The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 32

“Craig? Jess?” Ellie called as Jess let herself into the kitchen. “How was school?”

Her mother asked that every single day, and every single day Jess gave the same answer. Fine.

What else could she say?

At least it was a little less horrible now, but just before she’d left for the bus, some girls had seen her and Sophie looking at the audition poster again, and they’d teased them.

Sophie had claimed she didn’t care, but Jess did.

“Jess?” Ellie poked her head into the hallway with a smile. “How was school?”


“You always say that.”

“Because it always is.” There was no point explaining to her mother how hard she was finding everything. She would just tell her to be patient and keep trying.

“I’m going upstairs.”

“Don’t you want to know how Granny is?”

Guilt flashed through Jess for forgetting.

“How is she?”

Ellie managed a small smile, although she still looked worried.

“She’s tired, but OK. Sleeping now.”

“OK,” Jess said, and headed upstairs.

Up in her room she looked at Cora’s Instagram again. She hadn’t commented on either of the photos, but lots of other people had.

With a sigh Jess flung herself on her bed and opened Snapchat.

Hey, what’s up? she wrote, with a photo of herself looking silly.

Back in Connecticut Cora would have replied instantly. But now, her message wasn’t even opened.

She told herself it was because Cora was still at school, but she waited a whole hour, through Cora’s lunch break, and it still hadn’t been read by the time Jess went to bed that night, feeling miserable.

*  *  *  *

“Go on, go on, or you’ll miss your reservation.”

Gwen gave Matthew and Ellie a wan smile as she did her best to make her voice firm.

It was the Saturday after she’d started the chemotherapy, and it also happened to be Matthew and Ellie’s anniversary.

She’d booked them a reservation at a pub on the outskirts of the village, and insisted she could manage the children.

“Let me do this,” she’d told Ellie when she resisted. “I’m not an invalid. Not yet, anyway.

“And it will be good to have time with the children.

“I haven’t spent enough time with them, I know.”

Reluctantly, Ellie had agreed, and now she and Matthew were dressed up and heading out for dinner.

“Mommy!” Ava cried from behind Gwen, gearing up to cry, and Gwen waved them off even more firmly.

“Go, go. We’ll be fine.”

Finally they went, and as the car headed down the lane, Gwen closed the door and turned to the four children looking at her.

She gave them what she hoped was a cheerful smile.

“How about pizza?”

“Do we have pizza?” Jess asked, arms folded.

“We have pizza dough,” Gwen said with the same determined cheer.

She’d dragged herself out of bed to make it that morning, even though she’d been exhausted – the only side-effect of her treatment, so far . . .

It didn’t take too much effort to get the children all organised, rolling the pizza dough while Gwen got out the cheese and tomato sauce and toppings.

As she bustled about the kitchen, she almost felt like her old self – tired, yes, but industrious and cheerful as she guided Ava’s chubby little hands on the rolling pin, and offered Craig the choice of pepperoni, olives, or mushrooms.

“Mushrooms, yuck,” he said theatrically, and she smiled.

This was the sort of thing she’d envisioned when she’d asked Matthew if he and his family wanted to live with her on Bluebell Lane.

Time with grandchildren; memories in the making.

Then Jacob knocked the bowl of tomato sauce on to the floor, splattering Jess’s top, and before Gwen could react Jess had let out a cry of dismay and shoved her brother hard.

Jacob shoved her back, and somehow Craig got involved.

“Wait . . . wait,” Gwen said, flinging her hands up, trying to slow down the disaster that was already being unleashed.

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”.