It isn’t right. The air is chilly, but not crisp as it should be at this time of year. The wet wind blows against my face. I shiver, my skin sticky and damp. My eyes are drawn to the left as I notice a blow up Santa Claus lying deflated on the wet asphalt feet from where I stand. In my mind, I beg it to get up, to smile its big goofy smile at all of us. Almost as if that would make everything right again.
The great expanse of the parking lot is bare, so utterly empty of life. Only the small corner in which I stand with my family has even a trace of color, a tired dark green reminiscent of the last days of summer. My ears ring with the kind of deafening silence that only seems to come about this one day of the year.
The blustery wind blows more sticky air into my face. It brings with it a faint smell of pine, but it’s a muted scent, as though by Christmas Eve these trees have little life left in them. The few that are left, standing around me and my family, are drooping, cheerless, in the gray air. The sparsely needled branches are outlined like skeletal limbs against the blank sky. They seem to bow under some great weight, brittle branches nearly brushing the ground. I reach out and touch the nearest bough. A sprinkle of dry, faded green needles patter quietly to the ground below.
A car rushes by, a few notes of a familiar christmas carol swirling in the wind for a moment, then gone. For that one moment, the air seems to fill with color. It brings me for a fragment of time out of my dull reality, for a second filling me up with sound and cheer. But its happy melody leaves the air as empty and colorless as before. The sound and color flood out of me, dissolving into the thick gray air. Silence settles heavily back over everything like a thick wool blanket. Everything seems unnaturally quiet, barren, save for my family and the drooping trees that remain.