As the tree blinks from white to red to green, you look at the void under the tree that previously held presents. Fewer this year than usual, but some.
How did you get here? Boredom? In March, you felt trapped with your wife and infant. You needed something to pass the time. Something you could throw yourself into fully.
“Are you coming to bed?” your wife yells down the stairs. It seemed harmless at first, but as the pandemic drew on, so did your investment. You’ll stop soon, though. “Soon!” you reply, and you hear her feet climb the steps.
The lights start to blink chaotically. You cringe because you could only afford the junk strands at CVS. Suddenly they halt—the alternation feature broken—on red. The red fills the room and covers your flesh. You look down at your hands, and they look like they’re bleeding. Like your calls.
After a time—hours?—you realize you’re sitting in complete darkness. Your lights have expired, worthless.