I never thought I would be so pleased to hear a series of words fall out of Boris Johnsons mouth. The moment he announced that latest tests have shown that enough of the population had been exposed to COVID-19, and we could finally lift the majority of social bans.
I’d been asked to come out of my career change and assist in the Great North Children’s Hospital. I’d left nursing 12 months prior to the outbreak to start training in general medicine. I’d wanted to move into studying to become a doctor years ago, but I had my first son, Alfie, and this delayed studies somewhat. I’d done nursing as my mother was a nurse before me, and I felt that was my path. However, I’d always dreamed of doing my degree in medicine, and I built up the courage to do it when Alfie turned 10.
Before this whole madness had erupted, I had become exceptionally close to a woman on my course. My first marriage to Pru, ended when Alfie was 6 and my daughter, Grace, was 4. Pru and I remained friends to a degree for the children. We were your typical lesbians that got so absorbed in each other during the first 5 minutes of our relationship that we snowballed into marriage within the first year. I do agree, that sometimes you just know, but also sometimes your hormones make stupid decisions. Looking back my hormones were calling all the shots, disobeying my head and my heart. Lust got us through the first few years of our marriage, then the children took over.
I met Ruby on day 2 of our course, and we clicked. It wasn’t that friendship click you have, it was something else. Being around her was like being wrapped in a warm blanket, I felt safe and words flowed out of my mouth with ease. I wasn’t holding back and I felt like I could tell her anything. I just wanted to be around her all the time. We would meet just before lectures and then we would stay behind for a drink after the day finished up.
When we were both put on placement, we were placed in different wards and placements were so intense around the study that we barely saw each other. I also had Alfie and Grace 50% of the time. So on the weeks I had them both, it was very tricky to see Ruby. I missed her, I think that’s when it started to dawn on me that I liked her more than a friend. It was like an ache, an ache to be in her energy, and to feel wrapped up in that warm hug. We would text a lot, but I just missed being around her. Which in itself sounds like an hormonal pull, but it was way more than that.
Ruby almost exuded sunlight from her pores; her love and care for other peoples wellbeing was almost at the detriment to her own. Her longing to be accepted sometimes meant that she blurred the lines of who she was and who she was for other people. She was often misunderstood, especially with her adventurous spirit which struggled to burst out from the confines of her broken soul. There were so many tiny shards that needed piecing back together, and I could see that the affection of others was what she felt helped glue them back to who she previously was.
It was this that held me back from ever saying anything at all. Would I just be a bit of glue helping to keep a couple of shards together? I didn’t want to be that. How did you know the difference? All I knew was that I wanted her to see her own beauty and not mould it into others fantasies, and instead know that who she was truly was enough.
I’d not seen Ruby for a few months, we had decided to catch up one evening for a glass of wine during a week I did not have Alfie or Grace. When she walked in I felt myself unravel, like every nerve ending was so alive that their messages were crossing over and my thoughts were bouncing around my brain like erratic children after too many additives.
Her lips curled as we made eye contact, and I melted into her olive eyes. She raised an eyebrow and stuttered over her words. I could always feel her attraction to me, like something that needed to be computed and filed. However, 3 glasses of wine in and I sensed the tension go as she relaxed into me. I remember around 2 am as she leant in to tell me something how our lips grazed and merged into the slowest and most explosive wine tasting kiss. She looked confused as she pulled away.
‘What is happening here Ruby?’ I looked at her as she pulled away with her brow furrowed and struggling to make eye contact with me.
‘I… I’m not sure. I don’t really know how we ended up kissing, I think I am just drunk. It doesn’t mean anything,’ she looked at the ground the whole time she spoke.
She then made her excuses and left. I received a simple text a few days later asking not to see me, and that she was sorry for blurring the line between friends and something more. I did not see her or hear from her again.
I was surprised when two days after Boris’s announcement when I heard a knock on the door. It was a day where I didn’t have Alfie and Grace, and I paused at the washing up bowl wondering if I had a delivery I had forgotten about. I dried the suds from my hands and I walked to the front door. My heart lurched to my throat when I saw her olive eyes glance up from beneath her scorched and tangled hair, the wind whipping it across her face. I was stunned into silence.
‘Are you going to invite me in?’ She awkwardly maintained eye contact with a slight quiver at the edge of her lips.
I nodded and opened the door further ajar as she walked past me, the energy from her soaked through my pores and jolted my chest. I shut the door behind her and lead her to the kitchen. I continued to wash my dishes, and she made idle chit chat about her day. Her voice soothed me, and I didn’t care about anything else other than her explaining the weather nervously and masking all the things she really wanted to say. I didn’t ask why she was here, part of me was too afraid to ask and the other part of me just wanted her to stay right there. We didn’t even need to say anything at all.
Alfie’s small football was on the cream tiled floor of the kitchen and Ruby nervously stated to play with it. We were both soon throwing the ball to each other in the kitchen, before sitting on the kitchen floor throwing the ball back and forth while we mindlessly chatted about the madness of the last few months. We then started to keep score on a game of catch, laughing, longing, and just taking in the moment.
Ruby reached out and pulled at my foot, moving me closer to her before stopping herself. I looked up at her, unsure why she had stopped herself, and then I gently took her foot and pulled her to me, her legs wrapped around my waist and our mouths painfully close. She looked down, suddenly fearing the power of our eyes meeting and I lightly took her chin to bring her face up to mine.
I leant in and brushed her lips with mine, she closed her eyes and moved her lips slowly to mine before they parted and her warmth consumed my mouth, her tongue playfully exploring as my chest constricted and flecks of light filled the darkness of my closed eyes. I could smell the musk of her neck mixed with her body spray, and my senses were becoming overcome as she placed her hand on the back of my head and pushed it closer to hers, our kiss now exploding and becoming more breathless.
Her other arm was wrapped around my back and pulling me closer, as if our bodies were going to mesh together as one. My hand slid around her pulling her closer, small moans were falling out of Ruby’s mouth and I felt as though my head was about to explode. I pulled away breathless and looked at her flushed cheeks.
‘I don’t understand what is happening here,’ my body was enraged that I had stopped the physical decadence that was taking over.
She took my hands and our fingers entwined. She kept looking at the floor, a few times her mouth opened to speak and would stop herself. The whole time she played with my fingers, my senses were alight and a fire was raging in the pit of my stomach.
‘I don’t really understand what is happening either. I just really wanted to see you, and then suddenly you didn’t feel close enough. Then next thing we were kissing and I didn’t want it to stop,’ her eyes were glued to the floor.
I caressed her cheek, and gently tipped her chin to bring her eyes to mine. This time she held my gaze. Her eyes glistened with the tears that caught the lights from the ceiling.
‘I really missed you,’ she leant in and started to kiss me again.
I pulled away. ‘I really missed you too. But I don’t think you’re ready for this. I have two children, we are both studying medicine and I don’t think you still know who you really are. Even though I sense you feel safe enough to open up to me, there are still pieces you hold back and I will never be sure if that’s because you still have not accepted yourself for who you are or if I am not ‘the person’ you feel comfortable enough to be fully yourself around. I can’t be with someone with that doubt in my mind, and you’re not someone I can ‘fool around with’ or be a ‘superficial’ friend. I see too much potential in you, I can see what we can be and anything less than that isn’t enough for me,’ I stood up and took her hand. I swear if my hormones could have staged a walk out of my body right there and then they would have.
She looked confused, and as she stood up she rearranged her clothes and smoothed her hair, and I continued.
‘I just feel like you are too incredible a human being, the way we feel around each other and the comfort I feel around you – it’s just too good to be true. I feel like I am the luckiest woman alive when I am around you. However, your reluctance to fully let yourself go around me is just feeding into my insecurities and as much as I feel like I don’t deserve the amazingness that you are; I also don’t deserve to feel unlovable and have my insecurities unearthed. That’s not your fault, that’s mine for not being more self-loving. Until you know exactly what you want, and exactly how I fit into your life, well, you have to leave.’
‘Do you know the courage it took to come here? The way my heart pounded when I walked up to the door and the risk of looking like a total idiot? The fact I got to your door twice and walked away just in case you had another woman in here? I tore myself apart walking here. And no, it wasn’t fear of seeing you again on the course and worrying about it being awkward, and it wasn’t even that I ‘need’ someone right now. I missed you, I completely and utterly felt a physical anguish, and just fucking missed you. Do I really need to explain it in any other terms than that? When I was here with you, all I wanted to do was be physically closer than we were. I am not leaving, because I came here for a reason. Nothing in life is full of any certainty or guarantee, but I know you feel like my best friend and I know that I connect to you in a way I’ve not experienced before. I just want to know what that is… and there is only one way I will truly know. Now get the fuck over yourself and kiss me for fuck’s sake.’
I pulled her head to mine and our mouths found each other again, as we crashed on the front room carpet my hormones no longer decided to stage a protest and stayed exactly where they were.