The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 35

Changed our vision?” Matthew repeated as the waitress came with their starters.

He toyed with his salmon en croûte while Ellie tried to put her thoughts in some semblance of order.

She’d been speaking off the cuff without really considering the particulars she knew her husband would want.

“Yes, to something more
. . . homegrown. Relaxed.”

He frowned.

“What do you mean?”

“I’m not entirely sure,” Ellie said slowly, offering him a smile that he didn’t quite manage to return.

“But your mum has always loved the homely welcome of Bluebell Inn, the lovable feel of it – and that’s not something we want to lose.”

“I wasn’t intending losing it,” Matthew replied tartly. “Just trying to make things a bit nicer, in line with other bed and breakfasts I’ve seen.

“Standards are high, Ellie. Markets are competitive.”

“That’s true.” Ellie tried to keep her tone gentle, even though she wished he wouldn’t make everything feel like an argument.

Since his redundancy, nearly every conversation had felt somewhat fraught – a perceived criticism in every comment, a barb that hit its target without her even meaning it to.

She didn’t want things to be that way, now or ever.

“I’m not saying there was anything wrong with your vision,” she added. “In fact, it’s probably the most marketable plan out there.

“You’re right in that Bluebell Inn was not up to the standard of most
B and Bs.”


“But it’s not Gwen’s vision, as you’ve come to realise yourself. So what if we developed her vision rather than ours?”

She’d almost said “yours” but had thought better of it at the last moment.

Matthew, she feared, wasn’t fooled.

“Ellie, I’m not sure my mum even has a vision.

“Like I said, I think she dreamed up this whole scheme to make me feel better.”

And that, Ellie realised, hurt him as much as his perceived failure.

He didn’t want to be pitied. He didn’t even really want to be helped.

“I don’t think that’s true,” she told him quietly. “Your mum needs your help, now more than ever. And the
B and B needs renovation.”

“Considering I made a hole in the ceiling, it certainly does.”

“Even before that.” She took a deep breath. “But what I’m really saying is, why don’t we expand on the homeliness?

“We could pitch a stay at the Bluebell Inn as a sort of catered-for family holiday.

“Encourage children to pitch in, helping in the veg patch and collecting eggs.

“Meals could be around one big table, everyone getting to know one another.

“There could even be games and things offered at night, or a community barbecue at the weekend
. . . there are all sorts of things we could do.”

As she spoke, she realised how much she liked the idea – child-friendly family holidays where someone else was doing the cooking and cleaning, but you felt as if you were at home.

But her husband looked far from convinced.

“People book a holiday to get away and relax,” he said after a moment. “Not feel like they’re at home.”

“But Bluebell Inn is never going to compete with luxury hotels or health spas in that regard,” Ellie said, trying not to feel stung.

“So isn’t it better to offer something completely different? Something the luxury hotels can’t offer?”

“I don’t know.” Matthew prodded his starter. “I suppose. It is something different. You could talk to Mum about it.”

“Why don’t we talk to her?”

“It’s not my idea.”

“Matt!” Ellie couldn’t keep the hurt from her voice. “We’re a team, aren’t we? We work together.”

He stared at her and Ellie gazed back.

“Don’t shut me out, please,” she said softly. “Let’s do this together.”

Matthew broke their gaze.

“I’m not shutting you out,” he said tiredly. “At least, I’m not trying to.”

“It feels like it, Matt.”

“It’s not some rejection of you or your idea, Ellie. I just think it makes more sense for you to talk to her than me.”

He began eating with determined relish, leaving Ellie no choice but to drop the subject and begin her own starter, which she had absolutely no interest in.

After a few tense moments, Matthew started talking about the kids – the football club Craig wanted to join and Jacob’s science project – and with effort Ellie kept up her side.

She wished their conversation had played out differently, but she understood why it hadn’t.

Losing his job had been a serious setback for her husband, and she needed to appreciate that, and be patient.

She just wished they could both get over it and move on.

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”.