Near Smallville, Kansas
Thursday, August 12th
The hot summer night would have been oppressive were it not for the sweeping breezes that swooshed back and forth across the prairies. Kansas was beautiful in the summer: stalks of corn growing to the sky, thousands of stars lighting that sky at deep midnight when the summer sun finally set. The grass grew green under the summer rains, and the dirt turned deep red, rich with clay. One could smell the living earth and hear the countless souls that lived on the prairie: the endless cricks of crickets, the racketing of cicadas on the trees, the singing of the birds, the buzz of lazy flies.
Martha Kent relaxed on the porch of the Kent house, a low modest farmhouse rising out of a Kansas plain. Rocking back and forth in her rocking chair, she sipped on a lemonade, the glass slick with rivulets of sweat as the cool glass condensed the humid air around it. From inside she could hear the gentle clinking of dishes as her husband Jonathan cleaned up from dinner. The steak from last fall’s slaughter was tender and juicy, the corn from last harvest rich, and the greens from the spring garden were crisp. Martha loved eating what Kansas gave her, and what she and her husband had cultivated from Kansas’ bosom. If ever there was a woman of the earth, of simple things, it was Martha Kent.
She had loved her husband from the moment she saw him, an awkward gangly teenager just entering the ninth grade at Smallville High School. He and his family had moved from Metropolis, the midwest’s bustling city. Larger than New York and Gotham, the East Coast’s metropolitan jewels, Metropolis was a shining example of the American dream and prosperity. But things hadn’t worked out so well for the Kent family, and they moved into the country seeking a harder, but more rewarding, life. For his part, Johnny Kent noticed Martha Clark almost immediately: a wispy, but hard prairie girl. Lovely, but not beautiful, graceful, but not delicate. However it took a few years before his big city swagger turned into a country lope. John worked his way through almost every cheerleader and prom princess at the school before his city charms failed him completely. When he came back down to earth, Martha was there, as always, waiting. The two were passionate lovers throughout their final year of high school and married soon after graduation.
Jonathan and Martha moved onto the Clark family farm, at that point overgrown with weeds and neglect as her grandfather could no longer till the large fields. The newlyweds brought a breath of fresh air and blew off the dust of the plains. Soon the fences were mended, the barn painted, and new crops growing. Martha envisioned children, a large family, and a happy ever after. She got everything but the children.
Now nearing her 50s, Martha was content. She and Jonathan had lived a full life, and she loved only him more than Kansas herself. She missed the opportunity to raise her own children, but she became a surrogate mother in Smallville. Active in the community, at the schools, and in church, she always seemed to attract the kids that others didn’t know how to deal with. With the gentle love and persistent care of a farmer, she watered and tended those children until they grew into well-adjusted adults. Living on the plains was a hard life in more ways than one, but the honest labor and consistent love of the Kents softened many a growing heart.
The screen door creaked open and slammed shut behind Jonathan as he joined his wife on the porch. Leaning against the railing, back to the darkening fields, he sighed. He turned his head into the breeze and breathed deep.
“Kitchen’s all cleaned up.” He said just for something to say. That much was obvious.
Martha smiled. “Thank you, dear. It was nice to get off my feet.” John didn’t smile, but his eyes twinkled. To Martha it was the same.
“Beautiful evening.” He said, again to break the air. Martha giggled.
“I know it’s a nice evening. I’m out here enjoying it.” She teased. John wasn’t much for conversation, but he tried and that made Martha feel loved. She set her glass down, now mostly empty, and stood up. In a stride she was in John’s embrace. She relaxed into his chest, and stared off into the corn. As one, they breathed the warm Kansas air. There was no longer any need of conversation. John was relieved, as he had run out of things to say, and Martha was glad to communicate with love instead of awkward words. Some languages said things no words could convey.
Something flashed brightly in the sky before streaking behind the barn. Seconds later a fireball snapped into the blackness and a rumble shook the ground.
“What the hell?” John was already off the porch, running for the barn. A warm glow warned of fire. Martha went the other way, for the farm truck. She opened the door, jumped in, and twisted the spoon. The truck was old and beat to hell. Many years ago the key had broken off in the lock, and rather than fix it, Jonathan had welded an old spoon onto the ignition. The engine was worn, but it roared to life. Martha threw it in gear and sped off towards the glowing night.
She got there just as Jonathan was slapping out the last of the embers with an old blanket. Martha pulled a fire extinguisher from the truck bed and hosed down the grass, just to be sure. Fires weren’t anything to play with on an open field of dry grass and young corn. So intent was she with the putting the fire out, she failed to notice the shining capsule half buried in the dirt twenty yards away until she was returning the fire extinguisher to the truck.
“John: what is that?” Her voice was matter of fact. Being a solid woman of the earth, even the wildly unexpected didn’t usually faze her all that much. What John said next certainly fazed her.
“I don’t know. But there’s a baby inside.”