I didn't know if it was because of Jack or if it was because of my father why I couldn't sleep last night. Terri had gone to work a night shift so I felt free to toss and turn as much as I wanted to. What was I doing? Why was I so restless and resentful? Why couldn't I pull myself together? If the Janet I was five years ago met Janet now, I don't think she would know her. The old Janet was much stronger than the Janet I had become. I was more angry than sad about that revelation which was good because I don't want to cry.
I did, however, choose to get up. I was going to get up and go to the kitchen to get myself a glass of water. My mouth was kind of dry and I thought a menial task would get my mind off myself if only for a few seconds. I walked quietly so as not to disturb my father or Jack, the two people I was partially holding responsible for why I was feeling the way I was feeling. My stomach sank as I realized my father had beaten me to the kitchen. He was at the table with a tall glass of milk. Shit, his ulcer is acting up. Money says it's my fault.
"Are you all right, dad?" I asked as I sat down next to him.
"Yeah," he says as he takes a gulp of his milk. "Just my ulcer acting up."
"I'm sorry," I said.
"Janet, are you unhappy?"
"No," I replied. I felt a little attacked by that question.
"Is Jack giving you any trouble?"
"You sure seem concerned about him. The way you tried to protect him today."
"Well, I was suspicious about Doreen. I guess I do get protective at times, he is my friend and I just want what's best for him."
"Do you love him?"
"As a friend, only."
"You sure about that?"
"Look," my father said as he took my hand in his. "I have forgiven you guys about pretending to be married a few years ago and I do think that Jack deep down is a good man, but…"
"Janet, you can't spend your life trying to save him. Jack is going to be Jack and you are going to lose yourself trying to do that. It's been going on eight years that you two have been living together and honey, if nothing more comes out of this by now, nothing will."
The tears I didn't want to shed started to flow freely. My father was right: I was never going to save Jack. Who was I doing that for anyway. Me. I was doing it for me. God, how could I be so selfish?
"Baby," Dad said as he took my face in his hands. "I'm not saying you two shouldn't be friends, and I'm not saying Jack doesn't care about you, but you can't lose yourself to a man like that. Promise me you'll learn to be more protective of Janet."
"Good," Dad said as he kissed me. "You're a good girl."
"Thanks, Daddy," I said as I hugged my father. He was right. Janet needed to take care of Janet. I will forever be thankful for my father's words.