The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 13

Ellie watched Ava trot happily into her reception class after the teacher, Mrs Baggins.

Llandrigg Primary was a lovely little school, with less than thirty pupils in each year, far smaller and friendlier than the large elementary school Jacob and Craig had gone to back in Connecticut.

Even so, Ellie had to swallow the sizable lump in her throat as she watched Ava go inside.

From across the school yard, Jacob was standing by himself as boys in year four chased each across the yard and girls huddled in gossipy little knots.

He’d always been a shy boy, eschewing groups for the company of one good friend, and Ellie prayed he’d find one here.

She hoped they all would, herself included.

She’d smiled at several mums who had met her eye as she’d come through the school gates, and they’d smiled back, but no-one had made one of those friendly overtures that Ellie desperately craved.

She felt too tired and too fragile to make the first move, but judging by the way parents were greeting each other with easy familiarity, she’d most likely have to.

Not today, though. She didn’t think she could manage a simple conversation today without bursting into tears.

Waving a miserable Jess and a sullen Craig off on the school bus this morning before taking Jacob and Ava had just about finished her off.

Now she had to go back to Bluebell Lane and face Matthew, who was ripping up old carpets with gleeful abandon, and Gwen, who was still stepping around Ellie with the stiff formality she hated even as she reciprocated it.

She’d told Matthew last night, when they’d been getting ready for bed, that she needed to have a talk with Gwen about housework and meals.

Matthew had looked boyishly nonplussed.

“Why? Hasn’t she been managing all right?”

“Yes, but I need to do something, Matt,” Ellie had said patiently.

Why did men revert to little boys when they went back home?

After fifteen years of training to put his dirty socks in the hamper, her husband had started leaving them on the floor again.

“It’s not fair on Gwen to cook for seven people every evening, or pick up after us.”

Yet when Ellie had offered to cook, Gwen had looked both surprised and appalled. She was not a woman ready to relinquish her kitchen.

“I doubt Mum minds,” Matthew had said, and Ellie had just sighed.

The trouble was, she thought Gwen did mind, although not enough to let Ellie in the kitchen, which left them in an awkward, unhappy limbo.

Something she was determined to tackle.

The children had all gone into their classrooms, and parents had begun trickling away in dribs and drabs.

Trying not to feel too lonely, Ellie headed back towards Bluebell Lane.

Halfway there her phone pinged with a text, and her heart lifted when she saw it was from Sara, her best friend from Connecticut.

Just wanted to wish you well on the first day of school. Meet a nice mom!

If only. Isn’t it about three in the morning there? Ellie texted back.

Yes, I set my alarm. Couldn’t let it go by without something from me! xx

Tears stung Ellie’s eyes and she blinked them back.

She missed her friend. She missed her house. She missed the weather.

Today was grey and chilly, but back in Connecticut it still felt like summer.

The truth was, a little over a week into their Welsh adventure, Ellie missed everything.

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”.