The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 12

Jess glared at her reflection – pleated grey skirt, boring white buttoned-up blouse, a forest green jumper and knee socks. She looked like such a nerd.

“Why do they have uniforms here?” she’d complained to her mother.

“Why can’t you just wear your normal clothes, like back home?”

Home. She’d been in Wales for a week and she still wanted, so badly, to go home.

The place just got worse and worse – it had rained for the last three days, it was August and it was cold and she had decided she didn’t like her stuck-up cousins.

And now this uniform, plus having to go to the comprehensive in Abergavenny, walking into a huge school where she knew absolutely no-one . . .

She couldn’t count on her cousin Owen, who was in the year below her.

Neither he nor Mairi had spoken a word to her when her mum and Aunt Suzanne had dragged them around the village, as if she’d been interested in any of it.

And it wasn’t any fun being in this boring cottage – her dad was making a total racket, and he was too busy to do anything, and Craig and Jacob were always fighting, and Ava was little and boring.

Tears pricked Jess’s eyes and she blinked them back angrily.

If only she was back in Connecticut; they’d started school yesterday, and she’d scrolled through all the first-day selfies – no stupid uniforms, just cool outfits.

Her stomach had clenched when she’d seen Cora and Emily standing shoulder to shoulder in front of the big yellow school bus, both of them grinning widely.

It had been enough to make Jess text Cora.

Is Emily your new BFF or what?

Thankfully Cora had texted back immediately: No way! As if I’d forget you. With several kissy face emojis that had made Jess feel a little bit better.

I just want to go home, she’d texted.

Just be really bad, Cora had texted. Act out in school and stuff and then they’ll have to send you back here. You could live with me!

That had been such a wonderful thought that Jess had almost laughed.

If she really showed her parents how much she hated it here, would they agree to send her back?

How bad would she have to be?

“Jess,” Ellie called up the stairs. “The bus is leaving in ten minutes from the village green. We should get going.”

Jess gave her reflection one last unhappy look. She really did look like a nerd.

With a sigh, she grabbed her backpack and headed downstairs, resigned to her fate . . . at least for today.

“You look amazing,” Ellie said as Jess came into the kitchen and rolled her eyes.

“I do not.”

“I think the uniform suits you. It’s like something out of Enid Blyton.”


“I’ll explain later.” Ellie grabbed her travel mug of coffee. “Come on, I’ll walk you to the bus stop.”

Ava and Jacob were sitting at the kitchen table, still in their pyjamas.

They didn’t have to leave at ridiculous o’clock to get the bus. Their school day started a whole half hour later, and was only a five-minute walk away.

“Craig!” Ellie called. “Come on!”

A few minutes later they were walking towards the bus stop, Jess dragging her feet even though Ellie kept telling her they’d be late.

As they approached the stop, she saw with an awful sinking sensation how wrong she’d got everything.

No-one’s parents were there, for one. She was entering year nine and she was being treated like a little kid.

Plus, no girl was wearing knee socks, despite the uniform guidelines; it was all tights or ankle socks.

Everyone’s tie was knotted so it was half the length of Jess and Craig’s, and the girls all had leather shoulder bags for their books rather than stupid sporty backpacks like she did, because that was what everyone had back in Connecticut. Back home.

Jess felt as if she were shrinking inside herself with every step she took towards the bus stop, and the many pairs of prying eyes trained on her for an excruciating second before they all looked away.

She hadn’t even started school yet and she hated it.

Alan Spink

I am a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. I enjoy working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, I also write fiction and enjoy watching football and movies in my spare time. My one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.