Tall wheat waving all round him. Sun shining down. Clark soaks the light in until he's fair to bursting with it. He sings like they do down in Paxico at the Emancipation Day festival. Before the war.
It's why August's his favorite month. Every year, he'd go with the Prides when they went to Paxico. He'd walk round Zeller's Grove. Every face he saw, just like his. Not just the Prides sharecropping for Old Man Lang two farms over, and the Ellises up by Blue Hill. Hundreds of faces. All sorts of folk he don't even know. Laughing and joking. Singing.
Clark sings. "Swing low sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home," and he swings his scythe. He has to use the scythe on account of the old tractor broke last spring and there's no parts for new. What with the war and all. Don't matter. He can swing awful fast. And if he don't notice just how fast, that's cause his mind is full of sunshine and music and friendly faces smiling back at him. As Mr. Kent says, he's way down deep in his darkie head.
Feels like winter when he says that.
Clark loves the summer.
It's only when he looks back and the whole field's mowed down that he wakes up to himself. He'd have thought maybe it was hand-a-God. Except for the scythe in his hand.
He almost runs back to the farm house. Almost goes to tell the Kents like a fool. But it's not like Clark hasn't always known he's different. Wears it for everyone to point at. There's that nigger boy the Kent's took in for help round the farm. Gathers up the harvest and he thinks. Carries it on his back like nothing. Because it is nothing. Walks down the fenceline he put up. Heavy rolls of barbed wire he carried out here with one hand. Drags his hand along the barbs. The barbs bend, but his skin don't break. He thinks. He walks. Not quiet though. He's never quiet. Not much point. Wherever he is, people point and notice him. Mr. Kent don't mind the noise long as he gets his chores done. Ploughing and planting and clearing and milking and can't remember the last time Mr. Kent came out with him to clear a field.
Clark sings, "Sometimes I feel, Like a motherless child, Sometimes I wish I could fly, Like a bird up in the sky," and he thinks why not. Drops the big old bundle and he runs. He's always run fast. Now he runs faster and faster. World around him picking up in a blur. Runs through Smallville, just a breeze. Right on past the "Nigger, Don't Let The Sun Set On YOU In Smallville" sign. Sun don't set on him there. He sings and he runs. Don't even care what it looks or sounds like. Faster and faster until his feet don't hardly touch the ground. He sings, "Sometimes I feel, like freedom is near," and his feet leave touch with the hot summer earth. August day and he's running toward freedom. Singing, "Sometimes I feel, Like freedom is near, But we're so far away," and he takes off. He's a flash of blue jeans and red handkerchief and whiteish shirt and black skin. Flying not like a bird. Like one of those darts they throw over at the pool hall in Blue Hill. He leaves a boom of sound behind him and he don't care. Flies away from the ground. Flies up where the air is thin. Closer to the sun and he feels it. Really feels it. Soaks it in. Way up here in the light, he can hear it all. Gunshots. Riots. Drumbeats. Beat of the earth. Beat of hands on meat. Sound of Mr. Kent calling his name.
Clark falls. Straight down like a nail falling into a board. Sees the farm rushing toward him. Mr. Kent standing there in the front yard calling his name. Mrs. Kent pulling on his arm, "Jonathan, calm down. You know what the doctor said about your heart."
At the last minute, Clark pulls up. Doesn't make a crater. Lands light as you please on the ground behind them. Says, "Yes, sir." Cuz even full of a cup of anger like corn moonshine on fire, he can't drop the sir and it makes him even angrier. Fists curled. Angrier than he's never been his whole life. Or he's always been and he never knew it.
Mr. Kent spins round. Starts in on him right away. Arms waving. Face red. "Where you been, boy? You left your bundle out in the field. Crows had themselves a picnic."
And Clark asks, "Mr. Kent, there something you should be telling me?"
"What you got in that fool head of yours?" says Mr. Kent. And he's small. Funny how Clark never noticed. Why Clark's a full foot taller than him, and he can't think when that happened. Wonders if its been since this morning and it may be. Day full of wonders. Of waking up. Of getting tall.
Clark asks, "Mr. Kent, tell me again, which orphan train did I come in on from Metropolis?" His voice sharp like that scythe that he left behind.
Mrs. Kent's all worn and faded with her smile at him. "Oh now Clark, you came on the last one, like we told you." She's got one of those worried smiles. Known Clark her whole life and she's worried what he'll do. "Clark, why don't you come round back. I've got some cold chicken put up for your lunch.
Their hearts are beating fast. They know something. Mrs. Kent's heart like bird. Mr. Kent's like a misfiring crop duster. They know, and it's his thing to know. Sun shining down and he's tall in the light. Soaking it in. "Tell me."
Mr. Kent's in his face now, "Nothing to tell, boy." Mr. Kent's face is red now. Wet angry eyes. Sun shining down.
That's when Clark hears it. He's asked the question and he hears it. Singing under the barn floor. He shoves aside the old tractor like it's nothing. It is nothing. He digs with his hands. Mr. Kent's yelling. Mrs. Kent pleading. He ignores them. Digs. It's not deep. Spaceship under the barn. He's slept not twenty feet away in the loft his whole life and there's a God damned space ship under the floor. And its singing to him. Singing who he is and where he's from. Singing his name, which sure as hell ain't Clark.
Somewhere, way down back, he can feel Mr. Kent grab him by the shoulder and try to yank him, but it don't move him. Don't hurt. It's like nothing's ever going to hurt again, except he knows that can't be true. A small panel slides open and a long clear crystal sings to him and its like the sound of singing in a grove. He picks it up.
Mr. Kent yells, "Put that back. That don't belong to you." But its the only thing that does belong to him.
No, that's not right. He belongs to himself.
He smiles at them then, like Mrs. Kent's always telling him to do, so he don't look so angry. Takes it all in one last time. Mr. Kent and the farm and cold chicken and minding hearts.
Then because gravity is just one more thing that don't hold him back anymore, he takes off to where he's going.