Henry fell asleep thinking about the message Rose had left for him and his son. The letter had distracted him for a moment in his grief. He now was trying to figure out what riddle his wife had left for him. The address was familiar to him; it had been a long time since he had been there.
Morning came quickly and William was soon at the door. "Dad, are you ready? We have a long ways to go, best we be going." Henry came down the steps carrying a small bag and his coat over his arm. "Your mother always packed when we traveled, I guess this is the first time I ever packed my own things. Most likely I forgot something, but if we need it we will pick it up on the way." Henry handed William the letter and he quickly programmed the address into the GPS. The almost human voice began the trip. "Turn left in two hundred feet." William grinned at his dad, "Well, let's see what mom has in store for us."
Rose had written just the address and town's name. She wrote no name or place associated with the exact address. It was a small town near a place called Natural Springs deep in the mountains. The two men started off towards the address as the lifeless voice directed them at every turn in the road. Henry knew the way but somehow he did not mind the voice giving directions. It reminded him of the times he and Rose traveled using the GPS.
Henry pointed towards the device. "Your Mother bought me one of those darn things a few years back. She got tired of me hurrying her when I needed directions as we traveled. She said I got upset when we missed a turn in the road. Well of course I got upset, my job was to drive and hers was to navigate. Of course sometimes I failed to pay attention to her directions and heaven forbid I stop for directions. When she bought that thing, I was sure she had it programmed to become annoyed at me when I missed a turn in the road. She just grinned and would say, 'Don't blame me.' After that we would both laugh at the voice. We were suspicious it was watching us." The two men laughed at his story.
They traveled most of the morning and into the afternoon before coming into the small town. "Dad, any idea why we are here?" Henry strained to look around, "Yes I remember now, it was our first anniversary when we took a drive into the mountains. We could not afford a real honeymoon so that was our first outing together. If I remember right there should be a nursery just up ahead near the edge of town." The two men looked hard for the nursery and had forgotten about the GPS. About then the voice announced, "Ahead on the right is your destination." Sure enough the sign still stood by the road: "Natural Springs Mountain Nursery". Henry smiled, "Well I'll be, it is still here. But why did she want us to come here?"
They parked the car next to the shop. The sign in the window said, "Closed for the Season". Henry stepped out of the truck and looked around. "Surely we did not come all this way to find the place closed. Your mother would have known it was closed when she wrote the message."
William stepped around to the side and saw a small greenhouse near the back of the lot. He could see water vapors coming out of the heat stack. "Dad, maybe there is someone back in the greenhouse." The two men headed towards the plastic covered building. It was impossible to see within because of the water droplets that had collected on the plastic sides of the structure. But then a sound came from behind the mist covered walls. William looked at his dad, "Someone is inside." The two men entered a small outside room and closed the door behind them; Henry opened the door into the greenhouse. Within was a world of color and wonderful smells.
Flowers of every color and shape were growing in this oasis of nature. From near the back came a gruff voice, "Didn't you fellers see the sign, closed for the winter?" About then a small man with a red beard and little or no hair stepped in the men's sight. "Well can't you speak, or are you just deaf?" snapped the man.
Henry fumbled inside his jacket until he found the letter and handed it to the man. He looked at it for a moment and then folded it carefully and handed it back. Henry looked at the man and said, "Not sure why, but my wife made this her last request to come here." The man chuckled, "Yes I know why you are here. Come with me."
Inside an area away from the other flowers was a section that contained a variety of carefully kept roses. The area smelled of fragrances only possible from old fashion roses. He walked to a beautiful deep red rose in a white porcelain container. Henry could see on the outside made into the white finish were some words. He began to weep as he read them. "Rose Loves Henry Forever." The words were surrounded by an outline of a heart. The man carefully handed Henry the rose. "Mister, this rose is for you. I also have another letter for you." The gruff little man opened a file cabinet and leafed through files until he found what he was looking for. He then handed it to Henry. "You'll find the instructions in there."
Henry looked at the man questionably, "What instructions?" The man just pointed toward the letter, "It's all in there, now if you'll excuse me I have work to do." With that the man turned and disappeared into the green world inside the plastic dome.
William pointed toward the other roses in the room. Each of the roses was in a container with names on them. Each rose was carefully tended and kept beautiful. Henry handed William the rose and opened the letter. Dear Henry, This is our rose. It is a special rose cultivated for long life and beautiful color, even in the darkest of winter. You now must take the rose and travel to Whispering Breeze Conservatory, the address is in the letter. They know you are coming, do not delay. Love Rose
The two men looked at each other with puzzled looks. Henry asked, "Why has your mother sent me to this place and why are all of these roses here? Each must belong to the names on the container. But why here and what happens to them next?"
William pulled the plastic aside so they could leave the special area, "Well Dad, I guess we reprogram the announcing lady in the navigation system and let her take us to where mom wants us to go next." The two men started toward the door, when from somewhere in the green moist world came the voice of the gruff caretaker. "Make sure you keep the rose warm at all times and secure it in the seat. Don't want it spilling all over the floor. Your wife spent years cultivating that rose, don't you mess it up." They never did see the man, only heard his words from somewhere in the green world.
William sat down in the seat and started the engine. "Well Dad have you ever been to a place called Whispering Breeze?" Henry shook his head no. "Well I guess mom has her reason to send us deep into the southern mountains in February." The two men set out for a place called Whispering Breeze Conservatory somewhere in the mountains of West Virginia.