[G – Rated. Actually G I Hate School Rated]
Martha was trying a new recipe in the kitchen. She couldn't concentrate because she kept hearing Clara muttering to herself in the living room. She finally decided to go see what Clara's problem was. Clara was using the remote control to rewind a videotape and leaning towards the TV. Martha asked, "What are you getting so worked up about?"
Clara said, "I hate TVs! How can he stand watching that mess!"
Martha said, "It's only a mess to you. It's perfectly fine to me. Can't you slow down your vision or something?"
Clara said, "No! Those little guns shoot at the TV screen and trigger my reflexes to go on the defensive. It's like somebody took a shot at me. My body reacts without conscious control. It's almost impossible for me to shut it off. So all I see is dot dot dot dot dot dot-dot! It drives me nutty!"
Martha said, "So why is it so important for you to watch TV all of a sudden?"
Clara answered, "I'm supposed to watch this video series called "From Earth to the Moon" and write a report on the Apollo program based on it. Mr. Lehrer, my science teacher, was a NASA consultant so he is big on these crude spaceships you Earth people build. This is hopeless! I have better things to do rather than trying to connect the dots and make sense of this! I have an art project due next week and no time to do it. I've been putting it off too long."
Martha said, "Time shouldn't be an issue for you."
Clara said, "Paint takes time to dry … especially oil paint. I haven't quite figured out how to speed it up with my heat vision. Either the colors change or the oil catches fire. My heat vision just doesn't give me any kind of advantage in this case."
Martha said, "Well, just keep in mind all the times that your powers have been an advantage. I guess sometimes you'll just have to muddle through like anyone else does."
Clara said, "My art teacher grades on what she THINKS you're capable of doing, not on what you actually do. She wants me to be a professional artist, so she doesn't give me a break. Being best in the class isn’t good enough. I should've just drawn stick figures and pretended I couldn't draw. My artwork gets too much attention, and I don't like that."
Martha asked, "What's wrong with getting a little attention?"
Clara said, "I want people like me for me, not for what I can do."
Martha said, "What you can do is part of who you are."
Clara said, "But I didn't EARN my abilities. They were just handed to me."
Martha said, "You put something of yourself into your artwork … and even into the way you use your special powers."
Clara asked, "Could you help me with this? Could you watch these videotapes and tell me what's going on?"
Martha said, "No, Honey, I can't. I'm catering that wedding and ….”
Clara said, "Never mind. I'll be creative. Unfortunately, my teachers don't appreciate creativity. They want me to do exactly what I tell them to do exactly the way they tell me to do it. Why do I have to go to public school?!"
Martha said, "You are smart enough that you could do without the course work, but you need to learn to socialize. You need people skills."
Clara said, "I agree with what Linus said in “Peanuts” -- "I love humanity. It's people I can't stand." I hate all my classes. They are SO boring!"
Martha asked, "Even Art? I know your teacher's hard on you, but you are so good."
Clara said, "Yes, even Art. My teacher loves hyper realism. That's boring! I can be like a camera without thinking. I can draw or paint what I see without any effort at all – except the effort to keep my eyes open. I might as well just snap a photo. At least with a photograph, you don't have to wait for paint to dry. If I try to add any style or abstraction to my artwork, Mrs. Randall clamps down on me. And I'm sick of painting the farm! I'm sick of painting Smallville! I want to quit so bad! I might as well be a zombie for all the thinking they require of me."
Martha said, "Hang in there, Baby. Believe it or not, what you're going through is not that uncommon -- even though you are quite special."
Clara said, "I'm taking the videotapes back to town, then I'm going to scout out some locations for my sketches and landscape painting. If I don't get away for a while, I'll go crazy. I think I might put away Clara Kent and be Kayla Jor-El for a while. I should be home in four or five hours."
Five hours later, Clara came in the kitchen door. Martha said, "Get back outside and dust off! What did you get into?" Clara seemed to vanish as her clothes fell in a heap on the kitchen floor. Ten seconds later, Clara came downstairs in some jeans and a loose T-shirt. Martha asked, "What just happened?"
Clara said, "I stripped, ran around the farm to dust off, then went upstairs to dress. I’ll put my close in the laundry."
Martha said, "What did you wear outside?" Clara blushed. Martha said, "What if someone saw you?"
Clara said, "No human can see that fast. If the girl is naked in the forest and no one sees her, is she really naked?"
Martha said, "Yes she is. And, with as many freaks as there are in Smallville, I'll bet that some day you'll meet someone as fast or faster than you are … and you'll unintentionally flash him."
Clara said, "Nobody's faster than me. Can I take supper to the barn with me? I've got to get some canvases set up and start typing my science report."
Martha asked, "Did you find inspiration?"
Clara said, "Not really. But I made a choice, and I'm going with it."
Ten days later, Jon came in for supper and said, "What's with Clara today?"
Martha said, "I don't know. Is she even home?"
Jon said, "She's a maniac out there. She's done a year's worth of maintenance in the last hour. She was even scrubbing down the barn roof. She only gets like that when something's bothering her. Do you think it's her time … uh …?”
Martha said, "Certainly you remember, we found out that Clara isn't "blessed" that way like most women. If she ever comes in, I'll ask her."
Suddenly Clara was standing there. She said, "Ask me what?"
Martha jumped and said, "I told you not to do that! Slow down when you come in. Having you pop into existence at the dinner table like that could give me a heart attack!"
Clara repeated, "Ask me what?"
Martha said, "Ask you what's bothering you today."
Clara said, "The same thing as always. Stupid teachers. Stupid school. Annoying classmates. Can I quit if I joined the YMCA and learn people skills there?"
Martha said, "We don't have a Y in Smallville."
Clara said, "Then I'll run to Metropolis!"
Martha asked, "What happened at school?"
Clara said, "More bad grades. I got a “D” in Science and a “D” in Art. Nobody gets a “D” in Art on that big homework assignment! It’s 20 percent of my grade for this quarter. I painted twenty-one 90 inch by 90 inch canvases when I was only required to do one painting. I made them so they could be joined together in a 50 foot diameter panorama … and got a “D!” I finally got excited about doing the project and found a way to make my own oil paints that dry quicker – and most everything was shades of gray so my heat vision actually enhanced the look of the paintings as I dried them. So I went way overboard and thought I would finally impress Mrs. Randall. I’m talking 1150 square feet of canvas to cover! Even hauling it to school was a big job. I didn’t sleep for a week … not ONE minute … or even take a break to visit with … my friend. A stupid “D”! Rose Casper painted the same silo she always paints. It looked like half of a popsicle stick … and just as flat … her silo wasn’t even shaded and didn’t cast a shadow … and she got a “B.” I never want to smell oil paint again or ever see another glimpse those stupid paintings! I swear, when I get to bring them home, we’re going to have a bond fire!”
Martha said, “You will NOT! I’m not kidding! AND no PRETEND accidents with your heat vision either young lady. I swear, when I went out to the barn and saw that ring of paintings, I thought I had literally stepped onto another world. I almost felt like I couldn’t breathe. Years ago, I stayed up late at night to see a TV picture I couldn’t decipher just to watch Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. Now I feel like I’ve been out there too. I don’t care if you hide them or give them away, but you will NOT destroy them. Your art teacher was using the grade to teach you a lesson about not doing what she asked of you. It is no reflection on what you created.”
Jon said, “What I want to know is how a girl that’s working on a portable fusion reactor in the barn just for fun can get a “D” in science!”
Clara said, "Mr. Lehrer told me to do a report on NASA's Apollo mission based on a videotape I couldn't watch. So I wrote a report on Apollo landing sites and what was left behind."
Jon said, "So because you didn't use the source he specified, you got a “D?” I know it's just high school and that you're not in the military, but teachers DO have the right to expect you to follow directions. I know why you couldn't. We could've claimed you are epileptic and can't watch TV, just like we made excuses to get you out a physical education. But we really don't want the lies to get too elaborate or we'll probably trip ourselves up. We can understand why you got the bad grade and accept that. Keeping your secret is far more important than the marks you get on a report card."
Clara said, "The "D" wasn't the worst part. He accused me of making everything up because the information in my report didn't match what he ‘knew’ to be the facts. He basically called me a liar. I'm surprised he didn't fail me."
Jon said, "Why didn't you give him your sources?"
Clara said, "I couldn't. … I didn't have any."
Jon said, "Are you telling me that you DID make it up?"
Clara said, "No, I researched it … first hand."
Martha said, "Oh! That explains those paintings. I thought you just based them on pictures from your library."
Clara said, "No, I was supposed to sketch from real life and then paint from my sketches. I must've filled 20 sketch books! I had to turn them in with the paintings. So Mrs. Randall was all upset because I didn't follow her orders. It was all my own fault. I knew before I started painting that I could never tell her that I actually went to the moon just to do a homework assignment. That's why I kept doing more and more paintings -- because I knew she would think I didn’t what I was told. I felt guilty even thought I actually follow her orders exactly … and I was afraid that she would embarrass me in front of the class – which she did by calling my work a “magnificent failure.” I kept hoping that by overwhelming her with quantity, she'd overlook that, from her point of view, I didn't do exactly what she asked me to. I just got so carried away. I really worked hard to do something interesting. I ran all over the moon looking for a LEM passenger compartment that was released to fall back to the surface. Then I did a close examination of some of the equipment that NASA left behind to take readings. I tinkered with some of it and got a few of the instruments working again. After all that, I bet I know more than Mr. Lehrer ever knew about that equipment. But he is so arrogant that he'd never accept that one of his students could actually know something that he didn’t. I shouldn't talk though, because I'm the one that outsmarted myself by thinking I could do two school assignments at once. And because I took a chance and did something a little different, my grade-point average is going to suffer."
A couple weeks had passed. Clara was throwing large bales of hay into a trailer. She heard someone coming up behind her and said, "I'm almost done, Daddy."
The voice behind her said, "My, you are a strong one!"
She turned quickly and saw a young man wearing a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase. She looked beyond him to see a car with government license plates in front of her house. She looked back and saw his eyes running up and down her body. She became very self-conscious. She wasn't dressed for company. Instead of her normal, baggy clothes, she was wearing a pair of jeans that were too tight, too worn and too filled with holes for her to wear for anything except to work in. Her "wife beater" T-shirt was in even worse condition. Her beige cotton sports bra was clearly visible. What wasn't visible was any trace of sweat. He had obviously seen her working. She was scared that he might be suspicious as to why such a work out in hot weather had no noticeable effect on her. But she had no desire to borrow trouble. Maybe his being distracted by her body would be a good thing in this case and keep him from asking questions she didn't want asked.
Clara asked, "May I help you?" The man grinned and looked her over again. Clara said, "Let me rephrase that: What are you doing on my property?"
The man said, "Pardon me. I was just trying to make a positive ID. You are Clara Josephine Kent, aren’t you?"
Clara said, "Who wants to know?"
The man said, "I'm with the government."
Clara said, "I could tell that from the license plates. If you're a “revenuer,” I'm sorry. The still blew up last week.”
The man said, "I'm Mike Evans, with the Central Intelligence Agency. The Army officers back in my car are Ted and Ron."
Clara said, "Since your being all straightforward about your names, I'll answer your question. Yes, Clara Kent is one of my many aliases. I go by Natasha when I slop the hogs."
Mike said, "Glad to meet you, Natasha. You're much more striking in person than you are in your photographs."
Clara said, "I don't mean to be rude, but I do have work to do now and some homework waiting after that."
Mike said, "This is about your homework. A Mr. Howard Lehrer from your school faxed a friend of his at NASA a report you wrote for your science class. He wanted to know if any of it was accurate. As far as NASA could tell, it was VERY accurate … TOO accurate! Some pieces fell into place with some strange goings-on at NASA these days. I've just been at your school looking over a series of 21 paintings you did. I understand it was a three week assignment. That is a very impressive amount of work for that short a period of time. The paintings and sketches were remarkably detailed."
Clara said, "I set up the canvases and do them in assembly-line fashion. I have some tricks with a palette knife … and some objects that I use to use to move the paint to help me represent the spacecraft and the moonscapes. It's all pretty common. That's how people who crank out all those hotel paintings rake in the big bucks. Quantity over quality."
Mike said, "It sure looked like quality to me! I don't know how you could've been more precise … even if you had had classified blueprints to work from. How were you able to make the images so accurate?"
Clara said, "Were they accurate? That's funny! I tried to think about how things would look. I had reference photos, but mainly I used my imagination. Didn't Mrs. Randall, my art teacher, tell you? I was supposed to draw from life, but got a bad mark because I didn't."
Mike said, "There were additions made to the lander that are not on any technical drawings. The photographs taken of the LEM were always taken from angles to hide certain features. Those features are shown clearly in your paintings."
Clara said, "Like I said, lucky guess."
Mike said, "Almost a month ago, some of the equipment left on the moon to take readings suddenly began working again … and began sending data back to NASA."
Clara said, "Really? How strange! But I'm sure Mr. Lehrer would be far more interested in this than I am. Why don't you go tell him all about it? Like I said, I have work to do."
Mike said, "From your report … and from your paintings, one would think that you actually saw the things you wrote about and painted – first hand."
Clara said, "Well, then ONE would be mistaken. How would that be possible? Do you think I have a spaceship in my barn? Do you think I'm a spy or something? Or do you think I'm an invader from outer space? You looked me over pretty good. Does it LOOK like I have any extra body parts? Do I look like an alien to you?"
Mike said, "You do have a mild accent that I'm not familiar with. But from my initial, visual examination, you look quite normal … or super-normal … quite extraordinary." Mike walked over to a bale of hay and tried to lift it. Mike said, "These are quite heavy, yet you were throwing them around as effortlessly as a little girl throws pillows in a pillow fight at a sleepover party.”
Clara said, “Have you been to a lot of sleepover parties with little girls?”
Mike ignored her and continued, “And yes, I did notice that all that work didn’t even raise a sweat on you. I’m in great condition but I worked up a sweat just watching you. Like I said, I got a good look at you and you look normal, … but I certainly wouldn't mind an even closer look."
Clara said, "I, on the other hand, WOULD mind! You've seen too much already."
Mike said, "As have you. You've seen things that no one was meant to ever see -- at least no one without a very high security clearance. How did you do it? How did you get there? Maybe we should search your barn for a spaceship. And, how do you survive without breathing?"
Clara said, "Are you NUTS!"
Mike said, "I told you. I've seen your picture." Mike opened his briefcase. He fished around in a manila folder and pulled out and 11" x 17" photograph of Clara sitting on a rock with a sketch pad ... on the moon. He handed the photo to Clara.
Clara asked, "Is this a fake?"
Mike said, "It most certainly isn't."
Clara asked, "Or a hoax?"
Mike said, "It most certainly is not!"
Clara asked, "Who is that?"
Mike said, "She looks just like you. I have other photos, some much larger." Clara stepped closer to Mike. He patted a bulge under his coat and said, "Don't make any sudden moves. My men are watching. They will come out here with guns blazing if you try anything."
Clara said, "There won't be any need for that. This is just my way of agreeing with you … that you need a closer look at me. That person doesn't look anything like me at all."
Mike said, "It's you. You know it's you!"
Clara leaned forward and licked her lips seductively. She said, "Look closer. Look much closer. That isn't me." Mike looked into the black pools that were Clara's eyes. He couldn’t look away. He felt her take his hand and gently stroke it. His hand and arm tingled, but he couldn't move back or look away from Clara's face. Clara said, "She doesn't look a thing like me. Does she?"
In a soft, mechanical voice, Mike said, "Not a thing like you."
Clara said, "She's SO much prettier! I’m just a homely farm girl.”
Mike said, "Farm girl."
Clara said, "Mike, don't you remember me?"
Mike said, "Remember."
Clara said, "You came to town before. We met. You decided that you wanted to impress me."
Mike said, "Impress."
Clara said, "You told me all kinds of things … secret, confidential things. You showed me all kinds of photos … of the moon and the lander. That's why I could draw and paint them so accurately."
Mike said, "Accurately."
Clara said, "Today you found out that nobody in Smallville takes Clara Kent seriously. Making a big fuss about the report and the paintings will only draw more attention than anybody wants. It will make people suspicious!"
Mike said, "Suspicious."
Clara said, "But now you are very hungry."
Mike said, "Hungry."
Clara said, "STARVING!"
Mike said, "Starving."
Clara said, "You will go into town and have dinner. In front of your friends Ted and Ron, you will find a local girl and flirt with her shamelessly. You will tell her things you shouldn't … about NASA … about Apollo … just like you told me. Understand?!"
Mike said, "Understood."
Clara said, "Then, when you report back to your supervisor, you will feel an uncontrollable urge to confess that you were the source of everything I knew about Apollo, and that you have sworn me to secrecy -- that I can be trusted."
Mike said, "I told Clara Kent everything about Apollo. But she can be trusted."
Clara pulled her hand back and broke eye contact with Mike. She handed him his photograph and said, "I don't know how you could have mistaken her for me! It's kind of flattering. She's very beautiful. Do you really think I look like that?"
Mike stared at the photo again before looking at Clara. He said, "Ummm. Clara, you're a nice girl and all, but you look nothing like this woman. I think this is all an honest mistake. Hey, you know, it's really been great seeing you again! But I have to go now. I'm starving! Funny, I just ate a big meal less than 40 minutes ago! Sorry for wasting your time. Goodbye."
Clara said, "Good luck finding your Moon Girl."
Mike said, "Please, don't tell anyone about that! That's confidential! Those paintings of yours … and that report … are bound to get me in enough trouble, so don’t tell anyone that I showed you the picture of that woman on the moon!"
Clara said, "My lips are sealed. And believe me, when I get those paintings back, they'll go somewhere private where nobody will ever have to look at them again."
Mike said, "I appreciate that." He turned and went back to his car … and Clara went back to throwing bales of hay into the trailer.
The next day, Chloe Sullivan wrote an article for “The Ledger” about a CIA operative that she had met at a local diner. She told how he had insisted on telling her all kinds of interesting stories before two Army officers forced him to leave with them. UPI picked up the story and, before long, Chloe Sullivan at her own column in the Daily Planet.
A month later at the Luther mansion in Smallville, a maid worked her way down a hallway, glancing at the framed sketches as she went. She ended up at the door to a circular room with light gray carpeting. She couldn't find a light switch but, as she stood in the entryway, the room slowly brightened. She let go of the handle of the vacuum sweeper that she had been pushing. Her jaw dropped in surprise at what she saw. Except for the opening to the room, she was surrounded by an unbroken lunar landscape. The black ceiling was peppered with lights representing the stars visible in the night sky.
Lex said, "Nice, huh?”
The maid jumped and turned. She said, "Oh! I'm sorry, Mr. Luther. I couldn't help but stop to look."
Lex said, "I don't mind. I like it when other people admire the same things I do."
The maid asked, "Is this the work of some famous artist? I didn't recognize that little diamond symbol with the CK initials inside of it on those sketches in the hallway."
Lex said, "No. At least she's not famous yet. I suspect that will probably change. This may look like a single painting. But these are 21 individual paintings done by a local girl – a close personal friend of mine. This was a high school art project. Can you believe that these paintings got a “D?” She gave them to me because she didn't want to see them again … and because her Mother wouldn't let her burn them.”
The maid said, "If these got a “D,” I can’t imagine what would get an “A.” But I wonder why she showed weapons mounted on the lunar modules. We were exploring the moon, not invading it."
Lex said, "I guess that's what they call artist's license. My friend won't tell me why she did that – she doesn’t want to discuss these paintings at all. But she did tell me that she got very bored while painting them. So, I have a theory. I think she invented a little story to go with the paintings. If I'm right, it goes something like this: The government suspects that there are aliens visiting Earth. They haven't shared this information with the public to avoid panic. But they didn't want to send our astronauts to the moon without some kind of protection in case someone or something was waiting for them there. I have more evidence to back up my theory. Over there, in the middle panel, you can see a cloud of meteors. They have a greenish tinge to them, so I suspect they represent the meteor shower that struck Smallville almost 10 years ago. Just to the left of that meteor shower, on the side closest to the image of Earth rising on the moon's horizon, there is a small metallic speck. I have looked at that speck, with a magnifying glass. Before I saw these paintings, I never realized that my friend has such a vivid imagination.”