The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 30

Gwen perched on the edge of a plastic chair, every muscle tense.

Next to her Suzanne was sitting up straight, looking very officious and alert.

Since Gwen had told both Matthew and Suzanne about her diagnosis last week, her daughter, bless her, had been doing her best to become Llandrigg’s official cancer expert.

She’d printed out articles she’d found online, and taken books out from the library, and pointed Gwen to countless blogs – everything from “Cooking To Be Cancer-Free” to daily meditations.

Gwen was starting to feel as if she was nothing but the illness, but she knew she couldn’t explain that to Suzanne. Her daughter was only trying to help.

Suzanne had always liked to be in control, even when she’d been a little girl.

She’d made schedules and organised her toys and run playdates like military meetings.

When Seth had died, she’d wanted to arrange the funeral, give the eulogy and pick both the flowers and the hymns.

Gwen had let her do most of it, because she knew that was how Suzanne handled her grief, but she wasn’t sure she could deal with that level of interference this time.

“I think you should be seen soon,” Suzanne said. “That lady over there came in after us and she’s just been called.

“Perhaps I should have a word with the nurse –”

She half-rose and Gwen stayed her with her hand.

“Suzanne, they’ll call me when they’re ready. To be honest, I’m happy to wait.”

She gave a wan smile that Suzanne didn’t return.

“Please don’t fuss.”

“I’m not fussing, I just want to know what’s going on.”

Gwen suppressed a sigh.

Suzanne fidgeted for a moment, then rose to go and talk to the nurse anyway.

Gwen knew she couldn’t help herself. She had to do something, to be active and involved, if not in control.

Cancer, unfortunately, was not that controllable.

“Gwen Davies?” A nurse in scrubs stood at the door that led to the consulting rooms with a faint smile.

Suzanne checked herself and Gwen rose.

“That’s me.”

Her legs felt a little wobbly as she walked towards the nurse with Suzanne by her side. She wasn’t scared, exactly, but she certainly felt nervous.

Although she’d been given a brochure about what to expect from the treatment, every sterile-sounding fact she’d read in the last week flew out of her head in that moment.

She felt like a child, and she knew then that she was glad Suzanne was here.

The next half hour passed surprisingly quickly, with the nurse and then the consultant explaining everything to her and checking her vitals.

Finally she was hooked up to an IV while she made herself as comfortable as she could.

“It looks just like water,” she remarked as she gazed at the droplets being squeezed down the tube.

“Hard to believe it does so much.”

“Yes, and causes so many side effects.” Suzanne looked tense. “Are you ready for those, Mum?”

“I don’t think anyone can be ready, not exactly.”

She’d been told she’d most likely feel tired and nauseated, and that she’d probably lose her hair.

Gwen had made a joke that she didn’t have all that much to lose any more.

The nurse had smiled, but Suzanne had, quite uncharacteristically, looked near tears.

This was hard for her, Gwen realised, and she didn’t know how she could make it any better.

“It’s going to be OK, Suzanne,” she said gently.

“I know,” Suzanne said. “Breast cancer has an incredibly high five-year survival rate now.”

Five years. Suddenly that didn’t sound so long. Gwen managed a small smile.

“That’s good to hear.”

“Is it?” Suzanne said, her lips trembling before she pressed them together. “Sorry. I want to be more positive. I really do.”

“It’s OK to be scared.”

“I’m not scared,” she answered quickly. “I’m not the one with cancer.”


Suzanne looked at her unhappily.

“I only meant that this is about you, Mum, not me. Don’t worry about how I’m feeling. Let’s focus on getting you better.”

Gwen gestured to the IV.

“That’s what we’re doing.”

“Yes.” Suzanne nodded and tried to smile. Gwen wished she was better at comforting her daughter.

Clearly Suzanne needed it, but to her, accepting any sort of comfort or sympathy smacked of not being in control.

A few minutes later she started fussing with the magazines available, and asked Gwen to drink some water, and then if she wanted a snack.

“Thanks, love, but I think I just want a bit of a rest.” Gwen closed her eyes.

She knew her daughter meant well, and she loved her dearly, but right then she felt it was going to be a long few weeks.

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”.