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I’m talking to my sister the other day, her name is Joan, she's a real Goody-Two-Shoes. Me, I’m the black sheep of the family. So we’re talking and I said, hey, you know what’s funny? Remember Freckles, that puppy we had? Remember that time Daddy said he was taking Freckles for a ride in the country?

That did not—

Freckles never came back. I said, and remember the tropical fish? We went to the pet store. Got the fish and the tank and the lamp. Remember?

Are you high? said Joan.

No I’m not high, don’t you remember? Daddy set up the tank that night. The fish were all swimming around...next morning, nothing but floaters. 

I think you’re ill, she said, none of that—

Could be, I said. I could be ill, but you know what’s funny? Remember Jojo? That beefcake-y guy? Remember how we came home from school, and there they were. Mom and Jojo. Don’t tell your father, she said and Jojo smiled. Gave us each twenty bucks.

That so never happened.

What about Fluffy? You telling me that didn't happen? They said, "Fluffy got loose", and then we had chicken the next five nights.

I’m really worried about you, said Joan. I’m seriously, seriously concerned.

Good, I told her. One of us should be seriously concerned. I guess that would be up to you.

It’s always been up to me, she said. You make up the rules as you go along. Everything’s optional. Love and truthhousekeeping and apparently basic hygiene…look at you…and look at this place…what was this, cheese, once maybe? Aren’t you ashamed to live like this?

Joan, Joan, you don’t understand. Shame, I said, is like an orchid.

What the fuck does that mean?

It looked like Joan was about to cry. I almost felt bad then thought better of it. Finally she said, you’re right about one thing. I don’t understand. I don’t understand you at all. And anyway, even if any of that were true, what’s so fucking funny about it?

Shame, I said, Miss Goody-Two-Shoes, that’s what’s so fucking funny about it. You think you’re good? You don’t shine without me. You shine in my darkness. Shame makes you good. It makes me the bad one but your hands are empty. My hands hold it all.

Then poof! Joan was gone. Like, vanished, into thin air. Everything's optional. Love, and truth. There is no Joan, I made her up; I'm an only child. I make things up all the time.

But you know what's funny? What’s funny is, it comes in all colors and lasts for a lifetime.

Shame really is like an orchid.