Shelia stared at the word for a moment. She closed the dictionary and pursed her lips. She continued to look thoughtful for a long time after she'd read it. Of all of the children in her class, Shelia was the most introverted. Kelley had never heard her speak before this, and it was the sound of her unfamiliar voice that had grabbed her attention. It sounded funny, like all of the words were being filtered through a napkin.
Minutes later, Kelley lost interest in wondering what Shelia was about. 'What a weirdo,' she thought, going to play with the other girls. But that was just a surface thought, and there was a deeper feeling. Some kind of mix between curiosity and pity that was entirely unfamiliar. Kelley knew that Shelia spent a lot of time learning words in the dictionary, and she wondered what that would be like. So she delved into the dictionary herself the next day.
"Brilliant," she read the next day, "Exceptionally clever or talented. Of light or color: very bright and radiant." That was kind of fun. She learned a new word! She decided she was going to use it in a sentence today. The overhead lighting in the library was bright and brilliant.
Kelley closed the dictionary and put it away, only to find Shelia behind her. Shelia looked unsure, caught somewhere between uncertainty and hope. Kelley knew how much flack Shelia caught for being weird, but she wondered what it meant.
"I was trying your trick of learning new words," Kelley said, uncomfortable in the ensuing silence. "I thought it would be fun."
Shelia nodded. She was staring down at her shoes, and wouldn't look up at her. "Want to learn a new on together?"
Shelia looked shocked. "I supposed," she answered, formally, her voice twisted the sounds of words.
"You have an accent?"
"English is not my first language."
"Well, maybe I can help you learn it." Kelley smiled, wondering if maybe Shelia could teach her about where she came from. And for the first time ever, Kelley saw Shelia smile. And it was Brilliant.