This Living Hand

by Amanda

Disclaimer: I don't own them. If I did, I'd be living it, not writing it. I think they're all controlled by DC and the WB and TPTB and other random abbreviations. "This Living Hand" by John Keats is from Donald Hall, To Read a Poem, 2nd Edition, copyright 1992 Heinle and Heinle.

This Living Hand

Sometimes she doesn't know why she still bothers. She bites back a bitter laugh when she thinks of what a hypocrite she is, badgering Clark to tell her his secrets when she has so many that she would never tell anyone.

Open up to me, she says.

Friends trust each other, she says.

A relationship built on secrets is doomed to fail, she says.

Here in the midland of life and death she can feel the warmish tickle of the flames of Hell licking at her feet. Everybody lies, but few people lie as often about as much as she does.

I always wished they would show up at school one day and whisk me off to my real life in Metropolis, she says.

My greatest fear is that I can never live up to her, she says.

I feel like all the tangible evidence I have of them is slowly being chipped away, she says.

How has she convinced herself that living in the past is the only way to secure her future?

Like the fairy princess doesn't get everything she wants. She knows exactly how many of the people around her want her life. Tina Greer even tried to take it. All the boys want to be a part of it -- Whitney, Clark, Greg, Byron...the list goes on and on.

It doesn't matter, any of it. It's all surface, part of the perfect facade, the flawless mask of milk-fed Midwestern wholesomeness. If she were anymore synthetically perfect she could be a Precious Moments figurine in some church-choir housewife's foyer.

Lana comes to the graveyard to feel alive.

It's ironic in that lovely postmodern way, the kind of false-deep sentiment that Goth kids in thick mascara put in their torturous poetry. It's the kind of statement that would taste smooth and rich in its strange bitterness with a hint of cloying-sweet, like the midnight-dark cocoa powder she uses in the Talon's hot chocolate.

Death is power. Unbridled, unashamed, uncontrollable power. She can feel it on the wind, a zinging buzz like static, white noise in the black night. She knows people wonder why she comes here at night, they giggle nervously and say, "Aren't you scared?"

Why should she be? Nothing can hurt her here. They're on her side, after all.

*This living hand, now warm and capable Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights...*

"Mom, I told you Byron didn't mean to hurt me! It wasn't really him, it was...he's's not a big deal."

"He put you and your friends in the hospital! He could have killed you, Lana, and you don't think that's a big deal?"

"Look who's talking."

"Don't take that tone with me, young lady."

"You think I should be afraid of him? Of everything? How would death be any different than my life now? I'm never getting out of Smallville. I'd rather die."

Laura sighed. "You don't mean that."

"Quit coddling her! Lana, apologize to your mother and check your attitude at the gate."

"Apologize for what? What'd I do?"

"You disrespected us and everyone else here. Your gift doesn't give you the right to make light of death."

"I wasn't!"

"Hey, keep it down over there!" yells Mildred Barrett.

"Oh shut up, you crabby bitch!" Horace Greeley retorts.

Lana rolls her eyes. *You'd think an eternity free of pain and suffering would have improved their attitudes a bit,* she grumbles to herself. The worst part of this is that even death won't free her.

So many times she's thought of just getting away from here; far enough away that none of them know her, none of them care. But, try as she might, she just can't bring herself to leave. They are her parents, and she knows that everyone her age is fighting with his or her parents. It's just that most of them don't sit in a darkened, dew-glazed cemetery to do it.

"Look, Byron's my friend, all right? Just like Chloe and Pete and Clark. Mr. Luthor's promised to help him so he won't hurt anyone else. Satisfied?"

"That Clark kid's a bad seed. I really don't want you hanging around him. Neither does Jack. He's not happy with you, Lana."

"Like I care."

"Lana! Don't talk to your father that way."

"What's wrong with Clark?" Lana forgets her own annoyance with him for the moment.

"I don't trust him. I've seen the way he looks at you."

Lana laughs. "Don't worry, I don't trust him either."

"Good," her parents reply in unison.

"When did you guys get so parental?" she jokes. Her remark is met with a harsh silence that chills the already frosty October night. "Look, I was kidding, all right?"

"Sweetie, you know we can't always be there for you, but we're trying as hard as we can!" Laura begins to cry and Lana looks down at the lace-frosted ground, embarrassed. "We're doing the best we can for you."

"I know, Mom. And I appreciate it. I'm sorry." *Backing down again,* she chides herself. *You know, one of these days you ought to check into a spine transplant--obviously yours is no longer doing its job.*

"It's that damn sister of yours, Laura! She always was self-absorbed; guess she was too busy sleeping her way through Smallville to teach our daughter how to respect her elders!"

"Dad, that's not fair! Nell may not be perfect, but she does the best she can. Besides, I have a mind of my own! I'm not a little kid anymore, you know."

Lana rises stiffly, brushing grass clippings and crumpled leaves from the knees of her jeans. "I love you and I'll stop by next week, okay?"

"We love you too, sweetie!" Laura gushes tearfully, and Lana gives her a sweet smile, turning quickly before she gags on the saccharine falseness of it all. She mounts her horse, promising him an extra carrot in exchange for a quick and uneventful ride.

*That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood So in my veins red life might stream again, And thou be conscience-calmed. See here it is-- I hold it towards you.*

"I always say I'm not going to do this again," she mutters angrily, "but I always end up doing it anyway."

She sometimes wonders what Clark would say if he knew the truth. Why she laughed softly when he sat by the graveside with her and pretended to hear them. Her mother had been cooing appreciatively at how handsome and well-mannered he was, while her father grumbled about fairies and she knew he wasn't referring to the mythological ones. Would he think she was crazy? Gifted? Cursed? Would he sit here with her and try to hear them?

She also wonders what her friends will be like when they die. Will they all turn mean and short-tempered and grouchy like her parents and everyone around them? Or will Chloe still be snarky, Pete flirtatious and funny, Clark pious and secretive? She suspects the former; hopes, likely in vain, for the latter.

So many times she's thought about ending it all, taking pills or slashing her wrists, but what would be the point? She knows she'll be buried next to her parents and that just means an eternity of quarrels and lectures and wasted potential. She wonders if being immortal wouldn't be more effective. If she just left Smallville, just finally got the hell out of Dodge, she wouldn't have to put up with any of this. She could just be Lana, not Lana-the-visionary I-see-dead-people every-day-is-Halloween freak. Not Lana Lang, fairy princess of the Meteor Kingdom and Virgin Queen of Smallville High. Not poor-Lana-saw-her-parents-die-must-be-so-traumatized-treat-her-like-porcelain.

Just. Lana.

She sees a light in the Kents' barn and knows that Clark is still up. She half-thinks of walking over there, but what would she say? Another litany of hypocritical over-compensatory won't-you-trust-me pleas? Even she knows it's getting old. But it's also mindless, automatic, keeps her from dealing with her own issues while she fixates on Clark.

Then she realizes it's exactly what her parents wouldn't want.

She locks the barn and heads down the hill.

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