When Missouri Mosely is seven years old, her best friend in the world
is named Shawna Monroe.
When Missouri is twelve, she tries to tell Shawna what she sees behind Mr. Monroe's eyes. Shawna says, "My daddy loves me, that's why," and never speaks to Missouri again.
Shawna's funeral is two days after Missouri's fourteenth birthday. Missouri sits silent though all the praying and the singing at the church, shoulders hunched against the swell of voice and feeling. At the house she tries to tell Mrs. Monroe that she's sorry, but her tongue sticks in her mouth when she sees the woman's dead eyes; no one says Mr. Monroe's name any more. When it's over, when the food is put away and the dishes washed and dried and the floor swept, and all the time Mrs. Monroe just sitting on the sofa, Missouri's mother takes her home. She holds her while she cries and screams, and says, "Child, I hoped you'd be spared this burden."
* * *
In high school, she goes every afternoon to her mother's shop, a store-front with netting and maroon velvet in the windows and Madame Cleopatra painted in gold letters on the door. There's a barber shop next-door on the left and a grocery store on the right; inside, there are two rooms that smell of herbs and candle-wax. Missouri dusts and polishes and listens to her mother. "That man's never gonna leave his wife," she says. "How come don't you tell Barbara that?"
"That's Miss Stevens, to you," her mother says. "And it won't do her any good to hear it."
"You say you're helping people," she says, "but all you do is lie."
"Truth's not that simple, child. You need to learn when it will do good and when it will just bring more pain."
Missouri shakes out her cloth and sends up clouds of dust. "I don't wanna learn how to lie." She's making more work for herself, she thinks, watching the motes dance in the light, but she doesn't care.
* * *
When Missouri is sixteen, her mother lets her see a few of her clients. "You have talent, girl," she says. "Might as well use it."
So Missouri learns to sit in her mother's chair and talk to her mother's clients, but sometimes she can't help trying to tell the truth. "Mr. Phillips," she says to one of them, "you ever think about seeing a doctor?"
"Why would I do that?" asks Mr. Phillips.
She can see the cancer inside him, eating away at him under the skin. Mr. Phillips is staring back at her, black eyes and grizzled hair. "Well," she asks, "maybe you ain't been feeling so well recently." Her mother coughs in the back room. "I mean, maybe you haven't been feeling well."
"I'm an old man, Missouri," he says. "I feel poorly every single day."
"Mr. Phillips," she says, "I really think you should go see a doctor."
"I'm an old man," he tells her again. "Now, why don't you tell me if you see my boy Maurice around here. I miss him all the time, you know. You tell him that, if he's here."
Missouri closes her eyes and her mouth. You'll see your Maurice soon enough, she thinks. You won't need me to sit here and pretend.
* * *
When Missouri is nineteen, a white man named John Winchester stands at the door of her mother's shop and asks them what happened to his wife. Missouri's mother tells him, "I can't help you, but my daughter here will."
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Written for Rez. Many thanks to Hossgal for beta-reading. Supernatural is the property of Eric Kripke and the people at CW. I make no claim to ownership of or profit from previously copyrighted material. All original elements my own.