colorThe trees were greener last time I sat here.

I watched as their leaves, now faded to red, brown and burnt orange, were pulled off one by one by small gusts of wind.

Leaves are like the hair of trees, I thought to myself.  And winter is their haircut.

My writing brain was not operating at 100%.  God help me.  I paused my music on my computer and returned to the counter for a refill of my iced coffee.

“Well look who’s back,” I heard Katie’s voice say.

I looked to see her emerge from the backroom.  I must have missed her come into work.  Though she was in uniform, black pants and shirt with a brown apron, and her hair was pulled into some sort of haphazard clump on the back of her head, she looked good.  Better than I remembered.

How long had it been?

“How long has it been?” she asked, apparently reading my mind.

“You know…” my tongue stumbled, “Maybe a month? Actually, no.  Two months.  It’s been two months.”

She put her hands on her hips.  “What the heck? You been cheating on us?”

I brought my hand to my chest in mock defense.  “I wouldn’t dare.”

“So where’ve you been?”

“Resting. Decompressing.  Just…nothing really.”  I laughed and scratched my neck.  I don’t think I had showered in two days.

“Sounds fun.”

“It leaves me feeling kind of guilty, actually.”

“What does?”

“Doing nothing.  I mean, not nothing.  I practiced my guitar, read, caught up on a few movies, and played some video games for the first time in months.” I laughed again. She smiled.

“Okay well I spent yesterday in bed, in pj’s, watching Netflix on my iPad, so you’re good.  Refill?”

I looked to the plastic cup in my hand, swirling around a lone ice-cube that remained inside.  “No, I just like to carry empty cups around.”

Her mouth tightened.  “Funny.”

“I also love just standing at counters.  So really, this combines three of my favorite things right now.”

Katie furrowed her recently waxed eyebrows.  “Um, that’s only two things.”

“Right, well the third is talking to pretty girls, sooo…”

She looked to the side and brushed a loose strand of hair behind her ear.

Before she could respond, I cut in. “But actually, yes, a refill would be great.”

She looked back up at me, trying to control the grin spreading on her face.  “I can do that.”

She took my cup and set it on the counter behind her.  Kneeling down, she opened a small fridge and removed a pitcher of iced-coffee.

“Get lots of writing done while you were away?” she asked as she poured the coffee into my cup.

“No, not really,” I said, slightly embarrassed.  No coffee shop meant no writing.  I couldn’t believe it had been nearly two months since I had sat down to write.   What had I even been doing?  And where did I even leave off in my story?

“Is it going to be hard getting back into the habit?”

“Nah,” I was lying, “Should be like riding a bike.”

She turned back around and slid my coffee to me, her face suddenly serious. “When was the last time you rode a bike?”

“Uhh…” I raised my hands in confusion.  “No idea.”

“Well I got one this summer thinking it’d be fun.  I loved my bike when I was a girl.  Went to ride it the first time and fell right on the cement.  I had this huge bruise on my knee.  Then I got going and the whole time I was about to fall over again.  I was wobbling and making slow, wide turns.  I rode for like 3 miles and the next day, my legs hurt so bad.  I thought I was going to die.”

“Maybe you should exercise more?”

“Not something you should say to a girl.”

“Well you’re not exactly being encouraging right now.”

“I’m just saying, you’re probably not going to jump back into writing pages and pages all at once.  Ease back into it.”

“So is that what you did with the bike?  Took it out for just for like a mile at a time till your body got used to it again?”

She looked at me confused.  “No, I took it back that week.  My legs hurt so bad, you don’t understand. I bought this really cute jacket instead.”

I slowly grabbed my coffee.  “Alright then, this has been productive.  Thanks for the refill.  Good seeing you again.”  I started walking away.

“Hey,” she said,  “I’m sure you’ll write something good today.”

I smirked.  “And wake up in extreme pain tomorrow?”

Katie rolled her eyes.  “Haha,” she said.

I shot her one final glance “I’ll probably just sell my computer tomorrow and buy a really cute jacket instead.”

“Seriously, you’re so funny,” she said.

I sat back at my table and woke up my laptop.  I clicked on my screenplay document that I hadn’t even opened yet.  Microsoft Word was kind enough to bring me to the spot I had left off on.

Felix – That last time I saw your parents, you know what they said to me?

Jerimus – Well, seeing as they died before I saw them again after that, no.  I can’t say I do.

Felix – They told me that… (big important story goes here)

That’s where I had left off?

I had no idea what big important story Felix was going to say to share about Jerimus’s parents.  I wasn’t really even sure who the heck Felix was supposed to be.  Why did I think this was a good place to stop?

Katie was right.  Getting back on a bike sucks.  Maybe I shouldn’t have stopped in the first place.

I looked back to the leaves that were still on the trees.  Soon, they’d all be gone and the branches would be bare.  But the trees wouldn’t be dead.  The leaves would come back.

They were just…taking a break.

Yeah, that’s a really terrible analogy.  I was seriously off my game.