Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
I walk back into the house after my chores, the same as I do every morning, and the first thing that hits me is the quiet. There's no sound except the low sounds of the air conditioner running and the fridge humming and the fluorescent light in the kitchen buzzing a little. It's almost painfully silent.
I remember when I used to walk into the house after my chores to hear my mom bustling around the kitchen. I'd hear the sound of her stirring up a batch of blueberry pancakes, or the sound of running water as she washed dishes, or the sound of the adding machine whirring as she tried to figure out how to pay the bills.
And most of all, I remember the sound of her singing, all the time, humming songs from the Dark Ages, back when she and Dad were dating.
I remember sitting at the kitchen table and hearing the sound of my dad's workboots clomping over the wooden floor, the sound of him smacking my mom on her butt, and her squealing. "Good morning, sunshine," he'd say in his deep voice. "What's for breakfast?"
And every single day, she'd turn around, shake her finger at him, and say, laughing, "Just for that, you don't get anything."
I remember the smells of cinnamon and bananas and apples filling the house when Mom was running her baking business out of our kitchen. Sometimes those smells would float clear out to the barn, and I'd sniff the air while I was working, and my stomach would growl like a rabid animal. By the time I got to the house I was ready to eat every single baked good she'd made that morning. But she'd smack my knuckles with a wooden spoon, knowing it didn't hurt me any.
"You're as bad as your father," she'd scold. "There's plenty of cereal in the pantry."
She always relented, of course, and let me have a couple of muffins. Well, maybe three or four. "You're a growing boy," she'd say with a laugh, and toss me one more as I headed out for the school bus.
"Off to school," Dad would say, rolling his eyes like I was heading off for an all-expenses-paid cruise to the Bahamas. "Well, enjoy your vacation, son. When you get home, I'll put you to work."
I remember the two of them laughing together. That's the sound I remember most, the sound of their shared laughter. It's not that things were always funny at our house. Far from it. It's just that no matter how rought things got, the two of them always seemed really happy.
Most of the time, we were all happy. We were happy together.
But that was a long time ago now.
There isn't any sound as I walk into the kitchen to wash my hands, except for the shush-shush-shush of Shelby's tail from the hearth. He's an old dog now, and even though he's just as glad to see me as he ever was, he doesn't get up too easily, so he no longer rushes to greet me when I'm done with my chores. But aside from the sound of his fringed tail brushing over the carpet, and the noise of water running as I wash my hands, there's nothing.
No sound of laughter, no voices teasing and joking, nothing bubbling on the stove or baking in the oven. There's no scent in the air, no smell of muffins or pancakes or apple pies.
I can cook them all myself, of course, but for one person, it really doesn't seem worth the trouble. Eggos are enough to keep a guy going.
Physically, at least.
I pull one of the frozen waffles out of the freezer, heat it with my eyes, and sit down at the wide, empty table. It doesn't even seem worth it to pull syrup out of the pantry. I take a bite and chew morosely.
I honestly don't know why I'm so lonely all of a sudden. It's not like I haven't been living alone for a while, after all. Dad's been dead for three years now. And Mom-- Mom became a senator and left for Washington a year and a half ago now. She's really busy, and I run over to see her every now and again, but we don't get to spend a lot of time together. She's just got too much going on.
And the only time she's actually been home was for Christmas.
And that's okay. Really, it is. I'm the one who encouraged her to leave. Like I told her, I'm a grownup now, and I can handle the farm on my own. And I can. It's doing better now financially than it ever did.
But the problem is that it just doesn't feel like home anymore.
I close my eyes, shutting out the solitude, and my mind drifts to the city I spend a lot of my time in. Metropolis isn't that far from Smallville, but it's like a whole different world. It isn't quiet and isolated and dull. It's exciting. Just walking down the streets gives me kind of a chill down my spine.
I grew up in the country, and even though I've spent a lot of time in Metropolis over the past few years, I just can't seem to get over being excited every time I run into the city. I like Metropolis, a whole lot. It almost feels disloyal to admit it, but the truth is that somehow, Metropolis feels more like home now than the farm does.
I'm not sure why that should be, except that everything that made Smallville home is gone now. My parents, my friends... all gone, one way or the other. Smallville feels empty.
The farm feels empty.
I put the half-eaten waffle down on the table and look around. The house looks exactly like it always did. The same antique, battered furniture, the same old chipped plates, the same old Frigidaire. It's like someone captured my childhood in a time capsule and froze it, eternal and unchanging.
But it only looks the same. The reality is that it's more like a snapshot of the past, with no depth and no reality. It's just a monument to the past, with no present and no future.
The heart's gone out of it, and it just isn't home any more.
I sigh, and acknowledge the truth to myself. It's time for me to find a new home. Maybe past time. This old farm hasn't felt like home for a long while now, and all the wishing in the world won't bring the past back.
The truth is that the sounds and smells and laughter of my childhood are gone forever. This empty house is all that's left.
I've lived here all my life-- well, all my life that I can remember-- and I don't think I can ever let it go entirely. I know that I'll come back here for holidays. Maybe I'll come here to have a break from the city, to look over the flat, green plains when I get tired of looking at glass and steel, to smell fresh air instead of exhaust. I know I'll be back.
But deep down, I know that it will never truly be home again.