By Paul-Gabriel Wiener <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: March 2007
Summary: A simple childhood essay question, "Who is your hero?", gives us a glimpse into the lives of Lois, Clark, and their son.
Thanks to Kaylle for brainstorming and BRing. My hero. ;)
Thanks also to my GE, Sara Kraft, for her quick, thorough, and very pleasant help.
Metropolis, New Troy
Early 21st Century
"Today's assignment, class, is an essay."
The announcement was greeted by groans from around the room, but Jordan perked up. He enjoyed writing. It was something he'd gotten from both of his parents.
"I want you to write about your hero," the teacher continued. "Now, I want you to really think about this one. I've been giving this assignment out every year for a long time now. It's been a tradition since I was a child. And yes, believe it or not, I was a child once, long ago." The teacher smiled for a moment, then drew serious again. "Despite that tradition, I almost skipped the assignment this year. Here in Metropolis, we have a very prominent and obvious hero — Superman. And while he is unquestionably someone to be admired, it gets a little boring if the entire class writes the same essay. So, I'd like you to try to be a little more original. Look around at the people around you and see who else inspires you."
There was a rare moment of silence as the class thought this over. Then the bell rang, and chaos reigned once again.
A Few Decades Ago
Clark looked out the kitchen window, thinking. Who was his hero?
The other kids would write about some sports star, no doubt. But what was an athlete to him? What did they really do that was worth admiring? Play games really well? Nice to watch, sure. Fun to do, even. But admirable? Not really.
His eyes caught sight of his father, out in the field. Now there was a man worth looking up to. Working hard. Growing food so that people could live.
Yeah, but wasn't writing about his dad a little corny? It's what the kid on the TV show or in the movie always did.
A spark of light drew his attention to the shed. Mom was hard at work, too. She had the blowtorch out, and was working on one of the tractor's countless parts. Some people would have laughed if they'd known. Welding wasn't generally considered "women's work." But Mom had never cared about that.
"It's something that needs to be done, honey," she'd told him. "And it's something I can do. That's what's important. It doesn't matter if anyone knows that I do it. I don't care if they whisper about it or praise me for it. What I care about is that the job gets done, and that it's one less thing your father has to worry about. There's a lot to be done to make a farm work, Clark, and if I left all of the 'man's work' for your father, he'd exhaust himself doing it."
Clark nodded at the memory. Do what you can to make things better for the people around you, whatever others may think. Use your abilities — whatever they may be — to help wherever you can. It was a lesson he'd taken to heart.
Smiling, he double-checked the recipe in front of him. A simple meal, and one he'd learned under his mother's supervision. Some might consider cooking to be "women's work," but Clark didn't care. Mom and Dad would appreciate having dinner ready for them after a hard day's work.
Metropolis, New Troy
Back In The Day
Lois frowned. Who was her hero?
Most of the kids in her class would be writing about some stupid movie actor or something. As if pretending to be someone good on the screen made them heroes in real life.
Worse, a lot of them would be writing about their parents. Lois shook her head angrily. Dad hadn't been home when she'd gotten back from school, and she didn't expect to see him until late tonight, if at all. Mom was "asleep" on the couch, a bottle still in her hand.
No, if her parents had taught her any important lessons, they'd all been lessons in what *not* to do.
She released a breath that was half sigh, half contemptuous snort, then turned back to the kitchen table. She picked up the little trays that still held the last remnants of the TV dinners she'd heated up for herself and her sister. One of these days, she supposed, she should start going through the cookbooks in the cabinet, learn how to make "real" food. But she had enough chores already, and the prepackaged stuff worked well enough. She dumped the trays in the garbage and headed upstairs, putting food and essays out of her mind. Homework would have to wait. It was time to start getting Lucy ready for bed.
Clark shuffled his feet, nervous in front of the class. He'd never really been comfortable being the center of attention. He cleared his throat, and focused on the paper in front of him.
"My hero is a brave woman…"
Lois stood, her arms crossed over her chest, and glared at the class. Silently, she dared them to laugh at her, and left no doubt about the consequences if anyone tried.
"… She is strong," she continued. "Stronger than most people see…"
"… She knows that what you do is more important than what people think of you…"
"… She takes care of her family…"
"… She's always there for me…"
"… She's the person I know I can count on, no matter what…"
"… My hero is my mother, Martha Kent."
"… My hero is myself, Lois Lane."
Some Years Later
Jordan sat at the table, thinking. Who was his hero?
He wondered what the other kids were going to write, but then shrugged. It didn't matter. He had to figure out who was important to *him*.
His thoughts were interrupted by the voices he could hear coming from the kitchen.
"Hey, get away from that!"
"But, it was going to —"
"Clark, I know you mean well, but how am I going to learn if you keep doing everything for me?"
"You're right, honey, but if you don't turn the flame down under that pot…"
Jordan shook his head, smiling to himself. He watched them for a while, working together. Mom had never been a good cook. Truth to tell, she still wasn't. But she was trying, despite the difficulty the task had given her for so many years. And, under Dad's tutelage, she was getting better.
He turned back to the blank page in front of him. Mom's hero was Superman; everyone knew that. He'd saved her life more times than anyone could count. If not for Superman, Jordan would never have been born. But they weren't supposed to write about Superman.
"That's great! You're really getting the hang of this…"
Jordan smiled. There was no doubt who Dad's hero was. He watched her, doing her best, as she always did. His gaze moved to the little cabinet in the living room with the awards and framed newspaper clippings. Maybe she didn't have super powers — though Dad might disagree with that — but she had certainly helped make things better for a lot of people. And Dad had said that she'd saved Superman more than once, too. Knowing Mom, he didn't doubt it. Once she set her mind to do something, she'd find a way to do it. No matter what.
Which reminded him… He had something he had to do, too. Ignoring the voices from the kitchen, he picked up the pencil and got to work.
The Next Day
Jordan ran his hand through his dark hair, nervous in front of the class. Somebody chuckled. He looked up with a frown. Looking around, he spotted one of the kids in the back with a spitball stuck to his notebook, already preparing retaliatory ammunition. Jordan relaxed. The rest of the class was watching him, friendly and attentive. He smiled at them, letting his natural good humor show through.
"My name is Jordan Elliot Kent, and my hero is my mother, Lois Lane…"