The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 26


Turning back to the keyboard, Sophie let her fingers ripple over the keys.

“Do you know this one?” she asked and played the opening bars of a popular song on the radio.

Jess sang along for a few seconds, and then stopped, embarrassed.

“You have a great voice,” Sophie encouraged, and she played another song.

This time they both sang the opening lines, before bursting into embarrassed giggles.

“You’re really good,” Jess said. “Much better than me. I took lessons but I can only play a few chords.”

Sophie leaned back, gesturing to the keyboard.

“Have a go.”

“OK . . .”

For the next twenty minutes, they took turns playing the keyboard and singing along to pop tunes.

It was the most fun by far that Jess had had since moving to Wales.

It felt so nice just to chat to someone, to mess about and have a laugh over nothing much.

It felt like a million years since she’d done something like this with Cora, or anyone.

The bell rang for the next lesson, and Sophie rose.

“I’ve got double science now,” she said with a grimace. “You?”

“Double maths.” Jess grimaced, too.

“See you around?” Sophie asked, an uncertain smile curving her mouth, and Jess nodded.

“Yeah. See you around.”

They left the music room together, and as they walked down the corridor, a snide voice called out.

“Oh, look, it’s Snotty Sophie. Has she finally made a friend?”

Jess looked over to see a girl with a high blonde ponytail and narrowed eyes looking at them.

Sophie’s cheeks had turned red but she ignored the girl and kept walking.

Jess did the same, but she felt everyone’s eyes on the pair of them and her face started to flush.

She told herself she didn’t care about that stupid girl, but it wasn’t quite true, and in any case, Sophie obviously did.

She mumbled her goodbye, not even looking at Jess as she hurried to get her bag, leaving her alone once more.

With a sigh Jess went for her own bag. For a little while she’d felt as if she’d finally made a friend.

She just hoped it lasted.

*  *  *  *

“What would you like to do, Ava?”

Gwen smiled at her smallest granddaughter as they stood in the kitchen after school.

Ava’s uniform looked too big on her skinny frame, her eyes wide as she stared back at her grandmother.

Ellie had gone to pick up Jacob from a playdate, and Craig and Jess were due back from school at any moment. For now, Gwen was in charge.

“Can we bake something, Granny?” Ava asked.

“Of course we can.” With a smile Gwen went into the pantry for sugar and flour.

“What would you like to bake? Biscuits? Brownies?”

“What about those cakes?”

“Cakes?”

“With the raisins.”

“Welsh cakes.” Gwen let out an uncertain laugh. “I thought you didn’t like those, Ava.”

With a wince, she remembered the mild disaster of offering them to her grandchildren when they’d first arrived.

“I like them now,” Ava declared, and Gwen smiled.

“Well, then, of course we can make Welsh cakes.”

It occurred to her, as she helped Ava to measure out flour and sugar, that she hadn’t actually expected anything to change.

She’d felt as if they were all stuck in relational ruts, unable to move or reach out to each other, and yet here she was with Ava, baking on a sunny afternoon, just as she’d once dreamed of.

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”.