The first time she realized that she was in love with Barbara was almost a year ago.
Trixie had had to take care of a difficult childbirth that took her all day long and a part of the night. The mother had been in terrible pain for hours and Trixie only came home at almost dawn, exhausted. She thought she was going to be alone but when she entered the kitchen, Barbara was there, reading a magazine with a warm cup of tea. She was in charge of the telephone and had decided to wait for her to come back. Trixie had been so happy to see her she almost burst into tears. When she walked into the room, Barbara immediately noticed in what state she was, and hurried to hug her tightly and make her a cup of tea.
They had talked during most of the night.
Trixie had felt so much better to be able to talk to someone after a rough night. She wasn’t used to open up, but with Barbara it seemed so easy.
When she had gone to bed, Trixie had realized that she hadn’t hope for somebody to be up when she went home, she had hoped for Barbara to wait for her. She had been so tired but when she had seen Barbara at the kitchen table, her heart had warmed immediately and she felt her body thrilled with joy. And now, as she was walking towards her room, she couldn’t stop smiling. Her exhaustion had almost disappeared when she had seen the figure of the brunette in the room.
The last, and only, time she had felt like this was when she was with Tom.
She wasn’t that happy when she was seeing the others. But when she was with Barbara, she was always smiling uncontrollably, she always felt as though nothing bad could happen, because she was there, she always just wanted to be near her, to feel her presence, even if they weren’t talking.
And she knew at that moment that what she felt for Barbara was more than just friendship.
She realized that she was slowly but inevitably falling in love with her.
During the year, Trixie’s feelings for Barbara only grew stronger.
It was hard to see her with Tom. Everytime she went on a date with him, it felt like a stab in her heart. Or like someone had punched her in the stomach. She first thought that it was because she wasn’t really over Tom. But she realized that it wasn’t about Tom. It was about Barbara.
She saw how happy she was with Tom, so she didn’t try to stop her, even if it hurts so badly. There was nothing she could do except watch her thrive without her.
She was satisfied with being able to spend time with her, to share secrets in their dorm when everyone was asleep, to hold her in her arms when she was sad, and just to be close to her.
For a time, it was enough.
But not anymore.
She wanted to be able to hold her hand, she wanted to go on romantic walks at nightfall with her, and lately, she even wanted to kiss her. She would stare at her lips and wonder how soft they would be. She wasn’t mad at Tom anymore, but she was starting to be jealous of him. He got to hold Barbara, to kiss her, to take her in his arms in the middle of the street. He could do everything she wanted to do.
And she could only watch.
It wasn’t enough.
One time, after she had to watch helplessly a mother and her unborn baby die in a car accident, Trixie went home completely dejected. She felt like she was going to collapse on the floor and never be able to get up. It was night and everyone was asleep. She knew Barbara was sleeping but she was the only person that she wanted to see right now. She succeeded to climb the stairs and walk towards Barbara room. Thankfully, Phyllis wasn’t there. She gently awakened her and when Barbara opened her eyes and saw her crying form near her, she immediately took her into her arms. She soothed her until Trixie fell asleep in her arms. She never felt so safe.
But when Trixie had woken up the next morning, she had felt ashamed for letting herself go that way. She had gently gotten out of the bed without waking Barbara up. But before leaving the room, she hadn’t been able to stop herself from kissing her lightly on the forehead.
They never talked about it again. But Trixie never forgot how good it was to sleep in Barbara’s arms.
When they were in South Africa, Trixie discovered a new side of Barbara. She already knew that she was stronger than any of them. But she is also fearless and carefree. She isn’t afraid to speak up her mind when something is bothering her and she doesn’t care at all about what people might say about her. When she was observing her on the beach, trying to master badminton without much success, she realized that she didn’t need anyone to tell her she was an amazing, strong woman. Barbara already knew that. She didn’t need the approval of others. And Trixie, who herself was always seeking it, found it incredible, and it made her fall in love with her even more.
She knows she shouldn’t have encouraged Tom to ask her in marriage. But Barbara deserved the best, and Tom really loves her. She knows that he is going to treat her well. And she also knows that when you love someone, you try to make them happy. And right now, Barbara was happy. That was all that mattered. Even if it meant that Trixie was not. Even if her heart was aching so badly. Even if she cried almost every night because she would never be able to sleep by her side, to hold her hand, to kiss her.
The day Barbara came back to their little bedroom in Africa telling her that Tom had proposed, Trixie had wanted to burst into tears. But she looked so happy, telling everyone how Tom had to improvise with a blade of grass, and how romantic it was. And she looked at her with such joy that Trixie couldn’t help but smile, for her. It has always been for her, and it will always be for her.
Barbara was happy, so Trixie was too, even if inside her heart was breaking. She knew she was the one suggesting to Tom to ask her, but she hadn’t realized that he would do it so soon. She thought that she would have time. But no, so she smiled, and asked Barbara every detail about his proposal. She didn’t really listen; she was mostly focused on the way she was smiling or how her hand would occasionally put back a loose strand of hair behind her ear. She loved all those little things, and If Barbara was going to be taken from her in a close future, well, she wanted to engrave all of those things into her mind.
That night, when she was certain that Barbara and Phyllis were fully asleep, she cried for hours. It felt like she couldn’t stop. She cried until she had no more tears to cry.
Her time alone in Africa did her some good. She had missed Barbara every aching hour but at least she had time to breathe and accept the fact that Tom and Barbara are going to be married. She focused on her job and on improving herself. She took care of those families and she truly acknowledged how she was important to those people. She had something to focus on, to get her mind off Barbara for a while. So she worked the best she could. And she got better and better. Her mind was clearer and her body felt rested.
Now she was ready to go back to London, to her home, to her life, to her friends and family, to Barbara. She was ready.
She didn’t know how much she had missed Barbara until she had her once more in her arms. She was hurt and Trixie hated the fact that she hadn’t been happy while she was away. She had sacrificed her own happiness so that Barbara could be happy. And she hated that she wasn’t. She hated that she was hurting. But she was back into her arms, and Trixie swore that she was going to make everything right again. She needed to, for Barbara but for herself too. She wouldn’t be able to live with herself if Barbara wasn’t happy. She needed her to be happy.
When Christopher asked her out, she said yes.
He seemed nice enough and was clearly smart. She could give it a try. Trixie knew that she had no chance with Barbara. She also knew that she was always going to love her. But she couldn’t stay like this forever. She needed to move on. And maybe she could be happy too. Even if she didn’t have Barbara by her side. It’s going to take a long time and a lot of heartaches but she knew she could do it. She could be happy. And if Barbara was happy too, if she was still able to see that beautiful smile on her face, then, it was worth it. All of it was worth it. And that was enough for her.