‘I feel so awkward doing it yet again, but, good evening sunshine!’
Wonderful. I was awoken from my peaceful slumber yet again. This time it was easier to open my eyes. The lights were dimmed and it was dark outside.
‘What is it, Jack?’
I watched as Jack balanced two trays with food in his hand. It was sort of hilarious to see really. His curly hair fell over his eyes and I had trouble not adoring him at that moment. He had been so kind, so sweet. I hardly remembered people like that existed. He would’ve loved dad. He had the same kind of innocent sweetness. It fit them, I supposed. Not broken, not lost, just happy to help. To be around. To love. A loud bang startled me out of my reverie, and perhaps for the best.
‘There you go.’
Jack had pulled out a small table and shoved it to my bedside, next to my good hand. I looked at the tray and tried my best not to gasp in horror. Hospital food. The soggy rice and chicken. Ugh. I took a bite anyway, only because Jack looked so triumphant, having managed two trays of food.
‘Hospital food, eh. I like the diner better.’
‘Yeah, me too. Though I don’t want a repetition of the milkshake fiasco.’
‘We should take Jack there, he’d like it.’
‘He doesn’t do stuff like that often enough, neither do you. Julie, you two need to start enjoying life. I know it has it’s bad sides, but don’t let that cast a shadow over the good things.’
‘Appreciate the small things in life, right?’
‘Yes. I for one am glad that I met you, even under these circumstances.’
‘Why are you glad you met me, Jack?’
‘I don’t know Jules, I don’t have an explanation for everything. I just know that I like you, and Liam for that matter.’
‘Well I’m glad you’re here. We needed someone to help. I needed someone.’
‘You were doing pretty okay, right?’
‘I guess. In some ways. I mean, I only realize now how much I screwed up.’
‘You didn’t screw up. You just wanted to do it differently.’
‘No, I did screw up. I got my priorities all wrong.’
I hadn’t realized how much it actually bothered me that I had made such big mistakes. I had been too busy with making it right. I hadn’t paid attention to the full problem. I know I couldn’t turn back time, nor change anything for that matter. But I couldn’t help but let it bother me.
‘Don’t feel guilty. It won’t help you. Look at the future. Enjoy the future.’
‘I’m not sure I can forget the past.’
‘You don’t have to, it’s just, you should let it go. Move on with life.’
‘I know. It’s hard.’
‘It’s not easy, honestly I have trouble with it too.’
‘What happened that you have so much trouble letting go?’
The mood shifted and our half-eaten meals were left untouched, forgotten. I could almost see how a weight settled over Jack’s shoulders and I couldn’t help but wonder. The amazing and kind man had vanished, making place for someone broken. Someone with a dark weight, making life impossible.
‘Jack? A-are you okay?’
‘Yes. I’m fine. I don’t want to talk about it.’
I felt awkward all of the sudden. As if I was imposing on something very personal. I shifted the fork through my food. Back and forth. Jack was silent. Lost in thought. I observed him. His usually bright eyes looked dull and his shoulders were hunched. As if the weight of the world had settled on him, weighing him down physically. I shuddered. What could’ve happened that made this man feel so miserable? I had a bad feeling about it, that was for sure. I couldn’t force him to talk though. Even if I wanted to, I wasn’t even sure I wanted too. It seemed, well, bad.
‘If you ever want to talk, you know you can talk to me, right?’
‘Yeah. I just. I won’t.’
I felt my eyelids grow heavy again. No, this was not the time to sleep, damn it. I didn’t want to sleep. I wanted to be there for Jack. I wanted to. What did I want? What did I want to do? I didn’t know. Sleep had already settled in my mind and no matter how much I fought it my eyes kept closing.
‘Sleep, Julie. You need it.’