for the night with apologies and friendly waves, and only then did they ask her to sit. Their eyes, she would remember later, were full of remorse, and though she couldn’t recall the words they said precisely, she understood enough to know what had happened.
Her Matthew was gone.
An accident. Multiple vehicles. There were several casualties, Matthew among them. Ashleigh never really heard enough to get the details down, didn’t really want to know the details, because the only thing that really mattered was that he was gone. But in true Ashleigh-fashion, she didn’t allow herself to linger long on her emotions. There were things to be done. A funeral to plan. A pub to run. And all that grief which normally consumed people, took over their lives for months and years, it was poured into keeping busy, because as long as she kept busy, she didn’t have to think long on what had happened. So Ash, as she preferred to be called now, dove into the business of the pub, digging into the aspects that Matthew had taken care of, all the ordering, the books, the maintenance, and somehow the place continued to thrive, becoming one of the most popular pubs in the area. Ash had a smile for everyone that came through the worn wooden doors, could pour a pint and never miss a word of conversation, and for a while, it was enough.
Her girlfriends knew that there was a lot that Ash wasn’t letting herself feel, and it was at the encouragement of one of them that she started to look into other things to do. She had managers for the pub, people who could run it in her stead, and maybe it was time to have a life of her own again. It had been nearly a year since he had gone, and she needed to live. A passing advertisement about the local roller derby league caught Ash’s eye. It was wild, unpredictable, violent and off-the-wall, and something about it said that it was perfect for her. She missed competition, missed the sweat in her eyes on the soccer field during a good game, missed the thrill of winning, the anguish of losing, and it wasn’t long before she had skates on her feet to try out for the team.
On the track, Ash became known as Rainbow Smite, a blocker and pivot for one of the local Scottish roller derby teams. Ruthless and without fear, the derby was exactly what the woman needed to get her life going again. She would never be exactly like she had been before Matthew’s death, but there was a glimmer of that girl coming back out to play. The stubbornness she had always exhibited, the independence that had carried her through boarding school and onto college, the innate positivity that tomorrow would be better, it all came back out, and it was the first time since his death that Ash could say that she was almost happy.
Life took on a comfortable pace from there. She put some of Matthew’s things away, retired her wedding ring to a chain around her neck. The flat was more her than ghosts of him clinging to every surface, and she found herself heading to the antique and thrift stores, looking for little pieces that called out to her, begging for a new home. And that flat turned back into a home, drinks shared on the couch with her girlfriends, dinner for the circle of friends that was expanding every day with every smile she had to offer. Was it perfect? No, it never would be. She had her bad days, ones where the shades were drawn, the activity of the pub thrumming beneath her feet, and she’d be wrapped up in one of Matt’s old shirts, face buried down in the corner of the sofa, her quiet moment to grieve the man she had loved more than she ever thought possible. But at least that grief had an outlet, some place to go over than bottled up inside her.
When the phone and key arrived in March, along with the address of a hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States, Ash wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it. A gift from one of her brothers? Last she knew, they had all managed to find their way to the city, so maybe it was from them. The new presence that had taken up home in the back of her thoughts wasn’t yet recognized, and maybe it was because the two were similar. A little rough around the edges, one woman against the rest of the world. Whatever it was, Ash got her things together, dusted off the passport that hadn’t been used since her honeymoon with Matthew, and after dropping the keys to the pub in the hand of her most trusted manager, Ash packed her bags and closed up her flat. She hadn’t managed to get hold of Neil or Louis or Casey - yet. But a little surprise never hurt anyone.
The time she spent in Las Vegas from March until August was filled with more adventure than she really had stomach for. New friends, a reunion of sorts with her brothers, and a man who owned a bookshop who had caught her eye, it was good in all the right ways and bad in many. On the heels of an absolutely disastrous date with Aiden, Ash packed her things up to move back home to Scotland to help with her ailing mother-in-law. She had taken a spill, a broken hip, and her father-in-law needed an extra hand around the house until his wife was a bit more mobile again. In many ways, Ashleigh was closer to Matthew's parents than her own, so of course she had said yes, and of course she opened her flat back up and felt the thrum of the pub beneath her feet. The days were spent at her in-laws, helping around the house, remembering, oh so many memories, and it was during a quiet moment she spent with her mother-in-law that she heard the words she had been dreading to hear for some time, but knew in her heart were true: she needed to find her own life again. And if this young man had caught her eye, then she shouldn't let Matthew's ghost hold her back. Life was for the living, not the dead, she was told, and Matthew would have wanted her to be happy above everything else.
So, when she was assured that her in-laws would be fine without her, that they could manage, Ash packed up her things again, kissed her girlfriends on the cheeks as they saw her off at the airport, and she moved back to Vegas.
Update as of March 2015
A lot has happened since she first stumbled into the world of the hotel some time prior. Time had passed, and with that passage came growing up, learning lessons, and raising a young son, Matthew. Ash is, above all, a survivor, and she's proven to herself time and time again that no matter what the world wants to throw at her, she'll manage to make it on her own, somehow.
After leaving the hotel the last time with her son in tow, Ash moved back to Edinburgh to take over the pub once more. People were shocked, obviously, at the changes in her and the simple fact that she had her son with her as well, but explanations were vague and questioned only slightly as she instead poured her energies into making a life for herself once again in Scotland. She managed the pub and her and Matthew lived above, friends and family stepping up to help out by watching her son when schedules meant that she couldn't. She saw him off to his first day of primary school and cried on her girlfriends' shoulders that the little boy who had hardly left her side in the past five years was growing up.
In between pouring pints and wiping tables down, Ash would find herself thinking back to the family that was still through the doors, stuck in whatever grasp the hotel had on them. She thought about Alexander once in a while, though she tried her best to keep those thoughts to a minimum. Matthew didn't know about his father, who he really was, and instead Ash filled his head with memories of her late husband, the man who should have been his father, the man he was named after.
All in all, it was a lovely little life there in Edinburgh, and one that she was loathe to leave again. Things had come round full circle and she didn't want to see an end to that. But of course, the world had a way of throwing one for a loop whenever things were the best, didn't it?
Grabbed up and hauled out of that comfortable existence, Ash found herself once again whisked away from the comfort of Edinburg, her son right along with her. This time, she was deposited back in Vegas, though it was a Vegas older than she remembered. The pub was there, somehow, a hole in the wall place with good food and even better beer, and her and Matthew lived above. If it wasn't for the change in scenery, she might have been able to pretend all was still right in the world.
Unfortunately, it wasn't. The journal was back, along with a key, and Ash resigned herself to the simple fact that escaping the hotel wasn't as easy as she had hoped.
Journal/Key: Ashleigh's journal takes the form of a Galaxy Note 2, and she uses it for everything. Her key is simple, the house key to her flat above the pub in Scotland, fastened to the end of an old blue lanyard that once belonged to her late husband, Matthew.
External Door items: Ash brings along with her the contents of her flat from Edinburgh and a Scottish pub to manage right below. It's in Vegas, Ocean's Eleven, though not anywhere near the strip. It's an old hole in the wall establishment with a dedicated clientele, and not a single person bats an eye to her new presence, acting as though she's been there for as long as they can recall. Her son, Matthew, is already enrolled at a local elementary school, and the enrollment is hardly a new one.
Friends: Ash left behind a host of girlfriends back in Scotland. Some people from there would be awesome! The Family: Self explanatory. Donovan siblings. Maybe even another sibling she doesn't know about from her birth mother.