the book of embraces, chapter Paula

She was pale Spanish. The kind of New Mexico Spanish that comes right from the conquistadores. There were sixty-one freckles on her lips which pissed her off. She hated it when he counted them. But they thrilled him so much that surely it ended up being okay with her. All he ever wanted his whole life was a girl who had eighty-eight freckles on her full and beautiful lips. He figured he could get her in the sun and that would be that.

Of his triple digit list of first kisses he remembered less than ten. Hers would always be number one. They had a great first date. They walked around all night talking. They climbed up on the dormitory’s front desk.

She said, “You’re so different. No one’s ever talked to me before.” He thought this was the saddest fucking thing he ever heard in his life and fell in love with her on the spot. See, she had a centerfold’s body, almost as tall as he was, and a beautiful teenage face. She’d had boyfriends but different from him.

She leaned to kiss him. And the reason he remembers is because he leaned back and wasn’t going to kiss her on her sixty-one freckles. He thought how foolish he was to do that and leaned forward at placed the number one entry in his lifetime list of first kisses.

He picked up a few habits from her. Kissing in the car at traffic lights. Chewing too much Extra Winterfresh sugar free gum. Liking the music of Journey. Nicknaming girls. He called her Blue, or Blue Movie. She liked that.

They spent a lot of Christmas break together in her hometown of Santa Fe. Her family liked him. They were traditional Spanish. He was good with that kind of parents and he loved her because of her sadness. They’d only been on about three dates with a little kissing.

The first time he went to her new apartment they were just kissing on the couch with his thigh between her legs and all of the sudden she started to quiver and spasm. Her pants never came off that afternoon but it was the only orgasm she ever had with him. He pulled her hair and kissed her freckles. That whole thing was because she was Catholic.

He took a great picture of her that he still has. He threw everything away when she dumped him. Even the picture, and some gold earrings and letters signed with his band name and a few other small things. It was only a couple of months so it wasn’t so much to throw away. He still had the negative though and when he took a photography class he printed it 8x10, big enough to almost count freckles.

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