When the school bell rang, Leelah grabbed her backpack and ran for the door. Finally, out of school and free--
A yell stopped her. "Hey!"
She spun on her heel. There was Bennon, sticking his tongue out. A couple of his friends were standing behind him. "You stink!" he cried.
"No I don't," she said flatly. Mom always said the truth was the best comeback.
"You've only got one eye!"
She blinked at him, deliberately. "So?"
"Well," he sputtered, his face paling a little, "your momma wears combat boots!"
Leelah blinked at him. "So?"
"So," he said, clearly running out of options. His friends were already moving on. "That used to be an insult. From the 20th century. Where your dad's from!"
This was starting to get annoying. She put her hands on her hips and used the tone she'd learned from Mom. "So?"
He started crying. "Oh," she said. "Darnit--"
They went to the school cafeteria and bought cookies. "You're not just calling me names because you like me, right?" she asked, picking a funny-looking raisin out of her cookie. "Dad says boys do that sometimes, but that's stupid."
"No," he said. He took the funny raisin and ate it. "I called you names because I wanted to look cool in front of my friends."
"Well," she said. "That's okay, then."
She was already feeling a little better by the time she got home. She felt a lot better when she realized that Mom was home; a lot of times when she got out of school, Mom was on a run and Dad was home. Dad was cool, and he knew a lot of video games, and he always got her milk and a snack, but Mom...
Mom was awesome.
"You okay, honey?" She asked.
She looked at the floor. "Yeah."
"C'mon," Mom said, and wrapped an arm around her daughter's shoulders. "Let's go out." Mom always knew when things had been bad. But that's not what made her the best mother ever. What made her the best mother ever was that when things were bad, Mom took Leelah flying.
Dad had tried it once, but it wasn't the same, and they still had to pay damages every month to the Admiral Crunch factory. Getting up in the air was fun, but being in space was amazing. Once they'd broken orbit, Mom turned to her. "Wanna take the controls for a little while?"
You bet she did. "Can I fly for you someday?" she asked.
"Well, honey," Mom said, looking carefully over at the monitors, "maybe. But you might want to do something else. Be a scientist, or a chef, or have a bigger ship."
A bigger ship would be pretty cool. "Maybe," she said, and banked the Planet Express ship around the rings of Neptune.