“The Only Constant”



Jonathan kept chopping, but the sound of the axe falling on wood and the pounding of his heart couldn’t drown out his thoughts or his fears. Clark came up to him and said, “Dad, you’ve been out here almost 2 hours. Could I do this for you?”

Without turning to face his son, Jonathan snapped back, “Go back in and talk to your mother or fly off to wherever it is you fly off to but just leave me be.”

Clark said, “If you keep this up, you’ll give yourself a heart attack!”

Jonathan said, “What if I do?”

Clark said, “Ryanna still needs you. I … I still need you….”

Jon interrupted his son by laughing at that comment.

Clark continued, “… and Mom will need you to be strong in the days ahead.”

Jon yelled, “Please, just go away! I need to deal with this in my own way and I’m not ready!”

Clark knew from the tone of his father’s voice that there was no use. Clark turned and headed back to the house.

As he continued to chop, Jonathan remembered how wonderful his life had been just a few short hours ago. He remembered standing at Ryanna’s doorway for a long while watching her sleep. He wanted her image burned into his brain. Physically, she was grown up, but her posture as she slept curled up with Fforde told the truth about her – that this was his sweet, innocent child. He knew she wouldn’t always be the way she was at this point in her life. He had to cherish and hold on to every minute he could. He loved his life and didn’t want anything to change, but the only constant in life is that life changes – sometimes slowly and sometimes in the blink of an eye. Jon had eventually crossed the hall and crawled into bed with Martha. Soon he was dreaming of driving a fast car over dusty country roads.

Then there was an awful scream. Martha and Jon had bolted upright in bed in unison as if one was the shadow of the other. In an instant they were at their daughter’s side. She was doubled over in pain clutching herself below her abdomen.

She was sobbing and trembling and gasping for air. Ryanna cried, “Mommy! Oh MOMMY! Oh NO-oh-oh. Oh, ooooh!” Martha told her daughter that she was right there but Ryanna stared with vacant eyes and screamed and cried. Martha asked Ryanna what was wrong but she seemed unable to answer.

Jon ran and slid down four steps as he raced for the phone in the front hallway. He hit a speed dial number. When Clark answered, Jon shouted, “It’s Ryanna. Something’s wrong with her. She needs you.” Before he could hang up the phone he felt a breeze and Clark was standing in front of him in his pajamas. Clark nodded to his Dad and then disappeared upstairs.

Clark held Ryanna’s hands and tried to get her to lay flat but she wouldn’t. He told her that he just wanted to look at her to see what was wrong. Ryanna shouted, “Don’t look at me!”

Clark said, “No, it’s OK. I’ll be like a doctor looking at you – not your brother. And I promise that it won’t hurt.”

But Ryanna just wailed and screamed. She shouted, “Don’t look at me! Look at Mom! Look at Mom! Look at her, not me.”

Clark ignored her hysteria and gave her as good of an examination as he could without her co-operation. He closed his eyes briefly and compiled a total body analysis of her in his head. He turned to his parents and shrugged his shoulders and said “She looks OK to me. Perfect, in fact except for the trauma she’s putting herself through right now. It’s almost like a waking nightmare or night terrors but her brain rhythms suggest that she is fully conscious.” Then on impulse, but partly due to Ryanna’s insistence that something was wrong with Martha, Clark gave Martha a quick once over. His jaw dropped and he turned extremely pale. His lip trembled, his eyes teared up and his knees buckled. Clark stumbled forward and Jon caught him.

Martha shouted, “He caught whatever Ryanna has. My dear Lord, not both of them!”

Jon said, “What’s wrong, Son?” Clark didn’t answer him, he just looked into his mother’s worried face.

Clark asked, “Mom, how are you feeling?”

Martha said, “Worried. I’m very worried!”

Clark asked, “How are you feeling physically?”

Martha said, “Tired. It’s about 2:00am after all and I’m not as young as I used to be – but who is – other than you. But why are you asking me? Ryanna’s the one who is sick. Take care of your sister!”

Clark said, “It’s important! Are you in any pain?”

Martha said, “I have my little aches and pains. Nothing I can’t deal with.”

Clark said, “Ryanna’s sleeping again. Let’s go downstairs and sit down. We need to talk.”

Martha said, “You go with Jon. I’ll stay with Ryanna.”

Clark said, “Ryanna will be fine. We really need to talk … downstairs … now.”

They all went downstairs and sat at the kitchen table. That’s when Clark told Martha that she had cancer. Her body was full of it. Somehow Ryanna had finally been able to get close enough to Martha to know what was happening with her. Ryanna wasn’t simply reacting to a fear of losing her mother. Somehow she had known. Martha couldn’t believe it. She asked Clark, “Wouldn’t I have been in a lot of pain?”

Clark answered, “Not necessarily, but you are in pain, aren’t you? You have been losing weight, haven’t you?”

Martha asked, “Will I have to have surgery – chemotherapy?”

Clark said, “There is no point.” His voice trembled as he said, “It’s too late for any of that!”

Jon stood up suddenly and said, “I think we could do with some more firewood. I’ve put that off too long.” He marched to the front closet, put on his coat and went out the front door.

Clark said, “What the ….” And went to stand up to go after him, but Martha but a hand on his shoulder and guided him back to his chair.

Martha said, “Let him go. This will be hard on him.” She chuckled, “He always was a sore loser. I always wanted to go first and so did he. I win! I don’t have to be the one that has to learn to live without him.”

Eventually, Clark did go outside, but Jonathan sent him away and continued chopping firewood. Clark came back inside and promised his Mother that he would visit her often. Martha said, “If you want to come as my son to visit me and share a meal, fine. But if you want to come as a doctor and use those eyes of yours to watch the cancer eat away at me, then don’t come at all.” Clark protested but Martha insisted that he promise that he would never examine her again. She wanted to be remembered as his mother and not as a person being consumed by cancer. Finally, Clark agreed, said his good-bye, got a long goodbye hug and left her with a wet shoulder despite all his attempts to control himself.

Ryanna came downstairs in her nightshirt dragging Fforde thumpity-thump down the stairs behind her. Her eyes were red from crying but she was too tired to cry anymore. In the living room, she found Martha in a recliner staring into a roaring fire. Martha motioned her to come over. She pulled Ryanna onto her lap and cradled her in her arms. Martha said “Oof” when Ryanna’s full weight came to rest upon her. Ryanna moved to get off saying “Mommy, I’m too heavy for you!” But Martha pulled her back and said, “Oh no you’re not! But I think Fforde is going on a diet tomorrow!” Ryanna giggled a bit but quickly sobered up. Martha asked Ryanna, “Do I ever tell you how much I love you?”

Ryanna answered, “Every day.”

Martha asked, “Do I ever tell you how happy you’ve made me?”

Ryanna answered, “Every day.”

Martha said, “Good!”

Ryanna asked, “Mommy, does it hurt much?”

Martha answered, “Not much. And it doesn’t hurt at all when we’re holding each other!”

Ryanna said, “Then I want to hold you a lot.”

Martha said, “What hurts the most is the thought that I might not be there for you when you need me – and when you don’t.”

Ryanna kissed her Mom’s forehead and said, “I’ll always need you!”

Martha looked into her daughter’s eyes and grinned at her but then her smile started to fade. She started to sob softly and she said, “I’m sorry Ryanna.”

Ryanna hugged her and whispered in her ear, “It’s OK, Mommy. We’re all sad sometimes.” Ryanna got up gently and put Fforde on the couch saying, “Fforde, you’re sleeping alone tonight.” She turned and lifted her mother from the chair and said, “You need more sleep and I’ll make sure that you won’t feel any more pain tonight! You know, Mommy, We’re the same, you and I. Jor-El made a few changes but we’re still part of each other.” Martha had no sense of being carried up the stairs. It felt like she floated from the living room to her bed. Soon she was under the covers and Ryanna had crawled in behind her. Ryanna curled up against Martha and molded herself to her mother’s body. She threw am arm over her and pulled her tight. Ryanna whispered, “Breathe deeply and slowly like Mr. Chan taught you. Breathe with me. Let me be part of you again.”

Martha inhaled sharply in surprise as the barriers between her and her daughter seemed to disappear and she drifted off to sleep. Martha began to dream of flying up North and watching Polar bears at play. Mermaids waved to her. Sam Chan smiled gently and lovingly at her. She stood on the surface of the sun and saw Clark’s face smiling at her. Clark had told her that she was dying but she never imagined she would see heaven so soon or that it would be so beautiful.

Jon couldn’t lift the axe anymore so he came inside and went upstairs. He looked into his bedroom and saw Martha in bed, but something didn’t seem right. It took a while for his eyes to adjust so that he could see that there were two people in bed. He said to himself, “Well, I’m not needed here.” He when downstairs and threw Fforde onto the recliner. He lay down on the couch and slept for awhile. He had nightmares about baby Ryanna coming out of her grave and Martha stepping in to take her place. He snapped awake and went upstairs to find the women still in the same position on the bed and still asleep for all he could tell. He went outside and harnessed some horses. He went to the woods, felled a couple trees and had the horse drag them back to the barn. He began chopping the trees and continued despite blistered and bleeding hands until the trees where kindling. He stumbled out into the field with his axe and went looking for another tree to cut down. He found a tall pine tree. He steadied himself and swung the axe but pulled back inches from hitting it. He blinked a few times. What had he almost done? This was his and Martha’s first Christmas tree and there were thirty-two more beyond it. Four down was Clark’s first Christmas tree. At the end was Ryanna’s first and the place where this year’s tree would find its permanent home. He looked at the proud row of trees stair-stepping away into the distance. This was a visible, living monument to his life with Martha … and he had come close to putting the axe to it. What he was avoiding came and hit him with full force. He fell to his knees in the snow and shouted at the top of his lungs, “Martha, don’t leave me!” He lay down in the snow and wept life a heart-broken child.

An hour later, Jonathan returned to the house. He found the women still sleeping just as he had left them several hours before, so he went back to the couch. He went over to Fforde and adjusted him to a more comfortable position in the recliner. He said, Fforde, I guess we’re both out in the cold tonight.” In the morning, the women were still in bed – and still in the same position. He walked over and felt their foreheads. They were both hot to the touch. Neither of them stirred. He watched somewhat transfixed by how they were breathing very slowly but in unison. He wondered if that was just natural and how he and Martha breathed while they slept. Jon decided that, if they didn’t wake up by the evening, he would call Clark. He was concerned, but he wasn’t really ready to have a conversation with Martha yet – and he was a little embarrassed to talk to Clark after he had been so abrupt with him.

At the end of the day, Jon had done all the chores – his, Ryanna’s and Martha’s. He went upstairs to find the women still sleeping, but he was too physically and emotionally spent to face them. He decided to take a quick nap before waking them. He again returned to the couch. He woke up thinking he heard someone calling his name. It was dark. The mantle clock showed that it was 11:00. He heard Ryanna softly call, “Daddy?”

He answered quietly, “Yes, Anna?”

A barely audible voice from upstairs said, “Could you bring Fforde to bed and a glass of water?”

This surprised Jon because Ryanna normally took care of herself – and faster than she could ask for something. He poured a glass of water for Ryanna from the pitcher in the refrigerator, tucked Fforde under his arm and headed upstairs. He found Ryanna back in her own room. She propped herself up in bed and took the glass from him. He was shocked by how pale and ragged she looked. She drank the water and listlessly mumbled, “Thanks, Daddy.” She traded the glass for Fforde and curled up with Fforde and fell to sleep immediately.

Jon walked across the hall expecting Martha to be sleeping as well. He jumped back a foot when he casually looked at the bed and found that Martha was lying on her side staring intently at him. He quickly got over his surprise and asked, “How are you feeling?”

Martha answered, “Pretty wonderful considering …. I dreamt such wonderful dreams. I don’t think I’ll ever be afraid of flying again.” Jonathan just stood there having trouble keeping eye contact with her. Martha asked, “What’s Ryanna doing?”

Jon answered, “Oh, Anna. She’s out like a light. She seemed more tired than I’ve ever seen her.”

Martha asked, “How about you? Are you tired?”

Jon answered, “Not very. I just woke up from a long nap. Do you want something? Anything?”

Martha said, “Close the door and come over here. I have to ask you a favor and I don’t want Ryanna to hear.”

Jon closed the door behind himself and said, “No closed door would keep Ryanna from hearing, but she is asleep.”

Martha said, “Let’s just pretend she can’t hear through the door.”

Jonathan asked, “What’s the favor?”

Martha said, “I want my husband to make love to me one last time.”

Jon gulped. It wasn’t just what she said, but the seductive way she said it. He said, “Do you think that that’s such a good idea … considering?”

Martha flung the covers off herself to reveal that she was naked. Her body glowed in the moonlight coming in through the windows. In that light she looked no different than she had on their wedding night. Martha said, “I’m not dead yet.” When Jon stood frozen near the door, she asked. “Would you deny a dying woman her last request?”

Jonathan answered by slowly disrobing. He was un-nerved by how she was watching his every move. He was scared that, with her being so sick, he might hurt her. He was scared that his grief would keep him from being able to perform. Jon walked slowly over to the bed. Martha quickly grabbed him and yanked him into the bed. She began kissing him frantically and said between kisses. “Time … is … wasting. We … never … known … how … much … time … we have … left.”

Jon was having trouble catching his breathe. He said, “Martha, please!”

She said, “I intend to. Farm boy, you don’t think I married you for your mind, do you? I married you for your plow and it’s time for you to hoe, hoe, hoe!” Jon was shocked by Martha’s behavior and surprised by her vigor. Her touch was causing him to respond – to get lost in what was happening. Martha hadn’t been this passionate in the past decade. He thought that she must be expressing her passion for life. This must be her last gasp – her final expression of love for him. He didn’t want to disappoint her. Then he just stopped thinking and got swept up in the flow. He wanted to show her how much he loved her and how much he still desired her.

An hour later he felt a steely grip on his wrists and awoke to find Martha on top of him. It had begun again.

It was almost noon when Jon came to. He hadn’t gotten out of bed that late in years. Still, he hadn’t had much uninterrupted sleep that night and was pretty groggy. He rolled over to find that Martha was gone. He stumbled out of bed and went to look in on Ryanna. She was out cold. Her forehead still felt warm and he was able to wake her. He said, “I guess I’ll be doing your chores again.” He went downstairs to find a big breakfast on the table and Martha eating like a horse.

Martha said, “Good morning, sleepy head. Help yourself. I am so HUNGRY! I’m on third helpings.”

Jon said, “Look, you shouldn’t be cooking….”

Martha interrupted, “Jonathan Kent! They’ll have to pry the spatula out of my dead hand. Nothing or no one is putting me out of my kitchen – ever! Is Ryanna coming down?”

Jon answered, “I tried to get her up but I couldn’t rouse her.”

Martha said, “You could always arouse me. You know I should really work off this breakfast. There is something I haven’t made in the kitchen since Ryanna returned home – something you used to like even more than my peanut butter brownies.”

Jon said, “I don’t know what could be better than ….” Jon stopped when he saw the glint in Martha’s eye as she pulled her apron off. In the bright afternoon sun, he could see that last night wasn’t a trick of the moonlight, Martha was looking better than she had in many years. He thought “Cancer must agree with her!” What he said as Martha came near him was “Oh boy! I hope my medical insurance is paid up. Martha, I really should be milking the cows.”

Martha waved a finger at him and said, “Priorities, priorities.” Martha pushed him against the counter and made magic in the kitchen.






Three weeks had passed since Clark had scanned his Mother and pronounced a death sentence on her. Jon was walking around the barn when he nearly tripped on some broken concrete. He looked down and remembered that that was where Ryanna had dug up the key to Clark’s spaceship the year before. He stared at the hole for a few moments and said, “Of course, how could I have been so stupid!” He rushed inside and had Ryanna get the key for him. He had Martha join him in the truck. She didn’t want to visit the cave but the look in Jon’s eye told her that she had the choice of going willingly of unwillingly – but one way or another, she was going. Jon told Ryanna to stay home and she obeyed willingly. She was learning how to make Architectural detail drawings on the computer.

Jon and Martha arrived in the cave. Jonathan held the key in the palm of his hand until it finally floated into the air, spun and found its place in the wall. A diamond shaped opening appeared in the key and a light flooded the chamber. A voice spoke, “What business do you have with me?”

Jonathan said, “This is Jonathan and Martha Kent.”

The voice said, “I know very well who you are. Your business?”

Jonathan said, “My wife is dying of cancer. You healed her once before, could you do it again?”

The voice said, “Quite possibly, but what concern is this of mine?”

Jonathan said, “She raised you Son for you. Maybe you could show a little gratitude.” A disc of light appeared above Martha’s head and passed through her until it disappeared into the cave floor. Jonathan asked, “Did you heal her?”

The voice said, “No. You are wasting my energy and patience. There is nothing I can do for her that hasn’t been done.” With that, the light disappeared and the key fell to the floor. Jonathan picked up the key and tried to put it back in to the wall but there was no opening for it. Jon started shouting profanities at Jor-El, kicking the wall and hitting it with his fists. Martha came up and wrapped her arms around him and he slumped to the floor and cried.

Martha said, “It’s OK, Jonathan. It was worth a try. Don’t worry about it. I’ve accepted what’s happening to me. I’ve had a great life.”

Jon said, “I can’t give up.”

Martha said, “Please do. It’s a waste of time and I don’t have much time left. You know, I only have one regret in this life.”

Jon said, “What’s that?”

Martha smiled and said, “I’ve never done it in a cave before.”

Jon said, “Oh, no. Please, not in front of Jor-El!”

Martha said, “You said you’d do anything I asked if I would just come to the cave with you. Well I kept my end of the bargain, now it’s your turn.”

Six weeks had now passed since Clark discovered Martha's cancer. Clark had kept his promise to Martha and had not scanned her to check on the progress of her illness. He did, however give his Dad a thorough going over. Although his Martha was looking incredibly well, Jon was looking remarkably tired. Martha was in town grocery shopping when Clark stopped in. He told his Dad that he should turn over more of the farm work to Ryanna until he got rested up a bit. Jon told him, “Ryanna can’t do any more of my work because she’s already doing everything. I’ve just been put out to ….”

Clark added, “Pasture.”

Jon said, “No, not to pasture … but don’t ask!” He paused a moment, then said, “Son, I don’t think your Mom has much time left.”

Clark said, “What makes you think that?

Jon said, “She’s been trying to hide it from me, but she’s having trouble keeping food down. She is throwing up all the time.”

Clark asked, “Is Mom spending a good deal of time in bed now?”

Jon shot Clark a cutting look and then his face changed as if he finally caught Clark’s meaning. He said, “You mean sleeping in bed? Napping? No she’s on the move all the time now. I never catch sight of her sleeping. She’s making every second count now. She’s even still doing the workouts with Ryanna even though there’s no point to it other than maybe spending time with her daughter. She got back a little of her weight now. She has a big appetite … for all things. She kept dragging me to restaurants. If one more waiter refers to Martha as my daughter – then gives me an elbow and a wink when I tell him she’s not, I think I’m going smack them! I’d let her go alone but men keep hitting on her every time I leave the table. But as to naps, she now calls naps “little slices of death.” Well to me, they are slices of heaven. I sneak away for a nap every chance I get. The couch in your old fortress is getting used quite a bit now but Martha even found me out there a few times.”

Clark asked, “Why are you hiding? I thought you didn’t have any chores anymore.”

Jon said, “Well I still have one chore that Ryanna can’t do for me.”

Clark said, “Give Ryanna a little credit. There isn’t much she can’t do that I’m aware of. Speaking of Ryanna. How is she coping?”

Jon rolled his eyes and said, “Let me say this. It’s like she’s swimming in that river in South America.”

Clark asked, “The Amazon.”

Jon said, “No, not Wonder Woman. Ryanna. Ryanna is in “De Nile.”

Clark said, “The Nile is in Africa, Dad.”

Jon said, “Work with me here, Son. Your old man is tired. Ryanna is singing and dancing all over the place. Did you see the huge swing set she built in the side yard? She goes out there by herself a lot and swings and laughs and daydreams. She drew up an addition to the house that she wants to put on in spring. She’s also planning an under ground safe house in case your enemies ever track us down. The size of the thing she’s planning could house 30 people and all the farm animals for a couple years without anybody coming up. And she says it will be a-bomb proof and undetectable by seismic devices. I think she thinks we can go down there and hide out from death itself. She really needs to be brought back to reality. I can’t reach her, but maybe you could. I think she’s up in her room. Could you go up and talk to her? Please?” Clark nodded his head sadly and headed up the stairs.

Clark tapped on Ryanna’s bedroom door. She called out to him, “Permission to enter! If I knew you were coming I would have showered and doused myself with vinegar for your smelling comfort.”

Clark entered the room to find that Ryanna sitting on her bed with her legs crossed intently at work knitting something. She was knitting so fast that the needles were a blur. There were bags full of skeins of yarn stacked in a corner of the room. There were piles of small clothes everywhere. Most of them were light blue but one third of them were pink. Fforde sat on the bags of yarn and wore a blue suit with a blue tie and a pink vest watching the work in progress. Clark asked, “Is NuStart going into the doll clothing business now?”

Ryanna continued without looking up and said, “Guess again.”

Clark said, “The baby clothes business?”

Ryanna said, “Boy! No offense but you are no good at guessing games at all -- maybe because it is too easy for you to cheat. Mamma taught me to knit. What me to make you a blue and pink flight suit? It won’t take but a minute. But I’ll have to take some really good measurements to make it fit as tight as your other one.”

Clark said, “No thanks. I’ll stick with the one I’ve got. People are familiar with it.”

Still not looking up, Ryanna said, “Suit yourself. HEY! I didn’t intend it but that was a good one, wasn’t it? You don’t want me to make you a suit –because you want to “suit yourself!” HA! I crack myself up sometimes!”

Clark said, “I think you are grown up enough now for what I’m about to tell you.”

Ryanna stopped her work, threw her knitting aside, uncrossed her legs, leaned back onto her bed, looked expectantly in Clark’s face and asked, “You mean I’m grown up enough now for us to get married and start making babies?”

Clark blushed a deep red and said, “Oh! Is that what these clothes are about. They are for the kids you would like to have with me.”

Ryanna looked disappointed and disgusted with Clark. She snipped, “NO! It’s a good thing that Riddler fellow hangs out in Gotham City because you really stink at this! But maybe our kids could wear these clothes later if they don’t get worn out.”

Clark asked, “So I –suck at guessing games. Do me a favor and just tell me, who are these clothes for?”

Ryanna smiled slyly and said, “You may have promised not to look inside Mommy but I didn’t.”

Clark said, “OH, NO! Oh, I’m so sorry Ryanna. Mom has cancer. You know that. What you see inside of Mom are tumors -- not babies. Mom is dying and, as hard as that is for all of us, we have to face it.”

Ryanna got very angry and yelled, “Hey mister red and blue smarty pants, get out of my room! I’m too busy to waste any more time talking to you. Stop treating me like I was born yesterday – it’s been almost a year and a half since I was re-born and I know a thing or two – or two gazillion things. Jor-El taught me a LOT! And I read a LOT. So stop saying I don’t know what I’m talking about and get out!”

Clark knew that Ryanna could physically throw him out and he didn’t want it to come to that so he left the room. He was scared that Ryanna wouldn’t budge from her fantasies until Martha died. He wanted her to come to terms with it before that happened. He went downstairs just as Martha came in the front door with 4 grocery bags. Clark tried to take them all but Martha only let him take 2. Martha said, “I’m not helpless you know.”

Clark asked her to sit down at the kitchen table. He asked her, “You remember how you made me promise not to scan you?”

Martha shouted, “You DIDN’T!”

Clark said, “No, I didn’t, but Ryanna did.”

Martha said, “Oh, I’ll talk with her.”

Clark said, “There’s more. She’s convinced herself that your tumors aren’t tumors at all. She thinks you’re pregnant.”

Martha stood up and said, “Oh, my! I’ll go talk to her right now. It’s overdue. I just hate to see her upset. She has been so happy.”

Clark said, “I don’t think she’ll believe you when you explain that you’re sick. But she might believe me if I take another look and describe to her medically exactly what she is seeing.”

Martha said, “NO!”

Clark said, “Please – for her sake?”

Finally Martha agreed. Clark stood in front of Martha and looked her over from top to bottom. Martha spun a little as Clark had instructed. When she had turned all the way around she found Clark staring into her face. His own face was wet from the tears. Martha and Jon knew it must be really bad. They looked at him expectantly. He slumped into a kitchen chair. Jon asked, “How bad is it.”

Clark said, “There isn’t a cancer cell in her body. Not one.”

Jon said, “What?!

Clark said, “Mom doesn’t have cancer.”

Jon yelled out in joy so loud that the glass rattled in the windows. He hugged Martha tight and lifted her off the floor. He turned to his son and said, “If you had to mess up, Son, I’m glad this was the time you were wrong. But you put us all though the ringer.”

Clark said, “You don’t understand. I wasn’t wrong. I know what cancer looks like. Mom should have been dead a month ago, but now, she doesn’t even have a mole. The scar tissue from the truck accident is gone. Her physical age is now between 26 and 30. She even has a second set of teeth ready to come in if she ever loses one. And the appendix that was removed -- it’s back.” Martha blushed thinking how closely Clark had looked at her. “The only possible explanation I can come up with is … did you pat Jor-El a visit?”

Jon said, “Yes, but he refused to help us.”

Clark said, “That was a smart move. I’m ashamed that I didn’t think of it. Are you sure he didn’t do anything to Mom?”

Jon said, “He ran a light over her and said that we had wasted his time. That everything that could be done already had been. Do you think he cured her and didn’t tell us – or wiped our memory -- or changed his mind and did it some other time?”

Clark said, “I don’t know. I really don’t. Please sit down OK?” They sat down. “You are totally healed. Your body is fully functional – just like when the spaceship healed you.”

Martha said, “You mean I can get pregnant now?”

Clark said, “You can’t get pregnant right now.”

Martha looked disappointed and said, “Oh.”

Clark continued, “You can’t get pregnant now because Dr. Ryanna upstairs was right -- you already are pregnant. You have been for 4 to 6 weeks.”

Martha said, “OH! But we only saw Jor-El 3 weeks ago. Are you sure it’s not 3 weeks? Maybe the baby grows faster than normal.”

Clark said, “No, it is a normal pregnancy close to six weeks in. You could pin it down more accurately by when you … when you … did something about that time.”

Martha said, “That wouldn’t help pin it down at all. It could have been almost anytime ….” Everybody in the kitchen blushed in unison. So the baby isn’t like you or Ryanna. We could deal with it if that was the case. But you said it was a normal pregnancy.”

Clark said, “The babies will be totally normal. The pregnancy is only abnormal in that multiple births aren’t the norm.

Jonathan tried to say something but couldn’t. Martha said, “Babies? Babies???”

Clark said, “Three.”

Martha looked more radiant than she had been. Jonathan looked more tired. Clark was in a daze. But all three turned their head when they heard a shout from upstairs, “Told you, smarty pants!”

Ryanna sat smiling in her bedroom as she continued to knit at a furious pace.