Lana Lang owns a silver-backed, boar hair bristled brush. It belonged to her great-grandmother and had been passed down to selected offspring. She knows it's not rightfully hers, that it should belong to her cousin Ruth in Edge City. Every other year, she receives a kind note from Ruth, casually asking for the brush. Every other year, Lana trashes Ruth's note and enjoys the fact that she has something the other Potters want. Grandma Elaine's silver brush is hers. Nell stole it from crazy Aunt Marilyn.
Lana pulls this brush through her hair every night and every morning. She wonders how her great-grandmother acquired the brush. Elaine's family lost everything during the great depression. Lana figures the brush had been purchased later on when times were good and money was not as scarce.
Her Great Aunt Louise had owned the brush too. She probably brushed her hair with it every morning and night, until the day she was murdered. Funny, her mother also owned the brush and she was killed tragically too.
The brush is obviously cursed.
"No, it's just a brush", Lana thought. She refuses to pursue weirdness. That's Chloe's turf.
Lana vigorously applies the silver-backed brush to ends of her long, dark hair. She's going to have to talk to Clark about Chloe. Things are hard enough right now between them. Throwing Chloe in the mix might sink them for good. Then where would she be? Lana loves Clark.
How could Clark use her like this? He's off on some adventure with Chloe. Last night, he saves the life of her loathsome ex-husband, a man she wishes dead. But she's promised Clark she would stay out of it. Never-mind the fact she told Clark about Project Intercept. She had to leave. Chloe got to stay with Clark.
Clark didn't come home last night.
Chloe just needs to let Clark go. She was happy with Jimmy. She can be happy with someone else. Leave Clark alone.
"Yep," Lana says, putting down the brush. "I have to talk with Clark."
Her cell jingles and Lana hears the voice of their friend Lois.
"Hey, Lana," Lois says brightly. "What's going on?"
"I'm leaving for Metropolis."
"Lana, can you do me a huge favor?"
Lois explains that Clark called to tell her to immediately file her story at The Daily Planet. She didn't have time to return to Smallville with Kara. Lex is still alive and the Smallville Ledger is going to scoop her unless she stays in Metropolis and turns in her eye-witness account.
On queue, Lana says "Lex is alive?" feigning surprise and interest.
"I know!" Lois says. "I've seen a lot of strange things in Smallville, but I think Motor City might be Smallville's match. There's no way someone can survive what I saw. Not without some sort of miracle. Clark and Chloe are going to hunt down that lead. But I've got a problem. Can you take Kara off my hands, she has amnesia and I can't expect her to hang out while I work. I'd worry too much."
"Why doesn't Clark let Chloe follow the lead, so he can see his sick cousin himself?" Lana asks. She hasn't talked to Clark since she left him in the hands of Lionel Luthor and the machine known as Project Intercept. She doesn't know what lie Clark told Lois. God, she hates lies.
"He wouldn't say exactly. It was something about a bomb and disarming it… Your boyfriend is so weird."
Lana stops at the kitchen counter to fill her travel mug with coffee while Lois rattles on and on about how weird Clark is. Lois doesn't know Clark's secret. He's an alien from the planet Krypton. Clark has super-powers. She understands why it's a secret, but God, she hates secrets too.
"Don't worry. I'll get her. I can work from home."
Lana's day refuses to improve. She tried to call Clark a few times, but he wasn't picking up. She even tried to call Chloe once. Nothing. She was completely in the dark, not knowing where he is, until Clark just showed up around five. He didn't even say hello. He just changed his shirt.
That night, she baked a chicken-pie, Kara's favorite for dinner, but no one ate it. Clark sat at the table and moped. She wants to make their life work, but Clark's not helping. Luckily, Kara did all the talking. She asked Clark about herself. Clark wants to tell her that she's an alien from another planet like he is, but he can't. He doesn't have the energy to do it right. Lana understands because she's tired too. They haven't slept properly since February. And he hasn't been home for over twenty-four hours.
"Clark, you're so tired," Lana says. "Why don't you turn in and call it a night."
"I think I might," Clark says, leaving promptly.
Two minutes later, Clark is upstairs in the bathroom, taking a shower. He'll be in bed in ten.
"Come on, Kara," Lana says.
"Where are we going?"
Lana takes Kara to the barn, leaving dishes unwashed and food out on the table.
"Before you left us, you wanted me to show you how to groom a horse. I figure this is something we can do and reacquaint ourselves. Besides, tomorrow morning it's your turn to muck the stalls. Clark will probably do it for you, but maybe you can surprise him. I think he'd like that. He wants to talk to you. Morning's a good time for him. He's too tired right now."
Lana refused to show Kara how to groom the horses before because Kara was still too out-of-control with her super-powers. It would spook the horses and the last thing Lana wants to do is see Buttercup or Storm destroyed. Right now Kara doesn't have her powers, but she's eager and Lana likes the gentleness and freeness of her mind. It reminds her of Clark, back after the second meteor shower. That was a magical time for them. His powers had been removed, as was the weight of the world. His focus was on her then. Clark doesn't see her like he once did. She's been eclipsed by Chloe.
Lana joins Clark in bed after her shower. He's sleeping deeply and it's the first time in a while that Lana feels like she can sleep deeply too. They no longer touch each other or hold on to another in their slumber. The presence of the other irritates them. They share a bed. They try to sleep. They don't have sex.
Tomorrow, she'll wake up alone. She'll pick out an outfit. She'll brush her hair with the silver-backed brush and start a new day. She'll work on Clark and getting their relationship right.
The morning arrives and Lana wakes to find Clark next to her. Clark really is zapped. He'll perk up once the sun hits him from the bedroom window. He's muttering something but Lana can't tell what it is. She leans over and kisses him at his ear. He pulls away at her touch. He wants to stay in his dream.
"Mind if I take the bathroom first?" Lana says.
Lana stands in front of the bathroom mirror, running her brush through her hair. She reassures herself that Clark does love her, that he's not given up, so she shouldn't either. She's committed herself to the idea that she can be completely honest with Clark. She's done things that she regrets today. Marilyn died because of her. She hopes Ruth never finds out about her mother.
How will she tell Clark?
Maybe the brush is cursed.
"No," she reminds herself. There's no such thing. It's her brush. She's won't give it up.
Clark forgot to take the laundry downstairs from the hamper. Lana digs out the towels, socks, and underwear. She wants to help him, not question him. At the bottom is Clark's shirt. Something glimmers against the scarlet hue. She drops the pile on the floor to inspect the reflected light. Several blonde hairs cling to the article. Clark's shirt smells like Chloe. Not her perfume, but of her. That scent Lana learned when they shared a bedroom for two and a half years. The shirt just reeks of Chloe Sullivan.
Clark knocks on the door and comes into the bathroom. He's looking good, but not chipper. He notices his shirt in Lana's hands. Surely he knows what she's thinking because his sense of smell is so much better than hers.
Paralyzed, Clark waits for the accusation. Lana can't figure out what to say. She can't ignore it nor can she point a finger at him, not without seeming petty and shrew-like. She doesn't want a label pinned to her. So instead, she asks him a rhetorical question.
"On a scale from one to ten, how much do you love me, Clark?"
It's not a Clark-like answer. Normally, he would say that he would never hurt her. He gives an answer back to her, too fast and too certain, lacking wonder and mystery. It's a lie. God, she hates secrets and lies.
He has a secret and it's with Chloe Sullivan. She brushes past Clark, trying not to cry.
A package rests on the mahogany table in Ruth Moyer's home. It's smaller than a shoe box, larger than a hardback book. It's simply wrapped in brown paper. Her heart skips a beat. She recognizes the curvy handwriting from Lana's Christmas card. Ruth knows what's inside as she frantically rips apart the paper.
After ten years of asking, Nell and Lana finally decided to return her rightful heirloom.
The brush is in beautiful shape. Lana took good care of it. She even had the boar bristles replaced and the silver polished. Ruth picks up the brush and finds a note underneath it.
"Beware, the brush is cursed."