Her name was Fernande, and she was as elusive as the painting or sculpture that Picasso created. Equally as beautiful, if not more so. Rafe was a junior when he first saw her, and he was obsessed with her immeadiately. The pretty senior was popular, and most of the boys in the school wanted her. He was never under the illusion that he could be with her, but he could not stop thinking about her. Her milk chocolate hair and eyes were as seductive as the real thing.
His parents were driving him to study hard in school, and he did. Harder, hoping that he would stop thinking about Fernande.
Fernande was dating someone anyway, so all of their teenage fantasies were very unlikely to come true. She was practically married…or so everyone thought. Her breakup from her boyfriend was bigger news than the senior prom. Everybody was talking about it, and boys hoped that they would be the one that she replaced her ex with. Rafe was in the library as usual–with his glasses, this was before his contacts–and she walked in. She walked past him, her scent a rosy juicy fruit, a combination of her perfume and the gum she chewed.
Rafe was hard almost as soon as she sat down, and he hated his teenage body so much right then. He could not get up and when she sat closer to him and looked at him, he really knew he could not get up.
“Your name is Rafe, right?”
“Are you mute?”
Rafe adjusted his glasses and looked at her.
“Rafe, then? Well you know who I am? My ex hated guys like you, but I have to say, you are kind of cute for a geek with glasses. Take them off?”
Rafe took off his glasses. What was more startling: that she was talking to him, staring at him or that she was even more pretty up close?
Fernande was kissing close to him, he was not sure he could breathe.
“You are kind of a stud without your glasses. Want to go to the prom with me?”
Everything in his life from that moment on was like being inside of a dream. He had to buy a tuxedo with his dad, and a corsage for Fernande.
Fernande looked like something out of a Botticelli, her body as lovely as an Ingres. He feared that something would happen to him at the prom, that he was being used but to be used by Fernande was fine with him. Other girls eyed him because Fernande was with him, but he only had eyes for her.
At the end of the night, Fernande let him kiss her and more. She was easy, and he could not believe his luck. Could not believe that it was this easy with her. He spent the entire summer fawning over her, the more he was with her and the more she let him do with her the more he was smitten.
“I can come up to your school to see you on weekends,” he said to her on the beach.
Fernande looked at him with that smile that made him soft inside.
“But I will have a real boyfriend by then!”
Rafe stared at her, mouth agape. Fernande kissed him, roses and juicy fruit filled his nose.
“I was your first Rafe, but I won’t be your last…”
That was the truth Rafe thought to himself, coming back to reality. But every time he smelled juicy fruit gum he thought of Fernande. His first but most certainly not his last, he thought as he pondered the drunk man beside him who smelled of juicy fruit and scotch…
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photo of picasso’s fernande by f dot leonora