Sasha sat cross-legged on her bed, her gaze fixed on a photograph of her parents and scrunched up her face in an effort to follow the instructions Tess was giving her.
“All right, Sasha, do you have a clear picture in your head now? I know you haven’t seen your parents much in the last few months, but to communicate over this much distance, you need to have a clear picture of them in your mind.”
“Yeah, Tess, I’ve got it!” Sasha snapped. “Now can we get on with this? I promised Mariel I’d go hiking with her!”
Sasha doubted this would work, but knew Tess wouldn’t let up until she at least tried.
“Ok,” Tess had to shield herself from the impatience radiating off Sasha in hot waves; a thunder storm building up behind her eyes, mere moments away from releasing its untamed fury. She knew trying to force this would sever the threads of Sasha’s control. It would be days before she blew off enough steam to try again. For all she knew, Phil hadn’t tried to reach out to Sasha yet anyway. If not, this would be a practice run.
“Take a deep breath and close your eyes.” Tess instructed Sasha. “Now, see your dad in your mind as you go back to the house in Adamsville.”
“Do I really have to go back there?” Sasha’s voice quivered, remembering the pain and loneliness the months in Adamsville had inflicted. “That wasn’t exactly my favorite place on earth, you know.”
Hating herself for forcing Sasha to relive those terrible months, Tess pressed on.
“I’m taking you there first because it’s someplace familiar, and reasonably close to where your parents actually are. Think of it as a rest stop.”
“It’s a rest stop, all right.” Sasha quipped. “Complete with that pungent, sewer smell!”
“Go ahead and make jokes, smart girl, and your hiking trip will be delayed even longer.” Tess retorted.
“Ok, ok. Now what?”
“Do you feel the house around you?”
“Yeah, like a dark, dank coffin.”
“Great.” Tess replied, ignoring, for the moment, Sasha’s propensity towards drama as it seemed to be helping her find and hold the image. “Now, open the door and step outside.”
“Seriously? You want me to take my mind for a little walk around the town I love to hate?”
Holding on tightly to her patience, Tess kept her mental voice low and calm.
“As I said, this is a process. Once you get familiar with it, you won’t have to take all of these baby steps to get to what you want.”
“Promise or threat?” Sasha grinned.
Mentally counting to 50, Tess finally replied.
“Where have you managed to get to now?”
“I’m standing at the gate.”
“Ok, now open the gate. A car and driver are waiting for you at the curb. Get into the car.”
Suppressing the desire to make a wisecrack about getting into cars with strangers, Sasha obeyed.
“Where are we going?”
“To the abandoned mine I’ve mentioned a few times. As this is your first long distance attempt, I’m trying to get you as close as possible. It should make you more receptive if your dad is trying to contact you now.
“We’re passing an old farmhouse. Doesn’t look like it’s been lived in in forever. A strong wind would knock the place over, and the driveway is filled with tumbleweeds. I don’t recognize it.” Sasha announced.
“Wonderful!” Tess replied with a note of surprise in her voice. There was no way Sasha would remember something she had never ...