Droplets of rain fell on her, some splattering on her head and soaking through her dark brown hair. She struggled to light a cigarette, and eventually, after her thumb was sore from spinning the wheel, her hands numb from the cold, the end of the long Mayfair Superking glowed red. Protectively, Abbey lifted her spare hand over the fag, determined that it would not be spoilt by the falling water.
She had always liked the rain, and it seemed exceptionally fitting right now. The dark sky matched the unbelievable pain in her chest; the water hid the tears that had made a constant stream down her face. The humidity, the warm rain, here, matched the confusion that tumbled throughout her.
One question kept bouncing to the forefront of her mind. How could he do this to me?
In the distance, she could see the pier lit up against the darkness. It looked beautiful, it always did. Even in this weather. It was fitting, she thought. The pier was a constant in her life; always there, always sturdy. As a kid, she used to be terrified of it. She had been afraid of slipping through the gaps and spiralling into the sea below. Abbey had no idea how old she was when she stopped being scared.
All she knew was, one day, she could step across the boards without the image of slipping through them dancing across her brain.
Tilting her head to one side, Abbey narrowed her eyes and focused past the water, looking instead at the lights in the far, far distance, over the other side. She never had found out what town it was.
Closing her eyes, she took another drag, wishing the pain would disappear.
It would take time, she knew that. It would take a while for her life to return to normality, it would be a while before she could listen to certain songs without thinking of him and bursting into tears.
"The flaws, Abbey," she whispered to herself. "Think of the list."
The list was something she and her best friend had compiled, a list that was meant to help her get over him.
"Whenever you miss him, or want to call him, or text or speak to him online," her friend had said, "think of the list. Go through it. Read it Abbey."
Number one. He broke my heart.
It had, of course, been the most important one. He hadn't just broken it, he had shattered it. She was not meant to fall in love, and the 'break up' had pulled her back from the edge just in time. Yet...yet she had been falling. She wasn't meant to be. But it had happened. She had woken up one day and realised, slowly but surely, she was falling for him. And a week later, she woke up with an empty feeling in her chest and her pillow tear stained.
Number two. He broke up with me when I was drunk.
Seriously. How had that been a good idea? A girl was at her most vulnerable when drunk; like a child, emotions were formed by the smallest things. Anything could swing the pendulum from overjoyed at life to locking yourself in a toilet and crying after a few drinks. She had been having a good time with her friends, she was laughing and joking with them and then bam, suddenly he was walking away from her, leaving her stunned and confused and hurt, so very hurt.
All she'd wanted to do was crumple into a heap and cry.
But she couldn't; she stuck on a brave face and did a shot and drank, and drank, and drank. She'd smiled, and laughed, and danced, and locked herself in a toilet and cried before re-emerging and once again sticking a brave face on.
What was number three? She frowned out at the sea, flicking the end of the cigarette onto the grass and allowing the rain to wash it away.
"Number three," she whispered to the wind. "The dancing." A small giggle broke through her, remembering those oh so awful moves. They were terrible! One of those things you don't notice at the time, one of those things your heart passes off as 'cute' but as soon as it's over...
She cringed at the memory.
Taking a deep breath, Abbey leant backwards on the bench, tilting her head to look up at the sky. The stars winked down at her, and she was surprised to see the moon sitting in the sky. When had the sun set? She hadn't noticed. Her mind was too distracted, working too hard to get over him.
A lot of things had seemed to slip by her in the last few days.
Her mother's response had been designed to make her laugh, make her smile and, temporarily, at least, it had worked. For all of a minute. "And you're still crying over him? It was last night Abbey!"
She knew she'd missed a few out, but right now she didn't care. As she took out another cigarette, her mind worked on picking out another flaw.
Number four. He always answered the phone on dates.
Not just that, she thought. It was that he answered them, and then had the full conversation. One of those things that, unlike the dancing, had frustrated her at the time. It was just...it was rude. Even her friends didn't do that if there were just two of them hanging out. Abbey found herself getting annoyed at the memory, whilst, simultaneously, she got annoyed at the cigarette's refusal to light.
"Stupid, smug arsehole," she grumbled, the orange butt of the fag clenched between her teeth. Stupid wasn't quite the right word, he wasn't smug either, but right then it was all she could think of. Finally, finally the cigarette was lit and she took a drag, settling back with her head tilted towards the sky as the rain fell down.
Abbey ran through the flaws in her head once more, as she tried to work out how far down the list she'd got. Four.
Number five. He treated my friends badly.
She found herself bristling up as she thought about what her friends had told her. They'd waited a few days, and then suddenly, it was like these complaints just came flooding in. No, not complaints. They hadn't told her before because that's what friends did, they didn't want to spoil what she thought she had. He'd acted like a dick to them when she wasn't around. He'd insulted a few of them after talking to them. Even if she didn't think he meant it in a mean way...
You don't treat friends like that.
She stood up, taking a deep breath.
She wanted to slap him. She wanted to hurt him, make him feel physically what she felt mentally. Inwardly, she was bruised, broken and lying on the floor in pieces. She wanted to make him feel the same way.
The cherry on the end of the cigarette glowed a bright red, shining in the darkness as Abbey took another drag.
She wanted to see him suffer.
But she knew that if he asked her to come back, she'd fall into his arms and hate herself for doing it.
Not that that was going to happen.
Her phone buzzed, and she withdrew it from her pocket, glancing briefly at the name. Her best friend, the girl who had helped compile the flaws list, had sent her a few brief words.
I'm here if you need to talk.
Despite how much she was hurting, Abbey smiled. She'd had texts, and messages, e-mails and calls, saying the same thing over the last few days. She had her friends. They'd rallied around, kept her head up, and had been there for her.
Because of them, she knew she'd make it through. She'd live, she'd survive, she'd recover.
And she'd come out stronger than ever.
And she knew, deep down in her heart, that even if she didn't see it, karma would take care of him.
Dropping the cigarette to the floor, she glanced once more at the pier. Ah well, she thought. "It was only meant to be a summer thing." Abbey chuckled to herself as she stuffed her hands in her pockets, pulled up the hood of her jacket and bent her head against the wind, starting her short journey home.