Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

The best burger This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , Rockville, MD
The day had started off from a low point and had only gone downhill from there. As he was walking towards his bus stop, he arrived with just enough time to see the back of the bus pulling away. He saw the kids in the back of the bus mocking and waving at him as the bus rumbled down the street and around the corner. With a feeling of dread, he called his mother and meekly asked for her to come around with the car. Knowing that she was already halfway to work, this interruption would undoubtedly corrupt her normal routine. While waiting, he heard a peal of lightning. Seconds later, the rain began falling fast and hard. With no shelter in sight, he had no choice but to succumb. When the familiar sight of her bulky silver car pulled up, he climbed in the back seat and stammered out a quick apology, unable to say anything more. His mother launched into a fresh tirade, insulting everything from his chunky demeanor to his lack of effort at school. Unable to defend himself against the vicious onslaught, he stared out the window as his eyes began to swell. Upon arriving to the parking lot, he was greeted by the sound of the bell, informing him that he was late. He sighed with resignation, knowing that it was his sixth tardy, meaning that he would have to report to two weeks of summer school. From there, the day only got worse. The awkwardness of entering class in the middle of a lecture was compounded by the fact that he was soaking wet. The ink on all his homework had been washed so thoroughly that it had all become illegible. Even worse, his lunch had been soaked and caused his backpack to reek with an uncontainable odor. As the day dragged on, all the quizzes and tests that were returned were marked with dark red C’s and D’s. He felt saved from it all after the bell of 8th period had rung.

The music lessons after school provided a much needed escape from the problems that he was facing at school. Upon arriving upon the instructor’s house, he realized that something wasn’t right. The instructor was sorry to inform him that his piano needed tuning and that lessons would have to be canceled. On an ordinary day, this would not have caused any turbulent reactions. However, this was no ordinary day. This blow caused his spirit to sink into an even more abject level than its previous state. Dejected, he left to go await the next bus home. He suddenly realized that he did not want to go home to the unhappy situation awaiting him there, nor was he eager to begin his heavy load of homework. As he glanced up momentarily, he noticed an ordinary looking restaurant. Inside, he saw a prominently displayed plaque proclaiming all the different mentions of “best burger” that they had received. Out of curiosity, he took his wallet and dumped it upside down. A single crinkled five dollar bill floated out. Deciding that he had nothing to lose after such an awful day, he approached the front door of the restaurant and entered cautiously, unsure of whether or not to indulge himself. Immediately, the aroma of fresh grilled meat, and buttered bread surrounded him and dragged him in. Similarly, the friendly atmosphere helped his feet make the decision that his brain could not. The checkered designs on the walls were an interesting bit of décor, and the old-fashioned brown chairs and tables worked well with the saucy 80’s music playing from the radio. Each step closer to the counter caused the hair on his arms to bristle with anticipation. He clung desperately to the slip of green in his hand and made his way up to the cashier. Their eyes steadied towards each other and the words flew out of his mouth,

“I’ll have a hamburger with a side of fries please”.

“No problem boss, your order number is 96”.

He then meandered over to the open counter, not knowing that he was preparing to witness a spectacle.

From the open counter he watched as the potbellied chef pressed the pink meat up against the grill. The brown grease began to pop and jump as the meat slowly began to change colors. A splatter of droplets flew onto the chef’s apron as he forced the meat upon the grill, releasing thin clouds of steam and the loud hiss of evaporation. He watched as the golden throne was assembled and embellished with brightly colored vegetables and sauces. The raw potatoes were baptized in a well of boiling hot oil and seasoned with crimson pepper. His eye caught the beef, still bubbling with juice, being lowered delicately into the intrinsic region of the sandwich. His anticipation mounted to a peak when hearing the crinkle of a paper bag being unfolded and jarred open. The silver bundle was placed next to a mound of the tantalizing hors d'oeuvres. The chorus of Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds blared in the background as the chef waddled towards the counter with the payload. The aroma floated towards him and hit him like a swift punch to the nose. His anticipation was now at a breaking point, it was everything he could do to prevent it from boiling over. The world around him span in a dizzying spiral as his eyes honed in on the oil stained package that was approaching. In two swift steps he bounded to the counter. Without as much as a glance towards the cashier, he snatched the precious package out of his hands and scampered to the closest counter. Although he had never felt what true hunger was, this would be the closest he ever got to it. Tearing open the bag from the long side caused a pile of fries to tumble out. Like a treasure chest washing up upon the shore, the silver block tumbled out as well, half buried in the pile of antipastos. As he began to unwrap it, he could feel the perfect tenderness of the burger inside of the wrapping. Its scent pervaded so strongly through the air that he could almost taste it. It was truly a work of art. For a brief moment he paused to take in the sight. From each perfectly placed sesame seed to the tomatoes and the lettuce that stuck out ever so slightly, it was hard to believe that a chef could be crafting such delicate things for a living. The appreciation did not last long. He forced his mouth to open as wide as he could and welcomed it in. The first bite caused a numbing sensation. All the ingredients had come together to form that one bite melted and meshed so perfectly inside his mouth that he closed his eyes and allowed all his problems to be forgotten. Without his realization, the music had shifted to Freddie Mercury singing, Don’t Stop Me Now. Each bite, each action of his mouth was now out of his control, as he tried to savor each bite and hold back the urge to eat it as fast as he could. He felt like the passenger of a carriage endeavoring to rein in two excited horses. As soon as the burgers were gone, his hands flew towards the fries and began to gobble them up to maintain the level of ecstasy that he was feeling. As he watched the mound grow smaller and smaller, the rush began to die down. He had not noticed a strange ringing in his ears as he ate, but became conscious of it as it began to dim. The casual chatter of the restaurant came back to him, along with the familiar hissing noise. He stared wistfully at the last fry sitting in front of him, knowing that none of his problems had gone away. He got up slowly, his legs feeling like jelly beneath him, and walked out to the bus stop to await the next bus home.




Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!




Site Feedback