It has been weeks since school started when the next "major" thing happened. It happened during our Philosophy class. Mr. Browning announced that for the whole year, we will not be having any major exams in his class (which got a lot of "hurray"s! from everyone, myself included) but, in return, we are required to submit a 60-90 minute video of how we define whatever he wants us to define. For our class, it’s love. For Lea and Matt’s class (they have the same schedule), it’s loyalty. For Amy and Jill’s class (they have the same schedule, too), it’s discipline. And for Cara’s class, it’s humility. Cara and I were the only ones with different partners because we don’t have the same Philosophy schedule.
It’s actually kind of funny how we got our partners, though. Mr. Browning made us all pick from a glass bowl, a paper with stars. The papers correspond to the number of students in that class and the stars correspond with half the number of the class. The ones who got a blank paper get to write their names and drop the paper again in the glass bowl, after which the ones with the stars pick a paper again (this time with names on it) and the name they pick gets to be their partners.
It was absolutely random and absolutely annoying because all of us knew more or less who wanted to be partners with whom; we’re seniors, for Pete’s sake! But Mr. Browning wanted to teach us "a valuable life lesson" and wouldn’t even hear of our suggestions.
Well, Lea ended up with Matt (due to some miracle), Amy bullied someone into switching partners, so she can be paired up with Jill (well, not so much bullying; the jerk was only too happy to give Jill away), and Cara ended up with some random girl. And as luck would have it, I ended up with Luke. Luke Chandler. Everybody knows Luke Chandler, the way everybody knows Cassie. Well, to be fair, Luke’s not as bad as Cassie. He’s just dumb and rich and downright gorgeous but, he’s not a bully. He’s a charmer, though. He usually targets the estrogen-ridden girls into submitting themselves to him, so he can have free access to tons of homework workers, project providers, test tellers and I guess even weekly (if not daily) romantic getaways. Thing is, unlike Cassie, his targets willingly does things for him. And he expects me to fall under this stereotype. So not gonna do it.
And that brings us into the present. You all need to know why there’s suddenly a big buffoon here in our solitary and humble table in the cafeteria. Why he’s bugging me so much that I wanted to yell at him daily to go away. Ever since he found out that his charms are not working on me (I admit, he’s cute and hot and everything most girls drool over for, but somehow, I'm not into those stuff. I never was, truth be told), he kept going over to our lunch table to discuss stuff about the video. It has been so annoying because Luke is a member of the football team and he’s also kind of every girls’ crush so someone’s always stops by our table to say 'hi' to him. Ever since then, we can never enjoy lunchtime like we did before.
"I don’t understand why you didn’t just switch with some girl when you found out Luke was your partner," Amy says, on this one glorious day that Luke isn’t around with his annoying presence. "Any girl would have died, get reincarnated and then died again if she knew she’s being offered Luke as a partner for the whole year."
"I didn’t really think that was an option," I reply glumly. I glance at Matt. He never really struck me as the jealous type, but ever since Luke came into the picture, he hasn’t been that open with me anymore. "Besides, Mr. Browning did say we’re not allowed to switch partners."
"Yeah, well, what Mr. Browning doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Or make him mad. Or make him fail you."
"Geez. I'm not the cheater type here, Amy."
"Fine, fine. Just a suggestion." Amy relents, holding her hands up.
"Are you guys ready for the midterms yet?" Asks Cara. Just because Mr. Browning isn’t going to give us major exams, it doesn’t mean every teacher will follow suit, though. We still have to go through a lot of grueling tests in just a few weeks from now.
"Nah. Who gets ready for an exam weeks before the actual date?" Amy shrugs.
"I do," Cara and Jill say in unison.
"Well, yeah, you two. I mean like, which normal person studies weeks before the exams?" Amy says, taking a sip from her juice.
"Actually Amy, we really do study for the exams ahead of the actual dates. We actually don’t like cramming," Lea chirps in, amusement evident in her eyes.
"Yeah. I study for the exams at least a week before," I say, too.
"Fine. Some friends you are, ganging up on me like that," says Amy in mock sullenness.
We continue our friendly banters with Matt grinning while watching until Luke shows up again. It was then that the chatter abruptly stopped.
"Hey, Alice. Girls and Mart," he added in a hurry, nodding to everyone seated on the table.
"Mind if I sit here?" He asked pointing at the seat next to Matt. He didn’t wait for an answer though, he just plopped himself down much to Matt’s apparent disgust.
"I do mind, though. And my name is Matt, not Mart," Matt said, frowning at Luke.
"OK, OK! I just wanna talk to Alice for a little while before the bell rings. Can you deal with that? It isn’t like I'm trying to sleep with her right in front of you or something," Luke smirked. Oh, yeah. I forgot.
Remember when I said Luke is a charmer? Well, did you ever wonder what happens when he doesn’t get his way? He reveals his true self. The jerk is actually a selfish, mean and arrogant idiot. Who’d have thought?
"Stop it, Luke. What do you want?" I answer before Matt flings his self to Luke and start a fight. Well, it wouldn’t be really a fight. Matt is a cute stringy nerd and Luke is a toned ape. Fine, a gorgeous ape, but an ape nonetheless.
"I just got intel that Browning is going to make us submit a draft for the video due 2 weeks from now."
Everyone in the table gasps. Everyone except Cara, that is.
"But that’s not fair! That’s the week before the exams!" Lea exclaims.
"Yeah! We have to study for the exams and such!" Amy exclaims too. All of us look at her incredulously. "Sheesh, I'm just kidding!" She mutters under her breath.
"Wait, is that true? How come he hasn’t told us anything yet?" I ask him for clarification.
"He’s holding out to see who’s really doing it. And it’s actually graded," Luke answers.
"Anyway, do you even know what this means? We can't even decide what to do with our video! Let alone the draft."
"How reliable is your source, exactly?" I ask him with narrowed eyes. He might be doing this to rush me into doing it all, his part included. I have some ideas of what I want to do with the concept of love, but he keeps saying 'it’s so stupid' and he’s also not giving out ideas of his own. Well, I'm not about to do everything here. That’s why we’re so behind with the whole video thing.
"Reliable enough. She works inside the faculty room," he smirks at me.
"What? Ew! You’re hooking up with the staff now?" The staff is like the ones who do the office work, like the typing and such. The faculty is our very own and dear teachers.
"Excuse me, I have something to get in my locker," Matt says, standing up and walking away. He was seated between me and Luke and he might have gotten jealous because I'm talking to him again.
"Let’s do this some other time," I tell Luke before dashing off to chase Matt.
Luke stops me by grabbing my elbow though. "I can't do this some other time. I have practice with the guys later and tomorrow and the day after. We need to talk about it now."
Hmm, guy has a point. "Fine. Then let’s meet up when you’re able. Let’s agree on a concept by that time," I frown at him. "Now, can I go?"
He releases me and I dash off to where Matt is.
"Matt," I say to him. His locker is open and he’s rummaging inside, looking for something. Or maybe, seemingly looking at something.
He doesn’t answer so I continue, "Listen, if you were pissed off with Luke---"
"If I were pissed off? What will YOU feel if your boyfriend suddenly talks with a girl with you in between them? And not just talk but argue like you’ve known each other in forever. Think about it, Alice. Then tell me what you're going to say again."
I stay silent. He took it as an admittance of guilt though, because he talks then leaves me alone, slamming his locker door before going.
Before he gets too far, I half run, so I can stand in front of him.
"I thought you trusted me enough to not make a big deal out of Luke Chandler. I thought you had more sense than that. Obviously, I was wrong." I tell him, conscious of the eyes of the students passing us by.
He stayed silent for a minute, looking straight at my eyes and then he sighs, "I do trust you."
"Wow. That’s news."
"I do. I really do. It’s just hard for me to see you talking with him at lunch. Arguing over some trivial things. It’s annoying me because I should be the one doing that with you. Not him."
I didn’t expect him to admit his feelings. I expected him to keep denying that he’s jealous. His answer caught me off-guard.
"I’m not talking to him because I want to. It’s really for the grades," I say softly, reaching for his hand. He doesn’t take his hand away when I took it, so I take it as a good sign. "I don’t even want to talk to him. Do you see how obnoxious he is?"
Matt finally smiles a little, "You're right. I'm sorry for being such a horrible boyfriend." He pulls me in, so he can hug me. A teacher who’s passing by stopped to tell us off. We break off, giggling.
"You’re not horrible. You’re cute. I’ve never seen you get jealous of someone before."
We’re walking hand in hand to my next subject.
"I do get jealous. But I understand that it’s just a one-time deal like when you’re talking to someone for the time or such. This thing with Luke is a long-term partnership. If you can call it that. He’s making you do all the work, isn’t he?"
I nudge him with my shoulders.
"Don’t worry. I'm not gonna let him get away with the work. And he’s never ever going to replace you. Always remember that." I look earnestly at his face when I say it, so he’ll know that I'm sincere.
"You're sweet. You know that?" He kisses me lightly on my forehead, earning us another telling off from another passing teacher.
We just shake our head then continue on my next class in silence.