Sink or Swim

Reposted from The Dreaming Tree: The Story of Audrey Moore

Audrey Moore moved through her father’s book store in an almost trance like state. Her life had stopped after she got the call from her Aunt Sheila. The Dreaming Tree had been closed for a total of 16 days. The funeral had happened and the pile of dirt on the grave now shared by her parents was beginning to settle into the new spring grass. With the help of her aunt, the apartment above the shop had been sorted, cleared out and now reclaimed by Audrey’s few belongings.

A week ago she had gotten a visit from Nigel Stern, her father’s long time friend and accountant. Nigel had been kind and necessarily frank with her.

“As much as we all loved Joe, math was never his best subject – even when we were kids. I’ve kept him at bay from bankruptcy Audrey, but just. This store isn’t turning a profit. You should sell the business and go back to the big city.”

Audrey politely thanked Nigel and reeled from the information. She sank down into the desk chair behind the counter to think.

“Go back to the big city….”

To what? To a job as a children’s program coordinator in the library that’s about to be cut? To Paul who finally told her he never wants kids and she should just be practical about it. She’s not even sure there’s still any love left between them.

Audrey sighed and picked up a book from the desk. It was The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Her father had finally gotten around to reading it after she gave it to him for Christmas. Audrey chuckled and then flipped to a random page and read a line:

“Don’t you think it’s better to be extremely happy for a short while, even if you lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?”

She got up and walked around the shop again. It had always been such a happy place to visit – a comfort for her soul. Could she turn it around so it could survive?

Audrey packed up a small bag and took a short trip back to Minneapolis. She stayed with friends and decided not to phone Paul. He would disapprove of what she planned to do. It was not at all practical. The credit union agreed with him but she transferred her home branch location to New Teasdale, which was a close enough drive to Dankoville, and cashed in her retirement savings.

She walked into Nigel Stern’s office at eleven twenty three am. As she told him her plan, his eyes widened and he opened a bottle of scotch and poured two glasses. Audrey slowly sipped hers as he fumbled through some documents and began to speak accountese at her. She nodded along and took the package of papers he compiled for her with a smile.

At twelve fifty three pm the sign on the door of The Dreaming Tree second hand book store flipped from closed to open and Audrey Moore’s life began again.

 

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