At first glance the room seemed frozen in time, it’s antiquated charm untouched by the decades. A closer look revealed a different story entirely. The light streaming in the windows cast shadows that hid threadbare patches in the aging carpet. In a far corner, disguised by carefully arranged furniture, a square of plywood barely covered a hole where the floor had begun to rot away.

Worn depressions in the chair cushions told the story of generations, the books whose spines crumbled behind the glass testifying to the many hands that had opened them over the years. One windowsill showed more evidence of water damage than the other, its tracks rubbed nearly free of paint. Perhaps it had been the favorite spot of some long-gone housewife, a pleasant breeze blowing through loose strands of her hair while she mended some article of clothing.

The one thing not fading stood beneath a glass dome in a place of honor on a central table. The roses could have been placed there within the hour, so fresh and full of life were their white petals. Only the photograph the visitor held belied the impression. In it the room itself was newer, black and white print capturing the faces of a young family who couldn’t help glancing at each other instead of the camera. The same bouquet stood in its case, every blossom and leaf exactly the same.

The visitor hesitated, rumors in the town holding his foot at the threshold. With a laugh he replaced the photograph in his pocket and shrugged. He stepped into the room and froze. With a shriek of horror he clutched at his face and tried to flee, but there was no escape. He could only watch in the mirror as his body grayed, wrinkled, stooped, and finally crumbled to dust. The photograph caught a small draft where it lay on the carpet and fluttered across the threshold into the hall outside. The white roses stood motionless in their case, endless life in the midst of decay.

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