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The Chronic Iris (Iridaceae Beatrice)

The Chronic Iris is a notoriously difficult plant, as constant, random changes in the composition and state of its stalks and petals require a steady level of maintenance and a recurring need to adjust its conditions for optimal inflammatory bloom.

The iris thrives best in soil that is damp, putrid and dense with fungus. Bacterial cultures are essential to its development, as an overgrowth of yeast contributes to this flower’s remarkable scent. It requires regular misting with a blended cocktail of immunosuppressants and antibiotics. While this flower’s efficient self-destruction is its most distinctive quality, it requires vigilant care to keep its process running. It is not allowed to give up completely.

A well-kept Chronic Iris displays a mottled pattern on its petals, a graphic combination of red, ulcerated tissue that screams with inflammation and darkened speckles of decay where the lining of organs has worn itself ragged. It emits a thick nectar of sickly yellow pus and infected blood, which drips steadily from the sores and boils that decorate its rotten leaves. Occasionally this drainage hardens into pustules, forming a crust on the surface of the iris’s petals, which can be picked at or scraped off to create further irritation. Some abscesses may require assistance from the gardener to be properly lanced and drained. Most eventually burst on their own, creating a magnificent, viscous mess and covering the iris with its own rancid nectar. It bleeds and oozes and stinks of disease. It weeps endlessly, and it will never be clean.

This discharge is a method of self-maintenance for the iris, a frail attempt to fight a constant invisible infection, which contributes to the very real filth of its environment. Like most things the iris does, the inflammation and the picking and the digging of holes through its own tissue, its own organic behaviors are nowhere near enough to keep it functioning. No matter what it does, it is only a matter of time before it is doomed to break down again.

The iris is trapped in a cycle of unpredictable sickness. Beatrice simmers in a warm, uncomfortable hot-pink of panicked tissue and misplaced blood before inflamed sites wilt and degrade. Scarring crumples and hardens their tissues, turning them dense and useless. Then the disease finds somewhere new to take root, and the process begins again as the endless bickering with their own immune system rages on. Endless infections, reactions to pathogens none can see, flesh unable to rest no matter how often it is told there is nothing wrong. A procession of bewildered doctors shrug in confusion. These things just happen sometimes. There isn’t much they can do. No one understands how it works. Not really.

So Beatrice survives, and the iris blooms forever.