Submitted by Saturdead t3_11b91s7 in nosleep

In September of 2009, I was at a wine-hazed afterparty at my friend Micah’s place. I ended up sharing a bottle of white with a stranger. We’d been chatting all night, laughing at everything and nothing. We’d settled ourselves on a balcony with a ridiculous pile of blankets, sofa cushions and pillows. All kinds of cozy.

Other people at the party had come and gone, but we’d stayed there for hours. She was from a small town in Minnesota, but had come to West Virginia for her master’s degree. She was just gonna stay out here in Juniper for a few days to help her friend move. We don’t get a lot of visitors out here.

Somewhere around the 3 am mark, we finished our bottle. She was half asleep on my shoulder, waking herself every now and then with little hiccups.

”When… whenever I get sad, like, really sad, I do this thing,” she said. ”Close your eyes.”

”Sure, yeah,” I nodded.

”I imagine this door. A… a white door. Can you see it?”

”Yeah, yeah.”

”So I open it, and there’s this… this room. But with a dirt floor. Earthy, fresh with… with rain. You gotta, like, smell it.”


I tried my best. I was enthralled by the smell of her coconut shampoo, but there was something else there. A tinge of soil, rich with morning dew.

”I smell it, yeah.”

”So… I take what makes me sad, and I put it into a little seed. And then I plant it. I put it away. And later, it… it blooms into this beautiful sunflower.”

”So it’s like a big… sunflower room.”

”Yeah, but they get this blue shade,” she smiled. ”Because they’re sad.”

“Are you sad?”

She smiled and shook her head.


I stayed awake as long as I could, trying to be a good shoulder for her to sleep on.

And by the time I woke up, she was gone.


Now, this was many years ago. It was one of those beautiful early adult memories that just stick with you, which you can look back on whenever life doesn’t seem worth the trouble. When my studies were too much, or I had a bad break-up, or a rough day at work, that memory was my happy place. Back on that balcony, with that gentle weight on my shoulder.

Nowadays, I work as a foreman at a local processing plant. Not that glamorous, but it gives me everything I need. You can’t underestimate the value of job security in this market. I certainly don’t.

I have been in a comfortable position for years. I can’t complain. I’ve gotten a bit stuck in a rut, and those days of wine-hazed optimism feels like a bygone age.


But then one night, I got a stark reminder.

In that twilight hour between sleep and consciousness, I found myself looking up at the ceiling of my bedroom. The image of a white door came to mind. The same door that beautiful stranger had introduced me to so many years ago. A simple wooden door with white paint peeling off at the edges. A brass knocker that’d started to turn green.

In my mind’s eye, the door swung open.

Beyond it, was a field of overgrown sunflowers, abandoned for years. Weeds and undergrowth thick enough to form a solid barrier. A sour smell emanated from the room, and I could hear the buzzing off flies. As I reached to close the door, a thorned tendril fell out and wrapped itself around my neck, puncturing my skin.

As I opened my mouth to scream, a blue sunflower forced itself into my mouth. Rough petals pressing against the back of my tongue.

And I woke up, coughing.


I ran into the bathroom, gagging violently. I had this sour taste in my mouth, and a rash around my neck. Little inflamed dots, like I’d been strangled with poison ivy. I couldn’t stop coughing, and my heart was racing. I’d had allergic reactions before, but never something that constricted my breathing. This was a first.

Finally, I felt something dislodge from my lungs. I bent over the sink and forced it out of me. For a few agonizing seconds, it traveled up my throat, and left me.

Dozens of sunflower seeds.



That night messed me up. The next day I bought a salve for my neck rash, but I’d already scratched it so bad that I had open wounds. It felt like my body was trying to reject my head. I was more tired than usual, and I kept getting these strange bouts of nausea. On top of it all, and I don’t want to go into graphic detail, but there was blood in places where blood ought not to be.

I took a few days off work and went to see a doctor. They did a few blood tests and concluded that I had gotten an allergic reaction, but they couldn’t tell from what. They urged me to change my sheets and try a new non-perfumed detergent. I also got a prescription for an epinephrine injector in case my throat closed completely.

I spent the rest of the day cleaning, washing, and worrying. And as I went to bed that night, I tried to think about literally anything but that white door.


But as soon as my head hit the pillow, there it was. And this time, it opened on its’ own. They knew I was coming back, and they were ready for me.

Tendrils grabbed me, lifting me up into the ceiling. Towards the white door with the brass knocker. I tried to hold back, getting cuts across my arms and legs. I could feel blisters building on my skin, turning into hundreds of painful little pearls. I felt my throat closing as I peered inside.

There, in the middle of the field of forgotten flowers, I saw a woman. And as she turned towards me, I knew my heart was about to stop. A twinkle from the corner of her eye, and the sheen of yellowed teeth from a wide smile.

Pressure building. Chest cramping.


I woke up in a panic, having forced myself to fall out of bed. I crawled across the floor, only realizing that I couldn’t breathe seconds later. I couldn’t feel the tip of my fingers, and my chest was ice cold.

I counted my heart beats as I fumbled my way into the bathroom. I reached for my epi-pen, accidentally knocking it down. It rolled across the floor, and under the bathtub.

I fell flat on my stomach, reaching for it. It was all the way in the back.

My vision was fading as the bathroom floor felt colder.


I flipped onto my back and tried to calm down. I had been without air for 65 seconds. I could make it to 90. I wouldn’t die before 90.

I counted it down, staring at the ceiling.

From that angle, I could’ve sworn there was a white door above. I could see the outline of the brass knocker, and the cracks of the peeling paint. I could hear the tendrils crackle on the other side, and I could feel the eyes of the woman on the other side firmly fixed on me.

She was right there. She was waiting.

Please, God.


Suddenly, a trickle of air; like breathing through a straw. I could feel my senses coming back to me. The pressure in my face faded, leaving me flushed and teary-eyed on the bathroom floor.

I didn’t sleep that night. I couldn’t risk it.

First thing in the morning I called the doctor again, but they just reiterated the need to keep my epi-pen close. They booked me in for a blood test, and suggested I slept somewhere else for a day or two. It could be an allergic reaction to bed bugs, or dust mites.


Looking through my contact list, my thumb stopped over an old college friend; Micah.

It was at his party that I’d first met that girl in the first place. I texted him on a whim and, surprisingly, he was still around. He lived in town, and he was eager to meet up for a coffee.


I met Micah at a small café across the street from a local archery range. He’d gained about 80 pounds from last time I’d seen him, but his youthful spirit was as evident as ever. I held out a hand to greet him, and the guy just wrapped me up in a big hug.

We got a couple of bear claws and sat down by one of the back tables. Micah was eager to catch up. He told me all about his family and showed me plenty of pictures. His daughter who wanted to go to veterinary school. His wife who worked at the DMV. His twin boys, who were out camping.

“They just love the wildlife,” he chuckled. “Ever heard of two 12-year-olds who are more interested in bird watching than video games?”


After telling him about my life and my work, I tried to slip that old after-party into the conversation. The same one we’d been to all those years ago. He knew exactly what I talked about.

“Man, you had it in for her,” he grinned. “Ain’t no secret.”

“You know what happened to her?”

“Why, you looking to make up for lost time?”

“Come on, man.”

“Alright, alright,” he smiled. “I’ll tell you what I know.”


Her name was Josie Fadden. She’d been the friend of a friend, and half the guys at the party had fallen madly in love with her; Micah included.

“She got a lot of friend requests that night,” he laughed. “Don’t think she accepted any.”

“You know what happened to her?”

“Not sure,” he shrugged. “I think she moved to Morgantown to get her master’s.”

“She still there?”

Micah leaned back and grinned as he finished his bear claw.

“You are making up for lost time, aren’t you?”


To an outsider, what I did next might sound insane. But I had a few days off work, and I had to stay at a hotel either way.

I figured I might as well do it in Morgantown.


I drove up there over the afternoon. It was exhilarating. The only thing that could overpower my fear of the white door was the promise of seeing Josie again. It was hard to admit, but out of all the people who’d fallen in love with her that night, I had probably fallen the hardest. More than a decade later I could smell her coconut shampoo.

Still, it was hard to take my mind off my burning neck rash. Covering it with an itchy scarf didn’t exactly help.


I stopped at a gas station to look her up. I couldn’t find her on any social media. I tried both ‘Josie’ and ‘Fadden’, together and separately, but I got nothing. No relatives, no friends, nothing. For all intents and purposes, she was invisible. You don’t see that often nowadays.

I bought a burrito and ate it in the car. I pondered my options. You can’t just walk around Morgantown and hope you bump into the right person. That might work back in Juniper, but there had to be a better way.

Sitting there, I nodded off.


The world turned dark, and I heard a set of rusty hinges turn. Something carefully moving through the underbrush.

A pale hand, reaching for me.

Unblinking eyes coming out of the dark.

It was just a few minutes, but it was enough to send me reeling out of the car. I fell to the pavement, coughing violently. It was getting worse; there was blood this time.

I counted down the seconds. My breath came back at 35 seconds this time. If that’s how bad it’d gotten from a five-minute nap, a full night’s sleep would be the end of me. I got a strange look from a couple of teens walking past. They slowed down to check on me, but decided it was none of their business. I couldn’t blame them.

I got back in the car. I had to be careful, or I’d end up as a side-note in the local paper. ‘Sad man dead in parking lot’.


That, however, gave me an idea.

The paper.


Now, literal newspapers have been in decline for years; but Josie went to a very specific master’s program at WVU. Some of those student-run sites have been hosted on the same servers since the 90’s. Just having a quick glance at one of ‘em, I found news articles and interviews from 2014. I just had to dig further back and look for anything related to her master’s, and I might get some kind of insight.

I sat there scrolling for the better part of an hour. I’m not much of a phone guy, and the thing was running hot in my sweaty palms. 2013, 2012, 2011.

And there she was.

Josie Fadden.


An article weeks before her graduation in 2011. I could’ve recognized her a mile away; she had the same dimpled smile. She talked about her master’s thesis in invasive plant species, and the dangers of unchecked greenhouse gardens.

“My favorite is helianthus cerulea,” the article quoted. “The blue sunflowers remind me of home.”

The article noted her working with a local florist to conduct further testing. I took note of the address and name of the owner.

“But no matter how pretty it is, it must be contained,” the article concluded. “Locked away.”


This lit a fire in me. I had a lead.

I made a couple of calls and got a few names. The name of the florist lead to the name of the current owner. They, in turn, referred me to an ex-employee who’d worked with Josie. They, in turn, referred me to one of her old classmates. I didn’t get a number, but I got an address to a greenhouse just outside of town where they worked.

It was better than nothing.


About an hour later, I’d made my way to the greenhouse. It was this large cylinder-shaped plastic building stretching across the parking lot. The thing was bigger than anticipated. Then again, I’d never been to one before.

They were about to close when I walked in, but I couldn’t see anyone matching the description I’d gotten. His name was Mark Burton. About my age, thick glasses, thin as a twig. Had a bit of a New England accent. I stopped to ask one of the gardeners; an older woman with a kind smile.

“Mark?” she frowned. “Oh, I’m sorry to have to tell you this…”


Another dead end. This time literally; Mark Burton had died a few years ago.

Apparently, he’d asphyxiated from an allergic reaction.

The old woman sat me down to tell me all about Mark. She had a lot of fond memories of him, and his sudden death had affected her a lot. Apparently, one of her coworkers had found him.

“Right down there,” she said, pointing across the greenhouse. “Back where we used to keep helianthus cerulea.”

“Blue sunflowers.”

“Ghastly things, aren’t they? Lovely smell though. Reminds me of coconut.”


I made my way back to my car and got back on my phone. Clouds had started to gather overhead, drowning the air with the smell of fresh rain.

I found some of Mark’s old socials, which were still open as a sort of online tombstone. People posting pictures of him and expressing their regret. It was strange to think about; he would’ve been my age, had he still lived. And I might go the same way, if I couldn’t find the answers I needed.

And there, a picture.

Mark, his sister, and Josie Fadden; tagged as Josephine Earle.


A new name. That was it. That was her.


An hour later, I was parked outside a small black-bricked townhome. The last known address for Josephine Earle. The sky had gone dark with clouds, and the first spatters of rain were tapping on the window. It was hypnotic, lulling me back to sleep. The realization of which sent a shock through me, jolting me awake.

I hurried up to the front door, my pulse planting a headache into the back of my cranium. I was too tired to yawn. My hands shook as I rang the doorbell.

What was I even expecting? At that point, I didn’t know.


It took 20 heartbeats for her shadow to move up to the door. The handle turned, and light poured out.

The smell of coconut.

And there she was.


It felt so strange seeing her again. I couldn’t believe it. She was different, but it was still her. It was Josie, and in another way, it wasn’t. Then again, I was barely recognizable as well.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

“Josie Fadden?”

She just looked at me. It took her a few seconds to even register the name, and the implication. Finally, she shook her head.

“She’s not here.”

“It’s you, right?”

She sighed and looked away. After a deep breath, she met my eyes.

“What do you want?”

“It’s… complicated. I thought you might be able to help me.”

“With what?”

“The, uh… the sunflower room.”

Josie, or “Josephine”, stepped back. She unlocked the door and opened it wide. It was strange to see her like this; I’d never seen her frown. Then again, I’d only known her that one night so many years ago.

“Let’s talk.”


She invited me in and offered me a cup of tea. We sat down in her living room, and she refused to look me in the eye. She was visibly nervous, shaking about as bad as I did.

“Do you remember me?” I asked.

“Sorry, no”, she said, shaking her head. “But we must’ve met.”

“Yeah,” I nodded. “A few years back.”

“So I told you about the sunflower room,” she sighed. “The white door, and the field where I-“

“Where you plant your worries. And they turn blue.”

“Those plants are native to my hometown, you know. Ever been to Tomskog, Minnesota?”

“Never heard of it.”

“Few have.”

I sipped my tea. Fruity.


“I want to know what’s happening to me. I keep… thinking about that place.”

“And it hurts you, doesn’t it? I think I can see a rash there.”

“It does.”

Josie finished her tea and put the cup down on the glass coffee table.

“So why now?” I asked. “Why me?”

“It needs new plants,” she shrugged. “If nothing new is planted, the room sort of… cannibalizes itself. Hell, it strains itself so much that some seeds make all the way over to our side.”

“Is that why it’s hurting me? Because I haven’t… planted anything?”


“Then why aren’t you affected?”


Josie got out of her chair and stretched. She turned to me with a smile; but it wasn’t the smile I remembered her by.

“You have to plant something, regularly. At first, it’s things you want to get rid of. You plant your worries, your hate, your fear… but after a while you just… have to keep planting. You plant your dreams, your hopes, your loves… even your memories. You just have to keep planting, because if you don’t, the room will pull you back in.”

“And if you don’t plant anything?”

“Then… you,” she shrugged. “What happens to you, happens.”

“So that’s all there’s to it? I have to plant things in there?”

“You have to lose parts of yourself,” she clarified. “Today, it is worries, tomorrow… the rest.”

She took the empty teacup from my hands and placed it on the coffee table.

“But you don’t have to plant your own things,” she smiled. “As long as you keep planting something.”


I could see it now. There was a real difference to her. She had lost so much; everything down to the dimples of her smile, and the music in her voice. She was the gray remains of what’d once been Josie. Maybe that’s why she changed her name, to reflect the change she’d gone through over the years.

“You… you lost it,” I said. “You lost all of it.”

“So much.”

“What’s even left at this point?”

“Not much,” she admitted. “But what little I got, I’m gonna keep.”


I tried to get out of my chair, but my legs didn’t move.

I tasted coconut, and my eyes had started moving on their own.

“With you, I can plant… what, almost 40 years of hopes, dreams, and thoughts? And at the same time, tie up a loose end? I won’t have to think about that place ever again. I’ll lose nothing more.”

“But you… you can’t just-“

I couldn’t feel my tongue.


. . .



I felt a faint touch. Gentle hands, closing around my throat.

And in the dark of my mind, I saw that white door with the brass knocker.

It opened itself to me.


The thorned tendrils moved aside, welcoming me. The blue sunflowers towered above in a world full of green and blue. A full moon looking down, like a looming eye in the sky.

The pale woman was there. The one with the smile, and the unblinking eyes.

And she turned to me.


Except this time, I recognized her. I dared to look closer.

This, was Josie. The sum of all her worries, dreams, hopes, and joys. Everything planted, put away, and stored. The little parts that made the whole, manifested into this sick-looking creature.

She barely had any hair left, and her physique and been stretched and twisted. Her skin had grown pale from years of darkness. She stared at me with wet, unblinking, black eyes. And when she looked at me, she did so with recognition.

And smiled.

What we’d had together was there, in her.


Without a word, she grasped my head with her hands. I could tell she wanted to help. She knew me. She recognized me, and she was regretful. Maybe she hadn’t meant for me to come here, to see this. Maybe she had just been a drunk girl sharing a secret.

She leaned her head against my shoulder with a gentle purr, then looked me in the eye;

And smashed my head against hers, as hard as she could.


I wasn’t dead. This wasn’t over.

Back in Josephine’s townhouse, she was leaning over me. Choking me. Suddenly, I jerked back awake, thrusting my head forward. I hit her square on the nose, sending her reeling backwards.

Y-you…! What the hell did you-“

She grabbed a cheese knife from an empty plate and got back up. I matched her movements to the best of my ability, but I was falling in and out of consciousness.


The next moment I was back there, looking at the dark eyes of she who’d once been the real Josie. The sunflowers were closing in. Thorns crept up my legs. Josie wasn’t giving up on me, but there wasn’t much she could do.

Finally, she took a step back, and rushed me; throwing me forward.


Awake, I lunged at Josephine. She stumbled backwards, tripping on the edge of a carpet. She fell backwards, breaking her glass coffee table into a thousand pieces. Cutting herself on the pieces.

This time, as I collapsed to the floor, I knew I wouldn’t be coming back.


And there we were.


The three of us, the Sunflower Room. Being mauled by thorns and vivid blue petals. My skin punctured, my flesh stripped. And Josie, apologetically, tried to comfort me.

Was this it? Was this all there was to it? Just… pain? Forever?


“No!” cried Josephine. “I-I… I buried you!”

Josie smiled at me, and I understood.

“So… you don’t get away. Not even in… in death.”

Josie shook her head.

“You postpone it. That’s all you can do, whether you plant anything or not,” I continued. “That’s it, isn’t it?”

The thorns didn’t seem to bother her. She stroked my cheek gently as Josephine was torn to shreds.

“You said this… this place used to be beautiful,” I reminisced. “Could it be?”


Josie whispered a secret in my ear, as Josephine’s vocal cords were stretched; and snapped. Countless beings, all twisted manifestations of memories and thoughts buried, stared at me from the dark.

All, with unblinking eyes.

And as the blue sunflowers faded from my mind’s eye, and in the dark that remained, I asked a final question;

“Will I see you again?”


I woke up on Josephine’s floor, coughing up sunflower seeds. A paramedic loomed over me, having driven an epi-pen into my leg. Apparently, the neighbors had heard the commotion.

I’d killed Josephine. She lay dead on the floor.

I’d planted her in the Sunflower Room.

I’d postponed my death.


Blood tests found that there were drugs in my system. It was deemed an accidental death from self-defense. You might’ve seen it in the news, but it was just this local “domestic abuse” kind of story. A lot of context was lost, and there were bigger news circling the media that month. I’m sort of thankful for it.

The real Josie had been buried piece by piece over the years. “Josephine” was all that remained, and she was desperate not to lose herself further.


Now, before I tell you what happened next, I want you to think about this with me. Really think about it.

Imagine the white door. An old, white, wooden door. A brass knocker that’s been turning green over the years. The door is segmented into two squares, stacked on top of one another. Try to imagine it. You’ve probably seen something like it before.

And as it opens, it gives way to a field of flowers. Beautiful blue sunflowers, in neat rows. There, you can bury your worries, your hatred, your ugly thoughts; and the caretakers of that room will care for them, forever. Imagine the fresh soil between your fingers, and pushing something awful down into it.

Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?


Now, here’s the thing.

I’m sorry.


By telling you about the Sunflower Room, you become aware. It’s a mark that you can’t get rid of. It is this fixed idea that will settle and grow. It can change things. Plant things. Take things. We can all mitigate it by just planting that one thing every now and then. If we all pitch in, collectively, I think the effect will be milder.

Maybe that place is something we’ve always had. A heaven or hell, depending on how you see it. Maybe it was there all along, in the back of our collective minds.


I believe it can be beautiful.

Josie told me so.



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SpongegirlCS t1_j9wxl2a wrote

How could you!! coughs up a sunflower seed


TheSunflowerSeeds t1_j9wxmjb wrote

Sunflower seeds contain health benefiting polyphenol compounds such as chlorogenic acid, quinic acid, and caffeic acids. These compounds are natural anti-oxidants, which help remove harmful oxidant molecules from the body. Further, chlorogenic acid helps reduce blood sugar levels by limiting glycogen breakdown in the liver.


Saturdead OP t1_j9xyvx6 wrote

Just put all that frustration into a little seed, and plant it. It'll all be okay.


DangerPatienceLow t1_j9xmn5l wrote

What if I plant my awareness of the sunflower room in the sunflower room?


Saturdead OP t1_j9xz12v wrote

That might work, but I wouldn't bet on it. You might end up in a situation where you've planted something, but have no idea of knowing about it. Meaning you just start choking to death one day, and have no way to remember why.


clownind t1_j9xv2yc wrote

I usually eat sunflower seeds, so this sounds like free snacks.


TheSkullCupMan t1_j9xu7u4 wrote

Since the room seems to like experiences, I'm gonna begin with you OP, 7 years of Reddit would amount to enough memories that I can bury you piece by piece not at once, that wouldn't be fun, I suppose that if I give it one memory a week, I'd be fine right, that should get me through life.

Although now that I think about it, I might just do your good memories first, starting with Josie, let's see how long you remember the coconuts ;)


Saturdead OP t1_j9xz49y wrote

Well, you can plant your memory of me, but to plant my memories and experiences, you'd have to kill me. And let's just say I no longer live in Juniper, WV.


Ok_Win7914 t1_j9xls83 wrote

I think it will be beautiful!


Saturdead OP t1_j9xyxky wrote

If we all just pitch in, it will be.


Srphtygr t1_j9xxdsb wrote

Oh you clever! It’s like a Roko’s Basilisk type deal! Welp, time to do literally anything else so I can try and forget the coconut scent of blue sunflowers…


Celestellene t1_j9yy4zh wrote

Sorry OP I know what you are doing at the end, I haven't survive this long just to be trapped into different dimension. I even have sunflowers now.


Readalie t1_j9z1tiy wrote

Ooooh, free seeds, thanks! I had mice over the summer and they got into the seeds I'd harvested from last year's sunflower crop, this'll be great.

Downside is that I can't stand the smell of coconut. Drat.


DinoDoom16 t1_j9zk718 wrote

Yay I'll just give myself to the room. Im sick of living so I can just die surrounded my beautiful blue sunflower AND being choked by tendrils?? 😩 Sign me up


RagicalUnicorn t1_j9z5ao1 wrote

Heh sounds swell. It can have my daily annoyance and frustration of cleaning the kitchen, or any other domestic duties. It gets a stupid seed and I get to forget having to take the trash out. Hope it enjoys mediocre emotions and memories!


LeXRTG t1_ja30x1z wrote

Man there's always some fucked up shit going on in Tomskog, isn't there?