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A Happy Meal, a New Toy, and…a Best Friend?
I held my mommy’s hand as we filed quietly into the noisy McDonald’s. The chilly November air made me want to huddle next to her. Mom had told me it was lunchtime so it would be busy. I was anxious to get my yummy food. People rushed past me, making it hard to walk next to my mom. Voices filled the air. An irritable businessman came out the door, hitting me, holding his hamburger in one hand and a phone in the other. He was yelling away angrily to whoever was on the other end of that call as he stalked outside without so much as an apology to me. I’m tall for a three-year-old so it’s not like he could’ve missed me, I decided to myself as the smell of my favorite food lingered to my nose. Two words. French fries.
We got through to the line and started to wait. Tick tock. Tick tock. I could hear the soft ticking of the clock as order after order was placed. Eventually the “ching” of the cash registers took over the quiet beat in my head. I want my food! I shrieked silently to myself, being an average, anxious three-year-old.
The lady in front of us had obviously doused herself in perfume. Her scent was so strong it made my nose crinkle.
“At least it’s clearing up now; we came at just the right time. People are starting to leave,” my mom observed.
“Mmmm,” I responded, not sure what to say. I was just hungry.
The perfumed lady in front of us placed her order: a Caesar salad and a coke.
As I was wondering what a “see-zer” salad was my mom and I took that final step on the tile floor to order.
“What would you like to order?” the cashier asked us.
I took in her appearance while my mom ordered. She had olive skin with light violet eyes; the prettiest eyes I had ever seen. Her soft brown hair was mangled into a messy bun right at the nape of her neck. She was beautiful.
I noted this while my mom said, “I’d like a garden salad with a coke and my daughter wants a cheeseburger happy meal with a Hi-C orange.” My favorite meal. The usual.
She typed in our order and the register went “ching”. The noise I had been consuming for the last ten minutes. After a few minutes of yells, clings, and chings our order was delivered to the front counter, and after picking up straws, napkins, and ketchup from the condiments counter, my mom and I made our way to the back room, right next to the play place. I couldn’t wait to scarf down my food and make my way to heaven. The slide.
I noticed a girl who looked about my age with her mom seated at a table right next to an open one. She had big brown eyes, dark brown hair with bangs straight across her forehead, and a countless amount of freckles scattered across her face. I asked my mom at once if we could sit at that open table.
“Mommy, can we sit there?” I requested, using my soft, sweet voice and big blue eyes as a weapon.
“Sure, Kat,” my mom reasoned, willing to give her baby girl whatever she wanted.
She paced over to the table I had chosen while I skipped, trying to grab the attention of the girl. I plopped down onto my seat, eager to dig into my food. I grabbed my Happy Meal off the tray and immediately went for the French fries. I dipped one in ketchup and shoved it into my mouth, feeling its warmth as it went down my throat. For every fry I put in my mouth I peeked over in her direction. A few times I caught her staring back, and we both quickly looked away. Once she caught me glancing and I gave her a little half smile. She did the same in return. As I continued to gobble down the rest of my meal, the cheeseburger and Hi-C orange, I kept inspecting her. She was playing with the toy that you get in the Happy Meal.
All of a sudden the girl stood up. I did, too. She walked over to the Play Place. I followed. She went over to the slide, I pranced after her. When she slid down the slide, I went down, nearly hitting her.
"Hi, I'm Kathryn," I said, my voice squeaky and high.
"Hi. My name's Emily," she replied with a big smile.
"How old are you?" I pleaded, eager to know.
"Four," she answered, holding up her fingers to show me.
"Want to play on the slide some more?" she wondered, just as zealous as I was.
We glided on the carpeted floor around to the steps of the slide. Each step I took up to the slide was a new step in building our friendship. As I reached the top, I sat down, the plastic beneath me. I was about to push myself downward when a sudden shove caught me off guard. I flew down the slide faster than I ever had.
I plunked down on the floor, hard and fast, and at once I heard the soft cackle of Emily's laughter behind me. I joined in.
We laughed and laughed and laughed as little kids do. My stomach hurt from giggling. Emily's huge chocolate eyes were moist with tears. This was the first time I heard my mom saying something to Emily's mom.
"Looks like our girls are really getting along," my mom inquired.
"Definitely," Emily's mom agreed.
We ran over to our moms and sat down for now they were sitting at the same table. We talked and talked. Discussed preschools, birthdays, phone numbers, addresses. In a half hour we knew each other schedules by heart. Emily lived nearby with her mom, dad, sister, Molly, and seven pets. She went to a pre-school where I would start going right away so we could be together. Her birthday was October Twenty-First so we'd be in the same grade at school.
After we finished chatting we decided to do something else.
We went up and down that slide at least fifty times after that.
Who knew one trip to McDonald's could give me a best friend for life?