By Maria TB Mendoza <email@example.com>
Submitted: August 2001
Summary: Clark and his dad have a discussion about the future.
WARNING: In regards to Clark's childhood: I choose to believe that, although he was obviously "super" from the moment he was found, he only possessed those skills that were enhanced versions of normal abilities (strength, speed, and hearing). It was not until his teenage years and the onset of puberty that he began to manifest and learn to control his more 'alien' traits (flying, freezing with his breath, and heat and X-ray vision).
My emotions running wild through my mind, I fell back on the ground and stared at the sky. It was a beautiful blue, just like the stories always ascribed to Kansas summers; but I couldn't have cared less. The tall grasses, flowing in the waves that made them seem a golden ocean, moved around me but I didn't notice. The soft sounds of cicadas and grasshoppers sang a gentle song into the late noon's air but I barely heard it.
The fresh-cut fields filled the air with a strong scent of chlorophyll; I didn't even acknowledge it. Lying beneath the large tree behind my home, surround by a beauty worthy of any picture, I might as well have been a million miles away. I was unaware of anything around me. I was lost in the impossible tangles that were my own thoughts.
"Son? You out here?"
"Over here, Dad." Turning my head lazily, I watched him come towards me. "You need some help? I thought we finished getting everything in from the fields."
"The work's all done, for now. Your Mom just thought you might have somethin' you need to talk about and sent me out to find out what it is."
Smiling, my mother could definitely be forceful when she wanted something done, I just looked at my father. "Could we talk a while?" I asked, knowing that that was the very reason he had come looking for me.
"Sure, Son. You mind if I take the swing? It looks mighty relaxing after being on my feet all day. And that ground's a bit too hard for these old bones to take."
Reaching for the notebook currently resting in it, I motioned for him to sit down. Lying back down, I smiled at the soft clink-clink of the rusty swing chain as he softly rocked back and forth beside me.
I had spent the morning with him in the field. Though it was tiring, I hadn't found it nearly as hard as he had, but then I was a lot younger than he was and my increasing "super" strength was allowing me to do a lot more work without getting tired. Stretching out, I stared up at the sky knowing that it would be up to me to start the conversation.
"Do you ever feel like you just don't fit in?" I asked without taking my eyes from the billowy cloud that slowly blew across the sky above us. "I mean, do you you ever look around and feel like there is something about you makes you so odd that you just can't seem to click no matter how hard you try?"
"I don't know, Son."
Silently I studied the sky as though the answer might suddenly be revealed if I just looked hard enough.
"I know you're at an odd age. A lot's changing for you and I wouldn't go through it again if you promised me a full crop and labor. I remember, when I was your age, I was sure that there was something wrong with me. All the friends I had in school were readin' about space ships and cowboys and I was reading my Pa's crop magazines. I thought, for sure, there was something wrong with me. And you have these new abilities coming through that aren't helping you fit in any better either. But you'll get through it, Son. Trust me, one day you'll be proud of how special you are."
Grinning, I just nodded. "I hope I can be like you when I grow up," I said honestly. Although I knew even then that I didn't want to be a farmer when I grew up, and had long since said so to Dad, I still wanted to be like him. He was confident, kind, and well liked by everyone who lived around us. I hoped that one day I could have someone say the same thing about me.
"What?" Looking where he was pointing, I tightened my fist more firmly around the ball of paper.
"Just something I was trying. It didn't work."
"Son. You know you don't have to, but I really think you should enter that writing contest your teacher was telling us about. I think you'd do really well."
"I don't know."
"It's up to you. But, you know you're good at it and you love it. Seems to me that's enough to keep you at it."
"What if I'm really not that good at it?"
"Son, your Mom and I, and even your teacher, know you're good."
"But what if that's just because you all know me? What if it's some other weird talent…being able to make people like what I write? I don't want —"
"Clark, you listen to me. Your writing is good. I'd say the same if it was your writin' or some stranger's. You've had folks that didn't like you tell you your writing's good. And you'll hear it again. These abilities of yours 've got nothing to do with it. It's just talent plain and simple. And you've got more talent than a lot of folks who write in those big town papers and win all those awards."
Nodding my head slowly, I realized that he was right. Mr. Clayton Clayton had disliked me ever since I beat his son Jason in the spelling bee a few years before; but even he'd had to admit that I deserved to have that essay I wrote printed in the town paper. "I guess you're right. These powers 've just got me so confused about everything I can't tell what really 'me' any more."
"I know, Son, but you'll figure it out. And you know your Mom and I are always here if you want to talk."
"I know." Looking up at him, I smiled. Sitting back in the chair, legs stretched out and softly rocking himself, the reddened sky seemed to accent the checkered pattern in his shirt and turned him into a live Rockwell print. Catching his eye, I knew that, no matter how I'd got there or what I may do, having him and Mom find and raise me would always be the most incredibly lucky thing that would ever happen to me.
"Well, I'd best get back inside 'fore your Mom decides I'm learning all your secrets and gets her hopes too high. Just remember: your Mom and I are here if you want to talk to us."
"I know. I just need to think a while on my own."
"No problem. Sometimes the sky's the only place to find the answers you're looking for."
As my father tapped my shoulder once with his foot and then wandered back toward the house, I thought about how lucky I really was. A lot of the kids in my class had parents that were constantly pestering them to open up and tell them every little thing that bothered them. Sure, my parents asked. But they accepted that some things were best sorted out alone and talking about them would just make them more complicated. They didn't get upset or offended when I wanted to work out a problem on my own, but they were always there if I did want to talk. I couldn't count the number of times my mother and I had sat around the kitchen table eating cookies and sharing problems or how often Dad and I discussed some tough decision while working in the field. Smiling, I remembered the times my parents and I sat around talking and laughing and feeling like there was nothing in the world that could bring down our high spirits. Often, I felt as though they were treating me the same way that they would treat an equal; a truly exhilarating feeling for a man that too many still considered a boy.
Looking back at the sky, I tried to decide if Dad was right. If there could ever come a time when I would be glad that I could see and hear things that others couldn't and lift huge weights without any real effort. Sure, I could be great in a circus act or something, but I could never live like that — people always staring at me and wondering what was wrong with me.
Maybe I could use a disguise. Laughing, I pictured myself in a flashy suit like the comic book heroes or in a stupid wax nose and dark glasses like the spies on TV. I'd look more obvious in a disguise than in my plain clothes. And the glasses and fake noses or beards were so obvious that no one in real life could ever be fooled by.
My mind still filled with thoughts of my parents, I quickly sat up and threw open my notebook. Meditatively, I began to write. It barely felt like I had put pen to paper when I knew I was finished. Looking at what I had written, I smiled. I knew that it was the perfect entry for the Kansas State High School Writing Contest. Of the three categories available (essay, story, and poem), I knew essay was my strongest form. This was the perfect entry. The theme, after all, was "The Spirit of Family".
Looking back at the sky, I smiled. Like Dad said, sometimes a little time alone with the sky was the only way to solve your problems.
"Clark, honey, dinner's almost ready. Come on in and wash up."
"Comin', Mom." Focusing carefully, I managed to levitate to a foot above ground before beginning to wobble. Quickly bending my knees, I managed to raise myself enough to end in a crouch. Definitely better than the last try where I'd nearly rammed into the bedroom ceiling one minute and slammed down onto my bed the next.
Dusting off my jeans, I headed for the kitchen door and the enticing smell of dumplings just out of the oven and apple brown betties cooling on the windowsill. But, more importantly, where my family waited for me. The future would sort itself out whether I worried about it or not. And, though I didn't want to admit it, I knew deep down that I would have to move away from Smallville to fulfill it. All I had to do just then was relax and be with my parents.
"There you are. Go wash up and then I want to hear more about that writing test your teacher was telling you about. You know your Dad and I think you're a great writer and, if your teacher agrees, you should really do it. We all know how much you enjoy writing and —"
Slipping out of the kitchen to go wash up, I smiled and never noticed that happiness really did have me walking on air.