It’s seven in the morning. Martha looks at the small table clock in her apartment. Her shift starts at nine. She has two hours to spare. She walks out of the apartment. While walking towards her truck, she remembers Clark’s childhood when they used to sit on the open trailer floor and eat baked corn. He loved pepper on it with a splash of lime juice. He was happy then. He knew the truth about himself but being beside his mother, he was at peace. She didn’t expect anything from him that his father warned him about. He wished that the world was like her. Kind and non judgemental.
She opens the door. Starts the truck. But she isn’t sure where she would go. She just wants to drive. She feels alone. After a twenty minute drive, she reaches the Daily Planet. She looks at the Giant planet globe through the glass panels around the entrance. She smiles and walks inside towards the receptionist. With her soft motherly voice, she calls the lady. “Hello ma’am, I’m Clark Kent’s mother. I’m here to pick up his stuff”. The lady looks at her and gets out of her chair. She shakes her hand. “Hello ma’am. It’s very nice to meet you. Please call me Erin. Mr. Kent was a very nice person.”
She hands her the reception entry book. Martha fills in the necessary details.
“I’ll take you to the office. Please come with me.”
She then gestures Pamela, the second receptionist to take over while she’s gone. Pam nods. She Smiles at Martha and Martha smiles back. They walk towards the lift. Clark’s Bullpen is on the 38th floor. It’s a quiet one minute. Erin sticks with her smile. She’s nervous and so is Martha. She wasn’t looking forward to this day. She misses her son even more so with each passing floor.
There’s a soft ‘ting’ as the elevator stops at the 38th floor. The door opens and it is full of senior reporters and their junior interns. Lombard looks at her and walks towards.
“Hello Mrs. Kent! I’m Steve Lombard. Clark’s friend! Please allow me to help you!” he smiles
“Clark’s told me a lot about you. Would you be kind and help me get Clark’s stuff?” Martha asks politely.
“I’d love to! This way please ma’am!“ They walk towards Clark’s desk. Meanwhile Erin changes course and goes for Perry’s office to inform him about her arrival.
Martha looks at Clark’s desk. It’s very well organized. Clark had all the time in the world to be particular about himself. There were two photo frames on his desk. One as him as a kid with his maa and paa and the other one was with Lois. Martha looked behind herself at Lois’ desk. She wasn’t there.
“some important story” she thinks. She picks up the frame with young Clark. Tears flow out of her eyes as she looks at her young baby.
Lombard pulls out Clark’s mesh chair and asks her to sit.
“I’ll bring you some water” He insists.
Perry joins in while he fills the water.
“I thought It’d be rude for me to move the stuff away so I waited for Lois. But I don’t think she’s ready to be back… yet.” He said.
“My poor Lois” she sighs with grief
“How have you been?”
“surviving” Martha wiped off her tears and smiled.
“Clark was very hardworking. If there’s anything that I could do, please do let me know!”
“Thank you, Mr.White. Right now, I just need to pick these up. Mr.Lombard….” she was about to continue when Lombard rushed in with a glass of water.
“Well, thank you!”
She drinks it. Water made her a bit relaxed after all the crying. She started picking up Clark’s things, Lombard helped. Perry stood there.
A young employee probably in his 20s calls out for Perry.
“Chief, I got Trae Romano’s interview ready and my scoop came in about the cameo. I’m waiting for Sanjayan to confirm it with his scoop.” He says. His voice is friendly and Perry seems to be very proud of his all-rounder skills.
“Great. Do me a favor, check in on Samuel and Arriagada. They were working on the magazine” Perry requested slowly.
“Got it Chief” the young employee nodded and went back to work.
“Oh and Brendan” Perry called me out. “If I’m not in my office, please check in with Brianna. Her culture column is almost done so she might help with the proof reading”
Brendan nods and walks away.
After the box was full, she picked it up. It barely had any weight but Perry interrupted.
“Let me get that for you, Martha,” he offered help. He knew Martha from the time he went to the farm for the funeral. Martha nodded.
They reached the ground floor. Near the reception, there were 4 face statues. The four fathers of the Planet. Jerry Siegel, Joe shuster, Zachary Benz and Zachary Edward Snyder. They stopped near the reception for Martha to sign out. Perry looked at the figures.
“Clark and I would usually quarrel about the paper. He was restless. He always believed in the power of journalism. There are very few who share those values. In a way, he shared the spirit of the founding fathers of the Planet. He inspired us to be better.”
“We were always proud of Clark. Even as a child, he was restless. He always believed in doing the right thing even if it had serious consequences. I’m proud of my boy” Martha Smiled. “Thank you, Mr. White.”
Perry nodded and handed over the box. She looked at the box. There are photographs on the top. She took out the one with Lois and Clark. “I will talk to her. She might like this when she returns. Would you mind?”
“Not at all” Perry took the photo and she left.
As she unlocks the door of her truck, she pauses momentarily, glancing towards the corner of the street adjacent to the Reeve Foundation hospital. There, a disabled African-American man is engaged in selling Superman-themed t-shirts. With a deliberate movement, he rotates one of the shirts, revealing the poignant word “remember” inscribed upon it. Martha’s gaze lingers on the powerful message, evoking a surge of emotions within her. Composing herself, she firmly grasps the steering wheel, starts the engine, and departs from the scene.
“…and today we have with us Ms. Felicity Rose. She is here to share her story on how Superman saved her life. So, Miss Rose,…” Martha lowers the radio volume as she sees a young lady in a grey overcoat walk in. Her brunette hair breezes forward, she adjusts them. She smiles at her and puts her tablecloth aside. She places her gloves on the table and hugs her. It’s Lois.
“I reckoned that since the diner opens at ten, you might have some time to say Hello” Lois smiled. Martha nods. It’s nine thirty.
“Well, hello darling! How are you? What would you like? Some coffee? Tea? I was making one for me Anyways” asked Martha. Her face seemed a bit delighted and relaxed looking at her.
“no, I’m fine. Just had some on the way here. I drove to the farm first but…”
“I fell behind on my payments. But it’s okay. The house was too big for me anyways” Martha interrupts.
“Martha, you know you can stay with me as long as you need.”
Martha walks behind the counter. “I know. But I got a place two minutes away from here that suits me just fine!”
While she walks around behind the counter, we hear Rose speaking.
“he made me realize that if a God like being can face problems and not give up, then so can’t I. Having a hard time is okay. It’s natural. It’s just a phase. He gave me the hope that tomorrow can be better and even though it’s still hard for me, I’m working towards it. And I won’t give up. Because he didn’t give up either.”
She turns off the radio and pours some tea for herself. It’s hot. She waits for it to cool down a bit. Lois sits on the seat by the counter.
“How have you been? She asked “I went to the Daily Planet to collect Clark’s things and Mr. Perry told me you haven’t been to work since Clark died?
(My tenses need working)
“I can’t.” Lois’ face goes down.
Martha takes a deep breathe. She feels like crying.
“The whole world is mourning.” She says. “Grieving over a symbol. Everywhere I go, everywhere I look, I see that ‘S’. I hear what people say. They talk like they knew him. But they didn’t know Clark.” She smiles when she mentions Clark. “and I can’t stop em and look at em and tell em how proud I am of my son! You’re the only one who knows.” She gently places her hand over Lois’ “you feel like I do. Burdened by a secret on top of grief ”
Lois places her second hand over. She looks at Martha. A tear falls from her eye on the counter. “I understand. I will never love anybody the way I loved your son. It’s… it’s just that I miss him.” She is more teary. Martha smiles at her. She is proud of her. She pats her hand. “so do I, sweetheart.”
“Martha, you know,if there’s anything you need, I’m here” Lois smiles
“there’s one thing you can do for me honey. Come back to the living”
Lois looks at her. She doesn’t smile. She isn’t teary anymore. She understands.
To break in the sadness, Lois looks at her and, “I still never understood how he made his green tea.”
“It’s his father’s recipe. They kept it a secret for some reason. Every weekend, they’d prepare breakfast and they’d never let me sneak. But I guess it’s three spoons sugar?” Martha winks.
They both chuckle. They know it’s not sugar.
“We need to have a recipe of our own!” Lois suggests.
“There’s Indian food I learned a while ago. There’s something called Pav Bhaji which is pretty amazing. It took me a few tries but finally got it right! It’s just smashing some spices and potatoes and wallah! World class cuisine!” Martha speaks in excitement!
“I love Indian food! When I was interviewing this Indian author, Khyati, we met at a book signing, she introduced me to a dish named Samosa which was pretty awesome. And I know how to make it!” Lois chuckes.
“A date it is!” Martha laughs. She’s content.
The door opens. A guy in a black shirt and a cap walks in. “Martha!” he says as if he knows her.
Martha looks at him. “Ayman!” She smiles and gets up. She has chores to do and her boss is already here. Lois gets up too. She hugs her. “see you later, maa”
Martha smiles and picks up the broom. She watches her walk by.
Outside, in the middle of a back alley, Lois stops. Her eyes turn red. She looks back and whispers “maa” and smiles.