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Nascha and The Medicine Man [MultiFormat]
eBook by Leah Leonard

eBook Category: Young Adult
eBook Description: When her mother is killed by a drunk driver and her grandmother is diagnosed with a terminal illness, Sasha Johnson's life is changed forever.   With nowhere to go, she leaves New York for New Mexico to live with a father she never knew she had--a Navajo Medicine Man. Sasha hates her new home but when her grandmother dies, her father is the only person she has left. As Red Feather teaches Sasha about the Navajo way, she develops her own path toward acceptance in this strange new world, reaching for happiness even as she develops her own frightening abilities--abilities that include seeing and communicating with the Chindi--the spirits of the dead.

eBook Publisher: Parker Publishing, Inc./MOXIE, Published: 2011, 2011
Fictionwise Release Date: February 2011




One

Shocking News
* * * *

"Your mother is dead."

Sasha Johnson stared at the long lines in her Grandmother's pruned face. "What?"

"You heard me." Grandmother was never good with words. This proved it.

Sasha looked through the living room door into the kitchen and noticed the dirty dishes piled in the sink, the ones she planned to wash before her mother got home from work today. No. This wasn't happening. Not to her.

"You got something to say, girl?" her Grandmother asked.

"You're wrong," Sasha said.

"No I'm not, baby. Your mama is dead."

"No she's not!" Sasha leapt from the worn sofa and stomped her feet. "You're a liar!"

"No, I'm not."

Sasha slapped the doorjamb, but felt no pain, "Yes you are!"

Her Grandmother sat with her hands folded in her lap and waited. She hunched over more lately. "You need to calm down."

"I'm not going to calm down until you tell me when Mama is coming home." She kicked a stack of magazines and scattered them around the living room.

"Sasha!" Her Grandmother was on her feet.

Sasha didn't care. She kept right on stomping around their house, "You never loved her! You never approved of her life!"

"That's not true," Grandmother whispered so quietly she could barely be heard.

"It is and you know it!" Sasha waited a lifetime to yell at her Grandmother like this, too bad it had to be today. She paced the room, looking at the photos Mama put all around of the two of them. Her mother always liked going places -- to the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Sunday walks in Central Park, plays on Broadway. They never had much, but her mother lived without limits. They had quite a life living in Harlem. Had quite a life...This can't be true!

Her Grandmother's words settled over her like a case of pneumonia. She couldn't breathe. She felt like she wanted to go to bed and die herself. But she couldn't cry. Maybe because this wasn't real. Some sick joke. She sat on the edge of the sofa.

Grandmother walked over and rested a wrinkled hand on her arm, "Sasha?"

This time she didn't shout, didn't knock the old lady to the floor like she probably deserved. "It isn't true," she said softly.

"Yes, baby, I'm so sorry."

"No!" Sasha looked up into her eyes. If she could look under those folds of brown skin into her Grandmother's eyes, maybe she could find out why she insisted on lying to her about everything, "No. Mama will be home in an hour."

The look in the old woman's dark eyes said otherwise, "No. She's dead."

Sasha had to back away from the truth. She leapt up, towering over her Grandmother, putting as much space between the two of them as possible. Then she would forget this conversation ever happened. She pressed her back against the wall, knocking several photos on the threadbare carpet that she and her Mama planned to shampoo this spring.

"I know you don't want to hear this, baby, but..."

"Then why are you telling me?" Sasha shouted.

Her Grandmother was calm, cool, as always. She never said another word, walking back to the middle of the room. She leaned into her old rocker, swayed back and forth, stared off into space, and massaged her knotted fingers.

Sasha heard the sound of cracking glass. She glanced at the carpet and saw her favorite picture of her mother, under her tennis shoe, broken. She bent down to pick it up, cutting her fingers as she dusted off the tiny shards of glass. Mama wouldn't be happy about this, but she wouldn't be mad either. Her mother was patient, kind and strong. She understood mistakes happen. Sasha laid it on top of the dusty television she promised Mama she'd clean and sat on the coffee table, across from her Grandmother.

Grandmother didn't say another word. She often gave people the silent treatment. She rocked and waited.

Sasha calmed herself, as much as the situation would allow. She still didn't believe this. She wondered why her Grandmother wanted to start trouble today, "How?"

The old woman sighed, and rocked, and sighed again. "Run down. Right in front of the school," she stared into space and rocked.

"Gunned?" Sasha asked. She could hardly imagine it, seeing as how crime rates in New York were decreasing all the time.

"No, I said she was run down. Some drunk skipped a curb," Grandmother shook her head.

Sasha pressed the tips of her fingers into her brain, hoping to wrench the news from her mind, "No!"

"Mmm hmm,'fraid so."

"No!" Sasha shouted louder, stood up, wiping the coffee table clean with her hand. The remote and three days mail shot across the room, "You're a liar! Mama never did anything to anyone!"

"No, she never did," Grandmother kept on rocking, "Never deserved this. She was apparently trying to save some kids..."

"Was anyone else..."

Grandmother stared into nothing, "No, just your mother. She managed to shove them kids out of the way, but he got her."

Her Grandmother's lies were unacceptable. Sasha grabbed her winter jacket from the peg by the door.

"Where you goin'?"

"Out!" Sasha slammed the door behind her before her Grandmother could stop her. Outside snow flurries blew circles in the wind. Her breath formed a cloud. She couldn't feel the cold.

She ran over sand covered sidewalks, up the street, out to 125th and past the Apollo Theater. Sasha loved the Apollo. She and her friends stood vigil the night Michael Jackson died. Flowers still lined the streets for him months later.

Her foot hit a puddle, drenching her shoes as she turned the corner at 7th Avenue, pushing past people who she couldn't even see right now. Her only thought was her mother. She would get there, go to her, help her. It didn't matter how hurt she was or what it would take for her to get well, Sasha would be there for her, like her mother had always been there for her. She just had to hurry. Hurry!

She accidentally shoved some people waiting in line at the newsstand, dodged a hot dog vendor and some businessmen coming out of a building, "Sorry! Sorry! Excuse me!" She had to hurry!

Several blocks down the streets cleared to a residential area. She turned down the street, racing through the housing development to the middle of the block where the privately owned daycare center stood between several row houses. She looked up from her jog and her heart nearly stopped. Red and blue lights sparkled on windows. Hope ebbed from her veins, drizzled out on to the icy streets.

In the middle of the road, Lily Johnson stood covered in blood in a white fog. She wore the same clothes she had on this morning. Her shocked expression told Sasha all she needed to know. As she tried to reach the image, Lily vanished into the foggy mist of today and disappeared.

See, that was a problem Sasha had for years and years. She could see dead people, kind of like the guy in the movie, only she only saw those who died in traumatic ways. Something told her she'd be seeing her mother Lily for quite some time to come.

* * * *

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