The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 18

“Look, why don’t we head back to Bluebell Farm? We can get something to eat.”

Not Welsh cakes, though, Gwen reminded herself, or anything with raisins.

“Fine.” Jess strode ahead, leaving them all behind, and with Ava still clinging to her hand, Gwen struggled to keep up.

“Ow, stop it, Craig,” Jacob snapped, and Gwen looked behind her to see Craig ruffling his little brother’s hair.

Jacob ducked away, irritated. Craig laughed.

Before Gwen could even think to intervene, Jacob had shoved Craig in the shoulder and Craig had shoved him back.

Jacob started to cry, seeming furious with himself for doing so, while Craig chortled and called him a baby.

Meanwhile Jess had disappeared around the corner, and Ava was hopping from foot to foot.

“Granny, I need a wee.”

Gwen’s head pounded. How did Ellie manage it? Why was everything so difficult?

“We’re nearly home, Ava,” she said finally. “I’m sure a big girl like you can hold it for a bit.”

“I can’t.”

“Craig and Jacob, stay away from each other, please,” Gwen instructed, and she started walking briskly back home, pulling Ava alongside her.

Finally, after what felt like a momentous struggle, they were all in the kitchen, the table covered in backpacks and lunch boxes and shrugged-off jumpers.

Craig was rooting in the fridge for something to eat, and Jess had flounced upstairs with her phone.

Ava was in the toilet and Jacob was sitting at the table, looking glum.

Gwen wanted nothing more than to go to sleep.

“Where’s Mommy?” Ava called from the loo, and Gwen closed her eyes.

“Let’s get you all something to eat and then I’ll explain what happened.”

Somehow, with an energy she hadn’t realised she still had, she had them all settled at the kitchen table with glasses of milk and slices of toast with jam.

The backpacks were in the front hall, the cardigans folded neatly away, the lunch boxes rinsed out.

Jess appeared in the kitchen doorway, arms folded, expression cross.

“Where’s Mom?”

“I was just about to tell you all,” Gwen said, trying to pitch her voice between matter-of-fact and cheerful.

“Your father’s had a bit of accident, but he’s OK.”

“An accident –”


As briskly as she could, Gwen explained what had happened, assuring them that everything was going to be all right.

“Your mum will be back quite soon, I’m sure, and Daddy, too,” she said hopefully.

“It’s all going to be fine, I promise you.” She thought of the voicemail on her phone and knew she couldn’t make any promises. No-one could.

Ava had started to cry, and Jess had whirled away, heading back upstairs with a slam that made the whole house shudder.

As long as no more floors fall through, Gwen thought with a sigh.

*  *  *  *

Everything about life in Llandrigg was awful, Jess thought as she threw herself on her bed, her phone clutched in her hand.

School had been terrible, even worse than she’d feared, and now her dad had a broken arm and the house was wrecked.

Jess took a shuddering breath before burying her head in her arms.

She hated it here. There had to be some way she could escape.

After a few minutes of struggling not to cry and yet wanting to give in and have a really good sob, she rolled on to her back and held her phone above her, squinting at the screen.

No new messages.

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”.