It’s three months later and they still have a ton to do with the mansion. It had been left to the elements for generations, just being passed from person to person who didn’t want it and it was an overwhelming job at times to get this place livable. Especially now that Ortensia didn’t have as much help. Her parents still paid for professionals to come out and help once a week because that was as often as they could afford but her friends and her parents friends weren’t helping nearly as much but she didn’t blame them. It was awesome of all of them to help as long as they did. She knew they had lives and it would be selfish of her to be pissed because they didn’t want to still come out three months later.
Ortensia was hard at work again today. The plan was for her to work on getting more of the crap out of the basement until Sandro met her there but she couldn’t resist going upstairs to do some work. She was about to go back down before Sandro found her upstairs by herself and she got in trouble with him when some of the rotten floor broke under her feet. She screamed, the sound carrying through the woods and even hurting her own ears it was so high pitched. She felt her head hit something and everything went dark.
“Ortensia, I’m here.” Sandro called out as he walked through the front door. “You have to taste these cookies I…” He froze when he saw her, his heart dropping into his stomach. He rushed to her, shocked at the pool of blood beneath her head. “Ortensia!” He pulled off his jacket and then his shirt, quickly wrapping it around her head.
He could hear her heart beating faintly as he lifted her and ran from the house, laying her in the back seat of his car. He had to get to her help. “Don’t die, Ortensia.” He was shaking as he pulled away from the house. He could save her himself, but that meant turning her and he couldn’t just do that. She might hate him for taking away her choice.
When he got to the hospital he ran her inside, screaming for someone to help her. She was taken from him and he just paced in the waiting room, obviously annoying the nurse behind the counter when he asked about her every half hour. It finally dawned on him to call her parents. He had been so panicked he hadn’t thought about letting them know until just now. He cursed, hoping they wouldn’t be mad it took him this long to call. He couldn’t get either of them on the phone so he left a voicemail on their housephone and her mothers cellphone. Sandro knew her father didn’t check his voicemail so there was no point. He groaned and sat down “How could you two let her get hurt like this..” he asked the writers as he rested his head in his hands. He knew bad things happened to the characters but he wasn’t willing to accept anything happening to Ortensia.
Ortensia felt like she was floating, for a few moments in darkness before becoming still. She opened her eyes, feeling disconnected from herself. She was laying in snow, it blanketed the ground and fell around her. Snow? She thought, confused as she slowly pushed herself up into a sitting position. Why snow? “Hello?” She called out. “Is anyone there?” She felt pain at the back of her head and touched there, her hand coming away with blood. “Shit.” She said as she got to her feet. This wasn’t good. She remembered falling and then a dark nothingness and now she was here. “Are you two there, did you do this?”
“Another customer, so you’re his then.” She raised her head, surprised at the big black horse and the man sitting in its saddle.
“What in the…how did you get here?”
“Well, this is my domain so to speak. Is the horse too much for Death? I feel it’s kind of cliche, but my daughter said I should try the horse, it puts people at ease.” He patted the large beast on the neck. “He’s a Friesian.”
He looked down at her and smiled. “Sorry, how rude of me.” He swung off the back of the horse. “I am Ardan, the God of Death. You hit your head pretty hard.”
“Am…am I dead? Did they kill me?”
“No, this is Limbo and you are the one who chose to go upstairs and fall through the floor so no, they didn’t do this to you.”
“Wait, do you know them like Sandro does?”
“I’m Death so I can go anywhere, any world, in any time, it’s my purpose, that and being a good father and husband. I’ve never actually seen them, but I get a sense of spirit. No soul can hide from me.” He looked around them. “Snow, it must be him, he must be near you.”
“How do I get out then? I mean Limbo is in between so that means I can go back.”
“Yes, but everyone’s Limbo is different and some people stay here for a long time before getting out or passing on.”
“I can’t stay here a long time..I have so much to do with Sandro” she said in a pleading tone. Ardan gently said “I don’t get to determine that. I’m sorry. I’m really just a guide when it comes down to it. I will help you get back as fast as I can. Just be more careful when you return, that or let Sandro make you more durable.” She was honestly confused about what he meant “what do you mean? How could he do that?” Ardan smiled, chuckling lightly “He’s a vampire, he could change you” She hadn’t thought about that at all while they had been together. They were still so freshly into the relationship she wasn’t sure if that was appropriate to ask of him.
It wasn’t like they had gotten together a week ago or anything but she was sure that was a question you ask after a bit more time together if you asked that sort of question at all. “what makes you think that’s an option?”
“where you are for starters”
“huh?” This mans answers seemed to cause her more confusion than it helped her.
“Like I said each person has their own Limbo that means something, it mirrors something that has happened or is happening. This snow, this place, cold and calm and pale, quiet and gentle. This is Sandro. He reminds of winter, of how beautiful and fresh it is. Your Limbo is the essence of the man you love.”
Ortensia felt her face heat up. “Really?”
“I bet his Limbo would reflect you as well.” He chuckled. “So you should think on what I said, about immortality and durability because next time I may not be able to meet you here, next time you might go straight to the other side.”
“I understand, but how do I leave this area, it looks so vast.”
“People get stuck in certain areas for a reason. Maybe something has been troubling them or maybe a certain memory triggers an exit. One time I had this little girl who saw everything in the world of Alice In Wonderland. We had to follow the White Rabbit out of her Limbo. What does this place mean to you, Ortensia, what is it trying to convey more than anything?”
Ortensia tried to calm her thoughts so she could figure out what she needed to do. This place was Sandro, this place was trying to convey something to her. Her mind puzzled and turned while Ardan watched her and his horse stood patiently at his side. She suddenly started to run and Ardan unquestioningly hopped back on his horse to follow. She was looking for his car. This place was Sandro so it made sense to her maybe she needed to find his car. She was glad Ardan wasn’t asking questions so that if she was wrong she didn’t have to look like an idiot to the god of death. He had probably seen his fair share of idiots but she didn’t want to be added to the list.
Sandro held Ortensia’s hand in one of his while the fingers of his other gently brushed through her hair. Her parents had gone to get something to drink and had offered to bring him some coffee. He hadn’t really acknowledged the offer and he hoped they would forgive him. He just wanted Ortensia back. “Can you hear me baby? I love you so much, please wake up. I don’t want to lose you, so could you open your eyes for me?” He pleaded and pressed a kiss to her cheek. He felt tears sting his eyes. “I…I love you.”
There was a light tap on the room door and Ortensia’s father pushed it open and held it for her mother. “Here honey, we got you some cocoa.” She said.
“Thanks, sorry for ignoring you earlier.” Sandro replied as he took the warm cup.
“We understand, you love our little girl.”
“I should have been there earlier.”
“It’s not your fault, she probably thought she could handle things on her own until you got there. Her falling was an accident, a horrible accident.”
“she’s so excited about that place”
“we’re getting some professionals out there again starting tomorrow to help her get a little further along”
“Can you guys afford that?”
“her safety is worth it. She obviously needs a little more professional help with the place. If her heart hadn’t been so set on it and it wasn’t such a crazy low price we would have pushed her to go another way with her graduation gift”
“You two seriously made her over the moon happy. It was the perfect gift” He took a small sip of the coco her parents had so kindly brought him. They were such good people, he could plainly see why his Ortensia had turned out to be such a good person.
Ortensia was relieved when she found his car. It was covered in snow, the Windows frosted over, but it was still his. She grabbed the door handles and opened it, looking inside. “Well, looks like Looper will have to meet us at our next destination.” Ardan said as he hopped down from the horse and patted it.
“My daughter named him. He knows the way.” He went around to the other side of the car and opened the passenger door. “Let’s get in.”
Ortensia climbed behind the wheel and closed the door while Ardan got in the passenger side.”
“What now, no keys.”
“It’s a doorway just give it a minute to change the scenery.”
She gasped when it suddenly wasn’t cold any longer and she was in the woods “what? Why here?” Ortensia asked in incertitude. Ardan shrugged “do you recognize them?”
“These woods are where my new home is. The one I’m fixing up with Sandro and the occasional help of professionals. My parents always send some when they can”
“so this is where you got hurt then, hm, interesting”
“Interesting? Do you enjoy confusing me?” He chuckled “sorry, my wife and daughter have turned me sort of playful. To be honest with you yes. I’ll stop playing so much if I’m bothering you”
“I don’t mean to be a jerk but I really need to get back to Sandro and my parents. They have to be so worried. Sandro was on his way, I know he found me. I need to tell him I’m sorry for going upstairs when I told him I’d stay downstairs. I need to know if he’s mad”
“I doubt it, my wife is stubborn and its one of the things I love about her. I’m sure it’s the same with Sandro. You doing things like that is part of his attraction to you”
“Still, I shouldn’t be giving him a heart attack. So why the house?”
“Well for starters, it’s your favorite place, but not just that it’s your favorite place to be with Sandro. Want to go inside?”
“I’d love to.”
Ortensia covered her mouth in surprise when she pushed the door open and saw that instead of peeling wallpaper and dusty floors the interior was completely finished and furnished.
“This place is your hopes and dreams.” Ardan explained. “I have to say you have quite the eye for interior design.”
“This is so perfect” She moved into another room “Its so much fun working on this place with Sandro and my friends but some days it feels like we’ll never get this far with it”
“you’ll get there” Ardan said with a smile. She couldn’t resist exploring every room, admiring each area from top to bottom. “It’s easy to get stuck in these places Ortensia. I don’t want to be a kill joy but I don’t want you unable to leave this area and pass to the next”
“No, thank you, please keep me on track. I need to be looking for a way to move through here right?”
“right” She crossed her arms as she often did when she was thinking “well, hm. We haven’t been in the basement yet. Maybe the next doorway is where I should have been when Sandro got here”
Sandro’s head jerked up the moment his chin touched his chest. He was exhausted, but he didn’t want to be asleep if she woke up. Her room door opened and he stood as a nurse came in. “Just coming to check her vitals.”
“Oh, okay.” He sat back down and rubbed his eyes.
“Why don’t you go to sleep.” She said as she checked the numbers on the machine beeping next to Ortensia’s bed.
“I can’t, I have to be awake to greet her when she wakes.”
“If you want you can climb in next to her, just mind the IV and her head.”
“Okay, thank you.”
The basement was surprisingly empty, Ortensia had plans for it, but those plans had not appeared like the had upstairs. “I don’t get it, it’s just empty, clean, but empty.”
“Tell me, what do you like about this room?”
“Well, it’s the first room Sandro and I stood in together. We climbed through the window. He was so stubborn getting me to come here, wanting me to be happy. I didn’t even want anyone, I was so hell bent on doing the exact opposite of what the writers wanted me to do that I didn’t even give this place a real look until Sandro made me. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have my dream house, if it wasn’t for that moment I wouldn’t know just how beautiful this place really is.”
Everything around them began to change, the walls were suddenly painted a soft yellow and the floor was replaced by wood. All the things she had wanted for this room materialized, even the dog bed since she and Sandro had talked about getting a big dog to share the place with. A door appeared beneath the window she and Sandro had climbed through and Ardan chuckled. “This place is so wonderful, you’ll have to let me know when it’s finished so we can have a house warming party. The little ones are going to love it.”
“Sorry, I ran my mouth. Just keep it a secret.”
“But, do you mean plural?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He smiled. “Come on then, let’s see what’s next.”
She put her hand on the knob, hoping she was about to wake up but ready to keep going through these areas in her mind if she needed to. With a rapid heart beat and a deep breath she turned and pulled, stepping through with Ardan. His horse was back in this new area. Ardan stroked her neck and said “Hey Looper”
“I don’t know where I am again, damn, it’ll be harder to figure out what I” she didn’t even get to finish when two doors popped up, one red and one blue.
“I’m sure the colors have significance” She stated as she looked at Ardan “yes, if speed is what you’re looking for to get out of here I’d choose red”
“Do I get to know why?”
“That will be a bad memory or stir up a lot of emotion. The more emotion, the easier it is to wake up”
“And the blue is happy so happy emotions don’t evoke the same reaction?”
“Depends on the memory. See angry or upset memories have an instantaneous reaction in here, they break down walls, literally cracking them open. Good memories work the same, but it depends on the intensity of it, it’s a build up to a sudden opening. It really depends on what you want to see.”
“Most people choose red don’t they?”
“The majority does, yes.”
“Then, I’ll go with blue. I want to see what’s behind there.”
“You mean you know it’s Sandro and you want to know what your happiest memory with him is.”
“It could be my parents or something.”
Ardan chuckled. “It’ll be him, you just wait and see and Looper and I will be right there with you every step.”
Ortensia hurried to the blue door. She was eager to see Sandro even if it wasn’t really him.She flung it open and was soon wrapped in the warm feeling of being held by him, her wonderful, amazing boyfriend. “Sandro” she said softly “Ortensia” it felt so real she almost cried. She wanted to wake up so badly, she needed to get to him. She was suddenly sitting down for a moonlit picnic with his. She wasn’t surprised at all this was the memory her mind had chosen. It was such a beautiful and sweet date especially considering she had been such a jerk to him that day. She was having a particularly bad period and his answer to her abrasiveness was to make her feel better by setting this up.
She remembered crying and telling him how sorry she was and him just holding her, telling her how much he loved her and that he hadn’t taken it personally. She cried again now and started willing herself as hard as she could to wake up. Sandro was waiting on her, more nights like this were waiting on her. All she had to do was wake up.
Sandro heard Ortensia let out a little whimper and he jerked awake, his heart slamming against his chest. “Ortensia? Baby can you hear me?” He asked as he gently stroked her cheek.
Ortensia could hear him. His voice seemed a bit muffled like he was on the other side of some thick fog. “Did you hear that?” Ardan said as he patted her back. “He’s right next to you.”
“I want to go home, I want to apologize to him and have more picnics, I want to get married and be with him forever. I love him so much.” She turned into Ardan and he hugged her as she cried. “I want to go back…please let me go back.” She felt herself warm, her spirit suddenly feeling lighter. “What’s happening?” She pulled back to look at Ardan.
“You’re going back so don’t let me see you here again and remember what I said, think about immortality.”
“Thank you so much.”
She felt a jerk and suddenly the pain in her head as she opened her eyes. “Ortensia!” Sandro exclaimed then hugged her tightly to him “oh baby, I’m so happy you’re awake”
“Sandro” she said and he let her go so her parents could hug her “How’re you feeling baby girl?” Her dad asked and she said “Happy that I’m awake. How long was I out?”
“about two days, almost three” Sandro answered, stroking her hair. ‘Sandro, I’m sorry I went up there without you when I told you I’d wait downstairs”
“Hey, I’m not mad.”
“No, it was stupid. It really was” Her mother now chimed in “Your father and I sent some workers there. You have them for a week”
“we know its a fun project for you but your safety is whats more important Ortensia”
“I’ll go get a nurse.” Her father said.
“I’ll join you, let these two have a moment.” Her parents left and she turned, snuggling into Sandro.
“Easy baby, your head.” Sandro said in a gentle tone.
“I’m alright, I just want you to hold me.”
“Are you okay?”
She nodded. “I am now, just don’t go anywhere okay?”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” He kissed her forehead. “Did you meet him there?” She nodded and held her a little tighter. He had been that close to losing her. Death was not an unkind individual, but the fact that Ardan had visited her shook him to his core.
When she was released from the hospital Sandro took her to his home for the evening. She stayed there most of the time so it didn’t surprise her parents. When they pulled up into his drive way Ortensia said “so Ardan and I talked about something”
“what did you two talk about?”
“He wanted me to think about becoming a vampire. He said that if I wanted to he knew you’d do it”
“I do want to, especially when I saw you hurt. I wanted to do it right there but I didn’t want to take away the choice from you”
“I want you to” relief rushed through him. If she fell like that it wouldn’t matter so much as a vampire and it also meant she wouldn’t die and leave him empty inside at her loss. “When you’ve had a little more time to heal I’ll do it. Do you want to tell your parents over lunch or dinner tomorrow?”
“Yeah..you know…maybe…if it’s not asking too much of you maybe you could change my family too so I don’t have to live without them. Not my whole whole family but my parents and my baby brother?..”
“Of course sweetheart. I don’t mind” She hugged him and he kissed her head “I’m so happy you’re willing to do this Ortensia” Sandro whispered into her hair. “He says we should all hangout sometime too”
“Do you know how to get to his family”
“Yeah, its probably why he didn’t waste time trying to tell you. I’m sure he knows I know” The next day her parents and brother came over for dinner and discussed being changed. They were all for it and he changed them all about a week and a half later. With that done they decided to take a break from working on their mansion and set off to see Ardan and his family. Ortensia was excited to hangout with the god of death and meet his wife and daughter. She imagined they were incredibly cool women and could see herself being good friends with them.
Stepping into Ardan’s world was amazing. Sandro brought them out near their house which was incredibly beautiful and had this feeling of warmth. “Wow, is it just his family here?” She asked as they walked up to the front door.
“Yeah, this is all his, but he has a doorway to every world and plane of existence so he and his family can go anywhere. His daughter goes to school outside this place.”
He nodded. “It’s always peaceful here.”
They were welcomed warmly by Ardan and his family. They spent the day getting to know them and setting up fun plans together in the near future. When the two finally left that night they went back to Sandros and settled into his bed “You should have taken me to meet them sooner” Ortensia said and Sandro smiled “well we weren’t invited before. Ardan is a very busy man so I’d hate to go without an invitation. Even with help his wife doesn’t get a lot of time with him.”
“she and his daughter seem really happy though”
“yeah” They talked until they were too exhausted to any longer and cuddled up together for the night. Sandro whispered thanks to the writers when Ortensia dosed off. She was safe, they had new friends and a lot of progress had been made on their new home with the workers there. Sandro knew he was incredibly blessed and it all started with a job to get Ortensia on track.
~ The End