May I sit here?

I look at spiders and butter-flies. I watch caterpillars and moths. Sometimes I think I’m the only one who notices these things. But if it hadn’t been for a crowded cafeteria, I wouldn’t Have ever noticed Valeri. After all, I wasn’t looking for new friends.

Valeri was a new student. She walked to class with her books huddled against her chest and her head down. He talked only when the teacher asked her a question. After a month at our school, she hadn’t made any friend. At recess, she sat on a bench and read. If you asked who she was, you’d get a response like this, “She’s in my PE class, I can’t remenber her name.”

One day at lunch, I had nowhere to sit. Most tables were full, my friends scattered among them. But Valeri sat alone, book in hand, I walked over to her.

“May I sit here?” I asked.

“Sure,” she said.

The cafeteria was noisy, but silence hung between us. Valeri didn’t seem to mind, but it drove me crazy. I searched my mind for things to say.

“So,” I said, “is that a good book?” Valeri gave a small nod and went back to reading. “What’s it about?” I asked, after several more agonizing seconds of silence. She looked at me, her eyes sparkling.

“Well, it’s called Eragon, and it’s about a dragon! This boy, Eragon, finds this dragon egg when he goes hunging one day. He thinks it’s a rock! The egg hatches and Eragon hides the dragon from his cousin and uncle until it gets too big.”

“That sounds cool.” I said. I was about to ask her another question, but the bell rang.

As I rushed out of the cafeteria, I called to Valeri, “See you later.”

“Yeah,” she said, “see you later.” She sounded doubtful.

A couple days later, I spotted Valeri looking for a place to sit at lunch.

“Valeri, come here.” I pointed to an empty chair.

She sat down and pulled out her book. Everyone was talking about next week’s talent show. “So, what are you doing for the show?” My friend Erin asked my friend Kelly.

“Oh, I don’t know, probably nothing,” Kelly sighed. “What are you doing?” She pointed to Valeri.

“Oh.” Valeri put her book down. “I don’t know. Maybe nothing.”

The week flew by. Before I knew it. I was sitting in the auditorium, listening to a group of girls sing the latest pop songs at the talent show. I was bored out of my life, and I wanted it to end so I could read Eragon. I’d checked it out at the library, Then a shy girl walked on stage. I recongized her immediately. Valeri clutched a violin in one hand and a bow in the other.

She stared to play. The notes formed a soft, weet tune. Then it turned fast, then faster. The music stopped altogether before the tune retumed. Valeri ended the song with one hard, fast, loud note. The auditorium fell completely silent until we realized the music was finished. Still in a halftrance, we burst into applause. Valeri took a swift bow and walked off stage.

I smiled to myself. Valeri wasn’t just a “quiet girl”.She knew about wonderful books and could play the violin like nothing I’d ever heard. Like a caterpillar or butterfly, she was beautiful and amazing when you looked closely.