You hadn't really talked to Sanae since middle school. But you and her were paired together for a project in Ms. Yagokoro's biology class. It was nothing interesting, you just had to draw a diagram of the skin. Boring shit. But Sanae was into it, so you wouldn't have to worry about getting nothing done.
You and Sanae had decided to meet at her house on Saturday to work on the project together. And now it's Saturday. It wasn't really too much of a distance from your house to Sanae's; you just walked over and enjoyed the clear sky. Oh look, it's Sanae's house. You hadn't been to her house since her 12th birthday party, and you couldn't really remember what it was like on the inside. You knock on the door, and immediately you hear a dog start losing its fucking mind barking.
"Oh, hey! Come on in, Kanako and Suwako are out at the shrine right now, so we don't have to worry about them bothering us!" Sanae greets you as she moves the dog out of the way. As you cross the threshhold and take off your shoes, you remember the general layout of her house from the one time you visited. You remember the scuffed hardwood floors, the walls covered in a mix of religious memorabilia and framed photos of Sanae at various stages of her life, and the 5 different reptile tanks in the living room alone. There's that same Nintendo Wii you played Just Dance 3 on at Sanae's 12th birthday. And oh god, you forgot how Sanae's house smelled of animal. Not in a bad way, but in a comforting way. All these creatures sharing one living space; it was comforting.
"Man, it's been forever since I've come over. You still got the 30 pets or something?" You ask.
"Nope, it's 40 now! Most of them are in tanks, though, so they don't take up much space." Sanae laughs.
"Jesus Ch- ah, sorry. I mean, it sure seems like a lot of work to take care of all these animals."
"Aww, well they're members of the family!" Sanae picks up a cat that was winding around her ankles. "It's not considered work at all when you're taking care of these guys!!" The cat wiggles itself out of Sanae's arms and thunks down onto the floor.
"Holy sh- ah, sorry. That cat's huge."
Sanae giggles. Her laughter could cause a satantic cult to repent. "Yeah, Steve French is a big guy. He'll shove the other cats out of the way when we feed them, he's terrible!" What the fuck was that metaphor earlier.
Sanae claps her hands and grins. "We should probably start working on our project, huh?"
"Yeah, I brought some markers just incase."
"Oh, thanks! I forgot to ask you to bring some, guess it was just a miracle! Anyway, I already have most of the stuff in my room, so let's get started!!" Sanae leads you down the basement stairs into her room. Oh Jesus, it's the same as it was all those years ago. Lime green walls, an old white vanity, pink and black zebra-striped bedsheets, and beige shag carpet with burn marks right where her vanity is. A snake tank was on her dresser, and a stained glass turtle lamp was on her nightstand. There was more to her room, but describing rooms is boring, so I'll let you fill in the rest based on what I gave you.
Sanae grabs the large posterboard you were given in bio. You two had already finished sketching and labelling the dermatological layers, all thats left was outlining and coloring. She sets the poster down while you unpack your markers, and grabs an grimy pouch of colored pencils.
"Think we got everything we need?" She asks
"Think so." You reply. Quiet rustling comes from the snake tank.
You begin outlining the sketch with black pen, but Sanae quickly stops you. "Wait, wait! I was thinking we could use your markers to outline, and then fill it in with the colored pencils."
Ah, right. You forgot Sanae colored like that. "Oh yeah, that could work. Do you want me to outline while you color?"
"Yeah, sure! We should decide what colors we can use, too. Here, I'll grab my textbook." She flips through the pages, which are filled with stickynote annotations. You have no idea why she would spend time taking more notes than what was necessary, but to each their own you suppose. "Alright, here's the diagram we used in class." She begins picking out the colors to use from the pouch of colored pencils. You grab whatever markers fit the occassion and begin outlining.
You and Sanae work quietly together for some time, just focused on the repetitive nature of your project. Sanae colors very neatly, with long, uniform strokes. She places so much care into this project, even though it's not even worth that many points. Sanae is a straight-A student. You'd never once heard her complain about workload or teachers. Some would call her a teachers' pet, and they might have been right. But she was so earnest, so genuine in her studies. She wasn't doing this for Kanako or Suwako, or to appear better than the other students. She just truly enjoyed her studies. And she maintained a healthy social life on top of all that!! Such a well-adjusted young woman.
You reach for the red marker to begin outlining the blood vessels. "Ah shoot, the marker's dead." You sigh.
Sanae looks up from her own coloring. "Oh! We have some sharpies upstairs we can use!" You and Sanae head back upstairs, where Sanae begins sifting through an old yogurt container of pens, right next to the family computer that was still running Windows 7... somehow. "Here we go," She tests the sharpie on her hand. "This should work fine." Sanae leads you back downstairs to her bedroom.
Luckily, there wasn't much else to work on after grabbing the sharpie. After outlining the blood vessels, you were pretty much done, so you helped Sanae finish coloring in the rest of the diagram. The final minutes quickly pass by, and soon enough you've finished the project!
"Look at that, we're all done! We did a great job!" Sanae smiles. Her smile really was something special. Sanae gives you a high-five and leads you back upstairs.
Sanae holds a different cat in her arms as you put your shoes back on. "I'll bring the poster on Monday, so don't worry! I won't forget!!" You didn't doubt her, but her enthusiasm was sweet regardless.
"Hey, thanks for having me over, Sanae. It really has been too long! I'm glad we got grouped together for this one." You say as you step outside.
"Me too! See you Monday and good job!"
On your way back home, you think about how even though you and her hadn't really talked to eachother in a few years, you could still pick up your friendship as if there was no time missing. What a nice girl!