A calm descends the day after Christmas. A collective intake of breath. It’s over. Some are glad. Some are sad.
The streets are quiet. Revellers sleep. The magpies pull down tinsel draped on eaves, pulling out the shiny red and green bits to decorate their nests.
There are no cars on the road. The lack of the hum of approaching engines is disconcerting. It is as if all of the Christmas elves have stolen all the vehicles in the street and taken them for joy rides to places far away.
Cats sit on porches or front fences. Idly, languid, in a place between waking and dreaming. Some half-heartedly poke at a new ball or mouse toy, feigning disinterest as if to say :’We are above such frivolity. We are cats. We amuse ourselves.’
Little boys ride three-wheeler bikes up and down the street, telling anyone who passes: ‘Santa gave me this. Look how fast I can go.’ Teenage girls stagger in strappy sandals their feet aren’t used to, comparing new outfits.
Christmas lights flicker in windows, maybe for the last time. People take photos with a sense of urgency, frightened they have left it too long to record the Christmas cheer. The house with the glowing sleigh on the roof attracts hundreds of people. They are quiet, sombre. It is hard to accept that it will be another year before they will see the sleigh again.
People sit in the park watching their children play on the swings. For some of them their year was good, for some, bad. Smiles play on their faces regardless. The day after Christmas is a time to reconsider, it is a time for resurrecting hope.
At night the sky is swirled with coffee. Children no longer gaze out the window looking for reindeer. They are tucked up in bed full of turkey sandwiches and gingerbread cookies.
The frangipani is in full bloom now. The scent of it crackles across the dark streets, a taste of the tropics in the city. People pull blooms, white and heavy, off the trees as they walk their dogs, sniffing the flowers, dreaming of hot nights by the ocean.
A single star gleams. To the west. It is yellow white. You could find your way by that star if you needed to. You could look at it and realise that Christmas is the start of something, not the end. You could sit on your chair and watch it for hours and come to believe that if you want something badly enough, it might just happen. You could lie in bed with the curtains pulled wide open and try to catch the lustre of it on your hand. And dream.