“The Fear of Not Flying” [Rated PG]
Jon heard footsteps on the barn roof. He went outside and saw his seven-year-old daughter Clara walking along the peak of the roof. Before he could say anything, she stepped off the edge and plummeted to the ground. He ran to the other side of the barn and got there just in time to see Clara leap back to the roof and walk off again. He helped Clara out of one of the many small impact craters that now peppered the ground. He asked, "What are you doing?!"
Clara said, "I'm practicing, Daddy."
Jon asked, "Practicing what?"
Clara said, "I need to learn to fly."
Jon said, "People don't fly."
Clara said, "I'm supposed to. Daddy ... my FIRST Daddy said I could fly on Earth, and that he would teach me."
Jon said, "Maybe he was kidding."
Clara said, "Oh, I knew when he was kidding and when he wasn't. That was a mistake I didn’t make twice."
Jon said, "Well, ... don't worry about it. There's no reason for a person to fly."
Clara asked, "But what if there is a reason, and I can't do it? What if you or Mommy need me to fly, and I can't figure it out?"
Jon said, "I don't need you to fly now. I'm sure that if I ever do need you to, you will be able fly like a champ. If it is meant to be, it will happen. Why don't you give old
Clara smiled and said, "Okay!"
Eight and half years later, Clara wiggled into her nightshirt then pulled back the covers of her bed. She glanced around and to make sure that no one was watching, then looked into the face that was silently begging her for attention. She said, "Okay, you can stop giving me that look now. As long as Mama doesn't pay me a visit tonight, you can sleep with me. But just tonight! And keep your paws to yourself or back in you go!" Clara reached into his hiding place in her headboard and pulled him out by the neck. She smiled at the big stuffed dog with the floppy ears and gave him a hug before throwing him to a spot near her pillow. She giggled at the way his sad face looked up at her.
She put a knee on the bed and went to crawl in when she heard the chiming of a cell phone that Lex had loaned to her. She flipped it open and said in her best Southern accent, "Hello, who would be so bold as to be calling a lady such as myself at this late hour?"
Lex said, "Hi, Angel, did I wake you?"
Clara said, "Oh, it's YOU! I hoped it was "Star Search" calling me." Clara giggled and continued, "So what you want? You know, I need all the beauty sleep I can get."
Lex said, "In a case, I consider it my solemn duty to keep you awake. Any more good-looking and your beauty would be fatal."
Clara said, "They are dropping like flies already. Wait, ... those are flies! That's what I get for sleeping in a barn. How is your business trip going?"
Lex said, "It's a done deal! The Dymaxion House will be reborn in
Clara said, "You're kidding! Oh my God! That is so great! This is like the best day of my life. It is all so perfect! Those unemployed aircraft workers will be back on the job. But instead of airplanes, they’ll be making air deliverable, modular homes for people who can't afford traditional housing!"
Lex said, "It was a GREAT idea to introduce the Dymaxion House to Russian at this point in time ... and it was ALL yours! The only downside of this whole experience has been being away from you."
Clara said, "I think I'm going to cry. I'm so glad that I have a friend here to wipe my tears."
Lex said, "What?"
Clara said, "Don't worry, he's only a friend. He's no threat to you. He's just someone to comfort me while you're gone."
Lex said, "This as a joke, right?"
Clara said, "He's just a stuffed toy, Lex. I'll put him back in his hiding place in the morning. But I'm sure those Russian women I hear the background are the real deal. I guess a little celebration was in order, huh?"
Lex said, "That's the flight attendant. I'm on my way home. And she's not Russian."
Clara said, "Not rushing? So she's taking her time with you?"
Lex said, "Stop giving me a hard time. I wouldn't be over here if it wasn't for you."
Clara said, "Just don't be giving her too a good time. … Ummm. Lex, you know, I'm just kidding around. Do what ever you want to do. You work hard and deserve to have some fun. It's none of my business."
Lex said, "You don't have a thing to worry about. The stewardess keeps giving me looks like I've got the plague or something. She looks like someone I met before, but I can't place her. That's it! She looks a lot like that doctor who filled me full of Viagra. Ellen ... Ellen Rice ... I believe. Something like that."
Clara said, "In a case, if she says “coffee, tea or me,” choose the tea."
Lex said, "Actually, I took a little brandy and a little something to help me sleep. I want to get over my jet lag as soon as possible so that I can see you when I get home. So ... What are you wearing?"
Clara said, "A smile."
Lex said, "Nothing else? I'll have to ask the pilot to shift into super sonic speed."
Clara said, "No, not JUST a smile. Since my order hasn't arrived from Fredericks of Hollywood, I'm just wearing the usual -- army boots with cleats, starchy men's boxer shorts and scratchy wool overalls that I made from a cow blanket. AND I'm wearing a mud pack with mud I got from the pig pen ... and I'll look just lovely ... until the mud falls off. So go tell that pilot to fly safe and take care of you. We can't have anything happening to you, … or those Dymaxion houses will never get built."
Lex asked, "Are you going to bed soon?"
Clara said, "As soon as you hang up."
Lex said, "Well, dream of me."
Clara said, "I'm sorry, you're too late. Johnny Depp is already scheduled to take me dancing in my dreams tonight."
Lex said, "Well, tell him to keep his scissor hands to himself."
Clara said, "Scissor hands? Um, I don't know that one ... but his scissors would break on my rocky body."
Lex said, "Well, then I hope I'm paper, because paper covers rock. So, if don't call you in the morning, I hope you have a good day at school. Goodnight, Angel."
Clara said, "I'm glad you loaned me this phone. We never talked on the phone before you took this trip. I have a deeper appreciation for that silky smooth voice of yours now. Thanks for calling. It was a lot of fun. And guess what? I'm standing Johnny Depp up tonight ... so you're invited to visit me in my dreams!"
Lex said, "I wouldn't miss it. And, I’d love to tell you what your voice is doing to me, but that will have to wait another 3 years or so. Good night."
Clara whispered, "Good night." She closed the phone, kissed it and crawled into bed.
For a change, Clara decided to answer a question that the teacher asked. She raised her hand and felt the nightshirt she was wearing pull across her chest. She looked at herself and realized that she had come to school dressed only in the nightshirt. She also noticed that she had braided her hair in a ponytail. If anyone were to look her direction, there was nothing to keep them from seeing her face. She tried to un-braid her hair, but it wouldn't come undone. She was so glad that she was sitting in the back corner of classroom, like she always did. She was trying to think of a way to sneak out unnoticed when she heard Lex shout, "I love you Clara!" She turned to see Lex sitting at the desk next to her. She could hear his heart beating at a furious pace.
Clara said, "What he doing at my school? Please don't call attention to me. I don't want anybody to see me dressed like this! And I don't want everyone to know we're … friends. They would make my life at school even more of a living hell than it already is!"
Lex said, "I'm not afraid of dying ... but I am afraid of never seeing you again."
Clara said, "Don't be silly. You're not dying. I'd never let anything happen to you."
Lex said, "Maybe I'll call you ... Just hear your voice one last time."
Clara said, "Why would you call me? I'm right here." She heard Lex dialing his phone. She said, "Lex, the phone you lent to me is by my bed at home. I can’t answer it. Why are you calling me? I'm right ...." Clara heard the phone chiming. She said, "Huh? What?" She lifted her head and saw Lex's phone or nightstand. She tuned in on Lex's rapid heart beat and looked in his direction. She focused her eyes to see further and further into the distance until she saw the private jet. In the cockpit, the controls were smashed. Wires hung loose and crackled with sparks. There was only one man on the plane. He was holding a cell phone. Clara screamed, "LEEEEEXXX!”
Before she knew it, she was running at top speed across the countryside. The wet grass below her feet dried, burned and blackened in the instant she passed over it. She ran across ponds and rivers in her mad dash towards the West Coast. When she got the Rocky Mountains, she leapt with all her might and leaned forward. Soon she was streaking like a missile towards the private plane. At some point, it dawned on her that she was flying. She wavered for a moment before refocusing on what she had to do. As she approached the plane, she slowed to match the speed and rotated so that her back was toward the ocean below. With her head pointed towards the tail of the plane, she moved to an area between the wings then hugged the airplane's belly with her arms and legs until the fuselage began to buckle. By reflex, she extended her aura outward to structurally strengthen the plane so that she could grip it securely without damaging it further.
Clara felt the plane's altitude dropping. She didn't have a clue how to lift something when had nothing below her to push against. She didn't even understand how it had been possible for her to fly there and correct her course and speed. She began to panic when she felt the plane begin to drop at an accelerated rate. She said in Kryptonian, "Father ... Father, WHY couldn't you have told me how to do this?!"
Clara forced herself to forget about the plane on top of her and its precious cargo. She tried to focus on where she wanted to go and how to get there. She looked through the plane and into the heavens and said, "First star on the right." She concentrated on that star and, slowly, she began to move in that direction. She felt the energy being within her reaching for that star – a star that represented a source of food and energy for it. As it reached, in dragged her body ... and the plane, along with it. Clara selected a more appropriate star to guide her and headed on a new course. Before long, Clara got the hang of effortlessly and smoothly changing directions. Soon, she's lying on a beach in Hawaii in what was left of her nightshirt ... with a private jet on top of her. She increased the pull of gravity upon herself sunk into the sand. She watched Lex jump out of the plane and wander around in a daze. Men and women in swimwear ran up to him and looked over the plane that had so mysteriously drifted down from the sky.
Clara tunneled under the ground and then swam across the Pacific. She got to the California coast and ran home. Clara climbed the stairs to her loft, got to her bed and sat down. She grabbed her stuffed friend and held him while she fought to catch her breath. She was neither exhausted nor tired, but a panic she couldn't control had set in. She couldn't help but consider what almost happened and what, more precisely, 'who' she had almost lost.
Almost immediately, the phone chimed and she picked up. She didn't say anything. She just breathed heavily and wept. Lex said, "Clara? Are you there? I'm sorry to wake you, but I had to talk you. Clara ... Are you crying? What's wrong?"
Clara did her best to talk as she continued to cry, "Nothing. It was a bad nightmare. I sent you to Russia ... and you got hurt … because I sent you there. You almost DIED … and it was all my … all MY fault!”
Lex said, "Clara, I'm okay. And what happened … what happened … that was only a dream … just a bad dream. I just … I just needed to hear your voice. I … uh … I … uh … I had an unexpected stopover in … in Hawaii. That's all. No big deal. Nothing to worry about. It's just that I won't be… be home quite as soon as I hoped to be. That's all … but there IS something else ….”
Clara said, “Uh-huh.”
Clara could hear that Lex was crying too as he said, “I know I'm not supposed to say this Clara … but … I love you, Angel. I really, really love you. It just had to be said. Now, just go back to bed. I'm okay, … so just go back to sleep … and dream about something pleasant. Dream about flying."