Every day, more of the mall's parking lot fragmented into smaller pieces. The painted lines that marked the boundaries of dozens of parking spots faded away, and yellow heads of hundreds of dandelions were breaking through fissures growing across the asphalt plane.
I worked at a donut stand, the only remaining restaurant in the food court. We had one customer a day. The manager of the last store up on the second floor. He was the first and only person I'd see. I leaned on the counter the rest of the day and stared at the empty tables.
I shuffle down a hall where the light flickers and the heating pipes clatter and hiss. The bathroom was around the corner. My footsteps on the tile echoed between the shuttered stores where lonely mannequins watched from empty glass displays. All the stall doors, save one, are closed and locked.
I sit in the stall, unconcerned that anyone else will knock, untroubled by worries about missing any customers at the counter. There are places just like this scattered across the landscape. These empty relics from a halcyon past may as well have been a dream. The country that surrounds them is just as hollowed out, neglected, and forgotten.
I've been here long enough to remember the days when crowds of carefree shoppers drifted in and out of the stores. First, they were gone, then the employees started to vanish. Every month I said goodbye to another staff and wished another manager the best of luck as they passed through the doors and pulled out of their parking spots for the last time. Leaving this place behind. Watching it recede and vanish from the rearview mirrors as it disappeared into the past.