The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 43

Jess slammed her door and then hurled herself on to her bed, burying her hot face in her pillow.

Her mum was so unfair. Everyone here was so mean.

She hated everything more than ever.

It had all started that morning, when she’d gone into school.

Sophie had been waiting for her at the door, the look on her face both mutinous and miserable.

“What is it?” Jess asked.

“Never mind.” Sophie shrugged, looking away, and that was when Jess was aware of all the stares and whispers.

She glanced around and saw how people smirked or looked away. She felt herself start to flush.

“It’s the music board,” Sophie muttered under her breath. “Don’t look.”

Even though she knew she shouldn’t, Jess headed down the corridor towards the music block and the noticeboard where she and Sophie had seen their names on the concert list.

She froze as she stood in front of it. Someone had printed out headshots of the two of them and scrawled Nerds in red marker over their faces.

As she stared at the pictures she felt herself go hot and then cold, while a tide of titters and whispers grew in volume behind her.

“It doesn’t matter,” Sophie said from behind her. Jess couldn’t answer.

Singing in the concert and her friendship with Sophie had felt like the only two good things about her life in Llandrigg, and now they were both ruined.

“Jess . . .” Sophie put a hand on her arm but Jess shrugged it off.

For a reason she couldn’t understand, she felt furious with Sophie rather than whoever had played the cruel prank.

She walked away without a word and headed to her locker, keeping her head down, freezing out the world and her only friend.

By break the photos had been taken down, but the damage had been done.

Jess had done her best to ignore all the smirking and sidelong looks, but it took everything she had.

Sophie tried to talk to her at lunch, but Jess had avoided her.

It was her worst day at school yet.

And now her mother was angry at her, and Craig, who knew about the prank, had teased her on the bus, and Jess really didn’t think she could take any more.

Her phone pinged.

It was a Snapchat from Cora, saying I miss you!!! with her usual cross-eyed funny face.

The tiniest of smiles tugged at Jess’s mouth.

I miss you, too, she typed, and took a selfie of her tear-streaked face. She couldn’t even pretend she was OK any more.

Cora sent another photo, this one with her mouth wide open in alarm, and a dozen sad-faced emojis.

Everyone here is horrible, Jess texted. I hate it.

I hate it here, too! Cora messaged back.

What about Emily? Jess couldn’t keep from asking.

Cora sent another raft of sad-faced emojis. She’s so fake. I want my BFF back.

A wave of homesickness crashed over Jess, pulling her under.

I do, too, she texted. If I could come back, I’d leave right now.

Cora’s reply was swift.

Why don’t you? My mom says you could stay with us. You could come back to school!

Jess’s heart turned over.

Are you serious?

Cora sent a bunch of thumbs-ups and hearts.

For a second hope buoyed inside her; to go back to Connecticut! To live with Cora!

Then Jess sank back against her pillows.

My parents wouldn’t let me, she texted.

What if you were already here? Cora texted.

You mean run away? Jess caught her breath.

You could leave a note. You can book a ticket online! All you need is your passport.

For a second Jess let herself think of it. She knew where her parents kept all their passports.

And she knew how to book a plane ticket online, and could even use her mother’s credit card.

There was a bus to Abergavenny from the same place as the school bus, and from there she could take a train to London, and then there had to be a way to get from there to Heathrow.

Jess held her phone, her mind spinning. Could she actually do this? Her parents would freak.

But by the time they realised she was gone, she’d be too far away for them to bring her back.

And once she was at Cora’s, and they saw that she was safe and happy . . .

She wouldn’t even have to go to school tomorrow. She wouldn’t have to face all the sneers and smirks and stares ever again.

Well? Cora texted, and recklessly Jess texted back.

I’ll try to get a ticket.

Cora sent a series of hearts, rainbows and hooray emojis while Jess reached for her laptop, her heart starting to thud.

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”.