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By sarahhen123

White roses. A symbol of purity and innocence. But isn’t it funny how quickly your innocence can be tainted and how quickly something can become dirtied?

Sydney sat at their kitchen table, the dim lamp barely illuminating the pages of their newly written book. The ink sat fresh; the pages still warm. Their eyelids weighed heavy above their eyes but they fought through the pain until they finished at least one more chapter. It was a basic murder mystery; teenager is murdered, ex is framed, turns out to be the boyfriend, etc. Sydney had wanted to branch out into science fiction or a full-on, cringey romance but they had to do what the readers wanted. In their opinion, the story wasn’t anything special but the sample they released to their readers went down like a spoonful of sugar. A dull throb formed at the back of Sydney’s head so they decided to put the book down. As much as Sydney craved the sweet embrace of sleep, the fans had to come first so they decided to open and read some fan-mail. Sydney loved their fans... they did... but sometimes their fame was overwhelming and the fame led to some questionable letters and gifts. A chunk of hair. Nail clippings. A more than bargained for amount of love letters. Sometimes it was sweet... others were just plain creepy.

Sydney grabbed a handful of letters and three packages and headed towards their living room. They grabbed their cup of tea from earlier, barely lukewarm, before settling down into their plush couch in front of the welcoming fire. October was one of Sydney’s favourite months but the cold weather that came with it could be a blessing or a curse. A slight chill still shrouded over them but the warm embrace of the grey couch and the amber embers of the fire began to ease the chill. The living room was cosy. A large golden mirror hung above the ornate, cream mantle. The floor was a pale hardwood but a large, circular, shaggy, grey rug sat comfortably in the centre of the room, complimenting the L-shape couch. A fairly large TV stood to attention in the corner of the room opposite the couch, it’s red power button just too bright for that time of night. The fluffy white and pink cushions welcomed Sydney and began to try to persuade them to succumb to sleep then and there but Sydney fought the tiredness with all their might and grabbed their scissors to open the first parcel.

The first parcel was a basic gift, a teddy bear and a cute note from an adoring but struggling young teenage writer. The teddy was white and fluffy with a little bowtie surrounding its neck. A soft smile appeared on Sydney’s face as they cuddled the small bear before opening the letter which was at the top of the pile. The letter was another love confession. Sure, it wasn’t as creepy as usual but it still made Sydney uncomfortable. They didn’t know how many times they had to make it clear in their many, many interviews that they had no interest in being in a relationship. Ever. They had absolutely no desire to be in a sexual or romantic relationship. They weren’t lonely. In fact, they were at their happiest for finally accepting who they were. One other parcel and remaining letters were the usual confessions, asking for advice and the parcel was a collection of keyrings from the show Sydney had announced that they liked. The last parcel and attached note were something different.

Inside the parcel was a small teddy bear. It appeared homemade somehow. The shaggy brown fur and lifeless button eyes made the innocent bear appear terrifying. The stitching was poor, especially at the back where a note protruded from. The note simply read ‘open me.’ Although freaked out, Sydney felt a strange tug of curiosity. They grabbed their scissors once more and sliced through the weak stitching to see two Polaroids within the bear. The first was of a woman appearing slightly younger than Sydney, maybe late twenties, caressing a white rose against her porcelain skin. The second was far more sinister. It was a picture of Sydney sitting on their couch and sipping delicately at their tea. The polaroid had to have been taken at most half an hour ago. That would be slightly less creepy if Sydney didn’t live on a private estate surrounded by eight-foot fences. Caught off guard by this, Sydney began to spook at the littlest noises, terrified that whoever took those polaroids was still on their property. A branch outside snaps. The floorboards upstairs screech. A soft howl of icy wind breaks into Sydney's bubble. With a shaky breath, they flipped the polaroid over to see writing which resembled bird scratches. They wrote:

‘Open the door, dearest Syd.’

And with that, soft raps against the door could be heard. Sydney froze, turned to ice by the chilled wind which entered the room, but their thoughts ran free and fast as they ran through possible scenarios. The situation reminded Sydney of a cheap mystery novel and made them chuckle nervously at the irony. Despite the massive bright red flag waving anxiously at Sydney, curiosity got the better of them once again as they rose slowly from their position on the couch and ambled slowly towards the door. Curious yet cautious. That was Sydney's way. Eventually, they reached the door from which the soft raps came from. The back door in the kitchen. The glass was frosted so there was no way for Sydney to see the other side. Taking a sharp breath, they placed their small hand on the frigid handle and pushed down.

The door creaked open and revealed a bouquet of white roses, identical to the one the young woman had pressed against her almost perfect skin. Their blood pressure lowered slightly. Maybe it was just a very in-love fan. Maybe they meant no harm. Regardless, they picked up the flowers and placed them carefully in their new rustic vase. They looked quite fitting against the dark oak table and the black slate floor. The papers that were scattered across the table ruined the seemingly aesthetic kitchen so Sydney decided to tidy them away now that their heart had calmed down. Their brain was still clouded with fog from their exhaustion which was quickly returning after the adrenaline dissipated. A sharp pain shot through Sydney’s right index finger. A paper cut. A deep one at that. Peeved, Sydney threw the papers back onto the table and examined their finger. A small drop of blood sat ominously atop the wound and slowly began to trickle down before landing on the petal of the perfect white rose, tainting its beauty. The rose stood out against the others, begging for attention. Sydney quickly grabbed the rose and threw it into the bin before reaching up onto the top shelf for their old plasters. As they rummaged around, Sydney felt something run across their hand, startling them and causing them to tumble to the ground. Once the shock of the fall wore off, Sydney looked up to spot the culprit, a fairly large grey spider. A small laugh escaped Sydney at their foolishness and they decided to finally get off of the floor and dust themselves off, the fear of the polaroid and roses gone from their mind.

Once the adrenaline of the fall wore off, tiredness finally overwhelmed Sydney and they relented, heading upstairs to their bedroom. Each creak of the floorboards set Sydney’s nerves on edge, too tired to think logically. Quickly, they walked down their far too long hallway for how tired they were and entered their bedroom. Deciding against switching on the lights, hoping to simply fall into bed, Sydney took off their bunny slippers and wandered over to their bed. Sitting on the edge of their bed, they removed their rings and placed them carefully onto their cramped bedside table consisting of a lamp, two photo frames with faded pictures of a happy looking family and a copy of their first manuscript for old times' sake. Sydney settled into bed and let out a heavy sigh at the feeling of their plush pillows finally caressing their tired head. As sleep grew ever closer, a warm breeze blew against Sydney’s neck. A small smile appeared on Sydney’s face since the warm breeze of summer was quite comforting... Except it wasn’t summer... And their window was shut...

Sydney shot out of bed and tried to switch on their lamp, hands shaking too much to even press the switch. After what seemed like an eternity, a click resounded throughout the room. After their eyes adjusted to the painful light, their eyes settled on the source of the warm breeze. It was the pale woman from the photograph. She appeared almost paler in the light of the bedroom, her jet-black hair providing a stark contrast to her deathly face. Her eyes were as black as her hair and stared deep into Sydney's soul. Her smile failed to hide her malice as she rose slowly out of the bed, never taking her eyes off of Sydney. Sydney remained glued to the floor as the woman approached them, moving as though she was in pain. She soon reached Sydney and reached her bony, pale hand towards their cheek, caressing them slowly. Sydney’s mouth fell open as words failed them, something they would have found ironic had they been able to have a coherent thought. Radio silence filled Sydney’s head and the words that the woman spoke sounded like white noise to them. The woman seemed to notice this with anger filling her features and her nails dug into Sydney’s cheek, drawing their crimson blood, a stark contrast to the woman’s pale hands as it ran down them.

Sydney felt powerless as the woman grew more and more angry and more and more violent, happy to be met with pure darkness compared to their sight of the pale hands...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ BREAKING NEWS

Young author Sydney Powers has been found murdered in their home last night. Police have released limited information however our journalists have found exclusive photographs of the body which was covered in white roses, something we believe is key evidence. Police have no suspects as of yet however there are suspicions that an adoring fan may be the culprit. Follow this story as we try and discover the truth...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ’You should have let me love you... Instead, you chose to be unpure... I have made you pure again... See you soon my beloved Sydney...’

Author Notes: Enjoy reading!

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21 May, 2022
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