The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 41

Gwen dropped her head into her hands. She never should have told Suzanne she was hard work. What a hurtful thing to say.

Yet Gwen had been too tired to temper her honest words.

She didn’t know how long she sat there, feeling unbelievably tired, but it must have been a while as she heard Ellie return with Ava and Jacob.

With a murmur, Ellie directed the children into the sitting-room, no doubt worried Suzanne was still raging in the kitchen.

She would ring Suzanne tonight, Gwen decided, and try to explain, or apologise.


Gwen looked up to see Jacob standing in the doorway, smiling shyly.

He was the quietest of Ellie and Matthew’s four children, happy to play by himself.

She’d been much the same as a child. She summoned a smile for him.

“Yes, darling?”

“Are you . . .” Jacob hesitated, looking woefully uncertain and very young. “Are you OK?”

Gwen’s eyes filled with tears as she registered the question full of loving concern, and from the mouth of a nine-year-old.

“Oh, Jacob . . . yes, I’m OK. I will be.”

She held out her arms, and after a pause Jacob slunk forward, submitting to the briefest of hugs.

“Aunt Suzanne was shouting.”

“She was cross. I need to apologise to her.”

“Were you cross?”

“No. Just tired.” Gwen smiled sadly at him.

“That’s what Mum says when she shouts at us,” Jacob said with a little grin. “That she’s tired.”

“Yes. Mums are often tired.” Gwen gave him a sympathetic smile and his face suddenly brightened.

“Do you want to do a puzzle?”

“A puzzle?” Gwen looked at him, surprised. He’d never asked her to do anything with him before. “All right.”

Jacob ran to fetch the puzzle.

“Three hundred pieces,” Gwen remarked as she took in the box with its picture of the solar system.

“This looks challenging.”

“The hard ones are best,” Jacob said as he opened the box, and Gwen smiled.

Perhaps she needed to have a little more of that kind of can-do attitude.

Jacob was clearly experienced, for he was soon sorting pieces into edges, corners and interior, and instructing Gwen to do the same.

Slowly she felt her insides unclench as a still sort of peace settled over the room.

She’d explain to Suzanne and apologise. It would all be OK.

“Now it’s easier to do the edges,” Jacob explained, once they’d sorted all the pieces. “Look, see?”

He neatly put two pieces together, and Gwen smiled.

“You’ve got a very good system here, Jacob.”

Perhaps that was her problem, she reflected as she slotted a few pieces together.

Her life was a jumble, like the pieces before they’d been sorted.

But if she simply took one challenge at a time – the B&B, her diagnosis, her daughter – they would be more manageable.

Impulsively, she reached over and gave Jacob’s thin shoulder a quick squeeze.

“Thank you for including me.”

“Jacob?” Ellie’s voice sounded strained as she came into the kitchen. “Didn’t I tell you not to bother Granny?”

“It’s fine,” Gwen assured her. “We’re doing a puzzle.”

Ellie looked exasperated.

“I wanted to,” Gwen said quickly. “Honestly, Ellie, it’s just what I needed.”

She gave Jacob a warm smile. He beamed back.

“Well . . .” Ellie’s gaze darted around the kitchen as if she expected Suzanne to be hiding in a cupboard.

“Suzanne went home,” Gwen said. “I’m afraid things got a bit out of hand.”

“Granny’s tired,” Jacob supplied. “And when she’s tired, she gets cross. Just like you, Mum.”

“Oh, really?” Ellie looked amused and ruffled her son’s hair. “Come on, you. It’s Lego club tonight.”

“Oh, yeah!” Jacob clambered off his chair.

“It’s a new club at the village hall,” he explained. “And Lego is my favourite!”

“Not puzzles?” Gwen teased.

“Puzzles are second,” he told her and Gwen nodded.

As he and Ellie went off to get ready for his club, she realised she felt better, thanks to her grandson.

She would definitely ring Suzanne tonight.

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”.