The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 50

What Jess needed to do was find her gate. She’d sit down and catch her breath.

She’d already decided she wouldn’t text her mum until she was on the plane, so she couldn’t be stopped, but now she wanted to let her parents know where she was.

Weighed down with her duffel bag, she lumbered towards her gate and collapsed into a plastic chair.

When Jess slid her phone out of her pocket, it lit up like a firework.

Eight missed calls, six new text messages and four new voicemails.

So her parents were worried, and for some reason that made Jess feel the happiest she’d been all day.

“We are now boarding Flight 765 to New York JFK,” a voice intoned on a Tannoy. Jess tensed.

“Could those in boarding section D please come to the gate.”

Jess checked her boarding pass – she was in section C. The moment of truth was almost upon her.

She glanced down at her phone, scrolling through the texts from her mum.

Jess, where are you? I’m worried. Craig says you weren’t at school. Whatever is wrong, we can work it out. Please ring and let me know you’re safe. I love you, Jess. So much.

Tears stung Jess’s eyes.

“Would those in boarding section C now please come to the gate.”

Jess watched as everyone headed in an impatient herd towards the gate.

It was now or never.

Quickly, Jess checked her Snapchats – nothing from Cora.

Another look at Instagram; Cora and Emily were having an unheard-of midweek sleepover.

What was she doing?

“Would boarding section B come to the gate . . .”

Recklessly, Jess swiped her phone. The call was picked up after half a ring.


She took a deep breath, her voice wobbling.


“Oh, Jess, Jess.” Ellie’s voice came out in a sob of relief.

“Where are you, darling? We’ll come and get you. Are you safe?”

“Yes, I’m OK.” Her daughter sounded so sad and so small.

“I’m . . . at Heathrow.”

“Heathrow!” Ellie’s mind spun.

“I wanted to go home.”

Home. Ellie closed her eyes. She had a dozen questions, but those could wait for later.

“Which terminal, Jess?” she asked. “We’ll come right away to collect you.”

It was a three-hour drive without traffic, and it was already six o’clock at night. But none of that mattered.

All Ellie wanted was her daughter safe at home.

Home. This was home now, but clearly for Jess it hadn’t been.

“Umm . . . terminal five.”

“All right. Sit tight, sweetheart. Maybe find a café. We’ll be there as soon as we can.”

Ellie disconnected the call with a shuddery breath.

“She’s OK,” she told everyone. Matthew, Ava, Craig and Jacob breathed a collective sigh of relief. “She’s at Heathrow.”

Matthew looked flummoxed.

“I suppose I’d better let the police know she’s OK.”

The officers had only left a few minutes ago, after taking Jess’s details.

Ellie had struggled not to break down as she’d explained.

“I think she’s had trouble settling here,” she’d said, and it had felt like a confession.

Why hadn’t she realised how unhappy her daughter was?

“I’ll drive to Heathrow,” she told Matthew.

“Are you sure? It’s a long way . . .”

“I want to,” Ellie said quietly. “Jess and I argued last night. I can’t help but feel it contributed to her running away.”

“We’ll get through this, Ellie,” Matthew promised her as he hugged her.

She nodded, her cheek pressed against his shirt, trying to hold back tears.

It felt as if everything had fallen apart, and yet here they were, building it back up again. Together, just as Matthew had said.

Perhaps you needed hard things to happen in order to realise what was important.

The three-hour drive to Heathrow along dark, rainy stretches of motorway felt endless. It was just after nine when Ellie arrived at terminal five.

She texted Jess as she hurried into the terminal, the big, open, bright space making her wince after the darkness of the car.

She hurried towards the coffee bar where Jess had said she was waiting, scanning the faces of weary and jet-lagged travellers.


Ellie jerked round and then let out an exclamation of pure relief as Jess hurried towards her.

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”.