The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 25

Gwen gave Matthew a purposefully stern look, reminiscent of when he’d been a sulky teen.

“Now, stop feeling sorry for yourself, Matthew Davies. You have much to be thankful for.”

He gave her a sheepish smile.

“I know, Mum.”

“I know this is difficult,” Gwen said, softening her tone. “And it’s hard when life . . . when it doesn’t turn out the way you’d hoped.” She swallowed hard.

“But you’ve got loads to keep you going.”

“I know I do.” He reached out to touch her arm.

“Actually, I wasn’t intending to go into all of that.

“What I really wanted to say was sorry for rushing ahead with ideas about en suites and a fitness
centre –”

“A fitness centre?” Gwen raised her eyebrows.

“I was thinking we could renovate one of the barns.

“But the point is, I didn’t consult you about any of it. I just took over. I wanted to feel like I had a job again.”

“Oh, love.” Gwen squeezed his hand.

“But this is your house, Mum. The B and B was yours and Dad’s dream. I don’t want to take that away from you.”

“You haven’t,” she assured him. “And you won’t. This is something we can do together, Matthew, and that will involve collaboration and compromise. That’s what I want.”

“I want that, too.”

“Good. But there will be no fitness centre in the barn.”

Matthew laughed.

“No fitness centre,” he agreed, and with a smile Gwen rose from her seat.

Now, she acknowledged with an inward sigh, was not the time to mention her diagnosis.

*  *  *  *

“What are you doing?”

Guiltily, Jess looked up from the keyboard she’d been messing about on.

She’d taken to hiding in the music rooms during the lunch break to avoid wandering around alone while everyone in her year clustered in tight knots, laughing and chatting.

Now a tall girl with glasses and an uncertain smile came into the room.

“Nothing, really.” She turned off the keyboard and hunched her shoulders. “Just messing around.”

“Do you play?”

“Not really.” She’d had lessons when she was little, but she hadn’t practised and her mum had stopped them after a while.

“Do you?” she asked, and the girl shrugged.

“Sort of. When I can.”

Uncertainly, Jess moved over on the bench seat.

“Have a go, if you want.”

“Thanks.” The girl sat next to Jess and switched the keyboard back on. “I’m really bad,” she added self-consciously.

“You couldn’t be as bad as me.” Jess smiled.

“I’m Sophie,” the girl said after a moment, and she smiled shyly.

“I’m Jess.”

“You’re new?”


“And American.”

“How can you tell?” Jess joked, and Sophie laughed.

“How do you like it here?” Sophie asked.

Jess thought of the miserable two weeks she’d spent feeling like she was in an isolation tank, or just invisible, counting down the minutes of every excruciating school day.

“It’s OK,” she said.

Sophie gave a commiserating grimace, as if she’d guessed at everything Jess hadn’t said.

“It’s not so bad, once you get used to it. There are some nice teachers, and some good clubs.”

Jess couldn’t help but notice Sophie hadn’t mentioned anything about the school’s students.

Did she have trouble making friends as well? Was that why she was on her own at lunchtime?

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”.