Cutting Cords by Jo Ramsey
Reality Shift Book 3
Cover Art by Winterheart Design
When Shanna’s father moves out, leaving Shanna alone with her mother, her home life goes from bad to worse. At least she has Jonah to remind her that she deserves a good life, even if she doesn’t always believe him.
Stressed about her parents’ separation and worried about what it will mean for her, Shanna is glad for the distraction of her friend Tammi’s request for information about guides. Although Shanna is still learning, she knows how to answer Tammi’s questions. The problem is, the entity Tammi is asking about isn’t really a guide. It’s a dead spirit who wants to take over Tammi’s life. And Shanna discovers that another entity, one with the power to destroy our universe, wants to use Tammi as well.
Guided by Jonah and Tethys, and helped by another being of light, Shanna must send the dead spirit to the afterlife before it’s too late—for Tammi and for the entire Universe.
Loud voices yanked me out of a dream. My parents’ voices. Angry, as usual, and growing louder by the second. I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep until they finished.
My heart pounded as the argument continued. Dad’s voice faded, which meant he’d completely lost his temper. The angrier he became, the more quietly he spoke. Mom’s voice rose as if to make up for Dad’s low tone. I pulled my pillow over my head. Come on, people. I had school the next day. It would have been helpful if my parents had started fighting earlier, before I went to bed.
Or if they’d argued somewhere else. Like Antarctica.
Their voices drilled through the pillow. Loud, angry tones. They’d always argued a lot, and it seemed to be happening more often the past two or three weeks. My dad spent more time out of the house than in it, trying to escape from my mother. Unfortunately for me, his leaving all the time just made things worse. Mostly for me, since when he took off, I became Mom’s object of focus.
My chest tightened at the thought. I’d been seven when my doctor had told my mother I'd developed an anxiety disorder. My mother, of course, had called the doctor an idiot and informed him that a seven-year-old had nothing to be anxious about. I’d never seen that particular doctor again, and the symptoms that had led to the diagnosis continued . Stomach pains and nausea, chest pain and trouble breathing. I’d learned to control them somewhat, especially since my friend Jonah had taught me to meditate and focus. When something really stressful happened—pretty much every day at my house—I still had attacks.
Focus. Good thinking, Shanna. Meditating probably wouldn’t help me sleep. However, it might keep me from having a full-fledged anxiety incident, as Jonah had encouraged me to call them. He said “attack” sounded like something I had no control over, while “incident” implied I had at least some control. According to him, with the deep breathing and visualization skills I’d already been using plus meditation and the energy healing work he’d begun doing with me, I’d be able to control the anxiety and maybe even make it go away altogether eventually.
My parents’ voices grew even louder, and a few words here and there, mostly swear words from my mother, became clear. That meant my father would take off soon, and Mom would turn her attention to me even if I’d fallen asleep. If I didn’t calm myself before that happened, I’d wind up either crying or vomiting in front of her. Either of those would push her further over the edge. Not a good thing.
I put the pillow beside me and sat up with my legs folded. Closing my eyes, I pictured my grandparents’ summer cottage in Nova Scotia. I didn’t know anywhere else nearly as peaceful. I only went there once a year, but I could reproduce every detail of it in my mind, from the view of the bay outside the cottage windows to the texture of the blanket on the bed where I slept there. When I’d started meditating several weeks earlier, I’d just closed my eyes and tried to sit still. Jonah had taught me that it worked best with something to focus on, and visualizing myself at the cottage had turned out to calm me more than anything else.
My breathing slowed, and I began to feel like I truly sat in the cottage, in the living/dining room at the picture window overlooking the bay. Then a door slammed downstairs, and I lost focus. Great. My father must have left again. I braced myself and took a few deep breaths, preparing for the inevitable.
My bedroom door banged open. “Shanna, are you awake?” my mother’s angry voice demanded.
Obviously, since I was sitting. I opened my eyes and bit back the sarcastic reply. “Yeah, Mom.” I tried to make my voice sound sleepy. Maybe if she thought I was tired enough, she’d leave me alone.
No such luck. “Good,” she grunted. “Your father made a frigging mess downstairs. Come help me clean it up.”
I looked at my clock radio. Eleven thirty. “Mom, I have school tomorrow,” I protested.
“Are you disobeying me?” she demanded in a flat tone.
“No.” I quickly slid off the bed. “What happened?”
“Your father and I had a discussion,” she muttered. “Don’t ask so many questions.”
It had been pretty loud for a "discussion." Of course, Mom used that as a catch-all term for any verbal interaction with my father, no matter how loud and unpleasant.
I followed Mom downstairs. Amber liquid spread over the kitchen floor. Dad must have spilled whatever he’d been drinking. The glass, one of our largest tumblers, had rolled under the edge of the lower cupboards. At least it hadn’t broken. I didn’t do well with broken glass. Even when I took care, I always wound up bleeding.
I looked around and saw nothing else out of order. Pretty calm for one of my parents’ “discussions” lately. So all I’d have to do would be clean up whatever my father had been drinking, and then I’d be able to go back to bed.
Unless my mother decided she wanted company until Dad returned.
“What do you want me to do?” I asked.
“Clean it up,” she ordered. She went to the closet, took out the mop, and shoved it at me. “Here you go. Get to work.”
I didn’t see why I should have to clean up my father’s mess, since I’d had nothing to do with it. I knew better than to ask Mom about her logic. As far as she was concerned, she hadn’t made the mess, so someone else had to take care of it. As usual, Dad’s leaving had put me next in line.
I stood with the mop for a moment, looking at the puddle. Too much covered the floor for me to be able to mop up all of it. “Maybe we should soak the worst of it up with some towels first,” I suggested.
Mom’s hand connected with my face before I realized she’d moved. “Don’t argue with me, Shanna Louise,” she snapped. “I told you to clean up that mess. You’re just like your father. All he ever does is argue with me.”
I hadn’t been arguing with her. Suggestions didn’t count as arguing. Of course, anything Mom hadn’t thought of herself, she considered an argument. So I should have known better than to keep talking. “Mom, the mop can’t handle all that,” I pointed out.
If I’d had enough sleep, I wouldn’t have said anything.
Mom yanked the mop out of my hand and whacked me in the head with the handle. “I said clean that goddamn mess up! Don’t you ever argue with me when I’ve given you an order!” She thrust the mop at me.
I flinched back in case she planned to hit me again.
“Don’t tell me you’re too stupid to know how a mop works,” she snarled. “Do what you’re told, Shanna, or you’ll be sorry.” She shoved the mop into my hands and stomped out of the room.
I already felt sorry. I seriously doubted the mop would work for this mess. I did pretty much all the cleaning around our house, and Mom had never taken the time to teach me how to do it right. She just pointed out the cleaning supplies and told me to take care of it or else. TV commercials had taught me more about housekeeping than she had.
That late at night, I’d just have to hope for the best. If I didn’t do it right the first time, she’d make me stay up until it met her standards. That might take the rest of the night. While I didn’t always like school, it beat home, and I liked to stay awake during my classes. I needed sleep. Sleep I wouldn’t have if I didn’t do this right the first time.
Fighting tears of frustration and exhaustion, I took the mop bucket from the closet and set it near the puddle. Maybe if I wrung out the mop enough, I’d be able to wipe the stuff off the floor. I proved that idea wrong in the first minute. The mop dripped by the time I’d done one strip of floor, and even after I wrung it out, when I tried the next part of the floor it just moved the liquid. The sponge looked as hard as a piece of rock, so it didn’t surprise me that it didn’t soak anything up.
Mom came and stood in the doorway. “What the hell are you doing?” she demanded.