September 20, 2014

Warm. ~ Michael Zoupa

Jose Manuel Rios Valiente

She was warm.

That’s how I remember her best.

Cuddling up to her from behind in the morning, making sure she was awake before I annoyed her. She’d giggle and pull my hand across her stomach.

I’d feel, her smiling, before I’d look and see it.

After a while I didn’t look anymore.

I could just feel it.


My room is always cold without her.

She made my bed warm, my nights fun, my days full of random texts and pictures.

You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

I know someday I’ll be able to have fun again, that with time I will laugh again. Someone else will be my best friend, they’ll send me pictures of things that we both think are funny.

But they’ll never be the jokes that we had. They’ll never be the made-up words that we used.

They’ll never be the words that I never said to her.


You take people for granted. You never tell them how much they mean.

I ditched her for other girls when I thought they’d f*ck me when all I ever wanted was for her to make love to me.

I never told her, even though I knew that she knew.

I never told her, because I knew she wanted me to give in, to say it.

She wanted me to surrender.


When we hugged goodbye, it always had this extra “energy” about it.

We’d linger. There was something in the air, I still don’t really know what it was.

She was warm, but there was another thing that happened when we embraced, that I could feel in the air around us.

When she was gone, when I held her hand, there was a distinct absence of that thing.

It was this moment that ripped my heart out and left a gaping hole in me, a hole that I hope never heals over. That part of me belongs to her.

I never want to love another woman and let another woman have that part of me. It belongs to her.


I remember the day that we met.

She came to my school when I was five and she didn’t speak a word of English. I’d never met someone from another country and I didn’t really understand why we couldn’t talk to each other, I just kind of stared at her, fascinated. She looked away.

When I got home my mum was talking to her mum in the street. They’d moved in across the road.

She hid behind her mum’s legs, looking away whenever her eyes caught mine.


She learned how to speak English, she learned how to yell at me when I didn’t wanna play Barbies. She learned how to dance and how to be mean to boys and how to make me do whatever she wanted me to do.

She learned how to make me dislike the people she disliked and how to make me laugh so hard that I thought I would never catch my breath.

We should really thank people for making us laugh, for making us happy.

While we still can.


Standing there, at the church.

Staring at her, for a bit too long, like we sometimes did over coffee, when we were drunk, when were walking and someone said something funny.

Covered in stupid clown makeup that makes her look even more lifeless.

I don’t know why they even do that.

I let go of her hand so that the next person can come up and say goodbye to her.

I don’t linger, it’s not her anymore.

She’s not here in this room.

She’s not warm anymore.


There’s a part of us that’s still a monkey brain, where the alpha male is the leader and the other monkeys are subservient and we band together for survival.

This part of us doesn’t want to show weakness, to roll over and show our soft underbelly in fear that another monkey will step over us and ascend in our place. This is the part of me that never told her how much she meant to me.

I told myself she wouldn’t understand, she’d reject me, our relationship would change.

But it was just the monkey in me that didn’t want to show vulnerability: To leave my life in her hands.


We’re not monkeys anymore my friends.

We’re humans living in a complicated, coffee and stress, work vs. fun, holidays vs. assets, money vs. dreams: civilized society.

It’s okay to be afraid, to want to protect yourself.

But if you’re not brave, you might miss your chance.


Be bold in loving the people who mean the world to you.

Tell them, be vulnerable to them. There is great power in vulnerability. In being brave enough to stand naked in the face of great forces, unashamed, unafraid…

Be brave and love openly, with your whole heart while you can.

I’d give anything for one more chance, to roll over and show my monkey belly to her.

Even if she stepped on me.


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Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Jose Manuel Rios Valiente/Flickr

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