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Superman created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster and, in the Superman stories DC puts out, they have to include “by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family” after crediting Siegel & Shuster. Isn’t that swell? :)

All Backwards

Written by Felicia Rondo

Summary: Alone in the Fortress of Solitude, Clark Kent from Kansas thinks about Kal-El from Krypton.

Contains: The Last Bit of a Chat with Crystal Space Dad, and Introspection.



“Farewell, my Kal-El, until next time we speak,” echoed the voice of his late father from space.


“Goodbye for now, father,” the son replied, as the crystal image of Jor-El faded from his view. Once more, he was truly alone in his fortress of solitude. Alone with only his thoughts to keep him company. Alone, with the sound of that name still ringing in his ears.


Kal-El.


That was his name, he was told. It was the one they gave him when he was born on that long-dead planet, thousands of lightyears away. Of the three names he had, however, it was the one he heard the very least.


The first name of his that he ever knew was ‘Clark.’ That was what he heard when he was called to head back in before it turned dark, the day he first learned how to ride a bicycle. It was what the first father and mother he ever knew would call him, what was written on a little note next to the shining ribbons of his Christmas presents in the Decembers of his youth.


Otherwise, the name he was more familiar with and had by far heard the most in his life was ‘Superman.’ He’d heard it spoken with desperation before gratitude from those he saved, and anger at times from those who… still needed saving, in their own way. If everyone wasn’t looking to the sky, they might wonder why mild-mannered ‘Kent’ always turned his head every time ‘Superman’ is spoken, like a student being called to the front of the class by their teacher.


When he found out the truth… or where he came from, anyway, it was a shock. Suddenly, so many strange moments he had growing up made so much more sense, yet… when he first heard Jor-El speak his kryptonian name, it felt almost as if he was speaking of someone else. Someone who at once only lived because he had, yet had died with Krypton before he could live.


Never would this ‘Kal-El’ read his name on a note passed over to him in class from the girl he liked, with words as unassuming as “do you like me?” written on it that still made his heart beat faster than the most spectacular fireworks display. Never would it be whispered softly as he hid his crying eyes in the loving arms of his mother after waking up from a bad dream. Did they even have bad dreams on Krypton, or fireworks for that matter? He could only assume so - when he finally met his Kryptonian father, he’d outgrown such small yet burning questions. There was always something more important, it seemed.


After he learned of his original name, he didn’t know quite what to do. Would he tell his ma back in Kansas? Was he being dishonest if he didn’t? When he eventually did, she knew already he was saying so more because he felt like he had to than if he wanted to. She gave him permission to still be Clark, at least with her if nowhere else.


With a smile, he thought of what his pa might have said if he were still with him… still with the world. He might’ve dismissed it at first, with a “no use in tripping yourself over what’s past you” or something to that effect, but… if he saw the turmoil his son was in over it, he may have then sat down and said something more like this,


“Names only mean what they mean to the ones they belong to. If you want it to mean something, then it sure as well does. If you don’t, you don’t have to feel like you need it to mean anything either. It was only for you, after all.”


Still alone, technically, he smiled. Pa always knew just what to say - and when he didn’t, he had ma there to lovingly tease him for it. He liked to think that Kal-El would have liked them too.


Carefully, so as not to spill anywhere, he poured a glass of apple juice from Kansas and then sat down. Before him, past his crystalline ‘table,’ was a slightly-distorted reflection staring back at him. He held up his glass and made a toast,


“Here’s to life, to the people that make it all worth living, to a name… and to you, Kal-El.”


Clark smiled and, to his delight when he lowered the glass back down from his lips, Kal-El smiled back at him.


The End


Originally-published on June 25, 2021

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