The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 03

Gwen rose from her seat at the kitchen table as she heard the crunch of tyres on gravel outside.

They were here. After four hours in the car, 12 hours of travel and years of waiting, they were finally here.

She took a steadying breath, pressing one hand to her chest where her heart had started to beat rather hard.

She felt strangely nervous, considering she was seeing her own son.

But then, of course, she hadn’t seen Matthew like this, with him about to catapult into her life and take over her house.

And there was Ellie and the children, too . . .

Gwen heard the door creak open, and then light footsteps.

“Granny . . . Granny?”

She rounded the corner into the entrance hall, blinking in surprise at the sight of her smallest grandchild.

“Goodness, can this really be Ava? You’ve shot up in the last year.”

“I’m four now,” Ava said proudly.

Sporting two pigtails and a gap-toothed grin, she barrelled into Gwen’s middle, making her let out a startled “Oof!” even as she laughed.

“Yes, I know you’re four. Do you remember we Skyped on your birthday?”

But Ava was already off, racing towards the kitchen.

“Daddy said there was a dog!”

“Yes, Toby.” Gwen pressed one hand to her middle as she followed Ava back into the kitchen.

“He’s in the garden now, lying in the sunshine. He’s quite old, I’m afraid. He doesn’t like to play as much any more.”

There were more people coming into the house, and she turned again, taking in the gangly grandchildren who were crowding in the hallway.

Gwen had lived alone, save for her guests who came and went, for 20 years, since her husband Seth had died of a heart attack.

She had told herself she was looking forward to sharing her space with her extended family, but right now she was very conscious of their size and presence.

“Goodness, Jacob. Craig. Jess. How you’ve all grown.”

She hugged and kissed them in turn, which they submitted to politely.

She knew she was nicknamed “Faraway Granny”, which stung even though she told herself it shouldn’t, and their relationship had always been one based on good manners rather than real affection.

Unlike that with Ellie’s parents, who had been intimately involved in all their lives from the moment they’d emerged into the world.

But that was going to change now, Gwen reminded herself.

Finally, it was her turn to be the one on hand, close by, just as she wanted to be, even if it felt a little strange.

Matthew and Ellie were coming in now, Ellie hanging back as Matthew strode forward, his arms outstretched.


“Oh, Matthew.”

Unexpected tears pricked Gwen’s eyes as her arms closed around her son.

“It’s so good to have you here.”

“It’s so good to be here, Mum. I can’t believe we’ve left it so long.”

“It doesn’t matter now.” Gwen stepped back, brushing at her eyes. “It’s just so lovely to see you.

“All of you,” she added, making a deliberate effort to include Ellie, who was looking as if she’d rather not step across the threshold.

Typical, Gwen couldn’t keep from thinking a little sourly. Then she made herself banish the thought.

She was going to make a real effort with Ellie now that they would be living together.

They’d never managed to get along properly for one reason or another.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.