The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 22

But then, all too soon, she was put through to the consultant, who spoke in a serious tone.

“Gwen? It’s Mr Roberts. I was calling about your biopsy.”

“Yes.” Gwen’s voice was faint.

“I’m afraid the biopsy has had a positive result,”
Mr Roberts said gently.

“Positive . . .”

“For breast cancer.”

“Oh.” It wasn’t a surprise, and yet it was completely a surprise.

Gwen didn’t say anything for a few seconds, and then the consultant continued,

“Let’s make an appointment, and we can discuss treatments.

“At the moment I’d recommend a course of chemotherapy followed by radiation, but we can discuss that when you come to hospital.”

“Right.” Gwen tried to marshal her thoughts. “Thank you.”

A few minutes later, after making an appointment for the following week, Gwen put the phone down.

Her mind was spinning, thoughts too fleeting and strange to catch hold of.

She was still sitting there, her tea stone cold and half drunk, when the front door opened half an hour later.

“Gwen? It’s Ellie. Matthew’s here. We’re home.”

* * * *

Ellie stood at the edge of the school yard as Jacob and Ava lined up for their classes.

Nearby, a knot of mothers were chatting easily; a burst of laughter floated on the crisp September breeze and Ellie lifted her chin.

It had been seven days since school had begun, and it had definitely not been one of the best weeks of her life, what with Matthew breaking his arm, Jess having such a difficult start, and Ellie herself still feeling lonely and adrift.

At least Ava seemed happy to go into school, she thought with a sigh, and Jacob was accepting, if not entirely enthusiastic.

Craig seemed to have settled well, too, but Ellie was still anxious for all her brood, as well as her husband, who was restless recuperating at home, and Gwen, who had seemed a bit distant and out of sorts recently, although she wouldn’t say why.

“You must be Jacob’s mum.”

She turned and blinked in surprise at a cheerful-looking woman.

“Er . . . yes, I am.”

“I’m Zach’s mum. Has Jacob mentioned . . . ?”

Ellie shook her head helplessly, afraid she gad missed signing some permission slip, or worse.

“I’m sorry, he hasn’t.”

“They never tell you anything, do they?” the woman said with a smile.

“I ask Zach every day what he does at school, and the answer’s always the same.”

Ellie felt herself smile.

“Nothing?” she guessed, and the woman laughed.

“Got it. I’m Emma, by the way. Zach and Jacob are both mad about Lego, as far as I can tell, and I was wondering if Jacob would like to come over tomorrow afternoon for a play?”

“Oh . . .” To her embarrassment, Ellie felt tears sting her eyes.

This was the first time someone at the school had made a friendly overture to her, and she was so very thankful.

And apparently emotional, too, because she wasn’t quite able to blink back the tears.

“Sorry,” she half-mumbled, half-laughed. “I’m not a complete basket case, I promise.”

“Aren’t you?” Emma raised her eyebrows. “Because I certainly am. I think any mum qualifies.

“Do you fancy a coffee?”

Ellie let out a wobbly laugh.

“Oh, yes, please.”

Ten minutes later they were sitting in Llandrigg’s only café, a little tearoom on the high street with rickety tables and mismatched cups.

It was charming in a slightly shabby way, and Ellie loved it. More importantly, she loved sitting down with someone she hoped was a kindred spirit.

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”.