She couldn’t believe it had finally come to this. All those years of patience, of working hard, of dealing kindly to people and not letting people take advantage of her—she was finally here.
She stood in the middle of her own business. This was her store. She owned it. Other’s had helped of course, and she had investors that she had to do right by in the long run, but this was her store. Hers. No one else’s.
She let out a laugh and wrapped her arms around herself in a self-hug.
“Are you going crazy?” She turned fast to see her father standing in the doorway between the store part and the “employees only” section. “Because I would really hate to have you committed right before your big day. It would be such a tragedy. I’d be on the news saying ‘She came so close to her dream only to fall at the finishing line.’” He shook his head in mock disappointment.
“Oh, shush. Let me enjoy this moment.” She laughed again. He smiled widely at her.
“Of course, love, of course. You deserve this.” He crossed to the middle of the room and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “I am so proud of you. You know that, right?”
“I had a hint when you said ‘I am so proud of you’ about a dozen times today.” She laughed, letting herself be pulled into his side.
“Well, I am super proud,” He countered, “At least a dozen times a dozen proud. And I need to make sure you know it.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. Thanks, Dad.”
The silence drew on for a while, before her dad continued in a soft voice, “Your mom would be proud too, you know.”
She froze on the spot for a second. Her Dad never mentioned her mom when he could help it, and since she was so young when her mother died, she tended to follow his lead. Her grandparents had taught her all about her mother, and what kind of woman she had been, and who she would want her daughter to be—but her dad always stayed quiet. Obviously, they never talked about it, but she’d always just assumed it was a grief thing. How he managed to cope.
“She would have been,” he repeated, gaining a bit more strength in his voice now. “She would be so proud of the fact that you got here, and that you got here by your own strength instead of cheating and scheming and she would be so proud that you believe in yourself.” He took a deep breath, like he’d just sprinted to get through that. “I think that you are going to be successful here, because I think she’ll be watching over you.”
She swallowed hard a few times, trying to get the knot her in throat small enough to talk around. “Thank you, Dad. Thank you for saying that.”
He gave her a squeeze around the shoulders. “Sure thing, Kiddo. Let’s go home. We need as much sleep as we can get before our big day tomorrow.”