The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 06

Ellie couldn’t sleep. Even though her body was jet-lagged, her brain was racing ahead.

At quarter to five, she slid out of bed, doing her best not to wake Matthew who, in any case, was snoring loudly.

She headed downstairs, hoping to have a little alone time before the day started, with all its needs and complaints.

Yesterday had not been easy.

Gwen had been about as welcoming as Ellie had feared, coming over all stiff and formal, which made Ellie act the same, even as she struggled to find a friendly tone and easy smile.

Why did it have to be so hard?

And it had been hard, all the way through the interminable evening, from the Welsh cakes the children had all eaten under Ellie’s beady eye and Gwen’s grim stare.

None of her children liked raisins.

Then Gwen had shown them their bedrooms on the top floor, all of them cramped and baking hot, with sloping ceilings that Ellie had cracked her head on.

Ellie had understood the reason to cram them all up there, of course.

Matthew was intending to renovate the whole place, doing as much of the work himself as he could.

Of course they needed to be out of the way.

But still, it felt a little bit like they were unwanted guests, or the hired help.

“Do you think we should rent something in the village?” Ellie had asked when she and Matthew had been getting ready for bed.

“Just to make things easier on everyone?”

“What? No.” Matthew shook his head definitively. “Mum wants us here, and we need to save money.”

“Surely it wouldn’t be that much, even if just for a month or two . . .”

She’d almost suggested buying a place, but she hadn’t wanted to suggest something so permanent, and she wasn’t even sure what Matthew expected.

Perhaps he was thinking they’d stay at Bluebell Lane for ever. Ellie wasn’t brave enough to ask.

“It’ll be fine,” Matthew had assured her, and Ellie tried not to resent the fact that it all seemed so easy for him.

He hadn’t lain next to Ava for an hour that evening, willing her to fall asleep, or listened to Jess’s tearful diatribe as she’d accused her parents of ruining her life yet again.

He’d been downstairs, drinking coffee and catching up with his mum, while Ellie had assured an anxious Jacob that he would make friends in his new school, and wrestled the iPad from Craig, who had complained that there was nothing to do but play video games.

As Ellie had finally closed their bedroom doors, breathing a sigh of relief that her children were mostly asleep, she’d heard laughter drift up the stairs and, her body aching with fatigue, she’d gone to bed.

Now, in the fresh dawn light of a new day, Ellie tried to find the optimism that usually came so naturally to her.

It was a beautiful morning, the pale blue skies looking freshly washed, the sun sending lemony yellow rays across the kitchen floor.

Ellie filled the kettle at the deep farmhouse sink and plonked it on top of the Aga.

She gazed out at the bucolic view of rolling meadow, a rich, verdant green, the white-washed buildings of Llandrigg visible beyond.

In the distance she could see a milk truck trundling over a little stone bridge.

It looked like something from one of the BBC’s historical dramas she and Matthew watched sometimes.

How could she not be happy here?

Things would go better today, Ellie decided as she spooned coffee into a cafetière.

Toby nudged her with his muzzle, his tail thumping on the floor, and Ellie smiled down at him.

They’d always wanted a dog, but they’d been waiting for Ava to get a bit older before going down the puppy route.

Now they didn’t have to.

They’d stepped into this amazing life – a beautiful house, a lovely village and a dog. It was all going to work out perfectly.

It had to.

Today she’d make more of an effort with Gwen, and she’d take the children on a tour of the village; they could see the school and the play park Gwen had said was across the green.

They’d start putting down roots, which they desperately needed to do.

Once this felt more like home, it would be easier for everyone.

Smiling at the thought, Ellie took the kettle off the range and poured boiling water into the cafetière, inhaling the pleasing scent of freshly brewed coffee.

“Oh.” Gwen’s voice came from behind her. “I usually save that coffee for guests.”

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”.