Blackberry Lane – Episode 25

JEANIE had tossed and turned through the night, until just after three she’d finally fallen into a troubled sleep.

In the morning, the atmosphere in the kitchen was tense. Jeanie was far from ready to speak to Kate or Ted yet. She wanted to have another word with Russ, and a proper talk to Marty.

This should have been the day she took her boys home, but instead she would probably have to face yet another journey back to an empty house. And although she would still visit them, there would no longer be that hope of the boys joining her one day.

Russ and Marty appeared out of the kitchen door, and she beckoned to them.

“Has Russ told you we had a talk last night?” she asked Marty.

“Yeah, he did say.”

“And have you anything you want to add? Anything you feel differently about to your brother?”

“You will still come to see us?” he asked uncertainly.

“Oh, Marty!” She wrapped her arms around his shoulders. “Of course I’ll still come to see you. Just let anyone try to stop me!”

His arms snaked round her waist, just as they’d always done. The familiar action tugged at her heartstrings. Before long he’d be taller than her, she thought, just as Russ was, and would no longer fall into that easy caress.

Oh, don’t be maudlin, she told herself. It’s not as if they’re disappearing off the face of the earth. She was luckier than a lot of people; mothers who’d lost sons in the war, for instance. It made her think of Kate.

She looked again into Marty’s eyes.

“You’re sure, then?”

He nodded silently.

“And you, Russ?”

He, too, nodded.

“We’re sure, Mum.”

“Right, then.” She took a deep breath. “I’d better go in and talk to Kate.”

Jeanie began to walk towards the kitchen.

“Mum!” Russ called out.

She looked back at him.

“Thanks, Mum.”


It was a strained and stilted conversation. Neither of them could quite get past the harsh words exchanged yesterday. Jeanie told Kate of her decision.

“Do you want to stay on a bit longer?” Kate asked.

“No,” she said. “I’ll go on the eleven o’clock as planned.”

There was no point prolonging the agony, she thought. Hopefully by her next visit they’d all have managed to put the bad feelings behind them.

The boys hung about the farmhouse with her until she told them finally to carry on and do whatever they usually did on a Saturday morning. They all hugged and kissed again, and her last sight of them was them running off eagerly towards the barns.

Jeanie retreated to her bedroom. She didn’t feel comfortable in the kitchen with Kate, and now she’d said her goodbyes to the boys she just wanted to be gone. She packed her few belongings and trailed back down the stairs with her little case.

“Um, right then.” She stood feeling awkward. “I suppose I might as well be off.”

Kate nodded.

“Don’t leave it too long till you come again.”

“No, I won’t.”

They kissed; a cool embrace compared to their usual partings.

Jeanie crossed the yard and went out of the gate without a backward glance. She was just congratulating herself on her calmness when the feeling hit her like a tidal wave. She was on her own.

Emotion welled up in her, her eyes filled with tears and with each step she took her tears fell harder. Blinded, she stumbled on the rough path and went sprawling.

Sand and gravel bit into her knees and hands, making them smart, and she lay stunned and sobbing. She was barely aware of what was happening when she was lifted by a strong arm and held comfortingly. Her arms reached out instinctively, curled around Archie, and she buried her face in his broad shoulder.

They remained like this for some while as she cried her hurt out. Finally regaining a bit of control, she fished in her pocket for a handkerchief.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she mumbled. “I must look a right mess.”

“No, you don’t,” Archie said, quite calmly and seriously.

“I’ll be missing the train,” she said anxiously.

“You can’t go like that,” he said, inspecting her cut and bleeding knees.

“Come on, let me patch you up, and you can get the next train.”

“Oh, no, I don’t want to go back in the house. Especially looking like this!”

“The tractor’s at the top of the lane. I can take you to mine.”

He helped her to stand, and she found that she had no strength to object even if she’d wanted to.

Within moments she and her case were in the cart, and the tractor was bowling them along the back road towards Blackberry Lane.

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!