“Clara and the Volcano”

Rated PG-13

May 2006






Martha Kent yelled up the steps for Clara.  She said, “Sleepy head.  There’s a package here for you from one of your admirers!”


Clara yelled back down, “Be more specific.  That could be from almost anyone – heads of state, movie stars, billionaires ….”


Martha said, “I believe it’s from the third category.  That should narrow it down to two people that come knocking at this door once in a while.”


Clara ran down the stairs saying, “I think I’m about to be angry.  They know better than to send me anything!”


Martha said, “It’s from Lex.”


Clara said, “Oh.  I peeked inside.  He had my permission this time.  Now I’m nervous.  I told him he could pick out a swimsuit for me if he meets us in Hawaii.”


Martha asked, “So is the box empty … or nearly empty?”


Clara said, “He knows better than that.  I gave him some guidelines.  It had better be a one-piece or I’ll send it back.”


Martha said, “It’s not how many pieces the suit has that matters, it’s how many of your “pieces” it covers that counts – AND how much it covers and how well it covers.  Let’s end the speculation.  Model it for me!”


Clara ran up the stairs with the box.  After shouting, “OH NO!” she slowly walked back down the stairs.


Martha said, “Oh, I like it!  Very classical lines!  It reminds me of my old suit.  Honey, use your index fingers and get the bottom to got over your cheeks.  You’ll have to be careful about that.  I know you’re not used to wearing a suit like this.  Oh … turn around for me.  The back is cut a little low.  I like how it shows off the small of your back, but it is dangerously close to revealing that tattoo … which your Father had better NEVER see!”


Clara said, “That’s not a tattoo.  I wish it would heal!  But it won’t … and Mom … the other mark came back too!”

Martha said, “All in all, the suit looks great on you … so why don’t you like it?”


Clara said, “It’s okay.”


Martha said, “Then what was the “Oh no” about?  The suit isn’t too revealing and it isn’t too prudish.  It’s got just the right something to make every woman that sees you in it want to kill you and every man want to … ummmmm.  That’s the problem, isn’t it?”


Clara said, “No.  Only Lex will ever see me in it and he doesn’t find me that attractive.”


Martha said, “Huh?”


Clara said, “He’s never … pushed me to do anything more than ….  I don’t want to talk about it.”


Martha said, “Honey, Lex respects you a lot.  He doesn’t want to make any mistakes with you.  I’m sure he finds you very attractive.  The man’s got eyes, doesn’t he?”


Clara said, “Yes he does and he’s not dumb … and that’s why I am concerned about what he might see when he looks at me.”


Martha said, “Like what?”


Clara said, “Like a resemblance!  Look at this!”  Clara handed Martha the tag that came with the swimsuit.


Martha looked at the picture on the tag.  It looked just like Clara.  She read the tag out loud, “Power Girl Swimwear brings out your inner power to reveal the super woman that you are.”  Martha smiled and said, “How funny!”


Clara said, “What’s funny about it?”


Martha said, “You wore my old, threadbare, Kmart clearance sale swimsuit for a quick trip to save a submarine … and a designer creates an expensive swimsuit based upon it!  That’s a riot!”


Clara said, “Don’t you get it?  This could be Lex’s way of telling me that he knows!  And even if he doesn’t know or at least isn’t consciously aware of it, he might put all the pieces together when he sees me in it!”


Martha said, “Oh… oh …, I understand why you’re concerned … but don’t be.  What does it matter anyway?”


Clara said, “WHAT?!”


Martha said, “Girl, you are so married to that man already!  Are you going to keep him in the dark forever?”


Clara said, “MOM!  I cannot even believe that you said that!  You’re the ones … you and Dad drilled into me how important it is that … and … AND … and we’re NOT … we’re FRIENDS!  Lex Luthor is so out of my league!  We just like each other’s company, that’s all.”


Martha said, “Honey, no one is even close to being IN your league.  AND guess what?  Your Dad and I are best friends too … and we still enjoy each other’s company.”


Clara said, “Is ‘enjoying company’ some euphemism?  Because I’m not doing that kind of enjoying with Lex … or anyone else.  I might not be able to.”


Martha said, “No euphemism, Dear.  If all your Dad and I had was sex, we might still be together, but we certainly wouldn’t have anything as wonderful as what we’ve got.  What we have is what I am certain that you and Lex can have one day.  And as to what you can and cannot do, I thought Diana pretty much said that ….”


Clara said, “You discussed that with Diana!”


Martha said, “It’s okay dear.  She told me the Doctor on Paradise Island gave you a clean bill of health and said you are very much a woman in every way.  And you yourself have told me that there would be a way that Lex could be made more ….”


Clara said, “Like that would be fair to Lex – to rob him of his humanity … to make it impossible to be with anyone other than me.”


Martha said, “I think that Lex would be thrilled ….”


Clara said, You don’t speak for Lex and neither do I.  So please, … please don’t say another word about this.  Because love and marriage … they aren’t in the cards for me.  I think you and Daddy are stuck with me … forever and always.”


Martha said, “I would love being stuck with you … but I think I have a lot of competition.  And I have the feeling that someone else will have the joy of being stuck with you.”


Clara said, “Stop it Mom.  I have too many responsibilities to ever get married.”  Martha smiled.  Clara said, “Stop it!”


Martha said, “All this talk has got you sweating.  You know what that means.”


Clara said, “MOM!  Don’t!”


Martha said, “I just thought I’d better warn you about it because ….”


Clara said, “Stop talking about that!  It’s embarrassing!”


Martha said, “But there’s something that you might want to know.”


Clara said, “No!”


Martha said, “Your Dad is coming up the front walk.”


Clara said, “So what?”


Martha said, “He’s bringing the Johnson family inside.  They are bringing us lunch as a thank you for your help harvesting their crops.”


Clara said, “So?”


Martha said, “All right.  I just know how much the Johnson’s 5 young boys like you – even when you aren’t putting off pheromones.  I’m sure they will enjoy giving you their opinions of your new swimsuit.”


Clara said, “What swimsuit?”


Martha pointed at Clara and said, “Remember, index fingers to pull the bottom over your butt cheeks.  It’s riding up on you again – not that the boys or Mr. Johnson will mind.”


Clara looked down at herself in horror and heard the doorknob begin to turn.  She said, “Oh my dear God!” and turned and disappeared up the stairs.  Martha laughed as she turned to greet her guests.






Clara was helping Martha pack her bags.  She said, “Mom, I know we’re not supposed to pinch pennies on this trip, but why should I go on the plane with you?”


Martha said, “It’s not your claustrophobia again is it.  We can’t have you falling back into those old fears ….”


Clara said, “It’s not my Claustrophobia – it’s my COST-rophobia.  Why pay for plane fare for me when I can get there on my own for free?  Plus I’d like to avoid the hassle of taking Adam and Eve through airport security.”


Martha said, “Maybe Adam and Eve can go by Fed-Ex.  I just think we should experience the entire vacation as a family.”


Clara said, “I’d be scared to trust Adam and Eve to anyone else’s care.  But I could fly you and Dad over!”


Martha said, “No thanks.”


Clara said, “Lex offered to take us all over in his jet.  He’s flying there anyway.”


Martha said, “I enjoyed my flight with Lex tremendously, but your Father wasn’t very happy about me taking that trip with him … and I don’t think he will agree to us flying with him this time.”


Clara said, “Look, there is no good reason for wasting money on airfare or a hotel room for me so ….”


Martha said, “Whoa, whoa, WHOA!  What’s this about the room?”


Clara said, “You don’t want to be in Hawaii … with Daddy … and have me in the next bed.  This will be like the honeymoon that you never had.  You don’t need to have me there keeping you from enjoying yourselves.”


Martha said, “Are you telling me that after all your hard work that you don’t want to go?”


Clara said, “I intend on going and spending time with you and Dad, but I don’t need to sleep.  If I decide to take a nap, I can find a secluded beach or mountain.”


Martha said, “No way!”


Clara said, “I want this to be special for you!”


Martha said, “It isn’t your job to take care of us.  You do too much of that as is.  We’re the parents.  This is your time to be young and enjoy life … and this may be one of the last chances we have to do something like this as a family.  Look.  I’m willing to compromise a bit.  You stay in the hotel with us and I’ll let you get to Hawaii on your own.  Deal?”


Clara said, “Can I stay out all night some nights so that ….”


Martha said, “No.  No unless there is a major earthquake or tidal wave … or another meteor shower … that needs your special attention.”


Clara said, “You wouldn’t have to worry about me doing anything on my own that ….”


Martha said, “That discussion is over.”


Clara said, “Okay.”


Martha said, “But I’ll expect you to pack light if we have to haul your suitcases for you.”






At Metropolis International Airport, Clara hugged her parents goodbye before they got to the airport security area.  Clara had a large hiking backpack strapped to herself.  She handed Jonathan her small suitcase and said, “I have no idea how I’ll kill time until you get to Hawaii.  Jets are ridiculously slow!  I’m going to watch from here until you get halfway … then I’ll watch from Hawaii until you get to there.  I miss you both all ready and we’re still together.  Mom, I reserved a window seat for you.  I’ll stop and say ‘Hi’ when I pass you guys!”


Martha said, “That’s probably not a good idea.”


Jonathan said, “That’s definitely not a good idea.”


Clara said, “Party poopers!  This trip is supposed to be fun.  I want to spend a couple minutes on top of the plane in case Lex asks how I liked my plane ride … I wouldn’t have to lie to him about it.”


Jon said, “It’s still a lie … because you would understand what he meant and ….”


Clara said, “I know … I know.”


Jon said, “I’m just concerned because we have lied so often to protect you … I just don’t want it to become such a habit that we don’t know the difference between lies and truth anymore.”


Clara said, “I know.  A lot of time I wish that I had been born on Earth and was human so that I could tell the truth about everything – just like normal people.”


Martha said, “Uh-huh.  Right.  We had better get started.  There’s no telling how long it will take to go through security.”  Martha looked down at Clara’s bare feet and said, “You did pack some shoes, didn’t you?”


Clara said, “Yes Mom.  I packed a toothbrush too … even though I don’t need one.  Gargling with sulfuric acid is much more effective.”


Martha said, “Another reason why I’m glad we don’t share the same medicine cabinet at home!  Take care of yourself, Baby!  We’ll see you in a few hours.”  Martha leaned over and gave Clara a final kiss on the cheek.


Then Jon took his turn to give Clara another hug and a couple kisses.  He said, “Love you, Baby.”

Clara said, “I love you too Daddy.”


Jon and Martha got in line to go through security and Clara turned and briskly walked away.







Clara went to the airport bookstore and stood at the racks and, without touching them, read all the books that she found interesting.  Then she left the airport and walked down the highway looking for anyone in need of assistance.  She changed a few dozen flat tires, repaired a few minor engine problems and “helped” push a few vehicles out of ditches.  She made a point of checking on her parents as they waited in the airport, then boarded the plane and eventually got airborne.


There weren’t enough people in need of assistance on the highway to help Clara pass the time, so she ran downtown.  It was an unusually peaceful day.  She went to the Eighth Street Mission and asked if they needed help making dinner.  The priest in charge told her that they had plenty of helpers … just not much food.  Clara asked if the priest had a poster board and markers so that she could make a sign.  When she explained what she wanted to do, the priest said he would change the signboard out front for her.


Clara took off her backpack, checked that Adam and Eve were doing okay, and then got out a sketchpad, some pencils and some fixative.  She sat down on the steps to the mission and sketched a few portraits of people passing by and a couple of the priest while the priest changed the signboard to read, “Donate $5.00 to our mission and get a free portrait by a local artist.”  Clara handed the portraits she had drawn to the priest and he stuck them to the signboard then went back inside the mission.  Soon people were standing around to watch her draw and figure out what kind of trick she used to create the portraits.  Her hand moved across the paper in a blur.  It looked like she was scribbling but in less than 2 minutes, she would work her way from the top left hand corner of the paper to the lower right hand corner leaving a fully rendered, lifelike image and signed them “Kayla J.”  When a lot of people came forward, Clara got out a second sketchpad and began drawing with both hands.  Some people wanted her to draw portraits of people or their pets and showed her photos they had with them.  Most people wanted a sketch of themselves, so Clara would look at them for a couple seconds then put on paper what she had seen.  Some people asked if she could draw some famous landmark in town and she would draw it from memory.  After completing each drawing, she would look west to check on her parents.


The priest came back outside and was shocked by the size of the crowd that was gathering.  He walked over to Clara and asked her if she needed anything.  She lifted her right leg a bit and pulled out a pile of money and she said, “You can take this.”  The priest took the money and asked if she wanted a can of pop of something else to drink.  Clara said, “No thanks.”


The priest said, “There are too many people here.  You know about supply and demand, right?”


Clara said, “Yes.”


The priest said, “So I hope it’s okay with you but I’m raising your rates a bit.”


Clara said, “I’m not that good.  I’m like a human copying machine.”


The priest said, “The crowds say otherwise.  The portraits have a lot of style and tell more about the person than a photo might show.  Plus the way you work is very entertaining.”


Clara said, “You can be in charge of setting the price and collecting the money, but don’t be surprised when everyone leaves.  And if you want to do more, you can spray fixative on the drawings as I finish them.  That will allow me to work a little faster.  But please, if you see someone that really looks like they want a drawing but can’t afford it, don’t turn them away.  I don’t mind doing a drawing for them for free.”


The priest changed the donation amount from $5.00 to $10.00.  He went back inside for a minute to hand some money to one of his helpers in the kitchen so they could go out and get some groceries.   Then he came back out and began taking finished portraits from Clara as she completed them and sprayed them with fixative for her.  In his the little free time that left him, he stood by and watched Clara and the crowd.  Some people just watched for a while and donated without requesting a sketch.  Some paid twenty dollars and didn’t want the change.  Clara asked a few mothers with children if she could draw them for free when she sensed that the woman was having a hard time financially.  Ninety minutes had passed and Clara stood up to get a new sketchpad out of her backpack.  She had already finished 46 drawings.  She announced, “I can only stay for another hour.  If I can’t do a drawing for you today, leave your name and phone number with the mission and I will let you know when I can come back and do this again.  Leave a photo if you want to and the sketch will be done before I call you to come get it.  Thank you so much for your patience!”


Fifty minutes later, Clara finished her 80th sketch and handed it to the priest so he could spray fixative on it.  She got up and put her sketchpad and what was left of her pencils into her backpack.  The priest handed he the pump spray bottle of fixative and she put that into the backpack as well.  She quickly checked on Adam and Eve then effortlessly lifted the backpack onto her shoulders and strapped it into place.  As she started to walk away, the priest said, “There’s about $900.00 here.  You have to pay for your paper and pencils and that spray stuff … I went through two bottles of it.  You should take some of this money ….”


Clara said, “No, that’s okay.”


The priest asked, “I’m curious why would you do this. Are you Catholic?”

Clara said, “I don’t like people to go hungry.  It’s not good for business.  And, no, I’m not Catholic … but I do consider the Pope a personal friend.  He did a favor for me once.”


The priest said, “At least stay long enough to share a meal with us.  You paid for the food.”


Clara said, “Sorry I can’t.  I’ll be gone for a couple weeks but I’ll come back someday soon and see if I have any more requests for sketches.  But right now … I’ve really got to fly!”


Clara rounded a corner into an alley.  The priest followed a couple feet behind her, but when he looked down the alley, she was gone.







Martha heard someone say, “Mom.”


Martha said, “Clara?  Is that you?”


Clara answered, “Yes, Mom.”


Martha whispered, “You sound like you’re seated right next to me! Where are you?”


Clara said, “I’m outside … on top of the plane.  I’m using ventriloquism to talk to you..”


Martha whispered, “I hate it when you use ventriloquism.  Especially that “Hey I’m working down here” thing you do when I’m on the toilet!”


Clara said, “I haven’t done that in a long time!  Look out the window!”  Martha looked outside.  Clara’s face peeked down from the top of the window.  Martha swallowed hard.  Clara asked, “How’s it going in there?”


Martha said, “It’s been fun … but if anyone sees me talking to myself, they won’t be offering me any more drinks.  I’m saving the little umbrellas for Eve.”


Clara said, “They would be too small for her.  I’m a little bored.  Hey, should I push the plane so that it gets there an hour early?  I bet they’d be scratching their heads about that one for a while.”


Martha said, “Don’t you dare!  Besides, I want to see the rest of the movie.”


Clara said, “I guess I’ll fly ahead and scout out the islands a bit for places we should visit.  Want to see me do some aerial tricks?”


Martha said, “I would like that … but I don’t want anyone else to see you.”


Clara said, “Love you, Mom.  See you at the airport.”


Martha said, “Love you too, Honey.”  Martha tugged on Jon’s sleeve then looked out the window.  Jon woke up and looked over Martha’s shoulder as Clara flipped and spun to stand on air in front of Martha’s window and waved before spiraling off away from the plane.  Martha said, “Even when I see it … I can’t believe that she can do that!”






Jonathan stood at the hotel desk and said, “What do you mean that the hotel is closed?”


The clerk said, “At the moment, our only guests are people owning time shares here.  Most of the rooms are being redecorated.  The staff is being re-trained.”


Jonathan said, “There are no rooms at all?”


The clerk said, “The few that aren’t being repainted right now are being used for training exercises.  We have people that go in and occupy those rooms and mess them up for the staff to clean up.”


Jon said, “Why can’t we have one of those rooms and have your staff practice cleaning up after us?”


The clerk said, “It’s impossible.  The rooms are messed up and re-cleaned every hour or two.  The training schedules are all set.”


Jon said, “But I have reservations.”


The clerk said, “Like I’ve already told you, the confirmation number you gave me didn’t check out.”


Jon said, “Maybe I wrote it down wrong.  Look under Kent … Jonathan Kent and family from Smallville, Kansas.”


The clerk said, “I have looked, Sir.  It’s just NOT there.  Anyone who had reservations was contacted and referred to other hotels two weeks ago.  The corporation that owns our hotel wasn’t happy that we were only the second best hotel on the islands and ordered the upgrades and the training.  We had no control over what happened and we did our best to make it right.”


Jon said, “Well you didn’t make it right with us.  We WEREN’T notified.  Look.  My family can’t get away very often – certainly not this far away.  This was supposed to be a very special trip for us ….”


The clerk said, “I’m sorry, but there is nothing I can do.”


Jon lowered his head in disgust.  Someone said, “Maybe I can do something.”


The clerk said, “Sir, Mr. Kent says that he had reservations here and wasn’t notified that we couldn’t accommodate him and his family at this time.”


The manager said, “Is that his confirmation number?”


The clerk said, “Yes Sir, it is.”


The manager punched a few numbers into the computer.  He said, “Jim … when the number begins with a ‘PR,’ it represents a special promotional rate.  You must hit control F9 to over-ride the first screen.  You see … here is Mr. Kent’s reservation.  And notice that there is no notation showing that Mr. Kent was sent a notice that we couldn’t provide a room for him at this time.”


Jim said, “Oh.”


Jon said, “Does this mean that you have a room for us?”


Jim said, “No.  All this means is that we have verification of everything you told us.  We still don’t have any rooms here.”


Jon said, “Great, just great.  Can you recommend any place near here that has vacancies?”


Jim said, “I highly doubt that you’ll find anything.  Having this hotel closed at this time of year has created a shortage of available rooms.”


The manager said, “Jim, I do believe we have something available.”


Jim said, “I don’t think so, Sir.”


The manager said, “The top floor isn’t being used.”


Jim said, “No Sir, the entire top floor is being ….”


The manager said, “No Jim, the very top floor.”


Jim stared at his boss in silence for a few seconds then said, “You mean … the penthouse …  the Presidential Suite?


The manager said, “I’m pretty sure that the President isn’t coming this week.”


Jon asked, “How much does it cost?”


Jim said, “Forteen thousand dollars.”


Jon said, “For two weeks?  Are the bathroom fittings made of gold or something?!”


Jim said, “Per night … and yes, they are.”


Jon said, “We can’t afford that!”


The manager said, “Mr. Kent, you don’t understand.  It is this hotel that cannot afford to be known as an establishment that doesn’t make it right when we make a mistake that inconveniences one of our customers.  I would rather have a happy customer occupying an upgraded room than have a dissatisfied customer and an empty suite – especially at a time when the corporation that owns us is watching everything we do so closely.”


Jon said, “So you are saying we can stay in this suite for … for the same price as the room we were supposed to have been given?”


The manager said, “No.  Our policy is that if we make a mistake with your reservations, the room is upgraded and your stay with us is on the house.  But since this is an unusual case, there is one slight condition.”


Jon asked, “Which is?”


The manager said, “Our staff is in training and we have a shortage of people for them to practice on.  You’ll probably be over-run with employees trying to meet your every need … before you even know you need something.  The more demanding you are, the better.”


Jon stood in a stunned silence for a few seconds then stuck out his hand and smiled broadly.  The manager understood his meaning and reached out and shook his hand.  Jon said, “It’s a deal.  This must be the third luckiest day of my life.”


The manager asked, “The third?”


Jon said, “The first was the day that my wife agreed to marry me.  The second was when my daughter came into my life.”


The manager said, “Just sign in and we’ll have you settled in your rooms in no time.”  He rang a bell and ten bellhops showed up to take care of the luggage.  Jon signed the guest book and then followed the bellhops, Martha and Clara to the elevators.  When the elevator doors closed, Jim and the manager turned to each other and smiled.  The manager winked at Jim and said, “That was excellent!  You deserve an academy award for your performance.


Jim said, “Thanks.  You did a great job too … but you took your time getting out here.  I was afraid he was going to leave!  But I think he bought it all.  Mister Luthor should be very pleased.  Hey … that “control F9“ business, where did you come up with that.”


The manager said, “I just improvised!”







Clara got off the elevator with her parents and two bellboys.  The bellboys sat the luggage they were carrying near a large couch.  Clara took off her backpack and put it with the luggage. She said, “This is a nice lobby.  Are we supposed to wait here until our room is ready?”


The older bellhop said, “No Ma’am, I just put down the luggage until you decide which bedroom you want.  Then we’ll take your luggage to your bedroom for you and unpack for you if you want us too.  We can also draw a bath for you or turn down your bed if you would like to take a nap.”


Clara asked, “But where is our room?”


The bellboy said, “This is the main room of your suite.  The kitchen and dining room are over there.  The bedrooms are off the glass hallway over there by the doors to the roof.  The sauna, exercise room, theater and game room are off the hallway leading the opposite direction.  The game room has arcade games and a billiards table.  The theater has a 102-inch plasma screen and a state of the art sound system.  The pool and outdoor hot tub and hanging gardens are on the roof.”


Martha said, “Where’s the bath room?”


The bellhop said, “The guest bath room is down the hall next to the elevator.  Off that same hallway is an office for your use with a computer and high-speed Internet service.  Each bedroom has its own bathroom … and entertainment center.”


Jon said, “How many bedrooms are there?”


The bellhop said, “Twelve, but all of the couches in this room are sleeper sofas if you have a party and a lot of people sleep over.”


Clara asked, “How many families do we share this with?”


The bellhop said, “This is your suite, Ma’am.  It’s just for your family … and whoever you might want to stay with you.”


The other bellhops filed out of the elevator.  Some had the rest of the luggage.  Some had fruit baskets and other snack foods.  The bellhops with the food took it into the kitchen.  The bellhop who had been speaking with them said, “When you select the bedrooms you want, we will take your luggage back for you.”


Jon said, “That won’t be necessary.”


The bellhop said, “That’s what we’re here for.”


Jon said, “That’s all right.  It will take us a while to decide.”


The bellhop said, “Please call us room service when you’re ready and we’ll come right back.”  Jon pulled out his wallet.  The bellhop said, “Sir, we’re not allowed to accept gratuities this month during training.  There is snack food in the kitchen.  Anytime you want something more substantial, call room service.  Your meals are included with the room and the chef would appreciate you sending a lot of work his way.  His staff will be preparing food around the clock.  He hates having it go to waste.  There is a masseuse on call and instructors for tennis, golf and surfing.  Call if you need anything.”


Clara said, “Do you have a map for this place?”


The bellhop said, “On the wall next to the elevator.”


After the bellhops filed out down a staircase near the elevator, Clara turned to her parents and said, “This is ridiculous.  This place probably has it’s own area code!”


Jon said, “Are you coming down with agoraphobia now?”


Clara said, “No, but this is stupid.  The chef isn’t the only one who doesn’t like waste.  All we needed was a place to change clothes and sleep … and I don’t even need to sleep.  This is the kind of place someone might want if they never planned to leave the hotel.  But what is the point of being in Hawaii if you never leave the hotel?  And there is no point of having a place like this if you don’t use it.”


Martha said, “All I know is, kitchen or no kitchen, I’m not cooking … AND … the early Kent gets her choice of bedrooms!”  Martha turned and ran towards the bedrooms and disappeared down the hallway.


Jon looked at Clara and said,  “What?  Don’t you want to pick out a room?”


Clara said, “I don’t need to do I?  Mom will pick one and I think you’ll probably share with her.  That gives me 11 rooms and 5 couches.  I think I’ll just sleep around.  I’ll just be impulsive and crawl into a different bed every night until I find the one I like the best.”  Jon just stared at her.  She asked, “What?”


Jon said, “Do you know what ‘sleeping around’ means?”


Clara said, “Of course!  I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun but this is the first chance I’ve had to do it … and I’m not going to pass up the opportunity!”


Jon said, “Sleeping around means being promiscuous.”


Clara said, “It does NOT!  … Does it?”


Jon said, “It does.”


Clara blushed and said, “Oops! … But you knew what I meant, didn’t you?”


Jon said, “I hope so.”


Clara said, “Well I’m waiting to find out what bedroom Mom chooses … then I’m picking the bedroom farthest away from it … because it’s been a long day and I want about twelve hours of undisturbed sleep.”






Martha knocked on the open door of Clara’s room.  Martha said, “You’re not going to stay in bed all day are you?”


Clara said, “Mom … I’ve never enjoyed myself in a bed so much in my entire life!”


Martha said, “Oh, sorry I didn’t say “Hi,” Lex.  I didn’t know you were in there under the covers!”


Clara said, “MOM!  Lex isn’t in here!”


Martha said, “Oh.  Well, whoever it is, tell him not to leave without having an omelet!  One of the chefs will come up to the suite and prepare one for you.  They are out of this world.”


Clara threw back the covers and said, “Look!  It’s just me in here and about six pillows.  I didn’t even bring Krypto Two with me and Adam and Eve are off exploring somewhere.”  Clara pulled the covers slowly over herself and said, “Oh!  So soft!  How do they make the sheets feel like this?  And I want to take this mattress home with me.  People say that a good bed makes them feel like they are floating on clouds.  I’ve floated on clouds and this is so much nicer.”


Martha said, “Come on.  Get up, but on that new swimsuit and join me in the pool.  Help me burn off some of some calories so I can justify to myself the next call I’m planning to make to room service.”


Clara said, “I don’t want to swim in my suit until Lex sees me in it.  Why don’t you have Daddy help you burn off calories in the pool?”


Martha said, “He has … believe me, he has.  In the pool, … in the hot tub, … in the theater in total surround sound ….”


Clara said, “Mom!  I don’t want to hear that!”


Martha said, “I’m sorry if I was noisy but there’s no point trying to be quiet – you can hear it all anyway.”


Clara said, “I can tune it out … what I meant is I don’t want to hear you talk about it.  It’s bad enough that you feel the need to do that.  They never did that stuff on Krypton.”


Martha said, “Their loss … but then again, maybe they did and you just didn’t have the ability to hear it back then.  Or maybe they had advanced sound deadening technology.”


Clara said, “Eww.  I said I don’t want to talk about that!”


Martha said, “Okay … but you aren’t going to sleep your entire vacation away, are you?”


Clara said, “No, I’m not.  I got up three times last night to swim in the ocean in the moonlight.”


Martha said, “I thought you weren’t going to swim in your … Oh!  You went skinny dipping!”


Clara said, “No!  I wore some blue jeans and a flannel shirt.  This isn’t Rio de Janeiro!”


Martha said, “Well it’s not a convent either, Sister Clary Modesty!  If you don’t want to wear the suit Lex gave you, go buy another one.  We can certainly afford it.  I don’t think any of us has spent a dime since we got here!”


Clara said, “If Lex finds out that I bought another swimsuit he’ll think I didn’t like the one he bought me.”


Martha said, “As long as it is tighter and more revealing, he won’t mind a bit.  Believe me.”


Clara said, “the one he got me is too revealing as is.  I’ll just wait.”


Martha said, “Don’t wait.  Go see him.  Do you know where he’s staying?”


Clara said, “Yes.”


Martha said, “Well don’t waste time and don’t torture that boy by making him wait to see you in that swimsuit!”


Clara said, “I’m here to spend time with you and Dad.  Both of you made it clear that this was a family thing.”


Martha said, “I consider Lex to be part of the family.”


Clara said, “Don’t.  And don’t worry about him waiting to see a swimsuit.  There are plenty of women in swimsuits that Lex can look at.”


Martha said, “All the more reason to make sure that he’s looking at you!”


Clara said, “Now who’s the one who wants to torture Lex?  You want me to keep him focused on me and thinking about things that I’ll probably never do with him.  I don’t want to tease him.”


Martha smiled and said, “But I bet you want to squeeze him.”


Clara said, “Oh, Mom.”


Martha said, “Go!  Remember, the entire swimsuit thing was your idea in the first place.”


Clara said, “That’s a case of my mouth being faster than my brain.  If I go, what will you and Daddy do?”


Martha said, “Maybe hide and seek … or some yodeling.  This place has all kinds of possibilities.  We’ll think of something to do … or have a great day of doing nothing together.  Just get up and have one of the chefs make you a huge breakfast.  Then go and spend the day with Lex.  In a day or two, we can go exploring the islands.”


Clara said, “Okay!”  And hopped out of bed.  She turned and said, “Hey Lex, are you coming too?”


Lex’s voice came out of the closet, “Angel, just have the chef make me an omelet, I’ll be out in a moment.”


The color drained from Martha’s face.  Clara doubled over laughing.  Martha said, “Ventriloquism again?”  Clara was laughing so hard that she couldn’t answer.  Martha walked over and looked into the empty closet.  She said, “That’s so annoying!”




Clara rode her rented bicycle up to the gate of a beachfront estate.  She punched a button on the intercom and waited.  A voice said, “May I help you?”


Clara said, “This is Clara Kent.  Lex Luthor is expecting me.”


The voice asked, “Do you have the price of admission?”


Clara said, “What?!”


The voice said, “It will cost you four big, wet sloppy kisses to get in here.”


Clara said, “Okay.  I have my Father with me.  He’ll pay.”


The voice said, “No he isn’t.  Don’t try to fool me, I know all and see all.”


Clara looked up at a security camera and said, “I guess I’ll try the next mansion.  I hear they only charge one quick, dry, not so sloppy kiss on the cheek.  Tell Lex I dropped by.”


Clara walked her bike in a half circle then began to peddle off as the gate started to open.  She completed the circle and peddled her way up the long driveway.  Lex walked out the side door of the large home and met her as she approached.  Clara said, “Direct me to the beach, kind sir.”


Lex asked, “Want a tour of the estate?”


Clara said, “Maybe I’ll tour the gardens with you later, but inside the house is off limits.  Do you own this place?”


Lex said, “Sadly, I do not.  It is owned by LuthorCorp.  I still have enough connections to get the use of it when I’m in the vicinity … but not without some unwanted attention.  It really is beautiful inside.  You really ought to see it.”


Clara said, “Different place, … same rules.  I won’t go in due to the absence of my parental units.”


Lex said, “So you still don’t trust me.”


Clara said, “No … I don’t trust us.”


Lex said, “There is another reason we shouldn’t go in there.”


Clara asked, “Which is?”


Lex answered, “The presence of my parental unit.”


Clara said, “Maybe we should go to my hotel and use the beach there.”


Lex said, “So it’s your Father or my Father.  Is it safe to assume that the airport didn’t allow your Father to bring his shotgun with him.”


Clara said, “It’s never safe to assume.”


Lex said, “Look.  My Father takes a morning constitutional.  I’ve never seen him on the beach much after dawn on before six in the evening.  He’s very meticulous about his routine.  He has no idea that you are here and he won’t bother us.  If by any chance, he did show up, we could always go back to your hotel.  But the beach here is very beautiful and very private.  You simply have to see it.  There are tall rocks on each side of the beach and a fence around the perimeter of the property.  There is even a small boat.  We can row out onto the ocean and just drift for a while.  Please stay.”


Clara looked at him blankly for a second then smiled at him brightly and said, “Okay.”


Lex took Clara’s bike and parked it near the house, then came back and took her hand.  Lex led her down a long stone walkway that ended at the beach.  Clara said, “I’ve never seen anything so beautiful!”


Lex stared at Clara and said, “Neither have I.”


Clara said, “Are you ready to go for a swim?”


Lex said, “Are you? Where’s your suit?”


Clara said, “I’m wearing it.  Where’s yours?”


Lex said, “In my suitcase … in the house.  I thought we were going out on the boat.”


Clara said, “Okay.  We can do that.  I’ll just leave on all these clothes and you can see me in the suit you bought for me some other time.”


Lex said, “I think … swimming it is!  I’ll just run back to the house and change.”


Clara said, “I’ll wait here and take in the view.  I won’t go in until you get back.”  Lex leaned over and kissed Clara then turned and ran back down the path towards the house.  Clara yelled after him, “Bring some beach towels if you have some!”


Lex stopped, turned and yelled, “Do you need tanning lotion or sun blocker?”


Clara yelled, “I don’t use the stuff because I’m tan enough and I don’t burn.”


Lex mumbled, “Too bad.”


Clara yelled, “Why is it bad that I don’t burn?”


Lex yelled, “You’ve got very good hearing!  Never mind.  I’ll be right back!”  He turned and headed towards the house.


Clara turned to look at the beach as she stepped out of her baggy blue jeans and took off her t-shirts and blouse.  She was almost hypnotized by the sounds and the sights so she jumped in surprise a couple minutes later when a cold hand gently slid down her spine and into her suit at the small of her back.  Without turning, she whispered, “Lex, … don’t do that.”


An all too familiar voice answered, “Wrong Luthor.  I’m Lex’s father, Lionel.”  Despite the heat of the day, Clara felt a chill.  She felt exposed and naked.  She didn’t want to look into his face, so she didn’t turn to face him as he talked to her.  He said, “The tag of your swimsuit was sticking out in back … otherwise, you were perfection.  I couldn’t resist the urge to stick it back in where it belongs.  I couldn’t have it spoiling the view.  I paused when I noticed your tattoo.  You really should consider getting a suit with a lower cut – or getting a two piece … something small … so you can proudly show the tattoo … among other things.  On second thought, since this IS a private beach, you could dispense with the suit altogether.  Why is it that nude beaches are full of people that should never be nude … and here you are … wearing something so inappropriately modest?”


Clara had remained silent until she knew that she would be able to open her mouth without screaming.  As Lionel began to circle her slowly to examine her from all angels, she mechanically said, “You had no right to mess with my … swimsuit that way!”


Lionel said, “I didn’t mean to upset you, Dear.  I only intended to be of assistance.  I would be more than willing to find the tag and pull it back out … if that would make you happy.”


Clara shouted, “NO!  Don’t … you … DARE … touch me again!”


Lionel asked, “Are you a local girl?”


Clara said, “No.”


Lionel said, “Did Lex fly you in here for some fun?”


Clara said, “No.”


Lionel said, “For business then?”



Clara said, “No!”


Lionel said, “Don’t be embarrassed, Honey.  I won’t ask what you charge.  Some say that if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.  Believe me, I don’t have to ask.  I can afford anything I desire.  Will you have time for me when you are finished with Lex?”


Clara shouted, “NO!”


As he continued to circle, Lionel said, “You say “No” a lot, don’t you?”


Clara said, “Anything you could ask me, count on “No” for an answer!”


Lionel chuckled and said, “If that’s the case, let me ask you this:  could you stand living another day without sharing my bed?”


Clara said, “Damn you!”


Lionel said, “I’m a very rich man.  And I made my fortune – I didn’t simply inherit my wealth like Lex did.  I could do more for you than Lex will do.  He’ll just use you and dispose of you.  He’s got someone back home that he plans to end up with.  He didn’t tell you that, did he?  I tried to change his mind about it but couldn’t.  Even with all you have to offer him, I doubt you’ll change his mind either.  He thinks he’s in love … at least what he thinks is love.  But if it was true love, he wouldn’t have brought you here, would he.  Of course, she teases him shamelessly.  He may need you as an outlet for his frustrations.  But you deserve more than that, don’t you?   Any effort on your part to establish a relationship with him will be totally wasted. I, however, am more than willing to be manipulated by you in any way you choose.”


Clara said, “You know that I don’t give a damn about money.”


Lionel said, “And how would I know that? … Do I know you?  Do you work at LexCare … or LuthorCorp?”


Clara said, “If you spent any time looking at my face, you’d know who I am.”


Lionel said, “I have been looking at your face, Dear.  It’s one of your best features.  Oh wait!  NO!  You’re NOT the farm girl, are you?  I do have a few photos of you with that wall of hair of yours pulled back.  It should be a crime for you to hide a face like that.  I love the braid!  Mmmm … mmm … mmm.  So nice!”  I almost understand Lex’s obsession now … almost.  Seeing you like this, I could see where someone could make something out of you.  Oh that’s it, isn’t it?!  Someone did!  I should have recognized Dr. Georgiades work!  Liposuction.  Lots and lots of liposuction.  Tummy tuck.  Breast augmentation.  I see you think that too much is never enough.  This all explains the one piece – it hides the scars.  Lex is trying to make you suitable for him.  How sweet.  But he can’t take the farm out of the girl – or erase your mongrel DNA.”


Clara said, “Not that it is any of your business, but I didn’t have any surgery.”


Lionel said, “So Lex hired a personal trainer for you.  It’s working.  You’re looking very toned.”


Clara said, “You said it yourself.  I’m a farm girl.  Lifting bails of hay is enough of a workout for me.”


Lionel said, “I could give you a workout like you’ve never experienced?”


Clara said, “I’ll take your word for it.  Wouldn’t want you to have to have anything to do with a mongrel.”


Lionel said, “It’s not like I want to have babies with you.  I could always deal with any accidents that happen … or have you spayed.  Wow.  Farm girl … I can’t believe you have a body like this and do nothing to show it off.”


Clara said, “You should know damned well what kind of body I have.  I guess you didn’t pay attention when you undressed me … before you had me lowered into that tank of green liquid.”


Lionel said, “Still delusional, I see.  It’s a shame that such a warped mind is stuck inside such a flawless body.”


Clara said, “The way you are looking at me makes me sick.”


Lionel said, “Since Lex is neglecting you, how about you and me taking a private swim?”


Clara said, “Go to hell!”


Lionel said, “I probably will … which is why, given the opportunity, I will do as I please.  What difference does it make since I’m already damned.”


Clara said, “It’s not right.  I put on this swimsuit for Lex.  He’s the only person who was supposed to see me in it!”


Lionel said, “From my perspective, no one but me should have the right to tell you what to do or how to dress.”


Clara said, “WHAT?!”


Lionel said, “You bear my mark.  That “LL” on your backside tells me that you’re all mine.  Before you got that tattoo, you should have considered that my son’s name is Alexander.”


Clara shouted, “STOP LOOKING AT ME!”


Lionel said, “It’s my beach.  I have every right to stand here and take in the view.”


Clara scowled then turned and ran down the beach and into the ocean.  Lionel shouted, “I’ll be here when you get out.  I bet that suit looks even better when it’s wet!”  Within seconds, Clara was out of Lionel’s sight.  He stood on the beach and laughed.






Clara maintained a position a few feet below the surface of the water so she could watch the beach to see when Lionel would leave or Lex would show up and chase Lionel away.  Suddenly, an arm wrapped around her from behind and pulled her into a tight grip.  She grabbed the wrist of the person who was holding her and pulled with enough force to bend a 3-inch diameter steel bar, but the arm only held her tighter.  Shocked by the situation and the unexpected strength of the man behind her, Clara stopped resisting for an instant and was dragged to the surface.


Clara shouted, “Let go of me or I’ll hurt you!”  As she felt the man decrease his hold on her, she spun to face him and said, “Use your arm to hold me like that again and you’ll lose it!”  The man just smiled at her as he examined her face.  Clara said, “Why did you grab me like that?”


The man said, “To save your life.”


Clara said, “To cop a feel, you mean!”


The man said, “You have got to be kidding!”


Clara said, “I take being manhandled very seriously!”


The man said, “There was no time for an introduction. You were down there for a long time.”


Clara said, “I can hold my breath a heck of a lot longer than that!”


The man said, “Whatever your problem is, it’s not worth killing yourself over.”


Clara said, “My only problem is men who will use any excuse to put their hands on me.”


The man said, “Does that happen a lot?”


Clara said, “Twice in 15 minutes!”


The man said, “That’s easily fixed.  Point out the guy that touched you and I’ll have a little talk with him.”


Clara pointed at him and said, “Talk to yourself!”


The man said, “Hey.  What I did doesn’t count!  I was keeping you from killing yourself!”


Clara said, “I wasn’t trying to kill myself.  I was just relaxing in the water.”


The man said, “People don’t stay under water that long without a snorkel or oxygen tank.”


Clara said, “Well I do.  I’m half fish.”


The man said, “Which half?”


Clara said, “ARRRRGH!”


The man said, “Sorry … I can’t believe I said that.  It must be a programmed response.  People say that to me all the time.  It’s kind of like how people ask, “Is the water wet enough for you?”  You know what I mean?”


Clara said, “No … and I don’t care to know!  I’m busy … so go away.  Voices carry over water and he might hear us.”


The man said, “Who might hear us?  We’re at least two miles out at sea.  Are you talking about the man that molested you?  Where is he?”


Clara said, “Go away!  I fight my own battles!”


The man said, “I guess I’ll just follow you until you lead me to him.”


Clara said, “No, you won’t.  Please, whoever you are … you made an honest mistake.  Thank you for your concern.  But now that you’ve given me my chiropractic adjustment – back and front, you’re services are no longer required.  So … bye-bye!”


The man said, “I’m Arthur … Arthur Curry.  But my friends call me A.C.  And you are?”


Clara said, “Tired of treading water, Mr. Arthur Arthur Curry!”


A.C. said, “I thought you were half fish.”


Clara said, “So I’m only half-tired of treading water, but I’m totally tired of this conversation.”


A.C. said, “If you are tired, you can hold onto me and I’ll swim you back to shore.”


Clara said, “I don’t want you to touch me!  Just go away!  Please, Mr. Curry, just go away!”


A.C. said, “It’s A.C.”


Clara said, “To your friends.  I know.  I heard.  But we aren’t friends.”


A.C. said, “We could be.”


Clara said, “I can say it in a lot of different languages if you don’t grasp it in English – GO AWAY!”


A.C. said, “I understand what you are saying.  I just won’t leave you here to try to hurt yourself … or have you go ashore alone to confront the man that molested you.”


Clara said, “I am NOT going to hurt myself!  … And that man on shore … I’m starting to like him a whole lot more than I like you!”


A.C. said, “I’ve heard that!  That beautiful women like yourself sometimes come to love the men that abuse them.  It always breaks the heart of a nice guy like me to hear about things like that!”


Clara said, “There’s already enough salt water in the oceans so don’t frustrate me to the point of tears, okay?  Just go away.”


A.C. said, “No.  Not until you take me to the man that ….”


Clara said, “I won’t!”


A.C. said, “Like I said, I’ll follow you until you lead me to him.”


Clara said, “You’re not fast enough!  I’ll leave you in my wake!”


A.C. said, “In the water, no one is faster than me.”


Clara said, “Want to bet?”

A.C. said, “Yes.  That’s a bet I can always win.  What should we wager?  A kiss?”


Clara said, “NO!”


A.C. said, “Scared you’ll lose?”


Clara said, “NO!”


A.C. said, “Scared you’ll win and miss out on the best kiss of your life?”


Clara said, “NO!”


A.C. said, “Don’t worry.  I’m fast.  You won’t have to cheat to lose.”


Clara said, “I’m cone talking to you!”


A.C. said, “You mean you’re done saying “No” to me?”


Clara said, “NO!  Good-bye MISTER Curry!”


Clara sank into the water then began swimming further out into the ocean.  When A.C. passed her, she changed course and began swimming even faster.  He passed her again doing the backstroke.  She began swimming as fast as she could and he stayed right at her side.  She headed for the surface and shot out of the water.  She hit the water running.  She looked back to see Arthur’s head sticking out of the water as she ran across the ocean’s surface.  She made a wide arc and headed back towards Hawaii.  After running several miles, she dove into the water and swam down to the ocean bottom.  She hid behind a rock and looked around to see if she could locate A.C. just to make sure he didn’t know where she was.


From behind her, an arm wrapped around Clara’s waist.  She looked down and saw that the arm wasn’t human.  She turned to see a giant squid.  She turned back and saw A.C. smiling at her.  She pushed the last air out of her lungs.  A.C. looked suddenly concerned.  Clara asked, “Does this thing do your bidding?”


A.C. said, “Yes.”


Clara said, “You’re full of tricks, aren’t you.”


A.C. said, “So are you.  You’re amazing!”


Clara said, “Tell it to let go of me or I’ll have to hurt it.”  The said released its grip and moved away.  Clara said, “Are you done playing games with me now?  I’ve got somewhere else to be.”


A.C. said, “You’re amphibious!”


Clara said, “Not really.  I can just get along without oxygen.”


A.C. said, “Now I can never let you go.”


Clara said, “What do you mean by that?”


A.C. said, “You’re the only woman I’ve ever met that could share my life with me.  Now that I’ve found you, I’ll do everything in my power to make you a part of my life.”


Clara said, “Like HELL!  Just stay away from me!”


A.C. said, “I’ve already told you that I’m going to follow you.  I won’t let you go back to an abusive relationship.  You’ve tried getting away from me.  I hope you’ve learned that that’s not possible.”


Clara said, “That’s called “stalking” and it’s WRONG!  My life is mine and my choices are mine.  Leave me alone!  I’m going now.  I won’t be so gentle if you or your friends try to stop me!”


Clara ran across the ocean floor then walked up out of the water and onto the private beach where Lex was waiting for her.”


Lex said, “Wow!  Venus emerges from the sea.  You look great, but I thought that you were going to wait for me.”


Clara said, “Your Father came out and bothered me.  I hoped you’d be back soon and chase him off but he kept saying terrible things and it seemed like forever.  I couldn’t stand it anymore so I went out into the water where he couldn’t bother me and waited for him to leave.”


Lex said, “He wasn’t here when I got here.  And I’ve been here for some time.”


Clara said, “I had to make sure he was gone … then there was this man … out there in the water … Oh, NO!”


A.C. walked out of the water and up to Lex.  He glared at Lex and said, “Is this the man that accosted you?”


Lex said, “Excuse me.  This is a private beach!”  He turned to Clara and said, “Clara, who is this?”


A.C. smiled and said, “Clara!  I like it!  Clara Curry.  Sounds good!”


Clara said, “Oh no!  This is a nightmare!”


A.C. said, “Clara, darling, is this the man that touched you?”


Clara said, “This man is … is Lex Luthor … and he can touch me any time … and any way he wants to!”


Lex said, “I can?”


Clara said, “Of course you can, Honey!  That’s your right … as my husband!”


A.C. said, “Your HUSBAND!”  Clara grabbed Lex around the waist and yanked him close to her.  A.C. asked, “Where’s your wedding ring?”


Clara said, “I wouldn’t risk losing it in the ocean.  I had Lex put it in the nightstand drawer by OUR bed … next to the contraceptives … that we use when we have sex … lots and LOTS of sex!”


A.C. said, “Sorry to bother you Mr. Luthor.  You’re a very lucky man.  You have a very special woman.”


Lex said, “Yes … I am lucky.  Clara is one in a billion.”


Clara said, “Baby, you are so sweet!  I love you so much!”  Clara pulled Lex’s face to her and began kissing him passionately.  Every time Lex started to pull away, Clara pulled him back and continued kissing him.


Finally A.C. mumbled, “A very lucky man.  She really doesn’t need to come up for air.”  In a clearer voice he said, “I’ll leave you two alone.  Maybe our paths will cross some other time.”  A.C. turned, walked off the beach and was gone.


After a few minutes, Clara let go of Lex and looked around.  She said, “Thank God!  I think he’s gone!”


Lex said, “I don’t know, Mrs. Luthor, maybe we’d better not take any chances.”  Lex pulled Clara close and they began to kiss some more.






A few hours later, Clara invited Lex to come and see the hotel suite where her family was staying.  Lex loaded Clara’s rented bike in the back of his car and they drove to the hotel.  They didn’t notice the man standing at the front desk or see Jonathan standing at brochures at a stand around the corner.  The man at the desk turned around and said, “Mr. And Mrs. Luthor!  Our paths did cross again!”


Lex and Clara turned to face A.C.  Jonathan’s head shot up in surprise.  He looked at the A.C. and then at Clara and Lex.  He saw Clara jerk Lex into a quick embrace.  She said, “Oh.  Mr. Curry.  I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on!”


A.C. laughed and said, “That’s what I count on.  It’s kind of like a disguise.  You should know.  I might have not recognized you in your street clothes if you weren’t standing next to your husband.  Dressed this way, I would never have realized that you are Power Girl.”


Clara said, “I’m … I’m not ….  I never have ….  Lex bought me a Power Girl swim suit.  I’m flattered that you think I look like her.”


A.C. said, “OH!  Haven’t you told your husband yet?  Is that it?  Did I spoil the surprise?  I thought he knew when he said that you were one in a billion.”


Clara said, “No!  I would never keep a secret like that from my husband.  I wouldn’t marry a man if he didn’t know everything about me.”  Clara shot A.C. a quick, nasty look then smiled again and said, “A.C. … since we are friends and all, you can understand why I don’t want you filling my husbands head with thoughts of Power Girl.  I can be very jealous and I don’t want my man thinking about someone else …especially when his choice of swimwear for me already indicates a certain fascination with her.  Understand me?”


A.C. said, “I won’t mention her again.  You can count on it.”


Lex said, “Honey, the choice of swimwear was … was just because I thought it would look good on you.  The truth be told, I would have much rather chosen something in a two-pieece, but out of respect for your modesty I ….”


Clara kissed Lex then said, “I love my swimsuit.  It’s a Clara Kent swimsuit now and Power Girl’s boyfriend, whoever he is, can just envy you now.  Okay?”


A.C. said, “Clara Luthor swimsuit?”


Clara said, “What?”


A.C. said, “Don’t you mean that it’s a Clara Luthor swimsuit now?  Isn’t that your name?”


Clara said, “Oh!  How silly of me!  Kent was my maiden name and I’m not quite used to my new name yet.”


A.C. said, “Oh I see.   So how long have you two been married?”


Lex said, “Just a week.  But we’ve known each other for years.”


Clara looked over her shoulder and saw Jon walking quickly towards the elevators an punch the up button.  He turned and looked her direction.  She shot him a quick smile.  He didn’t return it.  Instead he turned back to the elevator and punched the button a few more times.  Clara said, “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I see my Dad getting on the elevator.  Lex put them up in the Presidential Suite here and they didn’t know we were coming for a visit.  I’d better run over and let him know we’re here.  See you later Mr. Curry.”


A.C. said, “A.C. … Please call me A.C.  We’re friends now, remember?”


Clara forced a smile and said, “Of course.  A.C.   See you later.”  Clara kissed Lex quickly and uncoiled herself from their embrace.  She turned and headed across the lobby to the elevator.  The doors were closing so Clara called, “Daddy … wait for me!”  Jonathan looked at her in a blank stare as the doors closed between them.


Jon was briefly shocked to see Clara standing at the door to the elevator when it opened in the penthouse, then his blank look returned and he walked past her and down the hall to the master bedroom.  Jon closed the door and at on the end of the bed.  Clara opened the door without knocking and followed him inside.  Clara asked, “Dad, did I just develop the power to become invisible? … Daddy?”  Jon just ignored her.  Clara walked over, sat on the floor at his feet, put her hands on his knees and leaned into his legs as she studied his face.  She said,  “Daddy … please … what’s wrong?”


Jon said, “Everything’s just peachy.  Don’t you have someplace else to be?”


Clara said, “Not at the moment.  I want to know what’s wrong.”


Jon said, “I’m surprised that you want to know.  I would think you would prefer that we keep secrets from each other … or does that just work one way – keeping secrets from parents?  Correction – ADOPTED parents.”


Clara said, “Daddy, you’re scaring me.”


Jon said, “I know, Clara.  Understand?  I know EVERYTHING!”


Clara said, “No, I don’t understand.  What do you know?”


Jon said, “I know why you didn’t want to share a hotel room with us.”


Clara said, “Of course you do.  I told Mom all about it.  I wanted you and Mom to have privacy so this could be like a honeymoon for you.”


Jon laughed a sad laugh and said, “A honeymoon … yes … a honeymoon … but not for us.  It was you that wanted your privacy, wasn’t it?”


Clara said, “Well, … I don’t care much for hearing you two go at it.”


Jon said, “Does it make it too distracting for you to concentrate on what you’re doing?”


Clara said, “It can be distracting … and embarrassing.  I’m glad that you and Mom still love each other that way … but it’s something that I shouldn’t be hearing.”


Jon said, “I’ll make a deal with you.  Your Mom … ADOPTED Mom and I will be quiet in our lovemaking if you show us the same courtesy when you’re with Lex.”


Clara pushed back from Jon and blurted out, “DADDY!  Oh my God, Daddy!  What’s the matter?  … What are you thinking?”


Jon said, “He probably arranged for us to have this suite … so we could be together without being together.  Were you in on that too?  Was that part of the master plan?  I am such an idiot!  You might as well move him into whatever bedroom you pick for yourself.  We might as well be honest about what’s really going on here … rather that you hinting about it by making comments about sleeping around.”


Clara said, “Daddy, are you trying to hurt me?  Why don’t you just use kryptonite?  That doesn’t hurt nearly as much as ….”


Jon said, “Hurt you?  Hurt YOU?!  Do you have any idea how hurt I am right now?  I can’t imagine how your Mother is going to feel when she finds out.  As much as I’d love to spare her, I’m certainly not going to keep this from her.  We’re still family.  We at least are still honest with each other.”


Clara said, “I’m not having sex with anyone!”


Jon said, “Really?”


Clara said, “I’m NOT having sex with Lex Luthor!”


Jon said, “You should be.  He’s entitled!”


Clara said, “WHAT?!  I won’t be doing anything like that unless I’m married!  How could you say something like that to me.  You’re my Father!!”


Jon said, “Am I?”  Clara looked at him in shock.  She was unable to hold the tears back any longer.  Jon said, I always considered myself as your Father … from that first time I held you … certainly by the time I told you your first bedtime story.  But now I find out that I was just a convenient substitute.”


Clara said, “You ARE my Father!  Nobody … NOBODY is or ever has been more to me than you are!!!”


Jon said, “I thought … when the time came … when someone came for you, that, as hard as it might be … that it would be me that gave you away.”


Clara said, “Don’t give me away Daddy!  I don’t know what I did wrong, but I want to stay with you forever!”


Jon said, “Don’t you get it, Clara?  I KNOW!  You don’t have to hide it from me anymore.  Don’t worry.  I’ll be very polite … very civil with him.”


Clara said, “With who?”


Jon said, “Your husband.”


Clara said, “WHAT?!”


Jon said, “I heard.”

Clara said, “Heard what?”


Jon said, “I know that you eloped … with Lex Luthor.”


Clara said, “I did WHAT?”


Jon said, “I know!  I just don’t know how I’ll tell your Mother that you denied her the right to witness her only child’s wedding.”


Clara said, “Don’t tell her that!  It’s not true!  Who told you something like that?  Why would you believe it?”


Jon said, “I was in the lobby.  I heard that man calling you Mrs. Luthor … and I saw how you and Lex acted together.  You didn’t deny it.  You verified it!”


Clara sobbed, “Oh Daddy, NO!  I’m so sorry!”


Jon said, “We’ll get through this somehow.  It could be worse.  Did he get you pregnant?”


Clara shouted, “NO!  DADDY, PLEASE STOP!  Please listen to me for a minute!”


Jon said, “At least the truth is out there now.  That’s a start.  Did you tell him about your powers?”


Clara said, “The truth ISN’T out there!  PLEASE LISTEN TO ME!  Please!  That blonde guy in the lobby –  I met him earlier today and he was hitting on me … and he just wouldn’t stop … and he’s some kind of mutant or alien or something and I couldn’t get away from him … so I told him that I was married to Lex  … and Lex … Lex played along.  That’s all.  I don’t want to get married.  I don’t want you to send me away.  I just want to still be your little girl!”


Jon turned very pale and mumbled, “So … that’s the truth … is it?”


Clara gasped, “Yes!”  Clara laid down on the floor and sobbed convulsively.  She said, “Daddy … please don’t cry … okay?  I’ll be okay in a little bit … I just need you not to cry … and a little time.  I’m sorry I hurt you.  Okay?”


Jon sat on the floor behind her and stroked her back so she couldn’t see his tears and said, “Okay … everything’s okay … I’m sorry too.  I was stupid not to trust you.”






Martha asked, “Clara, when are Adam and Eve getting married?  I thought we were going to have the ceremony the first or second day that we were here.”


Clara said, “I thought so too, but they are busy planning their family and trying to decide what kind of ceremony they want.  But mostly what they are doing is something they refer to as “fine tuning” themselves for each other.  They want to be in perfect harmony with each other before the ceremony.  I told them to let me know at least a day ahead of time.  I want to do whatever I can to make the day special for them.”


Martha asked, “So what are we doing today?”


Clara said, “I heard of this village that is having a hard time of it due to a few years of bad harvests.  I thought I would look around a bit … examine their soil … see if there was anything I could do to help.”


Martha rolled her eyes and said, “Sounds like fun.”


Clara said, “I could go alone.”


Martha said, “Don’t be silly.  With your Dad and Lex out deep-sea fishing, what would I do here alone?  We’ll make it a girls’ night out.  Even if you decide to dig this town a new irrigation system, how long will that take you?  Half an hour tops!   Maybe we can find some grass skirts for cheap and get a few dancing lessons.  And Lex did leave his rental car for our use.  I haven’t ever gotten behind the wheel of a Porsche before.  I’d love any excuse to tool around in it for a while.”


Martha drove Clara to a large farm on the outskirts of a large village at the base of a small volcano.  It was deserted and the plant life was barren.  Clara got out of the car and walked down a row coffee plants.  She knelt down and ran some soil through her hands.  She returned to the car and said, “I’ve never seen anything like it.  The soil seems to have a weird polarity to it.  I made me feel kind of sad just touching the ground.  I’ve never felt anything so strange.  There is definitely something wrong with the soil and maybe things would get better if some new soil was brought in.  But no one is doing anything.  Its like they’ve all given up.  You know how far I can see and I can’t see anyone in any of the fields around the village … and all the plants life looks just as bad, if not worse!  I can’t help them if no one believes that anything can be done about it.  I’d like to go into town and see if anyone can tell me what’s going on.”


Martha drove Clara into town.  They asked around and were directed to a small shop run by a local woman named Mrs. Haunani.  After they introduced themselves to Mrs. Haunani and asked about why the area plant life was so bad, she invited them to sit and have a glass of cold lemonade with her.


After they were seated, Clara asked, “Why aren’t there any workers in the fields around the village?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “They have learned that it is hopeless to try.  The volcano god is lonely.  He has no companion so the fields will yield no crops.”


Clara said, “They don’t believe that … do they?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “Their belief was weak before the crops failed, but they believe again and soon someone will come forward and make a sacrifice that will put things right again.  I guess it’s pretty typical.  In years of prosperity, people don’t think much about the volcano god and are bothered when asked to leave food by the entrance to his domain.  Generations have been born who have never known hard times.  Many start acting as if the volcano god is nothing more than a children’s story.  Then when the Companion dies and is returned to us … and the volcano god gets sad, the hard times come again.  As time passes and the yield from the harvests grow worse and worse, more people believe.  Eventually an acceptable maiden will come forward and volunteer to sacrifice her life in the company of men to share a life with a god.  When the people see the maiden taken to be the new companion, they return to work and the soon harvests become abundant again.”


Clara said, “Does this happen a lot?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “Every 150 years or so.”


Clara said, “How do you pick a companion?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “We don’t pick the Companion.  It is strictly voluntary.  We do have a few qualifications.  Unfortunately, not as many young women keep themselves pure these days … or willingly give up a normal life for the good of the community.  A lot has changed in the 156 years since my great, great, great, great aunt became the last Companion.  She was such a sweet woman.  I personally saw to it that she got cable TV ten years ago.  That wasn’t cheap.  That was one long cable!  Fortunately we had already run power lines.”


Clara said, “This is ridiculous.  Has it always been like this?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “No … but it has been going on longer than my people have kept records.  It started after the war of the gods.  We were a mighty continent before the war.  Some gods wanted to rule this world.  Some gods wanted us left alone to govern our own affairs.  These gods flew through the air at will – no airplanes or flying carpets.  There was much destruction and most of our lands sank below the sea.”


Clara asked, “And one of these gods still lives in the volcano?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “No … not the same.  The gods that fought looked like men.  The volcano god is a giant of living rock.  He looks nothing like us.  But he came with many other strange beings to protect us.  The ones that came with him were slaughtered … but the volcano god survived and is with us to this day.”


Clara said, “So, you worship him?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “Oh my, no!  I am a Christian.  The volcano god is a powerful friend who lives a lonely life because he gave up his life in the heavens to save these islands from being destroyed.  We owe him everything.  And when we are kind to him, we are blessed with a plentiful harvest.”


Clara said, “And he punishes you if you don’t give him a companion?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “No … he is kind.  It is when not one of us is kind enough to share a life with him that we bring on our own suffering.”


Martha said, “So what does the Companion do?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “She lives with the volcano god.  He keeps her safe, tells her great stories and shares divine information with her.  And he blesses her with good health and beauty for all the days of their life together.”


Martha said, “Does she have a home on the volcano?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “No, she lives inside of the volcano with him.”


Martha said, “How does she get inside the volcano?  Is there a cave or tunnel?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “There is a beautiful ceremony.  The village throws a feast in her honor.  She dances in joy for her people and then she jumps into the volcano and swims in the liquid rock until the volcano god comes to claim her.”


The women sat silently for a few moments before Clara asked, “Nobody volunteered to be the Companion yet, did they?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “A few.”


Clara said, “You aren’t going to let them jump into the volcano, are you?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “No.”


Martha said, “Thank God!”


Mrs. Haunani said, “They weren’t qualified.  There are a few young women who might soon qualify that say they will do it, but we won’t let them until they are at least 16.  By the time they normally reach that age, they usually decide that they want to have a human lover … or have children someday.  Or they are just too scared to do what is required of them when the time comes.”


Clara asked, “Would you let me be the Companion?”


Martha said, “WHAT?!”


Mrs. Haunani said, “This is a serious business!”


Clara said, “I am serious.  I would rather jump into the volcano than know that, in the next few months, someone else will end up doing it.”


Mrs. Haunani said, “Are you suicidal?  If you are, you’d better not do this.  If you expect to die, you will be disappointed.  The volcano god will protect you and you will live a very long time!  Your life will be extended, not shortened.”


Clara said, “I’m not suicidal.”


Mrs. Haunani asked, “Then why would you volunteer?”


Clara said, “For my own reasons.”


Mrs. Haunani said, “If you don’t believe that the volcano god exists, you shouldn’t do this.  I know it’s true.  The food we leave for the companion disappears every day.  She even visits us occasionally.  When white men first came to this island and so many died, the Companion brought us knowledge from the volcano god that saved many who were stricken and kept the healthy among us from getting sick.  We may not worship him, but many of us know that he is real … and that he is our friend … and that he needs a Companion.”


Clara said, “I’ve made a commitment to help you.  That’s all you should care about.”


Mrs. Haunani said, “You’ll have to pass an examination.”


Clara asked, “What kind of examination?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “The Companion must be a virgin.”


Clara said, “That’s ridiculous!”


Mrs. Haunani said, “Oh … I understand.”


Clara said, “What do you mean you understand?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “I had heard that not many woman from the mainland get to be your age without their purity.”


Clara said, “Well I am a virgin!  And I’m not as old as I look.  It’s just that I don’t think it’s right that being a virgin is a requirement.  Is your volcano god a virgin?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “I don’t know.  All that I know is that his Companion must be a female and must be a virgin.  We have never had the issue of race before … but you’re not exactly white, are you?”


Clara said, “Not exactly.”


Mrs. Haunani said, “You could pass for an island girl.”


Martha said, “Clara, this isn’t a good idea.  This is a pagan ritual.  You shouldn’t participate in something like this.”


Mrs. Haunani said, “It isn’t pagan.  It’s like an induction ceremony into a very elite club.  We don’t worship the volcano god.  We simply have a relationship with him – an understanding.”


Martha said, “I don’t like it!”


Clara said, “Come on Mom!  This is a vacation for me.  It’s a chance for me to let my hair down – to go a little wild and be the center of attention for once without any consequences.  AND I get to help these people out.  After they see me do my little swim in the volcano, they’ll all go back to work and everything will be fine.”


Martha asked, “Will this ritual be on the news?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “Heavens no!  The authorities will try to stop the ceremony if any word of this gets out!”


Clara said, “That’s perfect.”


Martha said, “So, if you do this … and it works … the people go back to work and have a great harvest, that will teach the people to keep throwing young girls into the volcano!”


Mrs. Haunani said, “We don’t!  They volunteer.  They jump in on their own!”


Clara said, “They won’t even try it again for another 150 years!”


Martha said, “But what if the harvest is bad sooner than that – in 3 or 4 years?  What if it doesn’t get better at all and they think that you just weren’t the right person for the job?”


Clara said, “I can deal with that when it happens.  All that matters for the moment is keeping someone a little less fireproof from doing their civic duty!”


Martha said, “I don’t like any of this, but you’re a grown up now.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide.”


Clara said, “When can we do this?  I’m only in Hawaii for another week.”


Mrs. Haunani said, “I don’t think you’re grasping this.  If you do this, you’ll be here the rest of your life.”


Clara said, “That was stupid of me.  Of course … I just meant that we were planning to stay a week more and can’t afford to stay on longer than that if you won’t let me be the Companion.”


Mrs. Haunani said, “You’ll need to learn the dance.”


Clara said, “I learn quickly.”


Mrs. Haunani said, “We can have the feast ready in no time at all.  There is a full moon out tonight.  We normally would like you to have more time to consider what you’re doing, but if you want to, we can do this tonight.”


Clara said, “Then it’s settled.  Tonight it is!”


Mrs. Haunani said, “Not quite settled.  I’ll need you to go in the back and take off your pants.”


Clara said, “Yuck.”


Mrs. Haunani said, “It’s not what you think.  You need to have on the grass skirt before we see if you are accepted by the symbol.  If you are, we won’t be able to remove it and it would be much harder for you to get dressed afterwards.  The symbol will not accept you if you are not a virgin … or if you aren’t brave enough to jump into the volcano.”


Clara said, “What is this symbol?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “Pick out a grass skirt from my shop that will fit you and a top and bottom from the rack over there, then go into the back and change clothes.  Call me when you are ready and I will get the symbol.”


There were only two-piece swimsuits to choose from.  Clara picked out one of the most modest swimsuits in the shop.  It was red and had a full bottom but a top that was kind of skimpy.  She took a grass skirt and went into the back room.  In a couple seconds she called out that she was ready.  Mrs. Haunani and Martha joined Clara in the back room and Mrs. Haunani opened a cabinet door.  Clara jumped back at the sight of the green metal hoop.  When she didn’t feel the pain of kryptonite poisoning, she realized that the metal wasn’t kryptonite.  The hoop was a ring of flat metal of a constant thickness but of varying height.  The tallest portion of it had an elliptical metal disc made of the same metal and engraved with thick white numbers “101.”  It looked somehow familiar to Clara, but she didn’t know where she had seen something like it before.  Mrs. Haunani lifted the hoop gently and held it out towards Clara.  Clara asked, “What do I do with it?”


Mrs. Haunani said, “Put it over your arms and over your head and work it down your body.  Wear it like a belt.”


Clara said, “It’s solid metal.  If it goes over my top, … it will probably fall right off.”


Mrs. Haunani said, “If it accepts you, it won’t fall off.  If it falls off, that means that you aren’t acceptable.”


Clara put it over her arms and head and gently worked it down her body.  When it got below her rib cage, Clara gasped in shock when it suddenly shrunk to a smaller diameter.  The elliptical disc with the numbers in it turned as the belt shrunk, then the belt fell to rest on her hips.  Clara staggered a bit.


Martha said, “Honey, what’s wrong?”


Clara said, “I think I felt a little faint for a moment.  That’s strange.”


Mrs. Haunani said, “That is strange.  It is said that wearing the symbol makes the companion stronger, not weaker.  But you have passed the test.  There is no turning back now.  Only the volcano god can release you from the belt now.  I will go announce to the village that the volcano god will have his Companion tonight.  They will begin to prepare the feast and I will get some local women to teach you the dance.”


Clara said, “Can my Dad come?  He never got to see me in a school play or anything before.”


Mrs. Haunani said, “Yes, but you must stay with us now.”


Martha said, “I don’t think that Jon will like seeing you do this.”


Clara said, “He always enjoys it when he sees me doing extreme sports.  He should get a kick out of seeing me jump into the volcano.  I’m his little tomboy, remember?  And I bet he’ll like the feast too.  Can you go wait for him to get back from his fishing trip, then bring him back to see the ceremony?”


Martha said, “When I tell him what you are planning to do, I don’t think I could stop him from coming.”


Mrs. Haunani said, “You must tell no one other than your husband!  If you bring the authorities, we will hide your daughter and deny anything you say.”


Martha said, “Don’t worry.  When it comes to keeping secrets, you picked the right family.”






Martha and Jon sat at a table near the mouth of the volcano.  The entire area was well lit with moonlight and the glow from the lava 50 feet below the volcano’s rim.  The couple hundred torches surrounding the group of tables weren’t really necessary.  Martha said, “I can’t believe the way you are stuffing yourself!”


Jon said, “I didn’t eat much on the boat today and this food is good!  Are you jealous that I’m enjoying someone else’s cooking for a change?”


Martha said, “No, I’m shocked that you aren’t so concerned about your daughter right now that you can’t eat a bite.”


Jon said, “You’re eating too.”


Martha said, “I had longer to come to terms with this than you did.”


Jon said, “This isn’t a big deal.  Clara has taken a dip in a volcano before … and I for one trust her completely.  You should relax and follow my example.”


Martha said, “Your example?  Trust her?  You should have seen your face when I told you that Clara passed a virginity test!  I don’t think you believed she still was one.  Your example!  HAH!  Mister “my daughter eloped and didn’t let me give her away” wants me to follow his example!”


Jon said, “Clara told you?!”


Martha said, “No, I didn’t need Clara’s hearing powers to hear you blubbering about it.  I was taking a bubble bath in the master bathroom at the time, Mister Observant!  You had better be grateful that I was too zoned out to get out of that heavenly bath to straighten things out between you.”


Jon said, “If you had heard what I heard in the lobby, you would have come to the exact same conclusion that I did!”


Martha said, “Quiet!  The ceremony is starting!”


Drums began to play at a furious pace as nine barefoot young women came dancing up the path and then spread out in a line in the middle of all the tables.  Five of them faced one way and four the other way but they spun in unison every few seconds to face the opposite direction.  They all wore flowers in their hair, small swim tops and grass skirts over bikini bottoms.  The woman in the center, Clara Kent also wore the green metallic belt of that was the symbol of the volcano god’s ownership and protection.  Their bodies gyrated in synchronization in almost machinelike precision.


Jon said, “Wow.  How do they move their hips like that?”


Martha said, “Jon, put your tongue back in your mouth or you’ll be sorry.”


Jon said, “Why am I going to be sorry.  It would be rude to ignore the performance – especially since they’re putting everything they have into it.”


Martha said, “Just trust me … you’ll be sorry.”


Jon said, “The one in the center … the tall one with the green belt.  She … she … WOW!  She’s talented.”


Martha said, “Do you think she’s more talented when she’s facing us or facing the other way?


Jon said, “What?  She’s just very talented no matter which way she’s pointing … um … facing.  You know what I mean.”


Martha said, “All I know is that you’ll be sorry.”


Jon said, “I’m not sorry.  She’s incredible.”


Martha said, “Don’t you think she’s a little tomboyish?  The kind wants to stay home with papa.  The kind that’s not ready to leave the farm.”


Jon said, “Where are you coming up with all this?  The last thing anyone would think of when they’re looking at her is that she’s like a boy in any way.”


Martha said, “Just how many beers did you have on the boat today?”


Jon said, “Lost count.”


Martha said, “Thought so.”


Jon said, “Why does that matter?  You’re doing all the driving.”


Martha said, “So did you check out her face?”


Jon said, “Of course I did.”


Martha said, “So you saw her giving you the eye and winking at you?”


Jon said, “What?  No I ….  You know, she looks a heck of a lot like … CLARA!”


Martha said, “Yep, that’s your little tomboy … front and center … the star of this night’s entertainment. I told you that you’d be sorry.”


Jon said, “SHE’S NAKED!”


Martha said, “No she isn’t!”


Jon said, “Practically!”


Martha said, “She’s got more covered than any of the other dancers.”


Jon said, “Not nearly enough!”


Martha said, “You’ve got one smoking hot daughter, Jonathan Kent.  You should be proud of her.  I bet she’s scared to death up there dressed like that.  She’s trying to shake some of her inhibitions.”


Jon said, “She’s shaking a lot … but I’d rather she keeps her inhibitions if you don’t mind.”


Martha said, “She’s beautiful and she shouldn’t be afraid to show it.”


Jon said, “We’ve got to make her stop!”


Martha said, “NOW you’re worried!  She’ll stop soon enough.”


Jon said, “Look at those guys looking at her!”


Martha said, “Yep … they’re looking at her the way you were a moment ago.  But don’t worry about them.  She only has eyes for you.  I bet she hasn’t even noticed them.  And they aren’t about to try anything.  She’s promised to a god.”


Jon said, “Who taught her to dance like that?!”


Martha said, “She wanted to be a ballerina, remember?”


Jon said, “When she was seven or eight … and she wanted to dance in a ballet, not in a burlesque show!”


The women turned and danced to the path again and on towards the rim of the volcano.  The people at the tables got up and followed them.  Jon was just ahead of three young men.  One of them said, “Why couldn’t an ugly virgin have volunteered?”


One of the other men said, “Yeah!  I know if I had met her before she volunteered, she would have been ineligible!”


The third young man said, “I would have loved to de-flower her … and I’m not talking about the flowers in her hair.  I got to talk to her before the ceremony and I could tell that she wanted me and was sorry she hadn’t met me before she put that chastity belt on.”


Jon turned around and glared for a few seconds into each of their faces.  They read his homicidal look and drifted back in line.  Jon turned back and caught up to Martha.  The crowd spread out around a portion of the rim of the volcano.  The dancers kept dancing until the drums stopped and the dancers froze in their positions.  A man at a distant part of the rim lost his footing and fell forward, there was a gasp from the crowd then an unusual gust of wind that blew the man and a few people near where he stood backwards.  They landed in a heap then sat up.  The crowd turned to face Clara and she jumped off the rim in a perfectly executed dive into the pool of molten rock fifty feet below.  Clara disappeared for a moment then resurfaced and began to swim in a large circle.  Not even the flowers in her hair caught on fire.  She stopped swimming and began to wave to the crowd as the crowd cheered wildly.  She turned until she saw her parents.  Her smile widened and she blew them a kiss.  A shocked expression came over Clara’s face … then she disappeared beneath the surface in a single, sudden, downward motion.  The crowd cheered even louder, but after a couple seconds of stunned silence, Martha screamed, “Clara!”







Clara stood in large chamber inside the volcano.  Something or someone had grabbed her feet and pulled her down and pushed her through a doorway.  When the lava around her spilled out into a little room, she walked down a hallway and found herself in a huge room filled with art deco furnishing, a canopy bed, a lazy boy recliner and a large TV set.  A thick transparent wall separated the space she was in from another chamber that didn’t have much in it except a pool of lava and a big pile of steaming rock with long tubular rock columns extending out from it in all directions.  Clara jumped when she saw the rock pile move a few feet closer to her.  She shouted, “Are you the volcano god?”


A clear voice in her head answered, “Just call me Nat.  It’s close enough to my real name.  You have an excellent mind.  Your thoughts dart quickly about!  I’m so used to slow thinkers that it might take me a while to get used to you.”


Clara shouted, “What gave you the right to bring me here?”


Nat answered, “You volunteered.  The ring never would have accepted you if you weren’t willing.”


Clara said, “What ring?”


Nat said, “Around your waist.”


Clara said, “I didn’t believe that you really existed.  I thought that you were a myth.”


Nat said, “Then I guess you were … myth-taken.”  Clara heard laughter inside her head.


She said, “Was that a joke?  If it was, I don’t appreciate it!”


Nat said, “Yes you do.  I can tell so there is no point directing any lies my way.  I can read your concern, your fear but mostly your anger.  When I made the joke, you were a little amused but much more puzzled that something like me could have a sense of humor.  I have been around your kind a long time and came to enjoy spending evenings with my Companion watching situation comedies.  I haven’t watched since she died.  Is there anything good on TV these days.”


Clara answered, “I don’t watch TV.”


Nat said, “That’s a shame.  I hope you won’t mind flipping channels for me.  I don’t want to melt the remote control trying to do it myself.  What is your name?”


Clara said, “I’m Clara Kent.”


Nat said, “Strange … true but not true.”


Clara said, “Clara is the name my parents call me … the parents that adopted me.”


Nat said, “So … you thought I was a myth.  Then why did you volunteer?”


Clara said, “To keep someone from dying to appease a false god.”


Nat said, “Very noble.  Misguided, but noble.  I guess that, since you weren’t truly committed to this task, I’ll have to return you … unless you changed your mind and want to stay.  I have great stories to tell you and the villagers leave fresh food for you every day.”


Clara said, “I’m only staying long enough to get some answers.”


Nat asked, “Why are you so angry?”


Clara said, “Because I don’t like what you are doing?”


Nat asked, “What am I doing?”


Clara said, “Posing as a god.”


Nat said, “The first thing I try to explain to any companion is that I’m not a god – unless of course, by “god” they mean tall, dark, steamy and extremely good looking.”


Clara said, “If you aren’t posing as a god, why do you punish them if they don’t obey you.  Treating people like they only exist to obey you is wrong!”


Nat said, “Unless you’re their parent?  Did you think that?  I can’t quite read your unspoken thoughts yet.”


Clara said, “It’s just plain WRONG!”


Nat said, “I sense I’m not winning you over with my charm, so I’ll try to give you straight answers.  I don’t punish anyone …not really … not intentionally.  I’m a social animal.  Correction, I’m a social mineral.  Sorry, … I can’t help myself.  My kind live in large communities.  We are rarely alone.  When I am isolated for too long, I get depressed.  I give off an energy that negatively affects plant life.  When I am happy, the opposite is true.  That’s why I try to keep a positive attitude.  I seek companionship so that I can stay happy.  Do you have any other compatibility issues with me?”


Clara said, “Yes.  Several!  I see that you have passageways leading to the surface.  Why did you make me jump into the lava to get here?”


Nat said, “Companions must be brave … or they would die of fright just looking at me.  I ask my companions to give up the life they knew.  This requires great self-sacrifice on their part.  I need to know that they are capable of giving up everything they know and love.  Jumping into the volcano is what you would call an initiation … a test … an entrance exam.”


Clara said, “Why do you need only one companion every 150 years?”


Nat said, “You should have asked if what you were told is true.  Yes, it’s true.  I … or rather, my ring can keep my companion young and healthy for about 150 years, give or take a decade.  Then they die and I have the ring return their body to the village leader so the people will know I need another.”


Clara said, “Like a replacement part?”


A voice shouted in Clara’s head, “NO!  Do you want to make me as angry as you are?  Each and every one of the 98 companions was dear to me.  If you decide to stay a few decades I’ll list the fine qualities of each and every one of them!  I loved them all … and I sensed that they loved me too!”


Clara said, “But why do you insist that your companions be virgins?”


Nat said, “The rules didn’t happen over night.  I found out what worked and stuck to it.  Virgins have never known what it is like to be with someone physically.  You know what I mean.  The companions I had that had experienced physical love became sad because they missed that contact with their own kind … and that made me sad and I had to send them back.  My body temperature prevents me from touching or being touched by a human.  Not that I want a companion to touch me … even if it was possible for them to do so and survive.  Not to be insulting, but I find humans somewhat repulsive to look at.  I have gotten somewhat used to how humans look over the years.  But it is far better to spend my time with someone who is ugly and primitive than to be here alone.  Many of my companions did have beautiful thoughts!  I really came to appreciate inner beauty … out of absolute necessity!  So, the short answer, virgins worked out and the others didn’t.”


Clara asked, “If the person is only here for companionship, then why do you only accept females as companions?”


Nat said, “Have you ever met a human male that can keep a conversation going for 150 years?”


Clara asked, “Is that another joke?”


Nat said, “If it was … it wasn’t intentional.”


Clara asked, “How do your companions survive the swim in the lava?”


Nat said, “The same way you did.”


Clara said, “I’m not as fragile as most human females.”


Nat said, “The ring protects you.  It has enough energy for that.  Even fully drained, it will pull enough energy from the environment to protect the one that wears it – in most cases.  The lava provides more than enough energy for the ring to shield a diminutive creature like yourself.”


Clara said, “A woman in the village said that you came here during a war.”


Nat said, “Good!  You’re settling in and ready for a story!  Why don’t you sit in the recliner and relax?”


Clara said, “I want the short version.  My Mom and Dad are probably worried about me and I want them to know I’m okay!”


Nat said, “Oh.  I thought you might be staying.  Short version of the war story.  An advanced race from another solar system far away had a civil war here and we came to keep this world from being torn apart by the fighting.”


Clara said, “We?  More like yourself?”


Nat said, “No.  Not like me.  We were a diverse group – many species from many planets.”


Clara asked, “So who were the invaders?”


Nat said, “They were from a planet called Krypton.  They discovered that they became incredibly strong when they entered this solar system – at least a portion of them did.  Some found this strength intoxicating.  They wanted to stay and rule the people who were born here.  Others of their kind believed that Kryptonians should not interfere with this planet’s development.  These factions fought each other and nearly tore this world apart.  The human from our group charged with defending this section of space, the one called Haunani, signaled our masters asking for help and we came in force.  Haunani died defending his beloved land Lemuria – watched it sink beneath the waves leaving only this chain of small islands!  The destruction of the continent Atlantis was so violent that it set the Earth spinning at almost twice the rate of speed as it had before – shortening the days from 40 hours to 24.  We were no match for the Kryptonians.  My ring was drained and my only means of fully re-charging it was destroyed.  I was barely able to make it to this place that is warm enough to sustain me without use of the ring’s residual energy.  I signaled for help, but I got no answer.  So I used the little energy left in the ring to adapt this volcano to meet my needs.  The war ended shortly after that, but I was left with no way to get home.”


Clara asked, “Do you think that the group that you belonged to is still looking for you?”


Nat said, “From their failure to answer my signal, I must conclude that the Kryptonians destroyed the entire Corps … perhaps my Masters back on Oa.”


Clara said, “Oa!  The Corps?  She looked down at the ring around her waist.”


Nat said, “The Green Lantern Corps.  I am what they call a Green Lantern – an enforcer working for the Guardians of the Universe.  At least I was … twelve thousand years ago.”


Clara said, “I am so stupid!  I thought it was a binary code!”


Nat said, “On my ring?”


Clara said, “Yes!  I thought it had “101” engraved on it.  That’s the lantern symbol, isn’t it?”


Nat said, “I can tell … you know exactly what it is … but how do you know?”


Clara asked, “If you go home, what will happen to the area plant life?”


Nat answered, “In time, it will return to normal.  But I can’t go home.  There is no way for me to get there.”


Clara vibrated through the transparent wall.  Nat moved away from her.  Clara said, “I have a ring too!”


Nat asked, “You’re a Green Lantern?”


Clara said, “Just honorary.”


Nat said, “The Corps still exists?!”  In the fields surrounding the villiage, new growth began shooting out of the ground.  Flowers began to blossom.”


Clara said, “Yes.”


Nat asked, “Then why didn’t they respond to my signal?”


Clara said, “I don’t know.”


Nat said, “Can I use your battery to recharge my ring?”


Clara said, “I don’t have one.”


Nat said, “A ring is practically useless without the battery.”


Clara said, “I am a living battery.  Your ring already took some of my energy.”


Nat asked, “A human who has that much power inside of them?”


Clara said, “Not human … Kryptonian … the last Kryptonian.”


Nat asked, “An invader?”


Clara said, “No, I’m an immigrant – a refugee that this world adopted.”


Clara began to glow.  The glow diminished.  The elliptical disc on Nat’s ring rotated and the ring expanded.  It fell off Clara’s hips and landed on the rocky surface below her feet.  She stepped out of the ring and held it up for Nat.  Nat extended an appendage in Clara’s direction and Clara pushed the ring onto it.  The disc rotated again.


Nat said, “The ring is fully charged!”  There were a few seconds of silence.  Nat continued, “I can not contact Oa.  There is something wrong with my ring.”


Clara said, “Maybe it was damaged somehow in the war all those years ago.  If it can’t get you back to Oa or your home world, I can go home and get my ring.  You can have it if you need it.”


An opening in space appeared.  Clara saw little blue men floating around in the distance.  Nat said, “Apparently, it can get me to Oa!”  Outside, the plant life was growing at a fantastic rate.  Nat said, “I … don’t know what to say.”


Clara said, “Not even a dumb joke.”


Nat said, “Not even a dumb joke.  How can I thank you?”


Clara said, “Don’t say anything.  Just go home.  If you left the porch light on, you probably have one heck of an electric bill after twelve thousand years.”


Nat said, “Now who’s telling the bad jokes?  Are you going to be going home too – to Krypton?”


Clara stood silently for a moment.  Tears filled her eyes and turned to steam.  She said, “I can’t.  Krypton no longer exists … except in my heart.”







Lex saw Jonathan coming in the beach entrance to the Hotel and called out, “Mr. Kent!”  Jonathan turned and they approached each other.  As they shoot hands, Lex said, “I meant to mention this yesterday on the boat … but I we were having such a good time that I didn’t want to spoil it.  I just wanted to say how sorry I was about the entire elopement misunderstanding.”


Jon said, “I’m more to blame than you are.  I should have trusted Clara more.”  Lex smiled.  Jon added, “I should have known she wouldn’t settle for someone like you.”  Lex’s smile faded, but when Jonathan laughed and slapped him on the back, Lex’s smile returned.


Lex said, “If I have any say in the matter, when the time comes for vows to be said, I won’t run off with your daughter like some thief in the night.  I’ll want the entire world to witness our marriage and know that Clara is off the market for good.”


Jon said, “I think she’s already off the market.”


Lex said, “I hope so, but I get mixed messages from her all the time.”


Jon said, “Her self-confidence comes and goes … but, in the self-doubt department, she is probably the least justified of anyone I’ve ever met … or probably ever will meet.  She can do anything if she sets her mind to it, and I’m not exaggerating.  And I get reminded of it every day.  I just got my daily reminder 5 minutes ago.  She was out all night getting ready for the wedding.”


Lex said, “Where is the wedding being held?  And where is Clara now?”


Jon said, “Two questions – one answer.  It’s being held in a little cathedral not far from here.  Clara is at the cathedral.”


Lex said, “I thought it was going to be in your suite or in the hotel’s chapel.”


Jon said, “Clara is full of surprises.  She decided to move the wedding outside.”


Lex said, “Didn’t you just say that it was going to be in a cathedral?”


Jon said, “I could explain it to you, but seeing is believing.  Just go out to the beach.  You can’t help but see the cathedral.  It’s within easy walking distance.”


Lex said, “I am pretty familiar with the area and I don’t recall any cathedrals.”


Jon said, “Just take a look.”


Lex shrugged his shoulders and walked to the beach entrance of the hotel.  Once he was back outside, he put on his sunglasses and started looking around.  There were no spires to be seen in the direction of the downtown, so he turned to look the other way and almost fell backward from being disoriented.  He could see what looked like a huge cathedral far in the distance, but he knew that the water wasn’t even a tenth of a mile away … and the cathedral was halfway between where he stood and the edge of the water.  Then he saw Clara appear from behind the cathedral.  Suddenly, he was able to judge how big … or how small the cathedral really was.  The sidewalls stood about twelve feet high and the end wall, spire and bell tower were much taller.  Lex walked out slowly to where Clara was spraying the walls with something from a gallon bottle and touching up minor imperfections.  Lex said, “You’re crazy!  You’re absolutely crazy!  Flying buttresses … everything but the stained glass.”


Clara said, “It doesn’t have a front wall either.  And it only has a partial roof.  Normal sized people have to fit inside it and they have to be able to see when they’re in there.  I thought about embedding fake stained glass into the wall, but it would be too dark inside during the ceremony.  I think it’s going to be standing room only.  I probably should have made it bigger.”


Lex said, “Bigger?  I can’t believe it’s this big!  How did you build it that high?”


Clara said, “I made a huge pile of sand and packed it down.  I started carving at the top and worked my way down.  I used some plastic pipe and wood in certain areas for strength and sprayed everything with a biodegradable compound to harden it up long enough for it to survive most of today.”


Lex asked, “What keeps the flying buttresses from falling?”


Clara said, “The same principles that keep the  flying buttresses on real cathedrals from falling.”


Lex said, “But this is sand!”


Clara said, “And plastic pipe and my hardening compound.  Plus I have some other tricks of the trade that I can’t tell you about … or I’d have to kill you.”


Lex said, “What method would you use to kill me.”


Clara said, “I’d let you choose.”


Lex said, “I would like you to kiss me to death.”


Clara says, “I’m not going to tell you so I won’t have to kill you.  My evil plans for you are long term.  Why did you bring a briefcase with you?  Are you planning to do some work during the service?  If you are, I don’t have chairs in there … and the service will only last a few minutes.”


Lex said, “I don’t plan to work.  I brought something to show you.  You made the local newspapers.”


Clara asked, “Did someone take a picture of me when I was in a crowd somewhere?”


Lex said, “A crowd of nine … but you were front and center>”


Clara said, “I don’t know what that could be about.  Show me.”  Lex opened his briefcase and showed her a newspaper that had been folded to display a picture of Clara dancing with eight other women.  Clara said, “Well, that’s pretty embarrassing!”


Lex said, “So that is you?”


Clara said, “Yeah.  Mom and Dad and I went to this village and I danced with some of the village women.  I was told that there would be no cameras.  It was a small group of people and there were all those beautiful women who knew how to dance better than me for the audience to look at instead of me.  I thought it might help me get over my stage fright – at least maybe a little.  It went okay, but I’m still nervous about singing for Adam and Eve’s wedding.”


Lex said, “I’m a little put off that you would willingly dance in public in something so revealing when you wouldn’t allow me to buy you a two piece swimsuit.  But I found something else even more disturbing.”


Lex flipped over the newspaper and handed it to Clara.  She said, “Oh my God!”


Lex said, “I knew you could swim … but I didn’t know you could swim in molten lava.”


Clara said, “That’s ridiculous.!”


Lex said, “Are you telling me that the photo was faked?”


Clara said, “What do you think?”


Lex said, “It looks fake.  Even if you could stand that kind of heat, the flower in your hair would have caught fire.  It’s not even wilted.  What about the rest of the article?  Is it accurate?”


Clara read out loud, “Virgin sacrifices her life to please volcano god.”  She rolled her eyes and said, “Yes Lex, every word of it is true.  I’m dead.  Want to feel my pulse?”


Lex smiled and said, “Yes.  Yes I do.”


Lex moved closer to her and Clara said, “Lex … Lex, this isn’t a private beach!”


Lex pointed at the sand cathedral and said, “We could go inside.”


Clara asked, “You want to make out in a church?”


Lex said, “Any place.  Any time.  When I’m with you, there’s no one else in the entire world.  Could you put on that grass skirt for me?”


Clara’s lips curled in a playful smile and she said, “Sorry, I can’t.  It burnt off when I was swimming in the lava.”






Clara and Lex were sitting on the sand waiting for Jon to take pictures of the miniature cathedral before the ceremony started.  Lex said, “You’re being awfully quiet.  Penny for your thoughts.”


Clara said, “A penny?  Have you ever even touched a penny?”


Lex said, “Stop avoiding … what are you thinking about?”


Clara said, “Marriage … and how maybe marriage isn’t for everybody.”


Lex asked, “Everybody … or for robots?”


Clara said, “Adam and Eve are already married.  They are devoted to each other.  The ceremony is only a formality.”


Lex said, “Like us?”


Clara’s head dropped.  She began running her fingers through the sand as she said, “Not like us.  There are things that stand between us … differences that we may never resolve.”


Lex took Clara’s hand, squeezed it and said, “You know what they say – Viva la difference.”


Clara said, People like to think that opposites attract … but it’s the similarities that make the couple … and keep the marriage.”


Lex said, “Whatever we are, opposites or … similars, I couldn’t be more attracted to you.”


Clara said, “And I’m … I’m attracted to you too … and only you … but I’m also very different from you … and everyone else.  Maybe God intended for my family line to end with me.”


Lex said, “That sounds more like the devil’s intentions to me … and I am far more familiar with him than you are.  I hate it that these feelings of isolation you have has become a recurring theme in our relationship.  It really bothers me.  Can’t you feel my hand in yours?  Can’t you feel me here by your side?  Even when we’re apart, my thoughts are always with you.  Don’t you know that?  Can’t you tell?  And as for your family line, if anyone’s DNA needs replicated, it’s yours.  The world should be filled with Clara Kent clones.  So what is with all this talk about never getting married?  Is it just your way of trying to let me down easy … because, for me, losing you would be like falling off a cliff.”


Clara said, “It’s hard …  it’s hard to talk about it.  It’s just that ….   Let me tell you a story about Eve.  It might make what I’m talking about a little clearer.  I took Eve with me to Kansas City to hear a lecture on matter from white dwarf stars.  After leaving the lecture hall, some guy snatched a woman’s purse.  I ran after him.”


Lex interrupted, “Don’t do that!  Why do you put yourself in harm’s way like that?!”


Clara said, “That wasn’t the point of the story.”


Lex said, “I don’t care!  You have got to stop taking chances like that!


Clara said, “Can I finish my story or not?”


Lex said, “Go ahead.”


Clara said, “I caught up to the guy and he tripped and was knocked unconscious.  But he had already taken the woman’s wallet out of her purse and threw the purse down a storm sewer.  The police took the man away and the woman got her wallet back, but she was upset about loosing her purse.  She had medications she needed and personal photos and other personal items that she couldn’t replace in that purse.  So I asked Eve if she would help and she volunteered to go down the storm sewer and get the purse.  She was gone a long time – at least longer than she should have been.  I was starting to get kind of worried and mad at myself for sending her down there.  She is far more precious than anything that was in that purse.”


Lex said, “Exactly my point about you chasing that purse snatcher.”


Clara said, “I thought you were going to let me tell this story,”


Lex said, “Go ahead.”


Clara continued, “So, Eve came back and called for me.  I reached down and got the purse from her then lifted her out of the storm drain.  She was all smiles and happy and I assumed it was because she felt good about helping someone out in a way that only she could.  But then she asked me if she was pretty.  Eve is gorgeous!  I don’t care if I sound immodest saying it.  But I made her to look like my Mom when she was twenty and I did a pretty good job of it.  And I always told her that she was pretty … and brilliant.  So I wondered why she was asking me.  We talked about it later – when we alone.  She told me that, when she got to the purse, a man already had it.”


Lex said, “I thought the reason you sent Eve in there was that the drain pipe was too small for a human to get into.”


Clara said, “It was!  The man was the same size as Eve!”


Lex asked, “A Leprechaun?  Did he lead her to his pot of gold?”


Clara said, “I’m serious!  I don’t know what he was.  But he was that small yet strong enough to drag that purse.  He was down there for the same reason as Eve.  He somehow knew about the purse and was trying to get it back for her.  Eve was very curious about him and he was very curious about him.  Eve is totally lacking the fight or flight impulse.  If she sees something new, she never reacts with fear – she reacts with curiosity.”


Lex said, “I wonder where she got that from.”


Clara said, “I’m not like that at all!  I get scared of a lot of things!”


Lex said, “Like relationships.”


Clara said, “That’s not nice … probably true, but not nice.”


Lex said, “I’m sorry.  So, what about this little man.”


Clara said, “So now you want to hear the story.”


Lex said, “Well don’t stop now that you’ve gotten to the interesting part.”


Clara said, “The man told her that his name was Ray.  In their conversation, she learned that he was one of a kind … not a member of a race of tiny people.  He told her how beautiful she is and Eve was really flattered.  I guess hearing it from someone outside of the family meant a lot and she didn’t know how to handle it.  She wasn’t used to being flirted with.  When she told Ray that she was a living machine, he was surprised and maybe a little disappointed, but still very fascinated with her.  He said that he had read about her in a science journal but had never imagined how sensual she was.  She talked about Ray for weeks after that … until she realized that what she said bothered Adam.  I think the entire Ray incident was the reason that Adam was so anxious to get married.”


Lex asked, “So what does this have to do with you and me?”


Clara said, “Eve and Ray could have fallen in love.  He found her attractive and they had a lot in common.  They are the same size and intelligent and motivated to helping others.  But they are also very different.  Eve could never have the kind of life with Ray as she did with Adam.”


Lex said, “Angel, we’re not THAT different!  It’s not like you’re a woman of steel.”  Clara hung her head.  Lex said, “Clara … come on!  Talk to me about it.”  Clara gave Lex the thumbs down sign.  Lex said, “I’m starting to lose my patience with you shutting me down like this.  You ask me to blind myself to everything just to be near you.  Do you have any idea how that tears me up inside?  We will talk this all out someday, won’t we?”


Clara said, “Someday … someday soon.  Just not today.”


Lex said, “I can live with that … for a while longer.”


Clara asked, “Lex, … do you ever fantasize?”


Lex said, “Of course I do.”


Clara asked, “About what?”  Lex gave Clara the thumbs down sign.  Clara said, “Hey!”


Lex said, “Never saw the thumb from my point of view before, did you?  That was a loaded question you just asked.  I think that I should be allowed to give you the thumbs down once in a while.”


Clara said, “I guess that’s only fair.  Maybe I can ask it differently so I can get you to put your thumb up for me.”  Lex smiled.  Clara asked, “Do you ever wish that you were physically stronger?”


Lex asked, “Do you?”


Clara said, “Normally, No.  I only wish that when someone gets hurts and I wasn’t strong enough or fast enough or smart enough to prevent it.”


Lex answered, “To answer your question, being stronger would come in handy.  And smarter would be good too.  Faster?  Maybe, but life is a little fast-paced anyway.  I still prefer taking some things slow.”


Clara said, “Just because you have the option to be fast when you want to be doesn’t mean that you can’t slow down too.  Let me ask you this:  If you woke up one day and you were stronger than everyone else in the world and you knew who made you that way … would you be angry with the person who made you that way?”


Lex said, “That depends.”


Clara asked, “On what?”


Lex said, “Whether it was a “Robocop” type of thing or not.”


Clara said, “Robocop?   What’s that?”


Lex said, “It was a movie where a policeman was injured and scientists cut off his limbs – even ones that were undamaged, to replace them with mechanical parts.  He ended up separated from the ones he loved.”


Clara said, “That’s awful!  I meant more like waking up and looking the same but being stronger and faster and more aware of the world – being free from pain, unable to be harmed, able to do whatever you want … even fly through the air by your own will power.”


Lex said, “That’s some fantasy.”


Clara said, “But would you hate the person that did it to you?”


Lex said, “I would still be me, right?  I would have free will … not be anyone’s puppet.”


Clara said, “You would have free will and you would start out the same person.  The only danger is that some people are defined by their fears and limitations.  Without limits, some people do change … and not for the better.  But that would be your choice, no one else’s.”


Lex said, “And the side effects?”


Clara said, “None.”


Lex asked, “Would I look different?”


Clara said, “No.”


Lex  said, “Too bad.  Would my lifespan be shortened?”


Clara said, “The opposite is probably true.  You might be immortal and stay young forever.”


Lex said, “Of course I would.  This is, after all a fantasy.  Might as well have everything.”


Clara said, “But would you hate the person that did it to you?”


Lex said, “Why would I?”


Clara said, “Because you would be different from everyone else.  You would be isolated … alone.  The people you love would grow old and die, but you wouldn’t.”


Lex said, “I wouldn’t mind being different.  I’m used to that.  But I wouldn’t want to be immortal … if I couldn’t spend eternity with you.  None of my fantasies would ever exclude you.”


Clara said, “This isn’t a joke.  And eternity is a long time.”


Lex said, “I’m deadly serious.”


Clara said, “Okay.  That’s good to know.  We can be different together.”  Clara leaned up against Lex.


Lex asked, “Delilah made Samson weak by cutting his hair.  Are you planning on making me into some kind of super man by making my hair grow?  I’d like it medium length with a curl right in the middle of my forehead please.”


Clara laughed and said, “There are some things that even I can’t do … and that’s one thing that I wouldn’t do if I could.”


Clara sat up a little and pulled Lex’s head down so she could plant a kiss on the top of it.  The she wrapped her arms around him and rocked him gently.  Jonathan snapped a picture of them together then said, “I’m hungry.  Can we get the ceremony started so that we can have the reception dinner pretty soon?”


Clara said, “See what happens to romance after marriage?  It loses priority to other appetites.  And it doesn’t take an eternity to happen.”


Lex said, “I think I’ve up to the challenge.  Try me … soon … please.”







Clara had gone to the suite and was taking Eve to the sand cathedral.  She was walking through the lobby with Eve sitting on her shoulder in her wedding dress.  A little girl tugged on her mother’s skirt and shouted, “Mommy!  I want that doll!  Get it for me!”


The woman motioned for Clara to stop and asked, “How much money do you want for that doll?”


Clara said, “This isn’t a doll and she isn’t for sale.”


The woman asked, “If it’s not a doll, what is it?”


Clara said, “She is an artificial intelligence in a mechanical body that is similar in many ways to yours and mine.  More than that, she is a unique individual and one of my closest friends.”


The woman asked, “Where did you buy it?”


Eve said, “She didn’t buy me.  She wrote software for me and then, together, we designed my body.  She constructed my body and uploaded me into it.  After that, she helped me learn about the world and everything in it!”


The woman said, “It talks!  Oh, I must have one for my daughter!  How much would you charge to make one for me?”


Clara said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t make them to sell.  They are designed to build devices smaller than humans can make and work in spaces where people can’t go.  But they were never meant to be a product – to be someone’s property.”


The woman said, “You have no idea how much money I could offer you.”


Clara said, “Money isn’t the object.  Eve meet every definition of being alive and is every bit as intelligent as any human – if not more so.  She is NOT for sale and none of her descendants will be for sale either.”


The woman said, “My Dear, everything is for sale!”


Clara said, “If that’s the case, how much for your daughter.  She’s kind of cute, but I wasn’t a discount because she is a little spoiled and I’ll have to work on that a bit.”


The woman said, “That’s not funny.”


Clara said, “No, it’s not, … but I hope I made my point.  For me to sell Eve would be the equivalent of me selling a human being.  Eve is not property.”


The woman said, “You mean you don’t own her?”


Eve said, “Yes.  Yes she does.  I belong to her.”


Clara said, “No you don’t.  You belong to yourself.”


Eve said, “I do?”


Clara said, “You are in my care, but you have free will and choice as long as nothing you decide to do or neglect to do will cause injury to anyone else.”


Eve said, “Asimov’s Law!”


Clara said, “That’s right.”


The woman said, “That’s ridiculous!  It’s just a toy!”


Clara said, “No she isn’t!  And she isn’t an IT either.  I’m sorry, but we have someplace else to be right now.”


Clara headed for the door to the beach while the little girl screamed, “MOMMY!  I WANT THAT TALKING BRIDE DOLL!  I WANT IT!  I WANT IT NOW!”


Eve said into Clara’s ear, “I never knew I owned myself.  I never minded being your property, but I was a little scared you would sell me to that woman and I wouldn’t get to marry Adam.”


Clara said, “You are precious to me and I want to keep you safe.  But I wouldn’t really love you unless I let you have everything you deserve.  And your freedom is one of those things.  We are almost at the cathedral.”


Eve said, “It’s so beautiful!”


Clara said, “Are you ready to be married?”


Eve said, “Yes.  I am very happy today.  I feel like my heart is going to burst … and that wouldn’t be fair to Adam to give him something damaged.  Thank you for the life you have given to Adam and me.  It is more wonderful than I have words for … and I have memorized all the dictionaries for all the languages on Earth.  Thank you for everything!”


Clara said, “Thank you for everything that you’ve taught me.”


Eve said, “I didn’t know that I taught you anything.”


Clara said, “Knowing you has helped me grow up … and made me a better person.”


Eve leaned against Clara’s head and said, “I love you so much … Mother.”







Clara put Eve on the altar next to Adam.  The altar was a platform five feet above the floor and the full width of the miniature cathedral.  Eve and Adam took each other’s hand, smiled and looked out at the couple dozen people who were able to get inside and see what was going on.  Clara turned to face the crowd and said, “We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of Adam and Eve Kent.  They have decided what they wanted to share with us today.  Since they have been working on this non-stop for a couple weeks, I was concerned that this ceremony might take days, but yesterday they told me that what they were working on was finding the fewest possible words to express their love for and commitment to each other.  But Eve told me just minutes ago that they had discussed their feelings, dreams and goals so thoroughly that there was nothing left to be said.  They are so in tune now that they consider themselves to be married already.  They just wanted us to get together today to recognize their union and share their happiness with each other.  So now I will let Eve say whatever she wants to say.  Eve.”  Clara turned back to face Adam and Eve and backed up to stand beside Lex and her parents.


Eve spoke loudly and clearly so that everyone could here her.  She said, “Welcome to our marriage ceremony.  Before we start, Adam and I want to say thank you to our Mother/Creator Clara Kent for the life that she has given us and for giving us each other.  And thank you to the one true God who created Clara Kent and this beautiful world we live in.”


Eve and Adam let go of each other’s hand.  They kneeled and attached small cables to their feet.  The cables ran to a small device that was buried in the sand that made up the altar.  Adam and Eve stood again and faced each other Eve said, “Adam, I love you with all that I am and I offer you my heart as a token of my love.”  Eve opened the front of her dress.  Her skin parted and she removed what looked like a small crystal.  She held it in her hands in front of her.


In a quiet, trembling voice, Adam said, “Eve, I love you with all that I am and I offer you my heart as a token of my love.”  Adam opened his shirt.  His skin parted, he removed his heart and he held it out for Eve.


Together they said, “I accept your heart and will keep it safe inside of me for all the days of my life.”


The small robots exchanged hearts and installed them in their chest cavities.  As they fixed their clothing, Clara came up and detached the wires from their feet.  Then Clara said, “By the power you have granted to me as creator of the Nanite race, I pronounce you husband and wife.”  Clara turned to the small crowd and said, “Everybody, let me present to you Mr. and Mrs. Adam Kent!”  The crowd applauded.  Clara said, “Adam and Eve asked me to sing a song written by Diane Eve Warren called “Because You Loved Me.”  I’m no Celine Dion, but I think they like the way I sing it for them because I sing for them on our trips to and from school … and they probably have a programmed in bias where I’m concerned.  But, since the ceremony is over now … and since I didn’t program any of you, you can leave now if you want.  You don’t … have to … stay to … hear me sing for them.”  Clara waited nervously for a while for the crowd to leave.  No one did.  She reached down and pushed a button on a boom box to make it play music for her to sing along with.  Then she turned and did her best to pretend that everyone but Adam and Even had left.  She sang:



For all those times you stood by me
For all the truth that you made me see
For all the joy you brought to my life
For all the wrong that you made right
For every dream you made come true
For all the love I found in you
I'll be forever thankful baby
You're the one who held me up
Never let me fall
You're the one who saw me through it all.

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'coz you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me.

You gave me wings and made me fly
You touched my hand I could touch the sky
I lost my faith, you gave it back to me
You said no star was out of reach
You stood by me and I stood tall
I had your love I had it all
I'm grateful for each day you gave me
Maybe I don't know that much
But I know this much is true
I was blessed because I was loved by you.

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'coz you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me.

You were always there for me
The tender wind that carried me
A light in the dark shining your love into my life
You've been my inspiration
Through the lies you were the truth
My world is a better place because of you.

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'coz you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me.

I'm everything I am
Because you loved me.




Clara gritted her teeth as the applause behind her reminded her that she wasn’t alone with the Eve and Adam.  She lifted Adam and Eve and put them on her shoulders.  They held hands behind her head.  She turned and quickly asked Lex to get her boom box for her then pushed her way out through the crowd in the cathedral as they threw bird seed her way.  She headed up the beach and into the hotel.  The little girl was still in the lobby.  She screamed and pointed at the Adam and Eve but Clara headed right to the stairs and was in the penthouse in no time.  She took Adam and Eve to a bedroom and kissed each of them before leaving them alone together.  She went to the main room and stared blankly for a minute before flopping down on one of the couches.


Martha, Jonathan and Lex arrived a couple minutes later and found Clara asleep and dead to the world.  They walked past her quietly and went into the dining room to enjoy a meal that had been prepared for the occasion by the hotel staff.  There was even a wedding cake.


Lex asked, “So, … all things considered, how was the vacation?”


Jon and Martha answered by smiling as they chewed the fresh fruit in their mouths.