“From Hell with Love”

Rated PG-13

[Clara age 7]






A small fire burned on the property line between the Kent farm and the Lang home.  Lana had invited Clara over for a camp out.  Lana’s friend Emily wasn’t allowed to sleep outside so she couldn’t come.  Clara didn’t like sleeping inside so this was the only kind of sleep over that Clara would agree to attend.  So the tea party trio became a duo for this one special occasion.


Clara rarely got to spend any time alone with Lana.  She decided that this was her big chance to win Lana’s approval.  She was nervous that she might say or do something wrong.  She didn’t want to anger Lana because she knew that Lana was an important person and the only person capable of tolerating her other than the Kents.  Clara knew this for a fact because Lana had told her that that’s the way it was on every occasion they had been in each other’s company.


Lana rolled onto her side in her sleeping bag to look at Clara.  She said, “I think our parents have stopped watching us now, so it’s alright for us to do whatever we want to.  Parents expect their children to misbehave when they aren’t watching.  Do you want to mess with the fire?”


Clara said, “Um … a … a …okay!  I’m allowed to play with fire.”


Lana said, “Then that’s no fun!  Want to play swords with sticks!  My Mom won’t be saying anything about us poking our eyes out!”


Clara said, “Um … a … um … okay.  You can attack me with a stick … but I’m not allowed to fight back.”


Lana said, “Well … that might be fun … but I don’t want to do something I’m not allowed if you don’t or you can tattle on me.  But … if you tattle on me, that’s a bigger wrong than me lying about you doing something you’re not supposed to do … even if you don’t.  You know that, right?”


Clara said, “Um … a … I do now.  Thank you for telling me.  I learn a lot from you!”


Lana said, “Yes, I’m very well informed.  You’re allowed to lie to make tattlers stop tattling!  OH!  Let’s share cuss words!  I know a LOT of them.  Do you know any?”


Clara said, “Um … a … I don’t remember any.”


Lana asked, “Do you remember any naughty words from that foreigner place you came from.  Naughty words that you can say and people won’t know what you’re saying – that’s the BEST!”


Clara said, “I … um … I don’t think … we had any.”


Lana scowled and shouted, “That’s BULLSHIT!”


Clara said, “OH!  NOT good!”


Lana asked, “Do you want to learn some of the naughty words I know?”


Clara said, “Um.  No.  No thank you.”


Lana said, “Let’s talk about boys!”


Clara said, “Okay!”


Lana asked, “Do you want to talk about things that boys and girls do when no one is watching?”


Clara said, “Do they dance?”


Lana said, “Kind of … but they do it with no clothes on.”


Clara said, “Can we talk about something else?”


Lana asked, “Like what?”


Clara said, “We are going to have a lot of corn this year!”


Lana said, “Think of something else to talk about!”


Clara said, “OH!  Um …Betty … our big pig is going to have baby piggies!”


Lana asked, “Did you see the Mama and Daddy pig making the babies?”


Clara said, “No … but we are going to have lots and lots and lots of corn!”


Lana asked, “What are you afraid of?!”


Clara said, “Um … being in small places.  Oooo!  Ch … ch … chicken men!  They’re real scary!  I’m scared of Mommy or Daddy getting hurt … or going away … or sending me away … um … I’m scared of … lots and lots of things!”


Lana said, “No, NO, NO!  I meant why are you afraid of breaking rules?!  I TOLD you it’s okay if they’re not watching … and they AREN’T watching!”

Clara said, “Yes … they are.”


Lana said, “I don’t think so … unless they are spying on us with one of those telethings for looking at stars!  That would be creepy!”


Clara said, “They are in Heaven and they watch me all the time.”


Lana said, “OH!  Your REAL parents!  You don’t have to worry about the dead ones!  They won’t come back and spank you or anything.  God!  Now I’m gonna have nightmares!”


Clara said, “Um … I’m not worried.  I just don’t want … to make them … not like … what I act like.  My Father … was … wanted me to behave good.”


Lana said, “I told you.  They aren’t watching you!”


Clara asked, “How do you know?”


Lana said, “Cause they aren’t in Heaven.  They are in the bad place and they can’t watch you from there.  Oh!  I forgot.  Mom can’t hear me – they’re in hell, hell, HELL!”


Clara gulped hard and asked, “How do you know?  How do you know they aren’t … in Heaven?”


Lana said, “Because they were foreigners.  Only people born in the United States of America and parts of England get into Heaven!”


Clara said, “Are you sure?!”


Lana said, “Absolutely POSITIVE!”


Clara said, “OH NO!”


Lana said, “Don’t you know anything?  God only lets in a few English people but only if they are really, really sorry that they weren’t born in America and if they are really, really good looking!  But now you know so we can cuss and stuff because they aren’t watching you and you are going to Hell to be with them anyway!”


Clara asked, “But my Mommy Martha and Daddy Jonathan.  They can go to Heaven, can’t they?”


Lana said, “Only if they are sorry about being poor and ignorant.  They should be allowed in because someone has to work on the farms in Heaven.  I know I don’t want to!”


Clara asked, “Can I do something to get God to let Mother Alura and Father into Heaven?”


Lana said, “Nope.”


Clara said, “What if I pray really, really hard?”


Lana said, “He won’t hear you.”


Clara said, “But I pray every night before I go to sleep.”


Lana said, “Those are different prayers.  They are only good for protection while you sleep.  They keep the nasty things inside the closet from coming out and keep the under bed thingies under there.  That’s all!  If you want God to hear you for important things, you have to be in a big church.  The bigger the better!”


Clara asked, “Why?”


Lana said, “Everybody knows!  The big churches have more coo-coo sticks.”


Clara asked, “What are coo-coo sticks?”


Lana said, “They look like candles but they help God hear.  It makes singing in church sound good so that God will like it better.”


Clara asked, “Does God like singing?”


Lana said, “More than anything else.”


Clara asked, “Would God let my parents out of Hell if I sing pretty songs for him?”


Lana said, “Try if you want to, but I don’t think it will work.”


Clara asked, “Why not?  Because they weren’t born on this … United States?”


Lana said, “That too … but even if they were Americans, they wouldn’t have gotten in!”


Clara asked, “Why not?”


Lana said, “Because if God liked them, he wouldn’t have let them die.”


Clara said, “Um. … God let your Auntie Nell die.  Is she in Hell with my parents and the other foreigners?”




Lana shouted, “OH!  You are so MEAN and HATEFUL!!!”  I shouldn’t have invited you!  You are un-invited!  GO AWAY!”


Clara said, “But … but … but … I’m on my Daddy’s farm.”


Lana said, “Okay then!  I’m going inside.”  Lana stood up and took a pillow, a blanket and a doll.  She said, “I won’t stay out here and let you be mean to me.  Tell Mrs. Kent to teach you some manners!  I hope the mosquitoes come and eat you all up … and … and … and the boogie man comes and takes you far, far away from here so that I never have to see you again!”  Lana looked quickly around to make sure that the Boogie man hadn’t heard and started coming her way.  She quickly turned and ran for the front door of her house.


Clara clamped her eyes shut and folded her hands to pray.  Tears rolled down her cheeks as she said, “Dear Jesus, my new parents told me you can do anything.  … Oh, I’m sorry.  This isn’t a bed prayer.  I have to find a big church.  I’ll call you a little later.”  Clara got up and looked towards town.  She stood a minute as her long white cotton night gown flapped against her legs in the breeze.  Having sighted the tallest steeple in town, Clara took a couple steps towards town then stopped.  She said, “Fire safety rules.”  She blew a puff of icy breath towards the fire and the flames froze.  Then she said, “Not allowed to go to town alone.”  She looked towards the Kent farm house and saw that her parents were asleep.  She mumbled, “Lana said it’s okay because they aren’t watching.”  She turned back towards town and disappeared at a speed faster than any vehicle on the planet could travel.”






Clara Kent appeared at the tall doors leading to the sanctuary of Saint Christopher’s Catholic Church in Smallville.  She gently tapped on one of the doors and quietly said, “Jesus, are you home?”  Getting no response, she nervously pushed the door open a crack and slipped inside.  She made her way through the darkened sanctuary and up to the alter.  She looked up at the cross and almost screamed when she saw a statue in the image of Christ nailed to it.  Tears began rolling down her face again and she said, “Oww!  What happened?  Who did that to you?  Why???  I’m sorry.  I don’t know much about you yet.  I have to ask you something … but you have trouble too … but Mommy says you love all the little children of the world.  Do you love children from … other worlds … too?  I hope so.  That wasn’t my question.  I don’t want my Mother and Father and baby brother and Krypto to stay in Hell.  Can you let them out please?  It’s okay if I can’t go to the good place.  Fire doesn’t bother me much … and I don’t think brimstones will either ... but I don’t know what they are.  Nothing much hurts me at all anymore.  Thank you for making me strong and hard to hurt.  If you let Alura and Jor-El and Kal-El and Krypto into Heaven, I promise I’ll be a good girl … even when my parents aren’t looking … and help anybody and everybody as much as I can … even Lana Lang when she doesn’t like me much.  Fire won’t hurt my family either but I want them in the best place because I love them more than me.  My Father was a good man even though he worked all the time.  He worked to help people even when they didn’t listen to him and were mean to him.  Lana told me that you don’t like people not born in the United States but I think you would like my Father.  My Mother … you’d like her a LOT!  You would let her into Heaven just to see her smile everyday.  AND she was the bestest ever singer!  Lana said you like singing.  It wasn’t their fault that they weren’t born here.  I don’t care if I get to Heaven or not but please, Please, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE … please let them in … PLEASE!    I’ll sing songs for you!  I know church songs and songs from where I came from.  It was called Krypton.  But don’t go looking for it.  It sploded so its not there any more.  BOTH of my Moms taught me lots and LOTS of songs!  I’ll sing just for you … just … please let them in … PLEASE!!!  Can you hear me?  Is this church big enough?  It sure looks big to me.  It’s scary but not small scary.  Maybe you need more coo-coo sticks turned on so you can hear better.  Where is the switch at?  I’ll try to find the switch.  If I can’t … I’ll try to sing real loud so you can hear, okay?”


Clara ran around the sanctuary and flipped on some switches.  A couple spot lights turned on lighting up the alter.  Clara also flipped a switch that turned on the audio system that recorded services for shut-ins.  Unable to find a way to light more candles by flipping switches, she returned to the alter at looked up at the figure on the cross. She took a deep breath and began loudly singing the songs that she knew.  She sang on and on as the statue stared down at her with an expression of pain that changed slightly as the candle light flickered upon it.  Clara got no indication that Christ enjoyed her singing or even knew that she was there.  The tears continued flowing down her face as she sang through the night.  Her voice was pure and piercing, yet tinged with sadness for the loved ones she believed were suffering and beyond her ability to help.  She also cried because she was asking help from someone who looked like He was in need of her help.  Despite wanting to run home to the safety of the farm, she continued – determined to please God and save her family.






In the rectory, Father Sebastian had been sleeping restlessly.  He had failed to raise the funds necessary to keep the doors of Saint Christopher open.  His dreams were full of unpleasant images -- crowds of people looking at him in disappointment as stone walls collapsed inwards and a bell clanged to the pavement as a steeple fell to earth.  Even in sleep, he looked for the miracle it would take to save Smallville’s oldest surviving church.  Soon the foundations would make the building unsafe to hold even the few parishioners who attended masses on a regular basis.  The doors would be closed to the public for the first time in 80 years and would never open again.  Father Sebastian had hoped to spend his few remaining years at the place that had been his home for 38 years.  Neglect and apathy would bring down what the meteors had left un-touched.  He had maintained an appearance of confidence and faith in his waking hours, but safely unconscious and away from those who looked up to him, he resigned himself and grieved.  He grieved for both the loss of his beloved home … and for the loss of a pulpit from which he still might reach a community that was loosing itself in the secular aspects of their lives.  He felt more alone than he had at any time since taking up his calling.  But soon, he could sense that he wasn't alone.  He heard an unearthly voice singing praises to God but with an underlying sadness that he could almost taste.  Sometimes the words were strange and unknown but the feelings conveyed were always understood.


Father Sebastian’s eyes opened.  He realized that he had been sleeping – but now he wasn’t convinced that he was awake.  The voice from the dream continued to sing.  He stared at the ceiling for a long time convinced that such a voice didn’t exist in the waking world.  After a long time and as a test designed to prove that he was still dreaming, he sat up and swung his legs off the bed.  He slid his feet into his slippers and cautiously put his weight on his feet and stood.  If this was a dream, it was as real as anything he had every experienced.  When he felt that he was steady enough on his feet, he reached for his robe and put it on as he headed for the door leading to the sanctuary.


Father Sebastian reached the back of the sanctuary and no longer had any doubt that he was awake.  He also had no doubt that he had found the source of the music.  He moved to the center aisle and for the first time saw the white figure standing in front of the alter with arms uplifted to the figure on the cross.  It appeared to be a small child – somewhere between the age of 6 and 9.  The voice had the innocence of a child, but a perfection and simplicity that would take anyone born on this world a lifetime to master.  His first impression was that he was witnessing an angel giving praise to God.  But he was a man of reason and he had almost convinced himself that this was merely a child who had brought a boom box with her.  He told himself that she must be playing a recording that had been electronically perfected in a sound studio.  Without thinking, he had been holding his breath.  Having satisfied himself, he at last relaxed and exhaled heavily.  The singing stopped suddenly and the figure slowly turned towards him.  The girl’s eyes were open so wide that they looked disproportionately large.  She had an unearthly look to her as she stood there and Father Sebastian had to remind himself that this was just a girl .. just a girl with a boom box.  To make her comfortable, he forced himself to give her his best smile.  Her eyes seemed to get even bigger for an instant and then Father Sebastian found himself looking through an empty space where she had been.  He knew that no human being could have disappeared like that.  The smile faded from his face and his old legs trembled too badly for them to continue to support his weight.  Holding on to the pew closest to him, he lowered himself to the threadbare carpet, prostrated himself and began to pray.







In the morning, Martha found Clara rocking herself on the porch swing.  Clara had a sad, distant look in her eyes.  Martha sat down next to her and snaked an arm around her.  Clara leaned up against Martha but otherwise didn’t acknowledge her Mother’s presence.  Martha asked, “How was the sleep over?”


Clara said, “I didn’t sleep.”


Martha said, “If the sleep over is really fun, sometimes you don’t sleep.”


Clara said, “It wasn’t good at all.”


Martha asked, “What happened?”


Clara said, “Lana told me that my first Mom and Dad and my … and my … friends … they didn’t go to Heaven.  They went to the bad place.”


Martha said, “How could Lana know that?!”


Clara said, “Lana said that only United Statesians go to Heaven.”


Martha said, “There is nothing in the Bible like that!  Jesus himself wasn’t born in the United States.  There wasn’t even a United Stated until hundreds of years after Jesus was born.”


Clara asked, “Does the Bible say that Kryptonians can go to Heaven?  Show me!”


Martha said, “No Honey, the Bible doesn’t talk about people from other planets.  But the message of the scriptures is the same no matter where you come from.”


Clara said, “So you don’t know either … for sure.”  Clara pouted her lip and looked like she was going to cry.


Martha said, “Well, God is a whole lot smarter than Lana Lang.  He’ll know a lot better than her who deserves to get into Heaven.”


Clara said, “Is God smarter than you too?”


Martha answered, “Oh my YES!”


Clara asked, “How much smarter?”


Martha asked, “Do you know the word ‘infinite?’”


Clara said, “Yes.”


Martha said, “God is infinitely smarter than I am.”


Clara said, “And Lana?”


Martha said, “Yes, and Lana.”


Clara said, “So you and Lana are about equal when compared to God?”


Martha said, “If you put it that way … yes … when compared to God, we are all pretty much the same … pretty clueless.”


Clara said, “So you can’t know that my first Mommy isn’t in Hell.”


Martha said, “I know she isn’t   I know because I have faith in God. My faith doesn’t allow me to believe that He would allow good people to spend an eternity in misery. I wouldn’t allow a good person to suffer if I could help it … and I am so much less compassionate than God is.  I hope that someday you’ll be able to trust in God like I do and believe in Him.”


Clara said, “I DO!  I saw him!  I saw him last night and got scared and ran home!”


Martha said, “You saw God in the field?”


Clara said, “No.  I saw him Him at His home … the BIG church!  He had a white beard and he was older than anybody ever was!”


Martha asked, “What were you doing at church?”


Clara said, “I know I’m not supposed to go to town by myself … but I had to ask God to let my first family out of Hell!”


Martha said, “I’m sure he heard you.”


Clara said, “I don’t know.  There weren’t many coo-coo sticks turned on!”






In the months that followed, the proceeds from sales from a CD collection entitled “Angel Songs” paid for restoration of Saint Christopher’s Catholic Church and funded that church’s food bank.  Not many people believed that the songs recorded in the church that night were sung by an angel, but they were popular nonetheless.