Starlight Starbright

05 - Time to Leave

Chapter 05 – Time to Leave

It was a short drive from Point Place to Chicago. Eric parked at the curb and pocketed the keys. The building was familiar and inviting – a far cry from the chaos that he woke up to! He quickly strolled across the expansive lobby and slapped at the UP button for the elevator. The door swished open quietly and Eric stepped inside just smelling the clean carpeting that he knew was shampooed every Tuesday morning.

The bell dinged for the 30th floor and he stepped out and right in front of him was apartment 3012B. That special place where he and Donna made history and memories – just a few steps away. Reaching into his pocket, Eric realized he didn't have the key to the front door! Damn. Then he had an *Aha* moment. Donna always kept a spare under the neighbor's fake palm and it was inside a plastic looking rock.

Smiling at his good fortune, Eric retrieved the key and unlocked the door to his home. Only when he stepped in the foyer, it wasn't anything like he remembered at all. It was Donna everywhere: pictures of her successes, photos with politicians, snapshots of her standing with the President accepting an award.

Eric strode to the bedroom which had been painted a light shade of green and there were horrible looking drapes covering his favorite window. This was a woman's room and nothing in here indicated that it was Eric's home.

The message light on the answering machine was blinking so Eric clicked the play button and fell back on the mattress. "Hello pumpkin! This is your old man, we just wanted to say thanks for the electric wheelchair….your mom really appreciates it. Call us! Love you!"

Eric pondered the word "wheelchair" before the next message played.

"Hey D. This is Carter. Are we still on for Saturday? I have tickets for backstage at the new premiere and Meryl Streep said she would only give an interview to you! Get back to me stat!"

Carter? Who the hell was Carter?

"Donna? This is Senator Dubois….Charles and I would like to invite you and Carter to our New Years Eve party. Call me back dear!"

This was Donna's life. This was Donna's penthouse. This was the brass ring that Donna had sought to achieve. This life had no Eric Forman in it.

As he walked around the bedroom, there was no indication that Eric was a part of her past or future. He thought about the day almost ten years ago when he came home from Africa.

"There is no us. You broke up with me in a letter! Do you really think I'm going to let you back into my life that easily? There's going to be some groveling Eric. Some really serious groveling while I think about it."

"There never was an… us….was there Donna?" Eric said to the empty room. He walked over to his beloved plate glass window, pulled aside the hideous drapery and looked down over a snow-clad Chicago street. For all of his big achievements, Donna had been there. For Donna's huge moments…Eric was there.

It was them.

Only them.

Now it seemed to never have happened.

Well, at least he still had his hair!

Eric probably broke the speed limit driving back to Point Place. He didn't go back to Jackie right away because frankly, he forgot where that house was. Instead, he drove to City Hall with 15 minutes left before the offices closed early for the holiday. At the waist high worn wood counter, he leaned on his elbows and dinged the desk bell impatiently.

A harried and haggard old woman was tugging on a raggedy sweater as she approached the counter. "We're closed." She snarled. Could have been an Edna Hyde lookalike!

Eric pointed to the sign on the desk. "No you're not. I still have 15…12 minutes left."

She rolled her eyes. "Waddaya want?"

"Mr. Forman? Eric Forman?" A male voice said from the shadows of the dusty old office.

Eric squinted. "I'm sorry… I know you?"

The dark haired man in a corduroy jacket strolled to the counter with his arm extended. "Larry. Larry Bosc – from high school. We were in AV together."

Eric's memory of that elective class was sort of hazy as was most of 1977 but he politely replied., "Nice to see you Larry."

Larry smiled. "Pleasure is mine actually. Minnie is in your class."

Eric frowned. "What class?"

The other man laughed. "Your third glade class man. You got Teacher of the Tear award last spring. Minnie's my daughter."

Eric scrubbed his face, 'I'm sorry. Yes, Minnie! Lovely little girl" Who the hell was Minnie and he was a teacher? "All the kids are great."

"So, what can I help you with?"

Eric was struck. Why was he here? Think Eric think! The *Aha* moment came back, "Wedding license. I keep forgetting the date and if you knew who I was married to…"

Larry smiled, "Oh, Jackie…man you got lucky there. She's great. So you need a copy of your license? Anything else?"

Well, for starters, getting the marriage license would explain a lot but those kids…."Birth Certificates?"

Grinning, Larry nodded. "Little Ben….he's gonna be a lady killer when he gets older. I'll be right back."

Eric watched the jacketed city worker disappear into the depths of file cabinets. So it was implied that marrying Jackie Burkhart had been a good thing? Was this some sort of hell and what did he do to get here? Shit, how was he going to pay for this?

The jacket swung against his ribcage and it turned out this was where the new Eric kept his wallet. He opened the Ralph Lauren worn leather and found a current driver's license. "Oh, I live in Point Place Heights….didn't see that happening." He muttered to the nearly empty room.

There was a Visa card, $30 in various bills and some pictures. The first one he pulled out was a family photo. His arm was around Jackie's waist as she held a blue blanket in her arms and his other hand was on the head of what must have been the Ben child. At least he looked happy in this picture.

A second picture was at a bowling alley and the Leaderboard was showing a perfect score of 300 and this smiling Eric had a trophy in his hand. Wait… was that Kelso wearing bowling shoes? A bowling trophy?

"Okay, that's going to be ten for the license and five each for the birth certificates. Twenty dollars cash or check."

Roused from his reverie, Eric pulled out a couple of bills from the wallet. "Thanks man. I appreciate it."

The old clerk in the tattered sweater shouted, "Leave so we can go, would ya?"

Eric sat in the car and scoured the documents. According to the first one, he and Jackie got married in 1985. What the hell was he doing in 1985? Oh yeah... that was the year he and Donna moved to Chicago and he got the mailroom job at the Sun Times. However, here, in this Point Place version of him, he was marrying Jackie Burkhart. It seems like Michael and Brooke Kelso were witnesses. What a hoot.

He held up the first birth certificate. Looks like little Benjamin Albert Forman was born ten months later. Wow, that meant he actually had sex in 1985…go figure! The second certificate was Harrison Jackson Forman born just last year…that meant he was almost two years old.

It was sobering to think that this version of himself was having relations on a regular basis and when he woke up, he would tell Donna he needed sex and often or he was going to start going bald!

The sun was going down on this cloudy Christmas Eve…shit! It was Christmas Eve. Eric pulled the driver's license out again to get the street address and he needed to get back. But wait….Jackie thought he was getting her a present. Damn! Eric thumped the steering wheel and drove towards a strip mall just outside of town. He needed ideas and fast!

Eric parked in the drive and all the lights were on in the 3 bedroom bungalow. He turned off the ignition and sighed. What was going to happen and if he went to sleep now, would he wake up in his penthouse bedroom? This had to be a bad dream. It had too, because when in his life would he ever have married Jackie, of all people? Much less have children with her?

He sighed and turned off the ignition. Best to get this over and end the nightmare. Eric collected the gift wrapped package from the back of the Z and carried it under his arm to the front door. Did he knock at something that was supposed to be his own house? Before he could ponder an answer, the door was flung open and a midget in a tank top and sweatpants was standing in the doorway with a baseball bat.

"You better have a good explanation for making me worry about you Mr. Forman!" she fumed. "Uncle Fez had to take your kids to see Santa Claus because you were gone all day!"

Uncle Fez? What the hell? It was just at that moment that Jackie saw a present under his arm. Her face melted and she just looked so darn pretty. "You went shopping for me!" The baseball bat was dropped and she wrapped both arms around his neck giving Eric one of the sweetest kisses he could ever remember.

She nibbled on his ear creating a shiver down his spine as she whispered, "The kids are gone and we're all alone….are you feeling….frisky?"

There was no bra under his hands and she barely weighed anything and those warms curves pressed against his body…..frisky was not even close to how he was feeling right now!

"Lead the way…milady."

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