“I don’t understand why we bother,” he groused, dodging yet another overloaded shopper careening past. The line moved forward a step. The three of them – he, his wife, and son – moved together. Step.
His wife nudged him into silence, her voice pitched so the boy couldn’t hear it over the piped-in carols. “We do it for him.”
“But it’s not real,” he said, waving his hand at the front of the line. The boy’s gaze was still fixed there, entranced by costumed performers and faux mall elves. “It’s all just a fantasy. It’s just something in his head.”
His wife turned full towards him, hands on hips. “Lots of things are true just because someone believes in them.”
“Like our marriage.”
He turned away from her cold eyes, her hard face. He turned back towards the glittering plastic snow, towards the cracked plaster and fading candy cane gates of the model North Pole.
The line moved forward a step.
“We do it for him,” his wife said. “We do it for him.”