“Seeking Serenity”

Rated PG






Clara Kent smiled when Lana Lang walked towards her table at the Parlor Restaurant.  Clara stood to greet her and the two young women gave each other a friendly but awkward hug and a light kiss on the cheek before they both sat down.


Lana said, “I am sorry that I am late.  Whitney gave me the 3rd degree about going out without him.  He thought I must be lying when I said I was having dinner with you.  He had to make sure that I wasn’t planning to meet some other guy before he would let me leave.  You know how that is!”


Clara said, “No, I don’t, but I’ll take your word for it.”


Lana said, “It’s nice that we can get together and forget our differences.”


Clara said, “Yes it is!  I missed my childhood friend.  Next door neighbors should at least be … neighborly.”


Lana said, “Our feud has gone on TOO long!”


Directly behind Clara, a toddler suddenly stood up in her high chair then toppled to the floor.  The little girl landed on her head and began to scream and bawl at the top of her lungs.  Totally oblivious to what was going on, Clara said, “I’ve never eaten here before.  Do you have any recommendations?”  Lana didn’t answer.  She just stared past Clara at the crying child being scooped up by her Mother.  Clara said, “I’m kind of hungry today. I might even splurge today and have dessert.  It’s not like I’m watching my figure … or like anyone else is either.”  Lana still didn’t say anything.  After a moment Clara asked, Lana, are you okay?  Is something wrong?”


Lana said, “YES, something IS wrong!  How can you even hear yourself think with that child crying behind you?”


Clara asked, “What child?”


Lana said, “Are you DEAF?!  There is a child crying at the top of its lungs at the table behind you and the Mother is on the verge of hysterics.”


Clara said, “Do you know how many children are crying in the world at this very moment?  It was hard, but I had to learn how to tune them out.  I had to or I would have gone nuts.”


Lana looked at Clara with a disgusted sneer.  She said, “WOULD have gone nuts?  And to think that I even considered renewing our friendship.  Sure, you can be kind and considerate … even heroic IF it’s a young, handsome, single billionaire in trouble, but you don’t give a damn about anyone else, do you?  You are one cold, heartless bitch!”  Lana got up, threw down her napkin and stormed out of the restaurant.


Clara inhaled sharply.  She swallowed hard and tried to focus on something other than what Lana had said to her.  She had opened her heart and been prepared for an experience like the return of the prodigal son.  That left her vulnerable to an unexpected verbal attack.  She breathed deeply for a couple moments then pivoted in her chair.  She saw the Mother holding a cloth napkin to the child’s forehead.  The child’s bib was soaked with blood.  The girl had a huge gash in her forehead.  Clara could she the child’s mouth open wide and her lips trembling, but she couldn’t hear a sound that she was making.  Clara quickly looked inside and saw that there was bleeding inside the child’s skull as well.  The girl wouldn’t live long enough for an ambulance ride to the hospital.


Clara said, “Ma’am.  I work in the hospital as a volunteer.  Could I see her?  I may be able to help.”


The woman said, “NO!  I need a doctor, not some kid!”


Clara stared intensely at the woman.  The woman’s pupil’s dilated.  Clara said, “LET … ME … HELP!”


The woman said, “Let … you … help” and handed the child to Clara.


The child arched her back and flailed to keep from being parted from her Mother.  She screamed at the top of her lungs but Clara heard none of it.  Clara took the child tightly in her arms and laid a hand on her forehead.  She gently kissed the child then rested her head on top of the girl’s and gently rocked her.  Clara closed her eyes began singing a lullaby in Kryptonese.  People turned to watch and listen.  Some of them saw a gash open up on Clara’s forehead and blood drip down into Clara’s eyes.  The child’s crying wound down and stopped.  There wasn’t a sound in the restaurant except for the mournful, calming sound of Clara’s singing.  Clara opened her eyes and looked around to see people staring at her.  She immediately stopped singing.  She looked at the girl to see that she had stopped crying and then looked deeper to see that she had healed.  Clara grabbed a napkin and dumped some water on it.  She wiped the child’s face and then her own.  Clara looked over at the Mother and said, “The child must have gotten into some ketchup.  She doesn’t even have a scratch.”


The Mother said, “There WAS a large cut on Vianna’s forehead!  I saw it!  You had a cut on your forehead too!  What are you?”


Clara stared at her and said, “NO … ONE … WAS … CUT!  THERE … WAS … NO BLOOD – IT … WAS … KETCHUP!  AND … I … AM … JUST … AN …ORDINARY … SCHOOL … GIRL!”


Mechanically, the woman repeated, “No … one … was … cut.  Ketchup.  Lots … and lots … of ketchup.  Ordinary … just ordinary.”


Clara stood and handed the child back to her Mother then threw ten dollars on the table to cover the cost of her beverage rather than wait.  Clara left the restaurant at a fast walk and disappeared as soon as she passed through the front door.







Clara stood on the grounds of the Luthor mansion.  The guard dogs ran up to her and she absentmindedly petted their heads as she stared through the wall at Lex sitting at his desk in the den.  She said, “Lex, I am such a hypocrite!  I tell you to care about people … when I’ve tuned out the entire world.  I don’t deserve to have you as a friend.  Lana is right.  I am cold.  I don’t let anyone get near the real me.  I don’t want to know about the trouble people are in because I can’t help everybody … so I tune them out and think about what I am going to have for dessert!  I’m not the person I was when I was twelve.  I gave up on saving the world.  But I don’t want to be a quitter.  I don’t want to be a cold, heartless bitch.  I want to be a good person.  I want … I want … to be better than I am.  I want to be someone who is good enough to be your friend.  ….  I’m scared to do this, Lex. ….  I’m really, REALLY scared!”


Clara breathed deep and tried to relax.  Soon she heard the muffled cry of a baby a few miles away.  The cry became clearer and sharper until it cut through her like a knife.  Somewhere, another child started crying and Clara could hear him sobbing.  Their sadness and neediness poured in upon her and she gasped for air even though air was not one of her basic requirements.  Soon a choir of cries surrounded her and more cries joined in every second.  Clara started to tremble.  The noise rose to a mournful roar.  She sank to her knees and held herself.  She had walked through a tornado and the noise hadn’t been as deafening as this was becoming.  The noise mad by the tornado wasn’t made from pain or sadness or longing for something unavailable.  The children Clara heard were hurting and she was hurting with them and for them.  She decided that she couldn’t stand it any longer.  She had to stop listening … but somehow she couldn’t.  Without realizing it, she started screaming.  Lex’s dogs circled her, distressed by the pain she was feeling and helpless to do anything about it.  Clara could no longer hold herself upright.  She fell backwards and laid on her back on the ground as she continued to scream.


Inside the mansion, Lex felt the building shake.  Some panes of glass shattered.  He heard an inhumanly loud noise from outside and went to the window to look out across the yard.  He saw his dogs circling someone lying on the ground.  In a moment, he knew who it was.  He raced outside.  Soon he was kneeling next to Clara.  Her eyes were wide open but vacant of any sign that she recognized him or even knew that he was there.  He held her hand and could feel he pulse pounding like a jack hammer.  He had seen epileptic convulsions before.  He wondered if he should find something to put into her mouth to keep her from biting or swallowing her tongue.  Clara suddenly shouted, “MAKE IT STOP.  OH, DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN MAKE IT STOP!”


Lex laid down on the ground next to her and held her tight while her body shook.  After a few minutes, he was flung aside when she sat up.  Lex said, “Angel, tell me what to do to help you!  Has this ever happened to you before?  …. Will it end soon? ….  Clara!  TELL ME!  I NEED to know that you are going to be okay!”


Clara showed no indication that she had heard or understood Lex or even knew that he was there.  Clara got to her feet.  Before Lex could stand, Clara took a few wobbly steps and then started running.  She ran faster than Lex had ever seen a person move and disappeared into some trees in one corned of the grounds.  He knew that Clara had some way to get over the fence and that, if she kept moving at that speed, there was no way he could catch up to her on foot.  He ran inside to call Martha Kent.  Before he could pick p the phone, Clara had taken flight and was passing the moon.  She kept going until she landed in the front yard of the house that she was building on Mars.  She could still hear the cries of the children ringing in her head but the volume had deceased somewhat.  Her senses had nothing to do with air and were able to make vast distances irrelevant.  She staggered into what was going to be her family room and collapsed in front of the fireplace.  Soon she was unconscious … and having nightmares about suffering children.






Two days later, Clara woke up to find J’onn J’onz sitting beside her.  She sat up beside him and wiped the sleep out of her eyes as she said, “Hi J’onn, what brings you back to Smallville?”


J’onn said, “We are on Mars – number one Luthor Lane, Serenity City to be exact.  You have been sleeping a long time.”


Clara asked, “How long?”


J’onn said, “I watched you arrive and stumble in here … in Earth time … about 50 hours ago.”


Clara said, “I’m in such trouble!  I’d better hurry home!”


J’onn said, “You’ve been here two Earth days.  Another hour won’t matter much.  What will your parents do to you anyway?”


Clara said, “They’ll give me a hurt and disappointed look!  I really HATE that!”


J’onn said, “You came all this way.  I want you to stay and talk about what’s troubling you.  Your dreams were very disturbing.”


Clara said, “I don’t want to tell you about it.”


J’onn said, “I thought we were friends.”


Clara said, “That’s why I don’t want to tell you.  You won’t like me very much if I tell you.”


J’onn said, “I doubt that very much.  Plus, on my trips to your home world, I have learned to pretend very well.  No matter what you tell me, I would still pretend to be your friend in order to have access to your Mother’s cookies.”


Clara said, “No comment on your pretending skills but you need to work more on your sense of humor.”


J’onn said, “So do you.”


Clara said, “That’s true.”


J’onn said, “Go ahead and tell me.  It will do you good to say it.  If you hear out loud what you tell yourself in your head, maybe you’ll see how ridiculous it all is.  Tell me … or should I tell you?”


Clara said, “Damned telepathy!”


J’onn said, “To answer your unspoken question, No I definitely do not think that you are a bad person.  Not at all.”


Clara said, “But I stopped listening to cries for help.”


J’onn asked, “You don’t help humans anymore?”


Clara said, “Not as much as I could.”


J’onn asked, “Do they help each other as much as they can?”


Clara said, “Well, … no … but that’s different.  They’re … limited.”


J’onn asked, “And you are … without limits?”


Clara said, “No … and I didn’t mean to insult humans.  Some of my best friends are human.”


J’onn said, “My damned telepathy lets me know exactly how you meant it.”


Clara said, “I stopped caring.  I stopped doing all that I can do.  I’m lazy … uninvolved.  I am a guest on their world.  I eat their food and use their resources.  There is SO much need and I do so little to meet it!”


J’onn said, “I met a man on Earth that I’d like to tell you about.  He is a bad man that is not willing to do what he can for his own kind.”


Clara said, “I feel a sermon coming on Pastor J’onz.”


J’onn said, “This man went to a place called the Red Cross every eight weeks.  He ate their cookies and drank their juice.  The cookies weren’t as good as your Mother’s cookies, of course, but that goes without saying.  Still he ate and drank but still didn’t do what he could.”


Clara said, “You mean that he went and ate their food and didn’t give blood?”


J’onn said, “Yes, he gave blood.”


Clara asked, “So why was he a bad man?  Did he give blood knowing that he had some kind of disease?  Was he HIV positive?”


J’onn said, “He is free of disease.  He has O negative blood -- which can be used for any person needing it.  He eats well so his blood is very healthy.”


Clara said, “So, why is he a bad man?”


J’onn said, “He didn’t do all that he could.  He gave only one part in eight of his body’s blood content.  He could have done much more.”


Clara said, “You don’t understand.  They only allow him to give one pound of blood.  They weigh it as he donates to make sure he doesn’t give more than that.”


J’onn said, “He should have found a way to give all of it.”


Clara said, “He would have died.”


J’onn said, “Yes, but eight times the number of people would have benefited.  He puts too high a price on himself.  He is a selfish, cold-hearted bitch.”


Clara said, “Uh-oh!  I see where this is coming from … and where it is going to.”


J’onn asked, “Where is this going.  Tell me?”


Clara said, “The man helps more people by not dying because he lived to give more blood later.  In 16 months he gave the equivalent of his entire blood supply and was still alive to continue to give more blood every couple months.”


J’onn said, “Still, he was a bad person.”


Clara said, “Come on.  Stop this!”


J’onn said, “He could give once a month or every two weeks instead of once every eight weeks.”


Clara said, “But he would have gotten sick and been unable to do more.”


J’onn said, “So he wasn’t evil!  Are you saying that I shouldn’t have executed him?!”


Clara said, “PUL-LEASE!  Stop with the jokes!”


J’onn asked, “Clara Kent, why do you refuse to judge this man by the same standard as you judge yourself?”


Clara said, “Because I’m DIFFERENT!”


J’onn said, “Not … THAT … different.”


Clara said, “I have powers and abilities that normal people don’t.  With great power comes great responsibility!”


J’onn said, “Did you get that bit of wisdom from some comic book?”


Clara said, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."


J’onn said, “You are quoting Marxist philosophy now?  Do you want me to counter with a little Ayn Rand?”  I prefer telepathy because words are treacherous!  People who are able should care for those who have needs.  I firmly believe that and dedicate my life to that, but I can not destroy myself or I can’t help anyone and I can’t make others weak by helping them so much that they have no reason to grow as individuals.  The nature of everything is establishing the balance that allows us to become … and sustain … and move forward.  You have needs Clara Kent and you need to admit that and give in to them.  If you don’t have rest and relaxation and time to enjoy the pleasant things that planet Earth has to offer you, you will become to sick in your soul … too apathetic to help anyone.  You have a place and a role to play in the grand scheme of the universe.  Do what you can as you are able, but you are needed on an on-going basis.  Do NOT give all you can possibly give today at the cost of all you can offer in a lifetime.  You will deprive the people you seek to help if you destroy yourself by denying yourself!”


Clara said, “What will my being around tomorrow matter to the person that died today because I didn’t help them when they needed me?”


J’onn said, “That is something that you will have to deal with on a daily basis.  Learn to accept what you CAN.  Find the balance!  Learn … or you will destroy yourself!”


Clara said, “Had my Father lived to reach Earth, he planned to never let me associate with humans.  He said that humans would leach me dry.  He wouldn’t even allow me to learn Earth languages.  He wanted to keep me isolated.  He said he would select a few suitable mates and companions for me when the time came.  He knew me … and he knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle life on Earth.  But I didn’t have much of a choice, did I?”


J’onn said, “You make choices everyday.  And every day those choices prove that your Father was wrong.  What a terrible waste it would have been to hide you away!  Your adopted world is so much richer for you being there.”


Clara said, “You didn’t know my Father.  He was brilliant.  He was rarely wrong about anything … and he reminded me of that every day.  I’m beginning to think he was right about me.”


J’onn said, “No, you’ve always believed he was right about you.  You rarely see the truth.  You have a hard time accepting how wonderful you truly are.”


Clara said, “How can I go back to Earth?  How can I choose whose needs to meet and whose to ignore?  How do I choose which ones to allow to suffer … which ones to allow to die?”


J’onn said, “Again, that is something that you will learn.  I have faith in you.  I have seen inside your mind.  I know you at your worst and still love you as a friend – and I am NOT just saying that because of Martha’s cookies … but bring some to me next time you visit!  …. OH!  I like that!  What are those words you are thing about … about serenity?”


Clara said, “It’s a prayer called “God Grant Me Serenity” by Reinhold Neibbubr.”


J’onn said, “Would you speak it for me?  I enjoy the musical sound of your voice.”


Clara recited the prayer:


“God, grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;

Enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace;

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it;

Trusting that He will make all things right

If I surrender to His will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.”


J’onn said, “I like that.  I will remember it always!  You see?  You already knew everything you needed to know!  You are a very good person Clara Kent.  Do not worry about the words of Lana Lang or of your dead Father.  If you must listen to the cries of those who want help, then listen also to the laughter of those that you have helped.  What is this “thumbs down” thing you are thinking of now?”


Clara said, “I got tired of lying to a friend ….”


J’onn asked, “Why do you call him ‘friend’ when you think of him as …?”


Clara said, “… SO I told him that I would give him a thumbs down gesture when I couldn’t answer a question he asks me.  I vaguely remember my friend leaning over me when I was sick.  He’ll probably have a lot of questions … want me to see a doctor or something.”


J’onn said, “You didn’t answer my question about why your words call him friend when in your mind ….”  Clara gave J’onn the thumbs down gesture.  J’onn said, “Oh.  But I understand now.  That gesture doesn’t block telepathy.”


Clara said, “Damned telepathy!”


J’onn said, “Just another self-lie to be confronted some other time.  And, I think you are right.  He probably did see.”


Clara asked, “What?  See what?”


J’onn said, “I can feel what you remember.  There was a large amount of drool on your face while you had that seizure … when he was leaning over you.  He probably noticed it.”


Clara said, “Oh NO!”


J’onn said, “It probably won’t matter at all to your … friend.”


Clara said, “It matters to me that he saw me that way!”


J’onn said, “Learn to accept the things that you can not change.”


Clara said, “The wisdom to know the difference!  That’s IT!  I can use hypnotism to forget how I looked!”