Starlight Starbright

02 – Time Marches On

Chapter 02 – Time Marches On

Eric easily got his job back at Price-Mart and within weeks of some working overtime and several part-time jobs, he finally had accumulated enough money to pay for his first year tuition and wouldn't have to worry (much) about expenses. At least until the second year started.

Donna sent a letter or postcard every week telling Eric what to expect and coaching him on the professors he would most likely encounter. Telephone calls were a bit of bad timing and the result of Donna's living in the dorm. That was okay, Eric had postcards to hold on to. He was really looking forward to his first year of school. Only this time, he had to pay for the privilege of an education….why oh why didn't he take high school more seriously?


Eric graduated from Madison one year behind Donna with an associate's degree in Basic Education. After conferring to the school mentors, he couldn't decide whether he wanted to be a journalist or a teacher so he mastered the basic courses with honors….Eric's future was wide open.

Red and Kitty drove up to Madison and proudly took their son out to dinner. Red uttered something about Eric finally doing something good with his life and then came the unexpected question: "So when are you two getting married?"

Forks clattered on plates and Donna's napkin fluttered to the floor. "Well, umm…we hadn't….Eric, tell your folks about that plan."

That marriage ball had just been tossed into Eric's lap. "Hey! Well, marriage. I guess we still have to plan that one out…you know, since the first one didn't go so well." He laughed slightly and choked on a cough. "Donna – tell Mom about our new apartment!"

The ball was lobbed nicely back into Donna's court. She fussed with her glass of tea before looking into an expectant Kitty's face. "We're going to live together."

Red choked on his roast beef and Kitty gasped. "That's a sin!"

Eric explained, "Well no mom – it's not – really. We've already slept together so we know how that works…."

Red frowned, "Son….you two are doing this bass-ackwards! First, you get a good job, get engaged and then married. Not like this."

Kitty nodded and took a big swig of her Bloody Mary. She whispered, "I don't want my grandchildren to be….bastards!"

Donna laughed, "Oh Mrs. Forman, don't worry….there's not going to be any grand-kids for a long time. I mean, we have our degrees and the whole future ahead of us."

Eric agree, "Yeah mom. That would mean we would have to have s-e-x first."

That was the last time Donna had dinner with Eric and his parents.


1985

Donna's success far surpassed anything she could have dreamt of. A satellite office of Rolling Stone magazine contacted her with a job offer. The pay was abysmal at best, but the prestige of working for THIS magazine outweighed all the cons. Nevertheless, Eric helped pack up all their belongings and the couple moved to Chicago.

Eric got hired at the Chicago Sun Times in the mailroom and worked his way up the journalist ladder until a couple of publishers actually took interest in his writing. He wrote a short editorial about garbage problems in the suburbs actually bringing neighborhoods closer together. It wasn't a Nobel Prize winning piece, but Donna did frame the article and hung it on the bedroom wall.

His best professional moment.

1987

This was a banner year for Donna. She had just came back from a press junket with the Scorpions, documenting their European road shoe and an editor from the New York Times personally called her for a special assignment.

Donna was sitting in the chair at their favorite table in the little bistro a block from the apartment. She hadn't seen Eric in two weeks and now she would be leaving again for a month but for a cause she desperately believed in. She would write this story and this was going to be her golden ticket.

Eric pressed a kiss to her cheek and slid into the chair across from the beautiful blonde. "Great road show milady?"

She blushed at the corny old compliment but looked at Eric with shining eyes. "Let's say I'm not the biggest fan of their music but it was an….interesting tour. My article will come out in Sundays' paper, but that's not why I'm excited."

Eric leaned back in his chair and studied her face. She was excited. More than he had ever remembered seeing Donna…even more than graduating college. "So tell me what's going on?

Donna started by telling Eric that the Times was sending her to Kathmandu to write an article about Durga Ghimire and ABC Nepal and her fight for women's rights and human trafficking in Nepal. As Donna explained about the first ever organization to raise the issue of trafficking little girls into slavery, Eric could only look at her with a blank expression on his face.

"I think I heard you gargle and talk about tickets…." He said dumbly, "….but you need to explain it. Is ABC the television station?"

Donna laughed. "No Eric. Nepal has been exploiting the poor families and using the young girls to work in circuses, selling their kidneys…sending them out to be slaves in places like India." She covered his hand and she felt compelled to sell this story. "Duga works for a non profit non government organization that is focusing on the rights of women. ABC Nepal stands for Agroforestry, Basic Health and a Cooperative Nepal, This is ground breaking and you know how I feel about women's rights…"

Eric admired her dedication and yes, she was a feminist through and through. "So how many days will you be gone?"

She sipped some of her lemon flavored water. "Just a month." She replied casually, "I'm leaving tomorrow."

Eric almost choked. His voice got tight. "Tomorrow? You just got back! When were we going to spend time together?"

Donna smiled sadly. "Eric, look at this from my point of view. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it's for the New York Times. My dreams….our dreams are being realized."

"Well yeah….your brass ring…I get that…" and suddenly he felt selfish and stupid for standing in the way of her dreams. Instead of veering off into a lover's type argument, he simply smiled and said, "Don't drink the water."

Donna laughed and laughed louder, leaning over the table to kiss his lips. "Thank you Eric. You are the perfect boyfriend."

1988

Eric finally made it to the big times. He was a copy editor for the Chicago Sun Times, with his own office (no window) but a key to the manager's bathroom which was just as sweet! His days were busy, he had his own assistant and the money was good.

Donna had all the accolades and she was wanted professionally but practically every big magazine or newspaper. The incentives that came with this kind of celebrity were insidious. The penthouse was a perk and Eric loved living above the city in the sparsely furnished palace. The bedroom was the most decorated room since due to Donna's expansive schedule; they basically slept in the apartment and ate at restaurants in the city.

This was Eric's dream since high school: living the high life - dressing in nice clothes. Finally having things available to him that he could only dream of. Actually owning a piece of a Star Wars movie prop. It was almost obscene that he could point at something and say, "I'll buy it."

He was NOT his father. They were NOT his parents. It was Donna and Eric – two highly paid yuppies. A new term coined for Young Urban Professionals. Yuppy – far better than being call a dumbass!


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