It didn't take them long to fall in love after their first meeting. In fact, as far as he was concerned, it had been love at first sight. After their first night, they did almost everything together and neither one of them could seem to remember a time in their lives where they had been happier. Everything seemed to be going so well for them and they never gave a thought to what would happen tomorrow. They only thought of today and any given moment they were in at the time.
New Orleans was the most romantic and magical place he had ever been. He thought he was on top of the world, and finally, everything was coming together for him. Nothing could go wrong, not now. He was happy and he was in love.
All of this came crashing down on him one morning about a year later when he woke up to find her gone from his side. He searched the rooms of the fancy hotel they had been staying at then checked with the front desk. He should have known better. She didn't leave him a note, it just wasn't her style.
He continued to search for her for some months afterward, but she was nowhere to be found. Finally, he had to admit defeat and go on with what life he had left. As much as he had thought that she was his future, it apparently was just not meant to be.
He received the letter from her two years later. It had taken him that long to make his way back to the old hotel where he had been the happiest in his life. Luckily for the drifter, the manager of the hotel was a friend of his and he kept any mail that came for him. When he saw the familiar handwriting on the letter, he had to lean against the wall to keep himself from falling.
"It's from her," he whispered to the hotel manager. "It's from my rose."
By now, everyone knew the story of the love that had been lost and the other man patted his shoulder awkwardly before going back into his office. No overtures of friendship would help him right now. It was a private moment and he was surprised to find out that the drifter had left the hotel soon after reading the letter.
The drifter read the letter again when he arrived at the train station. There had been no return address on the envelope, but the faded postmark gave him the first clue that he had in two years. He boarded the train without really thinking about what he was doing. The information in that letter had made it even more important that he find the woman he loved.
Time was moving too fast for him, and at the same time it seemed to be going slower than ever. He lost track of the towns and cities he had been in, chasing after his dream. He read and re-read the letter at chance he got and there came a time where he had to be careful because the paper was becoming thin and more fragile the more he unfolded and folded it.
None of the people he spoke to remembered seeing anyone looking like his rose. No one in the town the letter came from could tell him anything about the woman that had sent the letter to him. No matter who he asked or what he said to passersby in every town and every city, no one knew anything. He was desperate for information; desperate to find the woman he had loved so very much.
Three years later he was walking along another dusty sidewalk when he caught sight of the little girl in front of the candy store. Her hair was black and her eyes were bright green. Feeling a bit of hope, he quickened his pace and went to speak to her.
"What's your mama's name, child," he asked in a gentle voice.
Memphis was not the kind of place that you wanted to be on the wrong side of the law on. The drifter hadn't meant anyone any harm, he had just been asking questions in an attempt to find someone that had been lost to him. It was a bigger city than you would believe when you were searching -- or when you were in trouble.
He had spent ten years looking for his rose. Ten years lost trying to find the other pieces of his heart and when he saw the little girl, he hadn't thought his actions through. He had only wanted to speak to her, to find out if her mother was the woman he had been looking for.
He hadn't meant to scare her, but that was what had happened. Someone in the store had heard him ask her about her mother and offer her some candy if she'd help him. The next thing he knew, he was in jail, accused of something that he couldn't understand. He told the judge what he had been trying to find out, and that he hadn't meant to scare her.
The judge must have believed him because he lost only a month of his life instead of several years.
There were several times during that month that he stared out at the stars through the barred window and wondered if he would ever find what he was looking for.
He never once questioned if it was worth all of the trouble he was going through. Nothing seemed as important to him than the search he was on. There was nothing he wanted more.
Thirty years was a damn long time to stay in one place in hopes that you'd find your dreams and make them come true, but that was exactly what the drifter had done. The people of Memphis had gotten used to seeing him walking the neighborhoods -- until the day he didn't show up to one of his usual stops. Two days passed and then a third and the ones that knew him became worried. Breaking into his apartment, they found him; a sad old man having died in his sleep. He had no family that anyone knew of, so it would be the county that paid to lay him to rest.
When the doctor was examining him to prepare him for burial, he found the faded paper in one of the old man's jacket pockets. He put on his reading glasses and unfolded the well worn letter.
My Dearest Buford,
I understand that you probably don't want to hear anything from me after I left you like I did. At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do for all three of us. Yes, you read that right. All three of us. I was scared when I got the news. I was scared of what would happen, or of what you would think.
You dear, sweet man, I'm writing to tell you that you have a daughter and her eyes are Wilson green...