Rated G

[Clara age 6 years 10 months]






Martha Kent was rolling out some pie crust when Jon came in the back door to the kitchen.  He pulled out a chair and sat down at the table.  He put his arms on the table and leaned over to support his head in his hands.  Martha said, “You gave up pretty quickly that time.  You hadn’t even been back out there 10 minutes this time.  What happened?  Did one of the parts break?”


Jon said, “No.”


Martha said, “You’ve never been a quitter, Jon.  I’m really surprised that you are letting that old tractor get the best of you.”


Jon said, “I never thought I was a quitter either, but I guess I was deluding myself.”


Martha said, “Well I’m glad.  It’s just not worth the aggravation.  Just call someone out here to overhaul the damned thing.  Oops.  Sorry.  Little ears with extremely good hearing!    You will call somebody, won’t you?”


Jon said, “It’s too late for that.”


Martha said, “Why?”


Jon said, “Clara was watching me try to fix the tractor before I came in last time.  I forgot she was there.  I got upset, threw down my tools and said a few choice words before coming in here.  She must have decided to help me.”


Martha said, “Oh no.  Judging by your mood, it can’t be good.”


Jon said, “You have no idea.  When I got back out there, all the housings were bolted back in place and the tractor was showroom clean … but there was a pile of tractor parts piled neatly nearby.”


Martha said, “I’m sorry Jon.  I’d better be the one to talk to her about it.  You didn’t talk to her, did you?  Please tell me that you didn’t upset her.  She may not always show it, but she’s very sensitive about how we react to the things she does.”


Jon said, “I didn’t say a word.  I was in a daze.  I didn’t know what to do.  I just climbed up into the seat and turned on the ignition.  I have no idea why I did that.  I knew it wouldn’t work.  It didn’t make a sound.”


Martha said, “Oh dear.”


Jon said, “Then I put it in gear.  I almost tumbled out of the seat.  That tractor accelerated like some supped up race car.”


Martha said, “What?”


Jon said, “I have no idea what she did to it.  It’s missing half its parts.  Even the fuel tank is lying in that pile of parts.  I have no idea what it uses for fuel now.”


Martha asked, “So the tractor works?”


Jon said, “Better than new.  In fact, better than any tractor I’ve ever driven.”


Martha said, “Then I must be missing something here.  What exactly is the problem?”


Jon said, “”It’s not a matter of what’s the problem, it’s a matter of WHO’S the problem.”


Martha said, “Jonathan Kent, I won’t have you criticizing Clara just because she lives to help you!”


Jon said, “She’s not the problem.  I am.”


Martha said, “Jon, this is just too confusing for me.  What exactly is going on inside your head?”


Jon said, “Clara is some kind of genius.”


Martha said, “And?”


Jon said, “And I’m NOT.  She is special in so many ways … and she needs so much more than I have to offer her.”


Martha said, “Oh Honey!  Don’t put yourself down.  I wouldn’t trade you for anyone in the world … and neither would Clara.”


Jon said, “It’s not up to Clara.  It’s not about what she wants but about what is best for her.  That’s the kind of hard decisions that parents have to make for their children.  She is so very special.  She’s remarkable.  And I have nothing to offer her … NOTHING!”


Martha said, “That’s not true!”


Jon said, “Isn’t it?  Instead of learning to hone her abilities … to become the best person she can possibly be, she is doing MY chores and becoming the breadwinner in this household.  What does a poor Kansas farmer have to teach someone like her?”


Martha said, “You can teach her your love of fairness and justice.  You are one of the most passionate and compassionate people I have even known.  If you just allow her to grow up witnessing how you treat your neighbors … and even total strangers, she’ll learn more than most people these days ever learn.”


Jon said, “She needs so much more than that.”


Martha said, “I’ll give you an example that might get through to you.  I believe you’re the one who told it to me and Hiram Kent told it to you.  Take dynamite.  It can be used to blow up churches and wage war.  It can also be used to blast passes through mountains so roads can be built … so that barriers between people can be bridged.  Clara is powerful, but she needs our moral compass in order to be a force for good rather than a danger to this world.  It’s us and the example that we provide that will determine what she does with what she was given.”


Jon said, “A lot of people could teach Clara the difference between right and wrong.  AND from what I’ve seen, she came to us with a very strong grasp of it.  She’ll do just fine without me.  You can’t convince me otherwise.”


Martha said, “You talked about what Clara needs.  What about MY needs?!  I NEED her.  Damn it Jon!  I don’t ask for much, but I’ll be selfish about this!  I’ll admit that you might be able to find better parents for Clara, but I WANT her and I’m keeping her!”


Jon said, “I love Clara too.  God knows I do.  I want her to stay here so much that it hurts.  But because I love her, I know that I should get out that device that the Guardians of the Universe left for her and push that button.”


Martha said, “Don’t you EVEN think about doing that!   I’m not going to let any aliens raise my daughter!”


Jon said, “Are you forgetting that Clara is an alien too?”


Martha said, “The Guardians … Clara said that they don’t even smile.”


Jon said, “But Clara could tell that they were good.  I’m sure that they would be fit to bring her up to be the person she is meant to be.”


Martha said, “And what do you think they’ll make her into?  An intergalactic solder like Abin Sur -- that Green Light person that came for her?  Is that what you want for our daughter – wearing a uniform, flying around battling aliens to save worlds we don’t even know exist?!”


Jon said, “I’m sure that’s not what they have in mind for her.  They said her life was to have a significance that would effect this entire area of space.  A mere soldier couldn’t be that important.”


Martha said, “They are cold Jon.  Cold and sterile!”


Jon said, “That’s not fair.  We didn’t meet them.  We don’t know what they are like.  And even if they can’t nurture Clara, I’m sure they can find people who can.  Perhaps some people like Clara still exist out there somewhere.  I know that there must be someone better suited to the job than I am.”


Martha said, “A JOB!  Do you think that being Clara’s Father is a JOB?  Is she right up there with slopping the hogs and mucking out the horse stalls?  You’re breaking my heart, Jon.  You know that, don’t you?”


Jon said, “I’m sorry.  I really am.  But I realized what I would never allow myself to admit until now.  I’ve been fooling myself by thinking that I am a fit father for that little girl.  I have to admit it.  I have to … for Clara’s sake.”


Martha reached up to the top shelf of a kitchen cupboard.  She took down the summoning device that the Guardians had given to Clara.  She quickly left the kitchen and headed for the front door.






Martha found Clara sitting on the steps of the front porch.  She was in the outfit that she had been wearing the day they had found her.  Krypto Two was tucked under her left arm and his head was lying on her lap.  She looked very sad.  Martha put the alien device into the pocket of her apron and sat down next to her.  Martha asked, “What are you doing in those clothes?”


Clara said, “Waiting.  ….  I left the clothes you gave me.  Can Krypto Two go with me?”


Martha asked, “Where are you going?”


Clara said, “To Oa … to live with the little men who like cookies.”


Martha said, “Is that where you want to be?”


Clara said, “No.  I want to stay … but Daddy doesn’t want me to.  He doesn’t like what I did to his tractor.”


Martha said, “Your Daddy doesn’t care about the tractor … and he doesn’t want you to go anywhere.”


Clara said, “Yes he does.  He said.  I heard.  I heard everything … and you owe the swear jar fifty cents and Daddy owes it two dollars and seventy five cents.”


Martha was silent for a while, then took her daughter’s hand and said, “Remember when I wanted to get you that doll in the store but you didn’t want me to?”


Clara said, “Uh-huh.”


Martha asked, “Did you want that doll?”


Clara said, “No.”


Martha said, “Come on.  Be honest with me.  I saw how you looked at it.”


Clara said, “You do too much for me.  I don’t need another doll.”


Martha said, “Your Father wants you more than you wanted that doll.  He just doesn’t think he is good enough to deserve having you here with us.  You are very precious to him.  You are a blessing to us, Clara.  Do you understand what I’m saying?”


Clara said, “No.”


Martha said, “Do you remember when I made eggs for you and forgot to put on the salt?”


Clara said, “Kind of.”


Martha said, “Oh, this one’s better.  Do you remember eating oatmeal before I showed you how to put butter and brown sugar on it?”


Clara said, “It was yuck.  I like brown sugar.”


Martha said, “Before you came, Jon and I were like oatmeal without the sugar.  With you, we have brown sugar and butter and cream.  That’s a blessing Clara.  You have made our life so much sweeter.  I never want to go back to the life I had before you showed up that day.  Right now, your father is thinking that he hasn’t done anything to deserve having you as part of our lives.  He doesn’t think that he is good enough to be your Daddy.  Understand?”


Clara said, “That’s silly.”


Martha said, “It is silly.  But when you feel that something is true, it seems very real … even if it isn’t.  Just like those chicken men you have nightmares about.”


Clara gave Martha a big hug, then got to her feet and went into the house.  She tossed Krypto Two onto the living room couch and said to the toy dog, “Wait for me here.”







Clara walked into the kitchen and said, “Daddy.”


Jon said, “What is it, Honey?”


Clara said, “I want to stay here with you.  Don’t send me away.”


Jon said, “You don’t understand, Clara.  It’s not that I don’t want you to stay with us.  I love you very much.  But I have to do what is best for you.  I just can’t give you what you need.”


Clara said, “You are right.  I don’t understand.”


Jon said, “Since the day I met your Mother, I dreamed about the children we would raise.  I wanted to be a father … but I never stopped to think that I might not be any good at it.”


Clara said, “You’re good!”


Jon said, “You don’t understand.  I’m not fit to be your father.”


Clara walked over to Jon and easily pushed his chair away from the table.  She crawled onto his lap and pulled his arm around her.  She leaned into him and whispered, “You see?  It’s a good fit!”


Jon said, “I have nothing to give you.  What do you need that I could possibly give you?”


Clara said, “This.”  She leaned into Jon and held him a little tighter.


Jon said, “Clara, you are such a precious little girl.  Anybody would love you like I do.  Anybody.”


Clara said, “He didn’t”


Jon asked, “Who didn’t?”


Clara said, “My first Daddy didn’t.”


Jon said, “Clara, I’m sure that isn’t true.  I’m sure he loved you.”


Clara said, “You love me better.  Don’t ever send me away.  PLEASE!!”


For a long time, Jon sat in the kitchen holding Clara while, outside, Martha dug a deep hole and buried the alien signaling device.