The bank teller tapped her pen on the table as she waited for the last of the paperwork to finish printing. Ellie stared at her hands, folded neatly in her lap. Her knuckles were white from gripping too hard as she fought the slight tremor that tried to work itself out through her body.
“This is it,” the teller said, sliding the papers in front of Jen with a meaningless smile. “Sign here and we can fully close your account.”
Jen signed the papers quickly. It had to be quick. If she didn’t do it quickly, she might not be able to do it at all.
The teller counted out five dollars and thirty-two cents, sliding it over to Jen. “Here’s the remaining balance in your business account. Thank you so much for banking with us these past six years. We hope you’ll consider us again for your future banking needs.”
And it was done. With that, Jen’s business which she’d worked so hard on for all these years was officially finished. It had been a pipe dream, really. The bakery had been the only thing she’d ever wanted for herself. She’d spent ages making wedding cakes and birthday cakes out of her home kitchen, scraping together money for her savings as much as she could so that she could finally afford her own shop.
The grand opening all those years ago made her feel like the sacrifice had been worth it. Sleepless nights, the days she went without enough to eat, all those nights she told her friends she couldn’t make it; all things sacrificed for the dream. That precious dream.
She carefully folded her copy of the paperwork and tucked the money into her pocket. Five dollars. That was all her dream had been worth, in the end. Jen walked out of the bank.
Her husband waited outside, leaning against their old beater of a car. Jen walked straight into his arms and pressed her face against his chest as she began to sob.
“It’s alright,” he whispered into her hair. “It’s all going to be alright.”
“I’m a failure,” she cried. “I should have never bought that shop. I should’ve gotten a normal job like everyone else. What is wrong with me?”
Her husband hugged her so tight that it drove the breath from her lungs.
“There’s nothing wrong with being brave,” he said. “You tried. That’s better than most people ever do. I’m so proud of you. You’re the bravest woman I’ve ever met.”
“What do I do now?” she asked. “The bakery was all I ever wanted, and it’s gone.”
He tucked her close under his chin and closed his eyes. “You take your time. You heal. And then you find a new dream. Because there’s never just the one. We always dream more than once.”
Jen sighed and nodded solemnly. He was right. He was always right. “It’s annoying how smart you are,” she teased.
Her husband laughed. “So what do you want to do?” he asked.
She thought about it for a long moment. “Ice cream. I want to get ice cream. And pie. Maybe some doughnuts. For healing.”
“Healing, is it?” he asked, poking her side. “And then?”
“And then we go home and plan. For the next dream.”