I arranged and rearranged my paints and brushes, staring at the blank canvas in front of me. My eyes kept on traveling back to my open laptop, sitting on my desk across the room. The e-mail from Erica was open, and I still hadn't responded.
I didn't want to see them all again. What I really wanted was for us to be exactly the way we used to be, before Erica moved, before Jesse and Aaron got busy, before Lauren and Devin lost even a trace of character. Sure we had fights, and we were all so different, but they were the best friends I had ever had.
But what if it could be that way? If we worked at it we could be friends again. I knew it would never be the same though. Children have it easy. Friendships are harder as you get older and get adult problems. Then I realized exactly what I wanted to paint. I pulled a photo album off my shelf and flipped through it, until I found the most worn page. It had my favorite photo of the six of us.
I dipped a paintbrush in a jar of blue paint and got to work. An hour or so passed as I continued to paint, my hands flying across the canvas.
After I finished adding all the small details with my tiny brushes, I stepped back and looked at my work, comparing it to the photo. It had been taken the summer Erica left, after fifth grade. We were at Jesse's family's cottage in the country, several miles out of town. It was at our favorite spot in the woods. There was a hut of sorts, made of small trees pulled over and intertwined with other branches and sticks. Rocks weighed down the bottom. We had just fixed it up from the pervious winter.
Devin was up above, hanging from the tree so his head barely grazed the top of the structure. Lauren sat on another branch, swinging her bare feet, her head thrown back mid laugh. You could see Erica and Aaron inside the hut, their heads buried in books. Aaron's was something about science, but the cool and interesting kind. Erica had a Harry Potter book. Jesse was playing music on his iPod, and trying to Erica and Aaron to stop reading. Erica had a slight smile on her face as she attempted to ignore him. I had just pressed the button on the camera so it would go off a few seconds after I pressed it. I was throwing flower petals on to the top of the hut, standing on my tippy-toes and laughing with Lauren at whatever Devin had said.
It was the last times we all hung out together. Erica was leaving a few days later, and not all of us could go to see her off. Aaron's parents had made other plans, Devin had tryouts for one sport or another, and Lauren...well, Lauren never really explained why she couldn't come, but she couldn't.
After staring at the painting some more, I finally sat back down at my laptop and responded to Erica's email.