The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 48


Gwen’s eyes fluttered open and she straightened in her hospital bed at the sight of Suzanne, looking uncharacteristically uncertain.

“Suzanne. I’m so glad you’ve come. I was meaning to ring you last night but unfortunately events overtook me.” Gwen smiled wryly, but her daughter didn’t return it.

Suzanne looked completely miserable as she perched on the chair next to Gwen’s bed.

“I should have been the one to ring. And I should have come earlier. Matt texted me last night . . .”

“It’s all right, Suzanne,” Gwen said gently.

“I know you’ve been angry with me, and you’re right to be. I never should have said what I did. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s not that.” Suzanne’s eyes filled with tears and Gwen reached for her hand.

“I mean, it is, but I’m not angry. I was just . . . hurt.”

She confessed the emotion in a shuddering breath; Gwen knew how hard it was for her.

Suzanne had always wanted to be strong, shrugging aside sympathy, determined to be the one who had it all together.

“I’m so sorry I hurt you,” Gwen said quietly. “I shouldn’t have –”

“But that’s the thing, Mum,” Suzanne interjected. “You should have. The last thing I want to be is hard work to you.”

“You’re not –”

“I obviously am.” Suzanne let out a wobbly laugh as she freed her hand from Gwen’s to wipe her eyes.

“And you know what? I know I am. I know I fuss, and I even know it annoys you.

“But I just feel like I have to do something.”

Gwen smiled at that.

“I know,” she said softly.

“And the truth is . . . I wanted to seem in control of your treatment because everything else in my life is going pear-shaped.

“I couldn’t handle any more.”

“What?” Gwen frowned. “Suzanne, what’s been going on?”

“I didn’t want to admit anything was going wrong at all.

“But the truth is Owen is having trouble in school, and Mairi has fallen out with her friends.

“Or rather, they’ve fallen out with her.

“She’s miserable, poor thing. And David’s got a new boss who doesn’t like the way he does things. So there’s that stress, too.”

“Oh, love . . .”

“But I didn’t want to burden you with any of it, and the truth is, I didn’t want anyone to know.

“You seemed so busy with the bed and breakfast, and Matt and Ellie . . .” Suzanne let out another shuddery breath.

“And frankly, I was jealous. I’ve been here all along and you’ve never asked me to help with the bed and breakfast.”

Gwen opened her mouth and Suzanne held up a hand.

“I know, I know. I never acted as if I wanted to help.

“And maybe I didn’t want to, Mum, but I suppose I wanted to be asked.”

Suzanne gave a watery smile and Gwen’s heart expanded with love.

How, at her age, could she not have realised her daughter’s hard, prickly shell hid a soft vulnerability beneath?

“Suzanne, I’m so glad you’ve said all this,” Gwen said.

“You have no idea how much. I should have realised, blind fool that I am. But I know now.”

She reached once more for her daughter’s hand.

“I want you to be involved, Suzanne. Your house is so beautiful . . . I could surely use your decorating skills!”

Suzanne made a face.

“What about Ellie?”

“What about her?”

“I don’t feel as if we really get on. And admittedly, I haven’t made that much effort.

“I sent her a text yesterday that probably terrified her.”

Gwen smiled.

“I think Ellie feels a bit lost and adrift,” she said quietly.

“She’s just made an enormous move, and it takes time to adjust. I know she’d appreciate your friendship, Suzanne.

“Your genuine friendship, not just you showing her how well you know Llandrigg.”

Suzanne let out a surprised laugh.

“Ouch. You are telling me like it is, aren’t you?”

“In love,” Gwen assured her. “For your sake as well as everyone else’s.”

“So I can’t fuss with your pillows?”

“Or bother the nurses,” Gwen said sternly. “No. But you can do the crossword with me. Or just sit with me in the quiet.”

Suzanne’s expression grew serious and a bit teary.

“I’d love that, Mum.”

Gwen smiled. How was it, she wondered, that it took so much heartache for her family to find their way to each other again?

Matthew and Ellie, her and Suzanne . . . she was hopeful that bridges were being mended, or built.

“Thank you, Suzanne,” Gwen said. “I love you.”

“And I love you.” Suzanne let out a laugh as she slapped her knees.

“Right, that’s enough mushiness! How about a cup of tea?”

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”.