“Chair Bound”

[Rated PG]

Clara said, “Mom.”

Martha said, “OH! Pretty, pretty. Are you going to see your friend again?”

Clara said, “No, Mom. I want to go to an exhibit and people are supposed to dress up for it. It has a lot of ancient artifacts that I want to see.”

Martha said, “Give me a couple minutes to change and I’ll go with you.”

Clara said, “Mom, it’s at an observatory in New York. I could carry you if you want to go.”

Martha said, “That’s kind of far away. I think I’ll just stay home and watch something on television. Are you sure you want to go that far away. What is so special about this particular exhibit?”

Clara said, “I saw some photos in the paper and they have things with Kryptonian symbols on them. My people used to come here a lot. I’d like to see some things that would remind me of home. Could I go please?”

Martha asked, “Would you be home for dinner?”

Clara said, “The exhibit closes at 7:30 pm. With the time change considered, I could be home by 7:00pm if I stay until the exhibit closes. Mom, PLEASE.”

Martha said, “Oh, I guess it’s all right, just ….” Martha saw her daughter disappear, felt a kiss on her cheek and saw the front door close as she finished her sentence, “… be careful around strangers.”

Clara hadn’t told Martha that the exhibit was by invitation only. She sped past the men at the door so fast that they couldn’t see her. Inside, she choked up seeing so many ancient Kryptonian artifacts. Each artifact had a plaque near it describing what it was believed to be in English and in Kryptonese script. She was lost in her own world … her lost world when she heard a familiar voice somewhere near by. It was Lex Luthor. She didn’t know how she could explain being in New York and she didn’t want to try. She looked around for someplace to hide, saw a sign and rushed through a door marked “Women’s Bathroom.” She stood at the mirror and tried to think what she should do. She really wanted to see the exhibit and touch something from her home world. She decided that she could hide in the bathroom and watch Lex with her X-Ray vision until he left. She heard a soft, raspy male voice behind her say, “Excuse me Miss.”

Clara turned. She didn’t see anyone until she tilted her head down. There was a handsome middle aged man in a motorized wheelchair. She gasped and said, “What are you doing in here?!”

He said, “I followed you in here. I need to tell you something.”

She said, “You need to get out! This is the women’s bathroom.”

He said, “Well, that’s the subject I intended to discuss. Look around the room.”

Clara looked around and saw a row of urinals against the wall. Her mouth dropped open. She said, “Who switched the signs! The sign on the door clearly said, “Women’s Bathroom.” “

He said, “I believe you are mistaken. People make this kind of mistake all the time. I think I’m the only one who saw you come in so there is no need to be embarrassed.”

Clara ran out of the room after pausing briefly to determine where Lex was in the building. Dr. Swann turned his wheelchair and followed her. He glanced up at the signs on the door. The permanent sign on the door said, “Men’s.” A sign below it added to be in keeping with the exhibit was in Kryptonese. It read “Women’s Bathroom.” His staff had made a mistake, but how would a young woman recognize what the sign said in Kryptonese and why would she pay more attention to the sign written in Kryptonese than the one written in English?  He decided that she probably made an honest mistake that had nothing to do with the signs ... but he wanted to be sure. He wheeled around to look for her and he didn’t have to look far. She was in a nearby corner peering out from behind a large rubber tree plant. He said, “Miss, may I talk to you again?”

Clara said, “Oh, I know. I’m sorry. I wasn’t invited. I just had to see this exhibit.”

Dr. Swann said, “Well if you weren’t invited before, you are now. I also want to extend a private invitation to you to see my private exhibit upstairs. I only share it with my closest personal friends but I would like to share it with you.”

Clara said, “Thank you but I can’t. I’m sorry. I would like to but ….” Clara heard Lex’s voice nearby and said, “Could we go see it now?”

Dr. Swann said, “Just follow me.” He led her to a small private elevator and entered it.

Clara said, “I can’t get into there with you. I have a problem with small spaces. I’m sorry.”

Dr. Swann said, “There’s an open staircase at the end of the hallway. I hope you don’t get winded easily. Go up six flights and there is a large doorway. I will be waiting for you there. If anyone tries to stop you, tell them that Dr. Virgil Swann is expecting you.”


Clara took her time climbing the stair case. At the top, she saw a nice looking older woman seated at a large old fashioned desk with a large flat screen monitor on top of it. The woman eyed her suspiciously and with more than a hint of jealousy. She became aware that she wasn’t dressed as modestly as she would have liked to be just now. Her suspicion of men and their motives had grown over the last several months. She looked ahead to make sure that Dr. Swann was waiting for her by himself and that there wouldn’t be any unexpected or unpleasant surprises. She had heard stories of women invited to see private collections and what that might lead to. She met Dr. Swann at his door and followed him into the next room. She found herself in a large library full of ancient volumes, large heavy library tables and several display cases. Clara smiled at Dr. Swann and said, “Oooh! I love this place!”

Dr. Swann said, “Feel free to visit me often. How long have you known how to read Kryptonese?”

Clara hesitated and looked back the way she had come from. She said, “What is … Kryptonese?”

Dr. Swann said, “It is the language on the sign on the Men’s Bathroom door. You were right, by the way, the door was mislabeled. Maybe I should hire you. I’m sure you wouldn’t make that kind of mistake. This isn’t a trap. I don’t want to do anything other than talk with you.”

Clara said, “Sometimes talking to the wrong person is a dangerous thing.”

Dr. Swann, “Do I look dangerous?”

Clara said, “How would I know?”

Dr. Swann said, “I guess I should be flattered that you don’t think that this chair makes me weak and harmless.”

Clara said, “Sometimes the more you loose, the stronger it makes you.”

Dr. Swann said, “Wise words for one so young. What have you lost?”

Clara said, “I lost everything at one point. My entire world was gone … but I found a new home and a new life.”

Dr Swann said, “Who taught you to read Kryptonese?”

Clara said, “My Father.”

Dr. Swann asked, “An archeologist?”

Clara answered, “A scientist.”

Dr. Swann asked, “What field? Linguistics?”

Clara answered, “He felt no need to limit himself and pick a specialty. He did have a strong interest in exo-biology … and interstellar travel theory.”

Dr. Swann said, “I notice that you speak of him in the past tense.”

Clara said, “He’s dead.”

Dr. Swann said, “I’m sorry.”

Clara said, “Thanks. It happened a long time ago.”

Dr. Swann said, “Maybe you could read something for me? I’ve had a little difficulty with it. Please.”

Dr. Swann led her to a book on a stand. It was opened to a specific page. Clara walked up to the book and began reading. Dr. Swann’s eyes got big. Clara finished reading and said, “Does that help you?”

Dr. Swann said, “You READ it!”

Clara said, “Didn’t you ask me to?”

Dr. Swann said, “Yes, I did. But I meant for you to translate it. No one knows how that language is pronounced!”

Clara said, “I’m sorry.”

Dr. Swann said, “Don’t be. That was beautiful – almost musical. I wish I had recorded you reading. How do you know how to pronounce those words?”

Clara said, “I told you. My Father taught me.”

Dr. Swann asked, “But how did he learn?”

Clara said, “I don’t know. Maybe his Father taught him.”

Dr. Swann asked, “Was your Grandfather a scientist too?”

Clara said, “Yes. Everyone in my family was a scientist. Do you still need a translation?”

Dr. Swann said, “Yes, please.”

Clara said, “It’s funny, because what is written here is actually a translation of the Bible. What I read was Psalm 23rd. “The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me;
You restore my strength.” Do you need me to give you a full translation?”

Dr. Swann, “No, I can take it from there. “You restore my strength.” I should have been able to translate that.”

Clara said, “I think I’d better go. My Mom wanted me home for supper.”

Dr. Swann said, “Your Mother? The wife of the scientist?”

Clara said, “No, my birth Mother died too. I live with the people who adopted me.”

Dr. Swann said, “Are you going to college here in New York?”

Clara said, "No, I’m still in high school. I’m 16.”

Dr. Swann said, “I would have never guessed. Your parents should be proud -- all of them. If you could stay another minute, I’d like to show you something special that I found. It has me puzzled.”

Clara said, “Okay. I can stay a little bit longer.”

Dr. Swann got a black crystal pyramid from a display case and held it in his hand. He said, “Do you have some idea what it is?”

Clara said, “Oww! Why does it scream like that?”

Dr. Swann said, “I can’t hear anything.”

Clara said, “You have to be able to hear that! It’s deafening!”

Clara reached to take the crystal from Dr. Swann’s hand. When she touched the crystal she felt dizzy and disoriented. She closed her eyes for a second. When she re-opened then, she was seated and looking at herself. She could barely move. In front of her, her body was taking deep breaths and running its hands down its sides and legs. The woman in front of her said, “Oh dear God! It feels so good to breathe! It feels so good to feel my feet below me. I had forgotten, oh dear God!”

Clara said, “What did you do? You stole my body! It’s not yours. Give it back!”

Dr. Swann said, “I had no idea that this would happen.”

Clara said, “I don’t believe you. You tricked me!”

Dr. Swann said, “Please calm down. Give me a minute.”

Dr. Swann did a deep knee bend then stood and reached upward to stretch his new body and experience how it felt to move. Dr. Swann couldn’t help but moan with the pleasure of being able to move so freely and easily. Dr. Swann went to a heavy table and moved it easily, then lifted it over his head. He looked back at his old body and asked Clara, “Who are you?”

Tears flowed down the face of the body Clara occupied and she answered, “Apparently, I am a man in a wheelchair.”

Dr. Swann said, “The chair does not define the person in it. Make no mistake about that.” Dr. Swann floated into the air and said, “You must be a Kryptonian. My theories must be correct. Are there more of you?”

Clara said, “Why? How many bodies do you need?”

Dr. Swann floated to the floor and sat down. He took off Clara’s shoes and felt the toes on his new feet for a while. Then he stood and walked up to the body that had been his. He looked into the eyes that he had looked out of all his life and said, “In all honesty, I must say that this is the last thing I want to do right now, but if I wait any longer, I won’t be able to do it.” Dr. Swann brushed away the tears from the face of the person in the wheelchair, smiled then picked the crystal pyramid off the floor and clasped hands with the man body in the chair. The female body fell to the floor.

Clara shook her head trying to get her thoughts together. She couldn’t believe that what had just happened took place. She put on her shoes and stood up. She stared at Dr. Swan for a moment and then walked up to him. She took his face in her hands and kissed him on the lips for a long time. She pulled back and said, “You are the bravest man I have ever met. I don’t think I could have done what you just did if our situations were reversed. Thank you. I will trust you like I have never trusted anyone outside my family. If you ever need me, call on me. My name is Clara Josephine Kent, born Kayla Jor-El of the planet Krypton. I live with my adopted parents Jonathan and Martha Kent on a farm in Smallville, Kansas. Goodbye for now.” Clara ran to the balcony, lept into the air and was gone.

Dr. Swann moaned and then he screamed in pain. Bridgette Crosby ran into the room and said, “Virgil, what’s wrong? What did she do to you?”

Dr. Swann lifted his right arm. Miss Crosby was shocked that he could move his arm so much. Dr. Swann grabbed his tracheotomy tube, yanked it out of his throat and yelled again. Miss Crosby screamed, “Stop, don’t do that!”

Dr, Swann pushed himself out of his chair to a standing position and pulled loose the wires surrounding him. A dozen alarms went off. Dr. Swann staggered to a nearby table and rested his hands heavily against it. He said, “What in heaven’s name just happened?!” Miss Crosby fainted and fell to the floor.

The End.