The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 11

Back at the farm, Matthew was making a racket upstairs; he seemed to have got every tool from the shed and was operating them all at once.

Already fighting a tension headache from her appointment, Gwen winced at the noise as she switched on the kettle.

She’d have a cup of tea and order her thoughts, and then she’d go and see what Matthew was up to.

A sudden, blood-curdling shriek had Gwen tensing even more. Craig ran into the kitchen, grinning gleefully, with Jacob coming behind, scowling and fighting tears.

“Give them back!”

“Don’t you know they’re for babies?”

Craig danced around the kitchen table, holding something above his head.

“Give it back!”

“Boys,” Gwen said faintly. “Boys . . .”

“Craig.” Ellie came into the kitchen, looking harassed. “Don’t tease your brother. Give him the card.”

“It’s my best one,” Jacob said, fighting tears, and with a sneer Craig flicked the card he’d been holding towards his brother.

“You’re such a cry baby.”

“That’s enough, Craig,” Ellie said severely. Jacob scampered to retrieve the card from the floor.

“You’re off electronics until tomorrow.”

“What? That’s not fair –”

“You heard me.”

Craig scowled and stomped out of the kitchen, slamming the door.

Goodness. Gwen reached for the tin of teabags.

“Jacob, go on, now,” Ellie said more gently. “Put your Pokémon cards away and stay away from Craig for a bit.”

Once they were alone, Ellie let out a heavy sigh.

“I’m sorry. My children aren’t usually quite this badly behaved.”

“It’s a new situation,” Gwen murmured. Her head was pounding and she wanted only to lie down.

“Yes.” Ellie looked as if she wanted to say more, but Gwen wasn’t sure she up for hearing it now.

It was unfortunate that whenever an opportunity came for them to have a proper chat, something else was going on – noise, children, headaches, cancer . . .

The kettle switched off and despite her headache, she made herself offer Ellie a cup brightly.

“Thank you. That would be lovely,” Ellie said. “I’m sorry for the noise.”

“Which noise?” Gwen asked wryly. “I think my son is the loudest of them all.”

The drill had been replaced by some alarming hammering.

“He does seem keen,” Ellie agreed. “I’m glad he has something to focus on.”

“Yes, I suppose,” Gwen agreed cautiously.

She handed Ellie a cup of tea and sank into her seat with a sigh of relief.

“Are the children looking forward to school?” she asked.

Ellie made a face.

“Ava is, I think. The others are nervous. It’s always hard to start a new school or workplace, isn’t it?”

“Yes, I would think so, but Llandrigg is a friendly place. I’m sure they’ll have a whole group of new friends before too long.”

“I hope so.” Ellie didn’t sound convinced.

“Suzanne showed you the sights? She knows a lot.”

“Yes,” Ellie agreed, her tone sounding a tiny bit flat, “she does.”

Gwen tried not to wince at the pain in her head. As much as she’d been trying to take the appointment in her stride, clearly she hadn’t been able to.

All she wanted to do now was lie down in a dark room, in peace and quiet, neither of which she expected to find, what with all the hammering and yelling going on.

“How was your morning?” Ellie asked, summoning a smile. “Did you do something nice?”

Gwen thought of the waiting, the needle, as her head continued to pound.

“It was fine,” she said. “All fine.”

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”.