The Things We Leave Behind

Eric was a forgetful kid, always had been and seemed always would be.  It drove his parents crazy, especially his father who was an organized man and took responsibility very seriously.  Truly Eric’s father knew the importance of learning to look after your things.  Eric was lucky though he didn’t grow up like his dad, when rivets substituted for Army Men toys, and got taken away when one sister ate one.  No Eric was lucky to live in a family where his parents afforded him so much opportunity and many great toys.  In fact they were currently on their biggest opportunity a family trip to California and Disney.  Eric didn’t want to wreck it by forgetting something again.

It was with this in mind that Eric looked out the window of the rental car as they started to pull out of the parking lot and down the road.  His blonde bowl cut hair trying to hide his face as he started to tear up.  He sat in the back seat for a second looking at his parents as they talked while driving in the night.  They were leaving Disney for a day or two and going to San Diego.  They had just finished a nice meal but were in an area they didn’t know well.  But now Eric watched and realized he would have to break the peace of a nice family vacation.  He looked over at his sister who had already clued in something was wrong, she stared back trying to read his mind.  Probably to rat him out, Eric thought to himself.

Finally he couldn’t hold it in anymore, and he started to sob. His mother turned to find out what all the commotion was.

“Eric, what is wrong.”

“I can’t find my hip-sack.” Eric mumbled through tears and a now running nose.  He was crying because he liked the hip-sack and because he knew his father would be pissed.

“For god’s sake, you would forget your damn head if it weren’t attached, and even still I worry.” his father roared as the lecture started.

Eric’s Mom put her hand on Eric’s father’s shoulder to calm him, it was vacation.  Eric tried to bury himself into the smallest corner of the seat so no one could see him.  He choked back tears, not particularly quietly, and rubbed the snot from his nose with his sleeve.  He knew this wouldn’t sit well, and his father was right.  They had given him a house key as a way to teach him responsibility but he quickly lost that.  So they gave him another, tied a neon green skate lace to it to make a necklace, in hopes he wouldn’t lose that.  It hadn’t taken him long to disappoint them.  He lost toys, he lost everything.  Now he sat in the car recalling how many times he let his father down and feeling stupid.

Eric’s father flipped the car around in a jerky motion, that only comes with bubbling frustration, and rammed the gas pedal down, headed back to the place they had dinner.  Eric’s parents discussed getting a hotel where they were but his father made it very clear this was not a safe neighbourhood for them and they didn’t want to get stuck in traffic in the morning.  They got back to the restaurant and Eric’s dad headed in to retrieve another thing Eric had lost.

Eric’s father came back, opened the car door and tossed the hip-sack into Eric’s lap.  Through the blur of tears, Eric saw the black hip-sack land in front of him.  The Ninja Turtles stared back at him on the front, he opened the red flap to see if anything was missing and it wasn’t.   He forced the corners of his mouth into a bit of a smile against their will and sheepishly looked up at his father.

“Thanks, Dad.”  He sobbed.

His father didn’t speak, he smiled at Eric reached into the back seat and rubbed the top of his head.  His father would drive late into the night to get them to their destination but all Eric would remember is forgetting his hip sack and his Dad letting it go so Eric could continue to enjoy his vacation.