8 - Lies We Tell Ourselves

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"So, you guys are partners now?" Gwen tossed a cherry into her mouth, giving me a shy grin. We were seated around a lunch table in the courtyard, the cool breeze fluttering my hair around. It was my spare in between classes and I was chewing on the tip of my pen, trying to focus on my Ancient History assignment.

Mary Jane looked up from her own notebook full of script. Mary Jane had a thing about writing down her lines for the play, it helped her memorise her monologues. "Wait, when did this happen? Yesterday you said you were doing it separately."

I gawked up, shrugging. "It's no biggie. You guys were right."

"Say that again," Gwen grinned. "I need to get this recorded." She was already reaching for her phone, being completely serious. I slapped her hand away playfully, giving her a long glare.

Mary Jane rested her elbows on the table, moving her half eaten sandwich to the side. "You and Pete, huh? Lab partners. You know what this means?"

I shook my head, a little clueless. "That I get a decent grade?" 

"It means study sessions," Mary Jane started. "And spending time with each other."

Gwen nodded seriously. "It means long nights, cuddled up in the library."

"Or early hours in the morning, sharing a notebook and falling asleep on each other's beds." Mary Jane added in, casting a grin over at Gwen.

The two of them were enjoying this and I was not letting it happen, not today. I shut my textbook, shaking my head at the two of them. But before I could start my long list of how that wasn't how our partnership was going to go, Harry plopped himself down next to Mary Jane, giving the three of us a massive smirk. "Hello ladies," He greeted us.

We all muttered a quick reply and I watched as he reached over, snagging a chip from Mary Jane's tray of food with a glance in her direction. She was only smiling, a smile I knew all too well. "What are we talking about?" Harry asked randomly.

Gwen turned her attention to the handsome boy sitting in front of me. "Pete and Flo are lab partners."

Harry looked back over to me, his eyes growing wide. "Do you know what this means?"

I blew out a sigh, sinking down in my seat. "Don't even start, Osborn. Not going to happen."

He gave a shrug, "I haven't even said a word yet."

I flipped my notebook shut, glaring at the three of them. I knew they would react like this to the news. None of them had been hiding their bright smiles, already beyond excited that I would be spending time with Peter, against my will, of course. "Let's get this straight," I started. "Being lab partners with Parker is not going to change anything. I won't be spending long hours at his place, he won't be coming to join me for dinner at my place. We won't be hanging out. We'll just be doing our assignment to further my grades. We're not really friends, you guys know that. I don't see why being lab partners would change anything, okay?"

Harry was trying to hide a smile as Mary Jane and Gwen had fallen quiet, their eyes rested over my shoulder. I spun around, seeing Peter standing right behind us. There was a hammering in my chest, watching as he shifted on his feet awkwardly. "Pete, come join us!" Harry beamed, almost completely oblivious to my last comment. 

I twisted back around, my gaze dropping to my lap as Peter slipped into the empty space on the seat next to me. He was almost sitting on the edge of the chair, getting as far away from me as possible. Gwen was chewing on another cherry, watching us both closely. "So, are you all coming to Flash's party Friday night? It should be fun."

I rolled my eyes, "Being cooped up in a house with guys from the football team, chugging down beer and trying to hit on every girl they see. Add the cheerleading team, that's the perfect combination. Sounds so fun, Gwen."

"Sounds like my type of party," Harry replied, his gaze shifting over to Mary Jane. "What about you, Mary Jane?"

She nodded quickly, "I think it does sound fun."

Gwen looked over at Peter. "Are you in too, Pete?"

He was quiet for a moment, overthinking it most likely. "I'll have to let Aunt May and Uncle Ben know, but sure."

Then all eyes were on me, waiting for an answer. My parents would most likely be at work till late and I would be stuck in the house by myself and since my whole circle of friends were attending Flash's stupid party, there wasn't really much of a choice. Not if I wanted to spend my entire Friday night alone. I blew some air into my cheeks, resting my chin in my palms. "Fine, I'm in too. But I won't enjoy it, okay?"

Harry grinned. "Suits me."

The bell sounded, ending my spare. The others gathered their books, getting ready to leave. Peter was already on his feet, giving a wave to the others. I jumped to my feet too, feeling a wave of guilt flood over me. Without thinking, my backpack was slung over my shoulder, my textbooks in my arms as I hurried after him. "Hey, Parker."

For a quick moment I didn't think he was going to slow down but after a second he turned back to face me. I glanced over my shoulder, watching the others watch the two of us. I stepped forward, my voice dropping. "Um, about before, I just--"

"I get it, okay?" Peter nodded, his hands buried in his pockets. He wasn't wearing his glasses and for a moment it threw me off my train of thought. He looked different somehow. "We're not friends, you've made that clear."

I shook my head, a little rattled. "Okay. We should figure out some ideas for our assignment."

Peter nodded. "Yeah, okay. I'm free tomorrow afternoon. We could meet in the library after school?"

It means long nights, cuddled up in the library. I pushed away Gwen's little nagging voice and gave him a quick nod of my head. "Right, that works. I'll see you then."

Peter was already backing away. "Great."

I stood there frozen, watching him walk away from me for a long moment. "Great." I uttered out, tightening my grip on my books.


***

The house was dark when I got home. It was cold and quiet, something that was becoming familiar to me now. I dropped my keys onto the table by the door, kicking the heavy front door closed with my foot. On my way up the stairs, I flicked on every single light, hating being alone in the darkness some nights. In my bedroom, I dropped my backpack to the floor and caught my reflection in my mirror. I stood there for a moment, staring at the girl.

You're smart, Flo. Smarter than me, just know that. I don't want you to ever throw your life away, not for anything. Not even a boy. Promise me that, okay? Promise me you'll be clever when I'm not around. Do you promise?

I heard Colton's voice in my head, tears swelling in my eyes. "I'm clever," I whispered, thinking back to my conversation with Peter today. "I promise, Colton."

It sounded like a lie to my ears. All my lies I told myself sounded fake these days. 



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