The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 31


Having a friend, Jess discovered, made school just about bearable.

She hadn’t realised how utterly miserable she’d been until she got off the bus the morning Granny was going to her chemotherapy and Sophie waved to her from across the courtyard.

Jess waved back, and Sophie fell into step beside her as they walked through the double doors.

It was the first time since school started that Jess hadn’t had to walk in by herself.

She’d figured out, since that first day last week when Sophie had found her in the music room, that her new and only friend wasn’t considered cool, either.

It seemed a very long time ago since she and Cora had been part of the in-crowd of eighth grade, if only on the fringes.

Now she was out in the stratosphere of year nine, but at least she wasn’t completely alone.

After they’d met in the music room, they’d seen each other a few times across the cafeteria, although they hadn’t spoken, and then one day last week they’d both shown up to the same lunchtime music club.

Jess hadn’t been planning to go, but a teacher had told her she either had to go to a club or go outside for the lunch break, and she couldn’t stand the thought of wandering around the schoolyard alone yet again.

When she’d seen Sophie sitting at one of the tables, they’d both grinned – and their friendship had been cemented.

“How’s your gran?” Sophie asked.

Jess was touched she’d remembered.

“She seemed OK this morning, but I guess the side effects don’t happen right away.”

Sophie nodded.

“My grandad had cancer, but he got better. I’m sure she’ll be OK.”

“Thanks.”

Jess wasn’t sure if Granny would be OK or not; her mom hadn’t given her many details, and both her parents had seemed distracted when they’d talked to her about it, as they’d so often been since they’d moved to Llandrigg.

As glad as Jess was for Sophie’s friendship, she still missed Connecticut.

She missed her house, and the bedroom that she hadn’t had to share with Ava, and Cora. Everything about her old life.

Just thinking about it all now made a pressure form in her chest. Would this ever feel like home?

“Hey, look.” Sophie pointed to a poster outside the music block.

“Lunchtime Talent Show,” Jess read, and then she glanced at Sophie. “Do you want to go?”

“It’s for auditions,” Sophie explained. “Why don’t we try out?”

“Try out?” Jess was alarmed.

Since starting at the comp three weeks ago, she’d been determined to keep a low profile. Auditioning for a talent show seemed very risky.

“I don’t know . . .”

“You have a great voice, and I can play the piano,” Sophie insisted. “Why not?”

Why not? Jess looked over at a tight knot of girls in their year, including the one who had teased Sophie when they’d come out of the music room last week.

“I don’t care about them,” Sophie said even as she flushed. “Do you?”

Did she? Jess didn’t even know the girls’ names. Why should she care what they thought?

She glanced again at the poster, reluctance warring with a flicker of interest.

“I’ll think about it.”

She was still thinking about it when she got off the bus with Craig that afternoon.

As usual, her brother ran ahead while she trudged towards Bluebell Lane, trying not to feel down.

Cora hadn’t messaged her in over a week, and yet she’d posted two new photos on Instagram this morning – both with Emily.

Only a few short months ago, Cora never would have posted on Instagram without consulting Jess.

They would have gone through every photo, agonised over the captions, checked for any likes or comments together.

Now Cora was posting pictures with Emily and she wasn’t even telling Jess.

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”.