Starlight Starbright

08 – Time Stands Still

Chapter 08 – Time Stands Still

Not once for the rest of the day, did he think of Donna.

Not one time.

Okay - maybe it was actually an afterthought...

The turkey was everything Eric remembered and maybe more. The drippings were made into a hearty gravy and the cranberries melted on his tongue. He reveled that the mashed potatoes had tiny lumps and the green been casserole was perfect. His mother was the consummate cook. He really missed a home cooked meal. Having ate his fill, he had a second helping just to savor the flavor.

Jackie's side dish was okay - Eric supposed she was a decent cook since he hadn't gained weight or died from food poisoning in this life and she smiled when he spooned a portion on his plate. Little Farrah was busy cutting her food into tiny portions so no piece of meat touched a vegetable and no veggie touched the cranberries. The laughter and conversation left Eric homesick for younger days. Those happy days when Hyde would share the table and Laurie would be preparing the ultimate dinner burn and yet this wholesome family dinner was nearly just as sweet.

Eric wanted to remember this meal. This night. When he went to bed this evening, he wanted to take this memory with him.

The minivan was packed full of leftovers and presents and two very sleepy children. Jackie was still saying her goodbyes to Fez and Laurie when Eric remembered the answering machine message he heard yesterday from Bob Pinciotti. "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 walked up behind her and acting in a husbandly way, put his hands on her shoulders and whispered, "I'm going to tell Bob Merry Christmas….I'll be right back."

Jackie smiled and kissed his cheek. "Say hi from me and the kids too."

Nothing about the Pinciotti house had changed. Eric always thought that when Bob planned on moving to Florida that some nice couple would move in the place and fill it full of kids, but this house looked unlived in. Untouched by time. Uncared for.

He knocked on the kitchen door and a light flickered on. "Who is it?"

"Bob? It's me, Eric Forman."

There was a shuffling noise and the door opened on squeaky hinges. "Yeah? How ya doing Eric? Jackie and the kids with you?"

"Nah….Jackie's talking to my sister." That actually felt weird to say in a sentence!

The years hadn't been kind to Bob Pinciotti. He weighed more on the heavy side, still wore velour jogging suits and his wig was getting all Raggedy Ann looking. He waved his hand towards the living room, "C'mon in….Midgie's watching TV."

Midge was back with Bob? Did Donna know this and not tell him? Wait a minute….in the other Eric's life, the Pinciotti's were divorced. (Weren't they? Then what happened?) Eric walked through the doors into the old living room he was so familiar with. All the furnishings were the same, a little yellowed with age and the pictures were dusty, but it was just like stepping back in time.

Her voice was still soft. "Bob? Who is it?"

Bob moved around the front of the sofa and smiled gently at his wife. "Midge? You remember Eric? The Forman's boy?"

Cautiously. Slowly. Eric walked around the side of the sofa and sat down in the chair across from a sadly disfigured Midge Pinciotti. He looked at Bob for an answer. Bob cleared his throat and spoke to directly to Midge. "Yeah well, Midge….remember when you were on the beach working on your tan? And... and you didn't know these kids in a dune buggy were doing donuts in the sand. They ran over you twice and your leg got caught up in the undercarriage and well…." Bob turned to Eric, "You can see she came out…okay. I mean the doctors did everything they could…"

"I'm still pretty…right Bobbie?" Midge asked with a glazed expression.

Bob wiped a tear from his eye. "You're gorgeous baby." He said honestly. Eric could actually still see Midge's beauty through Bob's eyes. The plastic surgery didn't fix all the scars but made it easier for Midge to still see and speak. The prosthetic leg seemed real under the pantsuit. This was why Donna sent her mom an electric wheelchair! In this 1989 Christmas, Midge wasn't supposed to even be here was she? Donna should have said something…or would she have kept this to herself?

Eric didn't know anymore.

He stood up and gently touched Midge's hand. "Merry Christmas… ."

She slowly turned her head and smiled. "You too Eddie."

"Eric." He corrected.

Midge smiled, "Ernie. Tell your mother I liked her cookies. Bye bye."

Bob followed Eric into the kitchen. He got as far as the door and turned, "I'm sorry Bob." I didn't know!

Bob snuffled and wiped his nose with the back of his hand, "Its okay. All you kids are grown with your own families and stuff. It's just nice that Donna drops by once in a while."

"Yeah….about that….next time Donna drops by….tell her I'd like to come visit too."

Bob smiled. "Eric, she was here last week. I thought you knew."

Eric wanted to say that last week, Donna was in Tibet interviewing Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, after he received his Nobel Prize for Tibetan advocacy in and outside of Tibet. There was a collect phone call on his Chicago telephone bill to prove that. But in this dream world it wouldn't really matter would it?

Eric shook hands with Bob Pinciotti and felt like he was saying goodbye. "Have a great New Year."

"Righty-O Eric. You do the same."

Eric was sitting on the side of the bed while Jackie was helping Ben out of the tub. He could hear giggles and shushing of "...Harry's trying to sleep..." and splashing. In his 48 hours in this world, Eric decided that it wasn't so horrible. Getting used to seeing his parents and sister was a shocker. That Laurie married Fez seemed natural and little Farrah wasn't an Oompa Loompa at all – just a dark skinned younger Laurie.

The two little trolls were actually great kids and his mother adored them in a way that made Eric feel a bit jealous of his younger self. But the real bombshell was finding out that Jack and Pam Burkhart were his in-laws. What was that going to be like when this family got together? There was a sway on the mattress as someone climbed onto the bed and then strong fingers were squeezing the muscles of his shoulders and God that felt so good. A soft cheek touched his. "You've been quiet all evening….everything okay?"

He nodded. "Tis the season I guess. Little bit of melancholy for the old days."

Jackie pulled him backwards on the mattress and lay beside him so their heads were touching. "I don't miss the old days….they are in the past for a reason."

Eric turned his face and looked at those pretty eyes. She really was beautiful. "And that's...why do you think that?"

Jackie smiled, "Because we grew up. If we lived in the past, we wouldn't have all the wonderful things we have now."

Eric could only think about his penthouse and sweet office and the byline on his articles for the newspaper. That bottle of wine he drank all by himself on New Year's Eve. Those were wonderful things too!

Jackie continued talking. "….and then Laurie wouldn't have come back from Canada and we wouldn't have gotten this house."

Eric turned his head totally missing the beginning of that conversation. "So you're saying that we are happy?"

She pressed the back of her hand to his cheek, "Yes, and you are the best husband and father in the world." Jackie rolled to a sitting position. "I'm going to lock up. Say good night to the boys okay?"

Eric walked softly into Ben's room to see the little boy hiding under a blanket with a flashlight turned on. That was totally an Eric Forman thing to do. He carefully pulled back the makeshift tent and said, "May I come in?"

Ben regarded Eric with a curious expression. "You don't act like my daddy. Do you know when he's coming home?"

Eric perched his leg on the side of the bed, "What makes you say that?"

Ben aimed the flashlight at Eric's face. "You miss your part-ment more than me – I can tell cuz I'm almost five. You talk to Harry more than me."

Eric wasn't aware he was going to be interrogated by a preschooler and it was a bit intimidating. "Well Ben….I guess I'm going to need your help. What do I have to do to be more like your dad?"

Ben pressed a finger on his fat little bottom lip and sighed, "You need to laugh more. Daddy is always funny and laughs a lot."

Eric regarded the wise words and realized somewhere along the road, he lost his sense of humor. His head was always pre-writing an article or thinking about the next and humor took a back seat to everything else. "Tell you what Ben. How about tomorrow or sometime this weekend, we watch….Gilligan's Island together."

Ben whispered, "You said that one day I could see Star Wars."

Eric couldn't help it. He started laughing. This kid truly was a Forman through and through. "Kiddo, that's a promise. I can explain everything to you and we'll have a good time okay?"

Ben pulled the blanket off his head. "You never break promises right daddy?"

Eric ruffled the dark brown hair. "That's right Obi-Wan….we don't break promises…ever."

Eric wanted to remember this moment. This night. When he went to bed this evening, he wanted to take this memory of Star Wars and Ben with him when he woke.

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