The Warmth Never Comes Back


You only miss him when the sun has nestled below the treetops for the night, tucked in by their outstretched branches. As they cradle the last few slivers of warm, velvety, mahogany rays, you begin to notice the chill that creeps throughout the atmosphere. No, it isn’t the falling temperatures that make you shiver—you weren’t the one with icicles for hands and feet, anyway—but it’s more of a pervasive, frost-in-your-bones feeling.

How do you define “cold,” anyway? It’s an absence of heat, much like the body no longer lying next to yours. It’s a rigidity of the dance of molecules, slowed down to almost intangible speeds: first a jive, then a waltz, and finally, a languid solo performance. You did always use to say, “It takes two to tango.”

All parallel movements lose their synchronicity in the end, however, and you are a lone dancer in the night. The vast blanket outside your window, a dark canvas peppered with a swath of stars paired off in their own celestial significance, only makes you feel more alone. Covered by cotton cloth of your own now, you recall the infinite stretch of his plaid sheets, trapping in muffled secrets, future promises, and, most of all, warmth. You two were supernovae together, combusting inside-out, radiating temperatures that not even his new-age thermostat could register. You two were heat.

It’s on nights like this—when the air is sharp, mirroring the breath you silently take in paired with heaving mountains of your shoulders—it’s on nights like this that you miss him most. When the sky is dark, a sinister, sheer absence of light, when the space between you and him stretches beyond infinity, that’s when you miss him most. Oh, sure, you—with your logical, practical ways—remind yourself that almost the entire universe outside your window is just dead space anyway, a vacuum. The bitter cold darkness…and the bitter dark coldness…are not new phenomena; the rules apply just as much to the particles in space as to the entities of you and him. It’s in the universal nature. And, just like the dying dance of celestial bodies, your post-tango freeze is inevitable. You, the soloist, were bound to get frostbite. You simply don’t know a time that coldness doesn’t set in at the end.

A shiver galvanizes you with the weight of memories that swell and settle heavy on your soul. Remember roasting jumbo marshmallows, speared on the fingers of forks, over his new oven? You two could finally be alone, bathed in the glow of nascent love, radiating hotter than the constant blue-white flame. A spark catalyzed togetherness and enveloped you in its steamy blanket.

Or what about ringing in the New Year, your laughter and tipsy glances seemingly melting the harsh deadness of winter? Welcome to 20XX, the time of paradoxical warmth! You didn’t even need your heavy down jacket as you and he sat huddled on the balcony post-midnight, breaths dancing in exquisite patterns against that same backdrop of constellations. Serendipity struck and a shooting star seared through the black.

What is a meteor, anyway? A roughened jumble of rock and ice; more coldness streaking through your mind. And despite the heat of the moment, the heat of the promise of better tomorrows tearing through the atmosphere, it’s all still bound to crash and burn. A desolate rocky microcosm, lifeless after a quick, fiery journey through time and space, is now bathed in an eternal freeze, never to be reignited again. Ha. What a stunning metaphor. It’s this cold you feel now, singed by your past together—a tiny world of two individuals never meant to coexist as one concrete entity. Go home, everyone; the dance through the heavens is over.

You lie huddled alone, shivering, and the warmth never comes.