Emerging Hero : Young Clark Kent

A Close Shave

Martha Kent, a middle-aged brunette woman, quietly hummed as she folded her teenaged son's laundry. Fourteen-year-old Clark wasn't her biological son, although he showed enough resemblance to convince everyone that he was. He was given to her and her husband Jonathan as a toddler by a mysterious race eons from Earth, one clear night walking into their arms as he teetered out of a still-smoking ship that had torn through the atmosphere moments earlier. He proved to be an extremely strong boy, but Martha and Jonathan had taught him to keep that in check and to always use the manners and consideration for others that they used. There were challenges, however. It was not always easy for the Kents to bring up their good boy to one day be a super man.

As she finished up the laundry, she heard the front door slam harshly.

"Clark?" Martha called out. "Was that you?"

"Yes, Mom," he replied sheepishly. "Sorry."

Martha made her way out to the kitchen to see Clark take a bite of an apple and spit it onto the floor. The chunk made a metallic thud as it smacked the slate-grey tiles. Martha shook her head as she took the apple from him.

"Now how am I going to explain to my sister what happened to the stainless-steel paperweight she gave me?"

Clark weaved around her and flopped down on the couch. "I don't know, Mom, but it sure didn't taste good." Martha picked up the chunk of steel and dropped it into the trash.

"Before you watch your shows, Clark, I want to talk to you about your shirts." She held up a ripped tee-shirt. "And your face towel." She showed him a towel that was worn through.

Clark just shrugged and picked up the TV remote. Martha circled around the couch to stand behind Clark.

"Well, we'll have to go into town next weekend." As she dipped down to kiss him on his cheek, she shrieked in pain. Clark turned to see Martha clutching her mouth, blood trickling down her chin. He immediately vaulted over the back of the couch to stand beside her .

"Did I do that?" he asked fearfully. Martha shook her head.

"It couldn't be," she managed to squeak out. Clark lifted a hand to his face and brushed a couple of fingers over his cheek, making a loud rasping noise.

"Maybe it was me," he murmered to himself as he grabbed a tissue and handed it to his mom.

Dinner was quiet that evening as Clark sat with his father. Clark paused and glanced toward Martha's empty spot, then at his dad. Jonathan looked up but Clark quickly lowered his gaze, picking at the vegetables on his plate. He self-consciously rubbed his cheek, startled a bit by the noise he produced. Jonathan couldn't help but grin.

"Wow."

Clark responded by looking up with raised eyebrows.

"What?"

"Sounds like your Uncle Jeff with his washboard. Maybe you could take his place in his jug band."

Clark cracked a grin that faded as he thought of Martha.

"Is Mom gonna be okay?" he sheepishly asked.

"Sure," he consoled Clark. "I'll pick her up at about eight." Clark nodded, turning back to his food. Finishing up, he looked up at his dad again.

"What did she tell the doctor? Does he know what happened?" Jonathan placed a firm hand on Clark's shoulder.

"There's plenty of things that can happen on a farm. Don't worry about that."

Clark put a relieved smile on his face and excused himself to get his homework done.

As the rooster crowed at the Kent farm the next morning, Clark stirred in his bed. He glanced at his alarm clock and sat up, realising his pillow was stuck to his face. He couldn't help but laugh. When he yanked on the pillow and it burst into a cloud of downy feathers, he laughed hard, pulling bits of fabric from his whiskered chin. Hearing footsteps approaching, he calmed down, but kept a grin on his face.

"Clark Kent, what are you up to?" Martha shrieked as she peeked into the room. She winced in pain as she stretched the few delicate stitches in her bottom lip.

"Mom, I can't go to school like this," he ventured hopefully. She shook her head and spoke carefully.

"No. You and your father are going to figure this out today. But this isn't getting you out of doing your chores."

Clark popped out of bed and grabbed his clothes. He bent to kiss his mother's cheek but she stepped away and wagged a finger at him.

"Careful," she warned him as he headed for the bathroom. "Breakfast in five minutes."

Jonathan and Clark stood before the bathroom mirror, both their faces lathered with shaving cream. Jonathan opened the medicine cabinet and handed Clark one of the two razors inside.

"Now, Clark, son, this is brand new. It should be plenty sharp enough."

Jonathan raised his razor to his face. "Now start on your cheek and pull down like this."

Clark watched and followed his lead. The razor stopped sharply as he tugged on it.

"Careful, now, you'll cut your-" Jonathan warned, reaching toward Clark's hand. Clark shrugged away, yanking hard on the razor. The razor snapped apart and flew in pieces around the room.

"We'll try something else, I guess."

Clark just nodded, disappointed.

Minutes later, Clark stood sheepishly beside his dad, holding a smoking, sparking electric shaver in his hand. Jonathan quickly yanked the plug out of the outlet and shook his head in disbelief.

"I was given that by my father when I was your age." he said quietly. " It's yours now."

"Gee, thanks."

Martha sat in the kitchen, reading the paper and sipping a cup of coffee when Jonathan passed through, followed seconds later by Clark.

"Given up yet?"

"No, not yet. We're just doing some, uh.. stuff in the workshed. Martha nodded and turned back to her reading. She ignored the sound of power tools and grinders for a while, then sat up quickly, knocking over her coffee.

"Dear God, Jonathan, no!"

She ran out to the shed to see Jonathan holding an angle grinder to Clark's face, sparks scattering wildly. She waved her arms frantically to get their attention.

Jonathan and Clark glanced at each other and shut off the grinder.

"Jonathan Kent, what are you doing?! That's our son, not a slab of metal!"

Jonathan just tossed the grinder onto a workbench and took off his safety glasses.

"You know, I buy a new grinding pad every three months and I use the grinder a lot. I've never seen one worn out that fast."

While Martha fussed over a completely unharmed Clark, carefully avoiding touching his facial hair, Jonathan slumped down into an old wooden chair.

"I think I'll need a new grinder as well. I'm sure I heard something snap inside." He mused a bit and glanced up at Clark. "I don't know, maybe the boy of steel is destined to have a beard of iron. I just don't know."

Later that afternoon, Clark stood before the bathroom mirror again. He glumly stared at his whiskered face.

I can't show up at school this way, he mused to himself.

As he stared more and more intensly at the razor-sharp stubble, he thought about what the guys at school would say. The same guys that taunted him during dodgeball, more mean than playful, not knowing that he could knock them through the wall if threw the ball with all his strength. He began to feel his face get hot and his eyes begin to tingle. As his eyes grew hotter, a beam of energy blasted out of them, bouncing off the mirror and striking his face.

He tore his gaze from the mirror, a glowing strip arcing across the tiles on the wall and setting some towels on fire. He shut his eyes for a second , feeling the heat subside before dipping his mouth under the running tap and spitting a mouthful at the burning towels. He stopped and looked back at the mirror to see a bare patch of skin on his face where he had been staring.

"Mom, Dad, I did it! I shaved!"

His parents soon came running, partially from his triumphant calls, but mostly from the whooping of the hallway smoke alarm.

Just after supper, Jonathan and Clark headed back out to the shed, Clark clutching a handheld mirror.

"Now, you've completely cleaned the surface of that mirror, otherwise it could light up?"

Clark nodded in response to his dad from where he sat in the corner of the shed. Jonathan cleared everything flammable from Clark's line of sight as Clark rubbed a finger over the hairless spot under his skin.

"This is just until you get more control on your, uhh.. heat vision. Once you improve your aim and intensity you can use the bathroom mirror again."

Clark nodded again and held up the mirror.

"I'll be right over here", Jonathan said as he retreated several long paces away from his son.

"Now think about what you were earlier."

Clark nodded slightly and began to stare intently into the mirror.

A clean shaven Kryptonian teenager sauntered down the empty school hallway. Clark was the only student that could sleep in, miss the bus and be the first student to arrive without catching a ride with someone.

As a few kids showed up, Clark melodramatically rubbed his smooth face.

"You're back."

Clark turned to see the principal standing behind him and nodded silently.

"Don't worry Mr. Kent, growing teens need a day or two off to deal with the changes their bodies are going through."

Clark remained silent as he uneasily watched the smirks of the passing classmates.

"Uh, I should really get to class.." Clark mumbled self-consiously.

"Yes, better be on your way." The principal took one last look at Clark's slightly pinkish face. "Little bit of razor burn?"

"You have no idea," Clark replied as he walked down the now crowded hallway, grinning to himself.