Trey had never taken a vacation. It was not for lack of interest, but rather lack of means. Everyday was the same. He woke up, dressed for work, worked, and went home. His life had become predictable which he both liked and despised. Trey was a home body with aspirations towards exploration. His nine to five paid the bills, but left him with no room for the exploration he craved.

"Trey, when are you going on vacation? You're here every day. You have the time banked," Marie put a hand on Trey's shoulder. It was gentle, and he thought he could feel her concern coming through her palm. "If you don't start using it you're going to lose it." Marie adjusted her glasses that were sliding down her nose. "You should really take the time off. Work isn't everything. Take some time to yourself."

"I'd like to, but I don't have enough money saved to go anywhere that I want to go," Trey sighed.

"Where do you want to go?"

"Oh, you know, the usual places. I want to see the castles of Europe. I want to see the Coliseum in Rome. I want to walk the streets of Paris, and breathe the air inside Notre Dame. I want to touch the sand in Egypt and look up at the pyramids," a soft smile graced his face and dissolved into darkness.

"Why haven't you?"

"Something always comes up. I live paycheck to paycheck. I saved a couple thousand over a year, but I just last week had to use that for car repairs," Trey's shoulders slumped. It wasn't even a great car. It certainly wasn't something he wanted to sink money into. The car was serviceable. It got him from place to place well enough. It just had a tendency to need maintenance at the most inopportune times.

"I'm sorry to hear that. That sucks," Marie consoled. "All the same, you should really use your vacation. It's paid for and you'll be losing money if you don't take it."

"But I don't have the money to go anywhere."

"So what, take a staycation,” she shrugged. “Who knows, you might even figure out a way to get yourself to Europe if you take the time to recharge. It's harder to solve problems when you're staring at it from three inches away. Take a breather and take care of yourself for once. You've spent five years of energy making sure the company is taken care of. It's time to let the company take care of you. We'll still be here when you get back. We can last a week or two without you," Marie winked and smiled at him.

Trey returned her smile. "Perhaps the college grad is right. I could use some time off. Maybe I could catch up on some house projects that I've been putting off," Trey thought. He inhaled a calming breath and smiled. He clicked out of the window on the computer he was doing his work in and went to the time card application. He filled out a two week time-off request starting the following day and then clicked submit with a smile and a nod. He was proud of his work and how he had managed to help the company stay afloat through some difficult times a couple of years ago. He had single-handedly saved the company from shuddering its doors. "Yes, I do deserve a staycation. I have done everything for the company. It's time I do something for myself," Trey resolved.

Trey woke up the following morning in a panic. His alarm had not gone off. He swore and started throwing on work clothes and ran to the bathroom to brush his teeth. As he brushed, he recalled that he had turned the alarm off to start his vacation. He felt his face flush and his cheeks were hot. He chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, now that I'm up I may as well start my vacation off right." He finished his morning routine as leisurely as a child at play. He filled his minimalist abode with the happiness he hummed from his favorite songs. The shower head microphone had never heard such dulcet tones.

He went to the local coffee spot and ordered a sweet pumpkin spice latte. The latte matched his mood. His joy was palpitating and exuded from him in droves that infected passerby with a reflected smile.

He drove away with the fresh aroma of pumpkin and the pleasant colors of autumn trees and falling leaves. He came across a park on his drive with a cute little bench that had carved a cozy nook into the landscape, positioned just so for an exquisite view of autumn's breath. It rested at the bottom of a small valley that looked up to a rolling forest. He parked and walked to the bench to sit and bask in the beauty.

The wind blew, the leaves danced, and the trees swayed to the music of nature's creation. The navy blue bench contrasted the red, yellow, and orange leaves. Trey inhaled the season deep into his lungs. "This is a thinking spot. It's a spot for deep contemplation. A spot for a good book and a cup of coffee. It's a spot for puzzling out problems. This is my spot," Trey thought.

The next day, Trey came back to the spot with a coffee and a book. He read Crime and Punishment. He was fond of classics and felt that there was a certain amount of refinement that one gleaned from reading them. When he had read a few chapters he closed the book and shut his eyes. He listened to the composition that the wind composed. He thought he could smell just how crunchy the fallen leaves were and smirked at the ridiculous premise. He opened his eyes and the trees waved as if trying to capture his attention for something important. Something forgotten that needed remembering. He shook his head, let the feeling pass, and sat in silent awe of the gentle beauty of the cozy little nook in the park on the edge of the forest.

He came back the next day with another coffee and a new book. This time the book he read was The Last Unicorn. The magic of the story matched the magic he felt in his newly found respite, so he thought it was appropriate. That day the wind was violent and crisp. The trees shook with wild demand. The leaves shuttered at the reproach and cascaded to the ground with reckless abandon. Trey closed the book and observed. The trees were in command of his attention. What they said as the wind blew was that the season was ending. It was time to move on and start anew.

"But, I love my job," Trey tried to convince. The wind blew and shook the branches to the point of creaking. The wisdom of the trees saw through the veil of his weak conviction and chastised him with the gentle reproach of a parent to a child. He did not in fact love his job. He more or less tolerated it, and the investment of time and effort in the people he worked with and the projects he worked on made it difficult for him to chase his dreams.

For as long as he could remember, he had always wanted to be a coffee shop entrepreneur. One thing or another had always kept him from making the leap. Whether it was lack of capital, fear of failure, or the nervousness he felt leaving behind an empty desk was a toss up. It was likely a combination of the three.

The trees knew better and waved off his anxiety. The wind blew and nudged him toward courage. He was fond of coffee. He was fond of people. He had all the equipment necessary to concoct all the various kinds of coffee a customer desired. It was just a matter of following through and chasing his desires. With a coffee shop, he could make his own hours, save his money, and finally make the trips he wanted to take. He straightened his back with new found resolve. He knew what the trees knew. The season was ending. It was time for something new.

October 29, 2023 17:55

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Chelsey B
18:23 Nov 06, 2023

We should all listen closer to the wisdom of trees. Loved this story and the way nature guided Trey to perhaps a happier life.


Aaron Galassi
19:34 Nov 06, 2023

Thank you! This comment made my day! I’m glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for reading!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Shirley Medhurst
10:42 Nov 09, 2023

Brilliant choice of title, Aaron. It certainly caught my eye! So much truth in it…. Marie’s a girl after my own heart 😁 - that’s my very own motto: « If you don't start using it you’re going to lose it. » 😂 Thank you so much, you’ve made my day


Show 0 replies
Tom Skye
15:37 Nov 04, 2023

Great depiction of a rut I think we have all felt. Well written character and delivered a simple message beautifully. Nice work. Thanks for sharing


Aaron Galassi
03:30 Nov 05, 2023

Thank you for reading. I’m glad you enjoyed it!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.