Martha walked up the stairs to loft. She studied Clara's posture as she sat or the edge of her bed with her favorite stuffed toy. Martha said, "Clara, you can hide your tears from Daddy, but not from me. What's wrong?"
Clara said, "You're my teacher. Why didn't you teach me about this?" Clara handed her Mother a pamphlet from UNICEF.
Martha answered, "I told you that there are people in the world that are hungry."
Clara said, "I get hungry too, but it's because I enjoy eating and want something, not from any physical need. And I'm not hungry all the time or for very long. These children look like skeletons! They are too weak to shoo the flies away from their faces. They get so little nutrition that their minds will NEVER be able to ever fully develop. Even their water is like poison!"
Martha said, "I know. It's very sad. But I know you. I know that you tend to take the weight of the world on your little shoulders. You get upset about things you can’t do anything about. Maybe someday you can do something, but now is not the time. Remember the prayer I taught you? ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.’”
Clara said, “Father Jor-El should never have chosen Earth for our new home. If there isn’t enough food for the people born here, then there isn’t enough to feed people who come here from other planets."
Martha said, "You don't eat that much."
Clara said, "I eat plenty … but I shouldn't eat anything! Not until everyone else gets fed. From now on, I eat LAST!"
Martha asked, "What do you mean?"
Clara said, "I won't he anything until everyone born on this planet gets to eat."
Martha said, "You can't do that."
Clara said, "Yes I can."
Martha said, "Then I shouldn't eat either."
Clara said, "You were born here. You have the right to use this world's resources."
Martha said, "Well, I eat more than my share. Should I divide up the available world's food supply and eat only my daily share?"
Clara said, "Maybe."
Martha said, "It wouldn’t change a thing if I did. The food I didn't eat would only rot. Clara, people are hungry for many reasons. The available food supply is only one issue. There are political issues as well. Even when it is possible to airlift food from areas where it is plentiful to areas where people are hungry, warlords or other unscrupulous people often steal it and the people who need fed still go hungry. Or the food gets hoarded by a few and not distributed to those who need it the most."
Clara said, "I'll think of something. I can't just pretend that I don't know about it. I can't just keep eating what others have nothing to eat."
Martha said, "You can and you will."
Clara said, "I won't … and you can't make me!"
Martha said, "Do you want me to have your Father talk you about this?"
Clara said, "No."
Martha said, "Then, is this all settled?"
Clara said, "No. It's not settled until everyone gets fed. How many people have to get food?"
Martha said, "That's hard to say."
Clara asked, "Is it a hundred?"
Martha said, "More like a billion -- 20 million in the
Clara shouted, "NO!"
Martha said, "I really don't know the exact figure, but is a lot more people than you could ever hope to help." Clara had a look of shock and disbelief on her face. When Martha didn’t say she was only kidding, Clara burst out crying. Martha said, "Honey, it helps you to cry for while, go ahead and get out of your system. But people will still be hungry. It's a sad fact of life, but we must continue to live our own lives. We can care, but we can't allow ourselves to care TOO much. If we try to take the weight of the entire world on our shoulders, we can get to the point where we are too exhausted to help those few that we could have helped. With moderation in all things, we can help many people. Taking on too much and failing only hurts ourselves and helps practically no one. I'll expect you to join us at the dinner table tonight."
Clara said, "Expect to be disappointed then. I'll figure it out … I'VE GOT TO!"
Martha said, "I'll put food on a plate for you and throw it out if you don't eat it."
Clara said, "You wouldn't!"
Martha said, "I will."
Clara said, "You do what you have to do and I'll do what I have to."
Martha ran a hand through Clara's hair and then turned and left. Clara picked up the pamphlet she had been looking at. She held them at arm's length as she reread them so that her tears would get them wet.
Jon was surprised to find that the door to the bank barn was shut. He could hear Clara yelling in Kryptonese inside. He opened the door a crack and was shocked to see Clara’s spaceship floating in the middle of the barn. Several of the large blocks of stone that normally concealed it had been moved aside. He walked in and asked, "Clara, what are you doing?"
Clara said, "I'm supposed to be able to control it! It's so hard. I think it knows what I want, but it's fighting me. It doesn't recognize my authority. I'm getting MAD!"
Jon said, "Now you know how your Mom and I feel when we tell you to eat and you don't."
Clara said, "Daddy, please don't! I'm trying to fix that!"
Jon asked, "What do you want your spaceship to do for you?"
Clara said, "I designed a photosynthesis machine and I want the ship to morph part of itself to make one for me. I also want to ship to give me some of its nanites. But it won't do anything for me until I show it that I'm its boss."
Jon said, "Maybe you would be able to concentrate better and be less angry if you ate something."
Clara said, "No, Daddy! I won't! PLEASE, stop telling me to eat! I won't do it no matter what you say. And you asking me all the time, making me say no … makes me feel all bad inside.”
Jon said, "We feel bad inside too. It's been several weeks. Your Mother is so worried about you … and so am I."
Clara said, "I eat sunlight. I don't need food. I'm going to help Earth people eat sunlight too."
Jon asked, "How long are you to keep this up?"
Clara said, "When everybody else eats, then I'll eat."
Jon said, "Please, Honey. Please give it up."
Clara shouted, "NO! Stop trying to destroy my moral fiber!"
Martha went into Miss Emily's room at the rest home to get Clara. She was surprised to hear them conversing in Italian. Miss Emily was born in Italy and lived there half her life. Clara had been visiting her and Mrs. Schodowski a lot recently. Martha had gotten Clara a few foreign language textbooks and tapes from the library from time to time, but had never heard Clara speak anything but English and Kryptonian.
Martha said, "Say goodbye to Miss Emily, Clara. We have to head home now."
Clara paid close attention to everything the guide said as she toured the Vatican. She was interested in exploring in greater detail, but today she was on a mission. Before long, she knew everything she needed to know.
Clara tugged the sleeve of the man taking a nap in his bed. He opened his eyes and looked at her for while, then smiled and said, "So God has sent a little angel to take me home."
Clara said, "Sorry to disturb you, your Eminence. I am not an angel, but I desperately need to talk to you."
The Pope pulled the cord by his bed. A priest entered the room and said, "Yes, Holy Father, how may I serve you?"
The Pope said, "How did this child enter my bed chamber?"
The priest looked round and then answered, "You must have been dreaming, Eminence. There is no child here."
The Pope rubbed his eyes and said, "You must be right. She was too beautiful to be real … and such a lovely voice. Leave me. I'll be all right now."
The priest shut the door and Clara reappeared in front of the Pope. He said, "You must be an angel."
She said, "No, I can just do special things. But I need to talk to. I need your help."
The Pope said, "What is it that you need child?"
Clara said, "People are hungry!"
The Pope asked, "Are you hungry, child?”
Clara said, "Yes. But I don't need to eat. I don't eat, because I choose not to eat. Some people don't eat because they have no choice. I came here today for them. I don't matter."
The Pope smiled and said, "Yes you do … very much, but first tell me why you came."
Clara said, "My Mother told me that if I try to give people food that the wrong people will take it."
The Pope said, "Sadly, child, this is true."
Clara said, "I read that these warlords sometimes still allow priests to perform the right of communion with people who are starving."
The Pope said, "In many cases, yes."
Clara said, "I had this idea -- that the Eucharist that is given at communion could keep people from starving."
The Pope said, "The Eucharist is the body of Christ. It is for the nourishment of the soul, not the body."
Clara said, "But what if the Eucharist is made differently so that it is more nourishing?"
The Pope said, "The Eucharist is prepared in a way dictated by tradition."
Clara asked, "What's more important -- tradition or people's lives?"
The Pope said, "What is most important is people souls. It is hard to watch people suffer, but such is the life of man when man controls is a world. But suffering CAN be a blessing as well. It can teach us how to become more than we would have become had we been granted more comfortable lives. Unlike our Father in heaven, we can only see things in a limited way. We cannot possibly understand all that happens in this world."
Clara said, "Then you will not help me?"
The Pope asked, "What is it that you would have me do?"
Clara took off her backpack and carefully unpacked a large metallic-looking box and then a smaller one. Then she pulled out a notebook. She said, "If you feed this machine what I wrote down in my notebook, it will make more of these little machines. It will also grow so that it can make a lot more of these little machines at one time. Don't start feeding it until you move it someplace really big! The little machines need water and a few other ingredients. They make wafers like the ones you serve as part of the Eucharist. Everything you need to know is in the notebook. Come to the window and watch!"
The Pope struggled a little bit to get into a sitting position. Clara took his arm and held it firmly. He felt a rush of energy flow up his arm and down his spine. He looked deeply into her eyes and suddenly felt much better. He stood up and Clara's hand moved down his arm until her fingers interlaced with his. Together they walked to the window. Clara put the small machine on the window sill. In the sunlight, it began spitting out green disks with a cross embossed on them.
Clara said, "They are mostly distilled sunlight. If an adult eats one a week, it will provide him with enough energy to survive. One a day would keep an adult healthy."
The Pope took one and looked at it. He asked, "Why is it green?"
Clara said, "That's chlorophyll. I guess I could try to get them to come out white."
The Pope said, "No matter what they contain, they become the body of Christ when the rite of Eucharist is performed."
Clara said, "I think the body of Christ should be as healthy as it can be."
The Pope held out a wafer for Clara and said, "Eat with me."
Clara said, "I can't."
The Pope said, "Why not? You said they are good."
Clara said, "I can't eat until everyone else eats! I'm last."
The Pope said, "She who was last shall be first."
Clara said, "Please don't ask me to eat. I promised I wouldn't eat again until everybody else does."
The Pope asked, "Why should the one that provides the feast be denied the benefits of her labor?"
Clara said, "I don't deserve to eat. I'm not from here. Since there isn't enough food for the people who were born here to eat, I won't eat until people who are entitled get fed."
The Pope said, "Your language skills are impressive, but I could tell that you are not Italian. It doesn’t matter that you weren’t born in Italy. Neither was I, but I haven't missed a meal lately."
Clara looked down in shame and said, "I wasn't born on this planet. If it wasn't for very bad accident, my parents wouldn't have sent me to Earth. I'm not even supposed to be here. I can't take your food when you don't have enough for yourselves."
The Pope put a finger under Clara's chin and tilted her head upward. He studied her face a while, then smiled and said, "If you weren't supposed to be here, you wouldn't be. You are a part of God's plan, little one. You made this food from sunshine. Don't you think you deserve to enjoy the sunshine?"
Clara said, "No."
The Pope said, "You are so wrong. You are a child of God, and you deserve any blessing He decides to bestow upon you. Jesus loves you Clara Kent, … and he WANTS you to eat!"
Clara's eyes opened wide in shock. She asked, "Who told you my name?"
The Pope said, "Who do you think?" The Pope took a wafer and gently brushed it across Clara's lips. She slowly opened her mouth and he placed a wafer on her tongue. He put his hand on her head and said a blessing. Clara swallowed hard. Tears began to stream down her face. She threw her arms around him and buried her face in his chest. He gently placed a hand on each side of her head and kissed her on the top of her forehead. After a minute she suddenly disappeared.
Clara came into the kitchen and said, "Mom, what are we having for lunch? Jesus wants me to eat."
Martha smiled. There was a tear in her eye when she said, "We can eat whatever you want to eat, Honey!"
Clara said, "How about something Italian? SpaghettiOs! … Oh, DARN! I left my backpack somewhere!"
Martha said, "That's okay. Things like that happen. That's why embroidered your name on it in large letters. I'm sure that whoever found will take good care of it for you."