Chloe laughs at him when he picks up his cup too quickly and sloshes coffee onto his hand. She does give him a napkin, though, before going back to playing with her plastic stirrer. It snaps in her hands when he moves to put the wet napkin on the edge of the table and knocks the entire cup over, her laughter cutting distinctly through the anonymous din of Beanery customers.
Clark would be mad, but she looks so happy in her amusement, so completely fond of something as simple as clumsiness. Chloe's like that, and she helps him soak up the mess, too. She gives him a quick hug on the sidewalk before they part ways and reminds him she's coming over to study after dinner.
Hickory Lane is at the end of Jasper Road, a T-intersection with a cleared out field on the left, the Emerson's front yard on the right, and corn fields stretching out ahead. Clark goes right, waves to Janie Emerson playing on her swingset, and then returns his gaze to the ground. His feet kick up dust where they move, in that small space between the elevated ridge of asphalt and the carefully mowed grass.
He could cut through the fields; Hickory has a wide curve to the left and then straightens out, and the Kent house is a quarter-mile further. But he likes walking on the road at this time of day. It isn't a high traffic road, but that makes it more interesting, seeing who drives along it and what kind of mood the oncoming drivers are in. His vision is quick like that, catching expressions in that split-second before the cars pass him by. Sometimes one of his parents drive into town, and they always roll down the window, slow to a crawl, and talk to him for a moment, ask about his day, give him that smile that tells him they really are grateful, every day, that he came into their lives.
So he walks along the road just in case. He doesn't really like the thought of missing those times.
It's Wednesday, so he gets home and heads back out to make his deliveries as usual, follows Lex into the house and waits in the study as asked. Lex's day planner is spread open on the desk, one page of calendar blocks, the other of lined writing space. Both are covered in the hurried confidence of Lex's handwriting, little notes and appointments and doodles. His eyes lock onto his own name: "clark's bday" is written into its proper box, traced over and over into bold letters and underlined.
Clark grins a little and goes to the pool table, picks up the eight ball and tosses it from hand to hand while he waits. Lex doesn't keep him long, and comes in with his usual cultivated grace. At the desk, he writes out a check for the next month's produce and hands it to Clark; their fingers brush and Clark knows perfectly well it was intentional. He feels himself blushing and stumbles through small talk, and when he leaves, he's grinning even more.
There are larger things that he'd rather ignore, forget, brush into the cobwebs of distant memory at the very least. Like how routine it's become to gloss over the topic of Lex with his father. Chloe's expressions when she's hurt. Lana's carefully constructed boundaries with him and now, the implications of not minding that so much. The slowly impending knowledge that decisions have to be made, plans for how to function as who and what he is in the larger world.
But even with all that, he slips into the root cellar sometimes and runs his hands over the small pod, the external evidence of truth. Just the barest of grazing touches, as if it could shock him, as if it might be the trigger to wake him from the strange dream his life often seems to be.
He wouldn't really want to wake up. This is no nightmare, not with the smaller moments.