Ruston, Texas - 1955
"It's not fair!", Julie screamed at her mother. "I won't go. You can't make me go!
"Julie, dear, it's not about fair or unfair. You must understand. Your father has had a very significant job offer in Springfield", Mrs. Thatcher said.
"I don't care!" Julie retorted, This is ruining my life! I just started at Ruston High...I have friends! Mom, I got accepted on the drill team and everything. How can you ask me to just leave this and move a hundred thousand miles away?", she pleaded.
"Now, Julia, Springfield's only a few hundred miles from Ruston. It's not as bad as you imagine, sweetheart."
Julie broke into piteous sobs... turned from her mom and threw herself face down onto the bed. Mrs. Thatcher told her daughter that dinner would be ready soon, then turned and went downstairs.
Julie sat up and dried her eyes. She had to do something. She had to talk to Bud. He would know what to do.
She went to the hall where the big black telephone sat on it's stand. She quickly dialed Bud's number.
When he answered... she simply said, "Meet me at the tree."
He agreed and within the hour they stood together under the huge live oak tree in the middle of City Park. She poured out her heart. He promised he would let nothing separate them. They each said, "I love you". And then it started to rain. Bud put his arms around her and drew her close. They were fifteen years old...but they knew they were in love. Grown-ups wouldn't understand. They would call it "puppy love". But Julie and Bud knew it was real.
Suddenly, Bud took his pocket knife out of his jeans, opened it and turned toward the tree. He stood there in the drizzling rain and carved "Bud Loves Julie ~ Forever, June ~1955" Then he looked into her beautiful eyes, leaned down and kissed her softly on her young lips.
Tears mixed with raindrops rolled down her face as she held out her hand for Bud's pocket knife. She pulled her long chestnut brown pony tail over her shoulder, and cut off about four inches.
He undid the pink ribbon in back... carefully tied it around the lock of hair she had given him, and held it tenderly in his hands.
They promised to write. He said he would save all the money from his paper route so he could take the bus to Springfield and see her. They agreed that nothing would ever separate them and promised to eventually marry.
But life had other plans.
Bud never made it to Springfield. Letters between them became fewer as the years passed.
Julie graduated and went to University. She found a good job and seemed to be happy. But she never quite forgot Bud. Sometimes on very cold nights, she would intentionally remember the warmth of his kiss.
Bud graduated and joined the Marines. He went to Korea and then came home and married Katie Hansen.
They had three children and seven grandchildren before Katie died.
Several years later, Bud decided to sell the house. It was then that he found the lock of hair that Julie had given him so long ago.
He was going through things in the attic when he found the little box with the lock of hair and the pocket knife. He turned the knife over and over in his, now wrinkled hands and gently touched the lock of hair with one finger.
He wondered what had happened to Julie Thatcher. He smiled as he thought about his first love. His first kiss.
He went to the computer in the study and put her name in the search engine. He found her quickly. She was an author and had written numerous books, all penned under her maiden name. One of the books had her photograph on the jacket. She was older now, for sure. But she was still beautiful. And his heart skipped a little beat as he stared into the eyes that still looked like the fifteen year old Julie he remembered loving. He read on. She was a mother and grandmother. And...had taken up writing after becoming a widow in 1995...
With the lock of hair still in his hand, he went to the internet phone directory...
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