Nature or Nurture

By Gerry Anklewicz <>

Rated PG

Submitted January 2000

Summary: It's only natural that an amazing couple would come to raise an amazing child.


Jonathan Kent woke up and looked at the clock on the night table. It was still early; not even Henry, the barnyard rooster, was up yet. Nonetheless, he decided to get up and begin another long day. That was farm life. He enjoyed getting up before the sun rose and watching the day unravel its secrets as he worked outdoors.

He looked over at Martha who was still asleep. He'd leave her sleeping for the moment. She had a busy night helping out at the Simmons' place. She was taking care of three year old Annie and five year old Mikey while their parents were at the hospital. Jean Simmons just had her third child. As fate would have it, Annie and Mikey developed the stomach flu and spent all night throwing up. Martha cleaned up after the children and comforted them. Martha returned home late that night after Mark Simmons returned glowing with the news that he was the father of a seven and a half pound baby boy.

Jonathan got out of bed and went to wash up. He considered himself to be the luckiest man in the world. Ten years ago, Martha Clark had agreed to marry him, this big lumbering man whose ambition it was to run a successful and thriving farm just outside of Smallville, Kansas. "She was, and still is, incredible," he thought with a smile. This petite, blonde, intelligent, and curious woman finally agreed to share her life with him. He was attracted to her spunk and joie de vivre immediately. She knew who she was. He was never sure why she chose him, but he never questioned his good fortune. Ten years later, they worked the farm together, made decisions together, and planned for the future together. There were times when they disagreed, argued, shut one another out for a day or two, but they always found the door to reconciliation. Making up after quarrelling made the fuss worth the effort. Sometimes they chose to bicker just so that they could make up. Jonathan smiled at the thought.

He moved down to the kitchen to make coffee. He worried about Martha. She said that she did not mind that they could not have children. They decided that they would try to adopt, but the process seemed to take so long. Then Martha would go out and help people like the Simmonses with their children. It must hurt her even though she did not admit it to him, perhaps not even to herself. He tried to comfort her by saying that they would be a family of two, but Martha dealt with the problem in a different way. She expanded the family to include their extended family, their friends, and their neighbours. "We are one big family, Jonathan," she'd say each time he tried to tell her that she was doing too much. "We are part of a community of people who are responsible for each other." She sounded like some of the hippies she had befriended. Martha probably was a hippie at heart.

Jonathan sipped at his coffee and ate his toast. They never argued about their responsibility to the community. Jonathan was a member of the volunteer fire brigade, the Kiwanas Club of Smallville and a trustee on the school board. He could not let the world pass him by as he sat and worked comfortably on his farm. He was a capable man and he had a lot to offer. Even if he did not have children, and he hoped that someday he would, he had a responsiblity to the community he lived in. Part of that responsibility was to create a better community for the children who were growing up, not only in Smallville but in other parts of the United States. He and Martha marched for Civil Rights because they knew that it was their fight too. He shared Dr. King's dream of the future, not as eloquently, but he shared the dream. To turn dreams into reality, you had to work at them.

Jonathan felt Martha's lips peck a kiss on his stubbled cheek.

"I didn't hear you come down. Good morning."

"Good morning, sweetheart."

"The coffee is in the perk and the toast is ready for you to push down. I didn't expect you to be awake so early this morning."

"I've got a lot to do this morning. After the breakfast chores, I promised to go back to Jean's place to look after Annie and Mikey until Jean gets back with the baby. I'd also like to give her a chance to be with the two children so I may stay and look after the baby for a little while."

"I don't think we'll see each other today then. I'm going to finish my chores as quickly as I can. I promised to go over and help Jake. He's way behind because of that broken arm of his and John being sick and all."

Jonathan got up to wash his dishes. At the counter he put his dishes down and enveloped Martha in his arms.

"Oh, this feels so good Jonathan. I could stay here like this forever."

"I love you so much, Martha," he leaned down and kissed the top of her head.

"Oh, Jonathan. You say the nicest things," she said as she lifted her face toward his. They stared at each other for a moment and then let their lips gently brush against each other. Jonathan tightened his hold on his wife and pressed his lips on hers as if he was drawing life from her lips. His kisses wandered over her lips and over her cool cheek.

"Let's not do anything today. Let's just stay here…" he nibbled at her ear.

"Can't. We've got too much to do." he said in between kisses and nibbles. "Let's meet tonightŠ in the bedroomŠjust the two of us."

"It's a date. Nothing will stop us."

Jonathan reluctantly let go of Martha and walked toward the barn smiling. Martha knew exactly how to get him excited. He was looking forward to this evening's get together.


Jonathan drove up to the house as the sun was setting. He looked at the spectacular sunset and he said of silent prayer thanking God for the beautiful world that he was given a chance to live in. He felt the exhaustion from a full day's work in every bone in his body, but the ache felt good. He'd accomplished a great deal both on his own farm and on Jake's. He had a good feeling as he left Jake's place. He had a purpose in this world and when he fulfilled that purpose he felt that he really belonged. "Maybe, that's what it's all about." The bonus was a hot shower, a nice dinner, and the rest of the evening with Martha.

Just as he walked into the door of the kitchen, he heard the phone ring.

"I'll get it, Martha," he called out. Jonathan picked up the phone. Before he had a chance to acknowledge the caller, he was inundated with an earful of details and orders. As he hung up the phone, he put the thoughts of a quiet evening at home out of his mind. "Not tonight," he thought.

"Martha," he called out, "that was Wayne Irig. There's a fire at the Swenson place and they need me to come out and help. I'll be back as soon as I can."

"Wait, Jonathan," Martha ran into the room. "Let me go with you. Marie may need some help."

Jonathan and Martha quickly picked up their emergency fire and first aid equipment that was kept at their house and went out the door together. Jonathan drove carefully and quietly reviewing the emergency procedures that he had rehearsed and played out many times before.

They saw the smoke minutes before they reached the Swenson's long driveway. Jonathan joined the other volunteer fire fighters and began working immediately. Marie and the children were huddled together watching their home being consumed. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Martha round up Marie and the children so that she could move them away from the barn.

The men worked well together. The developed an easy and efficient rhythm. Within twenty minutes the fire was under control and the work shifted to hosing down the barn and other burnables as a matter of prevention. The front part of the house was destroyed and some of the wooden supporting beams seemed to have weakened. They would have to take a closer look during the day to assess the full extent of the damage. The only light came from the high beams of their cars and trucks off at a safe distance from the fire.

Just at the border of his peripheral hearing, Jonathan picked up Martha's voice calling eight year old Paula Swenson. Jonathan looked around wondering why Martha would be calling Paula. He heard the pitch in Martha's voice rise an octave. He looked around and saw Paula walking into the front door of the house and at the same time, he heard another piece of the house caving in. He had never felt himself move so quickly. He ran into the house and looked through the dark, steaming, charred ruins calling Paula's name. She in turn was calling Beattle, her dog. Jonathan felt water as well as solid pieces of what he suspected was plaster dripping down on him and heard more crunching sounds coming from above him. He was worried that the ceiling would collapse. He looked for any moving shadow that could be a child.

"Paula," he called. "Come here and I'll help you find Beattle."

"Mr. Kent?"

"Yes, Paula." He saw her and moved swiftly to pick her up. In one smooth motion, he picked up the little girl and ran out of the house. He heard a loud crash. He deduced that it was another part of the ceiling collapsing. Jonathan delivered Paula to fifteen year old Bobby Swenson who was holding Beattle.

"You're such an idiot, Paula," said her brother, "Beattle was out here hiding under the car. You know the stupid dog's afraid of everything."

Paula began to whimper as she held onto Jonathan who whispered, "It's OK Paula. You're OK and Beattle is OK." Paula squeezed her hero a little tighter and pecked him on the cheek.

"Thank you, Mr. Kent."

Jonathan squeezed back. He returned Paula to Marie, and went over to Martha.

"I think everything is under control here. Let's go home."

"Good idea."


Jonathan felt drained. Both he and Martha sat in the cab of the pick up not saying anything. He looked at Martha's face and he could tell that she was as tired as he was. No need to talk. Just being together was enough.

Suddenly, a bright light, low in the sky, shot across the horizon and ignited the night sky like a firecracker. Just as suddenly, the sky went black again. Jonathan and Martha sat in the cab and looked over in the direction of Shuster's Field. Whatever it was must have fallen there. Curiousity overcame their fatigue. They got out of the car, and hand in hand, they headed toward the smoking remnants…