Gifford Pinchot High School invited Valkyria, Whysper, and Strykana to speak to the Social Studies class about being civic minded heroes. At first, they were a bit leery. All three Ashe Girls graduated from GPHS. They weren’t too concerned about Katie and Stephanie being recognized, but Jessica had not undergone any bodily transformation. She simply grew older. However, when she was at GPHS, she wore a ponytail and spent most of her day in the principal’s office. So, they agreed. If any teacher spotted the Class of 2014’s Suspension Queen, they didn’t say a word.
The girls’ talk proceeded at the usual pace. They spoke about what they did. Then, they opened the floor for questions. The first question was one they anticipated. A blonde girl on the front row asked, “How do I become a heroine like you?”
Valkyria and Whysper looked at Strykana, who they agreed would answer that one.
“Well, it helps if you have some weird stuff happen to you like these two did,” Jessie said. “But I’m like you. An ordinary girl. I’m just older. I decided to use my black belt and engineering skills for the greater good. You can, too. And let me tell you. My great hero is a little blonde girl who may weigh 85 pounds. She had a bad heart and thick glasses. But I’m here today because of her. She believed in me and wouldn’t let me kill myself when I was a teenager, and I sure tried! So, you can be a hero just by being a friend to someone who needs a friend. You can do that today.”
Katie was about to turn her back on the students to keep from choking up at Jessie’s unexpected answer. Then, she heard this question. “You show a lot of skin. Aren’t you embarrassed or ashamed? Aren’t you objectifying yourselves? That isn’t very feminist of you.”
Katie smiled. She said, “When you can flip over a loaded concrete truck with one hand, nobody tells you what to wear. Nobody. And even if you can’t pick up a book, don’t let anyone tell you what to wear. If you want to wear a bikini, wear a bikini. If you want to wear a full dress, wear a full dress. You wear what you want, not what some man, or politician, or preacher wants you to wear. It’s your body. That’s what makes a heroine. Sticking to your guns.”
A boy in the second row asked, “I want to be a teacher. What do you think about me wearing costumes to class?”
Stephanie grinned and said, “I’d go back to school just to take your class! Talk about making learning exciting! Heck, yeah. Do it. You can wear a costume for any subject. Get your students involved, too. When learning is fun, learning happens. That’s another way to be a hero. Think outside the box.”
“We’ve had our share of bad knocks,” Katie said. “I won’t tell you what they are. But we do know what it’s like to lose a close loved one we thought would always be there, and we know what a broken family is. We’ve been at death’s door. But we still put on the mask every day, because it’s the right thing to do. You want to be heroes? Get out of bed every day. Live! Live in spite of what happened to you yesterday.”
“These masks and suits don’t make us,” Jessie said. “They’re uniforms, more for privacy than anything else. We would still be the same in jeans and teeshirts. Given the choice between maintaining our privacy, or stopping a runaway school bus in our civilian clothes, we’re going to stop the school bus.”
“What she said!” Stephanie added.
“Wouldn’t you be afraid for your family’s safety if everyone knew who you really were?” a girl in the third row asked.
“I don’t recommend anyone mess with my mother!” Katie said. “I may weigh 155 and be half her age, but she can still throw me through a wall. Mom’s are heroic, you know. They have superpowers, super ears, and super eyes!”
A boy in the back row raised his hand and said, “I have a question for Whysper.”
Stephanie looked at him. He was the stereotypical nerd, with thick glasses, messy hair, and a pimply face. He continued. “How does a guy get a date with you?”
“Why don’t you ask?” Steph replied.
“Would … I mean … would you … go out with me?”
“She ain’t going out with you,” the girl next to him sneered.
“How old are you?” Steph asked.
“After school, let’s go for ice cream. But only ice cream. I never kiss on the first date.”
The room exploded. You got a date with HER? Holy crap! Tim is going out with Whysper. My hero!
Katie smiled and said, “Now that is a hero! He saw what he wanted and asked. He had courage. He asked politely. Manners open doors.”
“Unless you’re a criminal,” Jessie added. “If you’re a criminal, we don’t bother knocking, except on heads.”