It took me a few moments to notice my Uber driver was Ronald McDonald. It was already dark out and I’d been waiting for a Uber for an hour now. I was trying to go to Monica’s house on a last-minute decision, but apparently, Ubers at one in the morning are near and far. So when I finally found a Uber driver I accepted, got my stuff ready, and hopped in the car no questions asked. So, to say I wasn’t exactly focused on my surroundings is an understatement, but the sound of KidzBop on the radio caught my ear. I looked up and at the first glance of that makeup, I knew it was Ronald. Once I got into the car his eyes glanced me up and down. Unlike his famous persona right now he seemed almost on edge, borderline unhinged. He tore his eyes away from me, but not even a moment later I felt his eyes watching me again. I glanced back to the rearview mirror and there he was obviously entranced by me. I became disturbed when he didn’t bother to look away this time. Even then, it was too awkward to stare back so I looked away. The car began to slow as he continued this awkwardness. We weren’t at my destination, why was he slowing down?

I prepared to hop out of the car and run like hell when he opened his mouth and said, “Are you happy?” His voice bellowed as his face turned completely toward mine in the rearview mirror. I stared back at him blankly, confused. We were sitting in this car for ten minutes, in pure silence, and now after some extended minutes of creepy stares, he asks me this? What even was this? A promotion for a happy meal from McDonald’s?

I replied, “Yes, I think so. Um, why do you suddenly ask?” I was hoping to gain some grasp on what exactly the situation I got myself into was before I hopped out of the car and had to wait on another Uber driver. At this point, the car pulled to a complete stop and his torso turned in the driver’s seat to turn completely toward me.

He continued, “You just seem to not be lovin’ life. I don’t know. Do you need someone to talk to?” Now, fully able to see him I noted a couple of things. First, the white of his clown makeup looked almost translucent in the moonlight. I wagered this was because after wearing it all day it was starting to come off, but the second thing I noted changed my mind. Here, I noticed the red makeup around his eyes was smudged and his eyes had a pink hue to them. I knew this look. I’ve been there and done that before. My posture loosened and my worry began to subside.

I replied, “I really don’t, but it looks like you do. Are you happy, Ronald?” Ronald looked taken aback by my question as his eyes wallowed and overflowed with tears. His tear drops sucked in every drip of makeup they could hold as they slid down his face.

He wept, “No one’s ever asked me that.” I could tell the answer by the look on his face, but I persisted.

Continuing, I said, “Well, are you?” Unlike before Ronald’s eyes wouldn’t meet mine and he turned from me as he began to drive again. We were still listening to KidzBop, but he decided to turn it off so we drove in silence just listening to the wheels of the car spin. I looked in the rearview at him and wondered how he could drive with that many tears in his eyes. When he noticed I looked away, but he still decided to turn the rearview mirror from him anyway. This silence persisted as we drove the last ten minutes of drive. He parked right in front of my friend’s house without a word. I began to gather all the things I brought with me and as I opened the car door to leave.

The lights in the car dinged on as I heard Ronald finally respond, “No. I am not happy.” I froze before getting out of the car, looking back at him. He wiped the tears off his face with his shirt and the remnants revealed a normal man. I sighed, poor guy.

I didn’t know how to respond and he noticed this so he continued, “I’m sorry I was surprised. No one’s ever asked me that before.”

I was surprised as I replied immediately, “No one’s ever asked you if you were happy before?”

He gave me an attempt at a smile and said, “No, so thank you for asking.”

I nodded and was about to retry asking if he was happy but he continued, “Anyway, don’t worry about it. Have fun at Monica’s house.” I nodded and begrudgingly hopped out of the car. The sympathy I had for this random Uber driver that just so happened to be Ronald McDonald was unfounded, but something in me truly wanted to help him. I wondered why I even cared and why I should care. I dragged my stuff across the sidewalk and up to Monica’s door. Dropping my stuff at the front door I prepared to knock on the door. That’s when I began to think about our conversation. As my fist hit the door and my hand vibrated against it I realized something. The last words Ronald said to me he mentioned Monica. How did he know Monica? And how did he know this was her house? I never said that. Breathless, yet somehow frozen in place my eyes widened. I melted my limbs and tried to regain the air in my lungs as I turned back towards where the car was slowly, but it was gone. Ronald was never here to begin with.



Respond to the following statement in a short answer response question format applying the below concept to each noun displayed by its individual letter.

The Concept: Humans vary from one to the next however they are simplistic at their core. This is observable through one human looking at another. You see, humans don’t perceive a person as a whole, but rather they focus on one major aspect of a person when they see or think of them. In some cases this could be their voice, their face, a memory, or just an aspect of their personality though, more often than not, this aspect is just their biggest fault. So, humans are not undefinable. They are not complex. They do not have many facets. They are just the simplest sum of their biggest fault.

Your Father:  The simplest sum of my father’s biggest fault was that he was an addict. I use past tense because he’s dead, an overdose. I was the one who found him. It’s been a little over a year since. I try to remind myself that an addict was not all he was because I could try and remember a time when I used to think of him fondly. I could try to remember those days when he’d do the little things like pick me up from school and ask me how my day was. I could even try to remember how I used to be able to say I loved him without following it with but. I refuse to though because that would require forgiving him and I won’t. How can I forgive a father who wasn’t a father? How can I forgive him for not putting me first? How can I forgive him for not thinking I was enough to live for even if there was nothing else left? So in spite of the pain, I do the opposite. I remember him as I saw him that day. I remember him lying there lifeless, the fault of no one else but himself. I remember his clammy body and clotted pale skin. I remember how his eyes went cold and how he was covered in his own sick. I remember the paramedics telling me he was gone and I remember watching it pour as I retreated to my mind forcing a thick red veil of resentment over every memory I ever had of him knowing he wouldn’t escape it. So, I will remember my father as an addict because he was the simplest sum of his biggest fault. That is all he is.

Your Mother: The simplest sum of my mother’s biggest fault is that she is ill. Both physically and mentally. The list of all her varying illnesses are relatively endless because when you think you’ve reached the end of the list another pops up, but I try to remember them so I can explain them when I attempt to apologize for her crass behavior when she tells me I’m worthless for the millionth time. This list includes anxiety, OCD, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, panic disorder, diabetes, neuropathy, high blood pressure, arthritis, and probably many more I’m forgetting. I do always remind myself of this though: The blood in her veins is pumping through the interworkings of pills. Her medical cabinet, for example, is full of hundreds of pills her doctors have played trial and error with trying to find one that will stick and make her “normal”. So I can’t blame her for her behavior because I know she’ll never be that. She rarely even has enough sobriety to be my mother. I couldn’t name a time when she wasn’t like this, unlike with my father, so this decision to remember my mother as her worse fault isn’t a choice. It’s all I’ve known from the age of four when I was taught how to handle her panic attacks to my now age twenty-one when I rush her to the hospital cause her chest pangs from a heart attack scare as I’m terrified I’ll lose her like I lost my father. She’s all I have left so I wish I could remember her as my mother, but I can’t remember what never was. Still, I try my damndest to love her as she is and hide all the deep scars I have on my heart that only a mother could fix because it’s not her fault she can’t. I can’t blame her for something that’s not her fault. Still, I will remember my mother as ill because she is the simplest sum of her biggest fault. That’s all she is.

You: The simplest sum of my biggest fault is that I am damaged. I’m the daughter of an addict and a severely ill person. It’s a mix that doesn’t bode well for anyone involved, especially not a child. One was intentionally neglectful the other was unintentionally neglectful. Both were hateful, but neither really meant to be. So now I’m a product of my environment. I’m overly independent because who can I trust when the two people I was supposed to trust most were never there? I’m also extremely pessimistic because how can something go right for me when everything has gone wrong since birth? Honestly, I couldn’t tell you a day when I wasn’t angry and full of rage or resentment. I also couldn’t tell you a day when I knew what to do with any or all of that. I’d love it if I could let all of this go but I can’t. It’s who I am. I’m just a champagne bottle waiting to be popped to see which one of three glasses I fall into. Each glass labeled based on who I’d turn out most like the options being my mother, father, or a toxic mix of both. I only hope for a fourth glass in that scenario that reads none. Yet still, I can only remember myself as damaged because I’m the simplest sum of my biggest fault. That’s all I am.



I was sixteen and had just gotten out of high school for the day. I stayed a bit later to help run lines for the school play Alice In Wonderland. I played the Queen. I called my Mom. No answer. I called my dad. No answer. This was a repeated process until all my friends and teachers left. I was about to start walking home from my school, but then I saw a car pull up.

I dialed my Mom one last time and finally, she answered, “Your uncle’s picking you up.” The black, grungy, F-150 emerged and my uncle’s face came into view from the driver’s seat. I hopped in the car and greeted him cordially, this was odd. I barely knew my Uncle, but here we were sitting alone in his unkempt car.

His breath reeked of old cigarettes as he said, “Your ma asked me to get ya. I think I’m supposed to take you home.” I nodded acknowledging the alcohol stains on his shirt as I quickly averted my gaze trying to pay it no mind. I wanted to be at home. I tried to focus on anything but my thoughts so I watched the ants march around the car like it was a paradise. My eyes glided over to the window as I realized we were finally turning into my neighborhood. A faint screeching played on repeat coming from deeper in the neighborhood, but I paid it no mind. I just adjusted myself in my seat anticipating to get out of the car and never having to ride with or see my Uncle again. The closer we got to my house though the more familiar the loud screech became. When my house came into view the flashing lights blinded me. My heart stopped. Police sirens.


About the Author

Mary McCall is a writer whose presently focusing on her college education. She is a senior at the College of Charleston and is well on her way to graduating with a degree in creative writing and two minors, studio art and theatre. 


Photo by  from Flickr