Abi Branning was a quiet girl. Well, when living in a house with a rebellious sister and constantly arguing parents, you kind of have to be. Not that Abi minded. Everyone is different in the Branning family. Her mum is kind, but is more wrapped up in her beauty business than any other aspect of her life. Her dad is funny, but is always looking for a fight. And her sister is the most controversial person she's ever met. That's not even bringing into account her aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins… They're all different and weird, but Abi wouldn't have it any other way. And they all had one thing in common – they hated the Mitchell's. Well, Abi didn't. Abi didn't hate anyone. But the rivalry between the two families had been passed down through generations and there was no way Abi was going to put herself in the firing line to rebel against it. I mean, it's not like Abi ever needed to speak to the Mitchell's anyway. She had her friends, they had theirs.
So, when she woke up on the 16th of July in 2014, she never expected the day to go any differently to the way her days normally went. She did what she normally did in the morning: bashed her hand against the screen of her phone in an attempt to shut off her alarm until she got scared that she was going to break it and eventually got up, brushed her teeth and got ready for school, and left the house with her stacks of revision firmly in her bag. As both her parents were out and her sister wouldn't be awake until at least midday, Abi thought it would be best to grab breakfast at the café – considering last time she tried to make toast she nearly set everyone in her house on fire. Besides, her aunt worked at the café and she would be sure to stitch her up with a nice bacon roll before school.
As she walked into the café and queued up behind the Jay Mitchell, she tried hard to become completely invisible. You see, the Mitchell boys, Jay and Ben, carried the grudge between the two families like they were there when it actually started. Therefore, Abi was usually the punchline to any of their jokes and teases – or just at the end of their punches in general. Abi just chose to ignore it, but sometimes the things they said really got to her. When they took the piss out of her weight or her 'nerdyness', she would notice that she became slightly quieter or even had a little cry to herself when she was on her own. Although she didn't want to sound big headed, she wasn't used to people disliking her. It's how she survived on a daily bases. She had to make people at least feel like they were on a civil base with her in order to not have them smash her head in. The fact that these boys did not even want to breathe the same air as Abi really got under her skin. Sadly, it was just a factor she had to live with.
While she stood there trying to blend in with the ugly interior, she couldn't help but overhear Jay and her aunt, Karen, having a rather heated conversation about the price of his tea and sausage sandwich. Now, Abi was not the type of person to nosey in on other people's business, but Jay was getting considerably louder and was making it a lot harder to ignore. She honestly tried to focus on something else – anything else – but in the end she just gave up.
"I can pay for the rest after work!" Jay exclaimed angrily, slamming his hand on the counter.
"I'm not allowed to give out loans, Jay. I'm sorry, but it's not up to me," Karen tried to remind him reasonably, but Jay wasn't having any of it.
"This is such bullshit!" It was at this point Abi thought it would be a good idea to step in.
"I can pay for it," she chipped in quietly, causing both Jay and Karen to look at her in shock. She immediately wished she hadn't butted in and that she'd just let Karen kick Jay out. She thought she'd just made matters worse for herself, that Jay was going to go back to Ben and then they were going to wait for her after school like they did on her first say of year seven. But, instead, Jay just rolled his eyes.
"I don't need charity, Branning," Jay mumbled, being stubborn as per usual. Abi reluctantly stepped forward next to him, pulling a five pound note out of her purse and placing it in front of her aunt. Her aunt sceptically took it and gave Abi back the change. Once Jay had picked up his food, Abi started to follow him out of the café until her aunt's voice stopped her.
"Didn't you want anything, Abi?"
"N-No thanks. I'm not hungry," Abi lied through her teeth, but she didn't have enough money to buy something after she had paid for Jay's breakfast. She quickly scurried out of there before she could be questioned further and was surprised to be met with Jay Mitchell, waiting outside for her.
"I'll pay you back tomorrow," he said sternly, obviously not doing it out of kindness.
"Oh, you don't have to. I didn't mind," Abi tried to assure him, ringing her hands nervously in front of her.
"Yeah? Well I do mind. I don't want to feel like I owe you something."
"You don't want to owe me anything? Or you don't want to owe a Branning anything?" Abi scoffed, watching Jay roll his eyes before turning to walk away.
"Why do you hate me so much? What did I ever do to you?" Abi called after him, her words causing him to stop in his tracks. For a moment, she thought he was actually going to give her a reason. She thought he was actually going to give her the answer to the question she had never been able to figure out. But Jay just resumed stride and walked away from her, leaving Abi even more annoyed than she would normally be on a Monday morning before school.