A Boy at McDonalds | Teen Ink

A Boy at McDonalds

August 23, 2021
By LKQgirl GOLD, Somonauk, Illinois
LKQgirl GOLD, Somonauk, Illinois
17 articles 17 photos 63 comments

Favorite Quote:

Once I met a brown boy on the McDonalds playland

He smiled a mouthful of gold teeth

I asked him where were his white teeth

He turned away and didn’t answer

We crawled away and slid down red plastic slides.

They called me the playground fraidy-cat back then

Scared of falling down where I couldn’t see

Scared of ladders, scared of strange kids.

(If my eyes fell out and turned to gold

Would people see me shine brighter than the sun?)

They were hard years

I was never more ashamed—

My autistic brother made trouble on the McDonalds’ slides

So they closed the building to strange mamas

Who sighed and slammed car doors

Going to their playground playdates to escape our family.

We he got into his teens, he did worse

We couldn’t take him anywhere, even enclosed spaces

My memories of him fall away and leave only eerie music.

Only my brother could figure out how to penetrate

The cloth string netting on the McDonalds’ playland

Where he could watch the squirming kids’ shadows

Wriggle down the slides and disappear upside down.

Only my brother could think of so many escapes

Deprived of his chicken Mcnuggets and chocolate cones

Still I remember…

Once, when I was five,

Traveling to Hannover, Indiana, to visit my Baba’s house

We stopped at the night McDonalds playland, my brother clutching his toys

My tired mother sat watching us

Talking to a lady with small children

Like strangers didn’t exist in the world

As the night closed in

She was contemplating the miles traveled behind us

And many more miles left to go.

I climbed into the slide,

Pretending I didn’t hear

Fragile beauty opening above us and inside us

Sticky as feet

Tender as hands.

The author's comments:

This is basically the story of my life.

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