The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 38

Sophie was already seated at the keyboard, and Jess stood in front of the microphone, trying to keep her legs from shaking.

“When you’re ready,” Mrs Farris said, and Sophie played the opening bars of the pop song.

Jess opened her mouth to sing, and nothing came out. Oh, no. This was going to be every bit as bad as she’d feared.

Sophie threw her a panicked look and played the opening bars again.

Jess saw at least two dozen kids all staring at her in varying degrees of boredom, indifference, pity or glee.

Suddenly she was filled with the desire to show them what she could do.

She opened her mouth and began to sing.

The first note was wobbly, but she soon got into her stride, and by the time the chorus came round, she was belting it out, and with a tremor of delight she saw that several kids were nodding along.

She was actually doing it!

As the last note faded away, Mrs Farris and a few others applauded.

“Well done, girls, very well done indeed! I’ll have the list of successful acts up on the noticeboard by the end of the day.”

“Do you think we’ll make it?” Sophie asked anxiously as they left the room. Jess let out a shuddery breath.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I’m just glad it’s over.”

“But if we made it, we’ll do it again, and in front of the whole school!”

Jess realised she hoped they’d be chosen.

When she’d got over her fears, she’d actually enjoyed herself. She wanted a chance to do it again, and even better.

The rest of the afternoon seemed to creep by as she waited for the final bell to ring, so she and Sophie could check the noticeboard.

Once again Jess found she couldn’t concentrate on any of her lessons.

Finally the bell rang and she raced out of the classroom, meeting Sophie in the corridor.

They exchanged nervous smiles as they headed towards the music block.

“There it is!” Sophie exclaimed as they both caught sight of the printed list of successful acts.

“I’m afraid to look,” Jess said, but Sophie strode forward.

“We’re on it!” she said jubilantly, and Jess’s jaw nearly dropped in surprise.

“We are?”

“Yes!” Sophie turned to her, her face flushed with excitement. “We’re going to be performing in the autumn concert to the whole school!”

*  *  *  *

Ellie sat next to Gwen who was dozing in her reclining chair, the IV dripping the chemo drugs into her arm.

The room was quiet, with four patients sitting in chairs like Gwen’s, all looking tired and worn out.

Ellie glanced down at the magazine she’d been skimming through and put it aside.

She couldn’t concentrate on anything, not with Gwen looking so poorly next to her.

Somehow, seeing her hooked up to the IV, her face drained of colour, made it all feel so real.

She’d been an idiot to want to talk about the bed and breakfast plans now.

There were far more important things for Gwen to concern herself with.

“Don’t look so worried,” Gwen said with a smile as her eyes flickered open.

“It’s the chemo making me feel this way, not the cancer. And that must mean it’s doing its job.”

“It certainly is,” Ellie replied bracingly.

She felt a flash of guilt for Gwen having to worry about how she felt. She wasn’t the one who was ill.

“I know things have been hard for you,” Gwen continued. “And I doubt I’ve made things easier.”

“Oh, you have, Gwen. And really, you don’t have to think of me right now.”

“But I want to. I think about myself far too often, and frankly I’d rather not. A distraction is far preferable.

“Do you think the children are adjusting?”

“I hope so.”

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”.