The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 51

“Oh, Jess.” Ellie pulled her daughter into her arms.

“I’m so sorry, Mum.” Jess’s shoulders shook as she pressed her face into Ellie’s shoulder.

“I’ve made such a mess of everything.”

“You haven’t, Jess. I’m so sorry I didn’t realise you were going through such a hard time. Craig mentioned something –”

“The noticeboard?” Jess confirmed with a ragged sigh. “Yeah. But it didn’t have to be such a big deal.”

“This has been hard on you, Jess. Perhaps on you most of all, since you’re older. I’m sorry I haven’t been more understanding.”

“I’m sorry I’ve been so difficult. Especially with Granny being so sick.” Jess drew back, her face pale with anxiety. “Is she OK?”

“She’s doing much better on the antibiotics. She’ll be home in a few days.” Ellie hugged her again. “I’m so glad to see you.”

“I bought a plane ticket, Mum,” Jess confessed. “On your credit card. I’m sorry. I’ll pay you back . . .”

“That doesn’t matter,” Ellie said firmly.

They could sort out the repercussions and consequences later.

“Let’s just get you home.”

Exhausted, Jess curled up in the passenger seat and was asleep by the time Ellie pulled on to the M4.

She glanced across at her daughter, looking so young and vulnerable, and her heart ached with love.

She realised afresh how, in the midst of her own difficult adjustment to life in Llandrigg, she had forgotten to look beneath the sulks and scowls of her children.

They’d been having a hard time, too.

But now, she hoped and prayed, they’d be able to pull together.

By the time Ellie pulled into Bluebell Lane at nearly one a.m., she was gritty-eyed with fatigue.

Matthew met her at the door, pulling her into his arms for a quick hug before he went to help a very sleepy Jess into the house.

“It’s going to be OK,” he told her once Jess was settled in bed.

“I know this has been hard, Ellie, hard on all of us in different ways.

“But we will get through this, stronger than ever.”

Ellie smiled at him, utterly weary yet also unbelievably thankful.

“I know,” she said.

“Did I tell you my idea for the B and B?” Matthew said.

Ellie let out a tired laugh. She hadn’t thought about the B&B once today.

“No, I don’t think you did.”

“Well, along the lines you were talking about, I was thinking of making an obstacle course for kids in the garden. Using some old tyres and things like that.

“It’s about my speed when it comes to carpentry, and Craig and Jacob could help, too.”

Ellie climbed into bed.

“I think,” she said as she let out a yawn, “that sounds brilliant.”

*  *  *  *

It was a beautiful day in early May, six months since Jess had gone to the airport, and everything sparkled with sunlight and dew, the world reborn.

Bluebell Family Bed and Breakfast was having a rebirth as well.

A bright blue ribbon was stretched between the gateposts and a new sign, painted by a local artist, stood proudly by the gate.

The farmhouse was freshly whitewashed, the shutters at every window painted the exact shade of the bluebells that clustered in shady corners of the garden.

“Where should I put this, Granny?” Jess asked as she came outside with a pitcher of fresh American-style lemonade.

It had been her idea to incorporate some of their American heritage into the B&B, including fluffy pancakes and maple syrup for breakfast, and an American flag flying by the Welsh one in the garden.

“On the table there, by the gazebo,” Gwen said.

She felt both excited and nervous for the day – what if no-one showed up?

Or what if too many did, and they ran out of the gorgeous pistachio macaroons Suzanne had baked for the occasion?

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”.