Daughters of Bunnies, To the Sister I’ve Never Had

Zoha Arif

Scotch Plains, NJ

Academy for Information Technology

Creative Nonfiction

You, little chicken, smol sister, who never existed because when the Earth called you an artist, you answered, is what I wish could drown me at the bottom of a swimming pool. I find this so strange, writing to you in this manner even though I have considered myself, every day of my beloved life, to be a lucky soul for never having to deal with the nunanced blessing of a little sister. And yet I can’t quite explain to you in the words of normal human beans (yes, beans) why I feel some way to write you, other than this tulip in my chest that somewhat wishes that you could careen from my wildest fantasies and be here with me, right now, to experience the atrocities and apocalipsis of life because if you microwave two grapes with a bridge of skin between them, you’ll make homemade plasma. Yet 2 + 2 = 4, only when the value of 2 means having a pair of things, like a pair of donuts, and, in the same way, two microwaved grapes only make plasma if the two things microwaved are, indeed, grapes.
If you were ever a being, smol sister, you would think that I was that strange girl with outlandish thoughts. For example, I’ve always wanted to ask for an opinion on my future petition for renaming tomatoes “goobers” just for the comedy of it. Can you imagine boiling pasta one evening and saying, “pass the goober sauce” or assembling a salad and “cutting goobers.” Yet I think you’d be the only one to breathe me, strange thoughts and all. And I love how cheesecake pleases my most discerning taste buds. On rainy evenings, the sky looks like dyed purple plums in a raw cheesecake to me. Yet sometimes, in these evenings, I wish that the world would tilt, spilling expresso coffee and cheesecake on the floor as the clouds collide into the soft earth, as the dirt from the gardens fall like rain into the yawning sky, as sleeping bodies are pushed from their beds and forced to jump from the balcony of one building to another, as the wind slaps fruits from their crates. Otherwise, the world is just boring. And when I think of love too, I feel like bursting a can of zero calorie diet pepsi onto the balcony and somersaulting, cartwheeling, as the planet explodes around me. And if you’re asking how this could all possibly matter, I don’t quite know yet either.
But don’t worry, smol sister, I promise to not bother you with the symbolism of my doing simple things like drinking a glass of water. I guess that if you existed I would ask you about beauty. A kind guy who lived at the bottom of my mattress once asked me if I would ever pluck the wings from a live butterfly and I had said to him that I could never. He then asked me if I would ever squash a cockroach to which I answered, “I have my brothers do it for me all the time.” And he then asked me why is it that I would kill a cockroach but not the butterfly. Because cockroaches are born to be killed, but I dared not say it. Beauty, smol sister, I beg of you. The beauty of nature and girls, why is it the kernel to holding hands, smol sister? When I ask the world it says that I shouldn’t think of such things but surely you, a girl like me, experiencing things like me, living like me on the same Arabic carpet would be able to answer that question. And boys. I would talk to you about my stance on romance for the truth is that I have become obsessed with lying to myself and saying that I hate romance and sappy, cheesy love poems by poets like Pablo Neruda, people who supposedly just “get love.” What confuses me is that the average woman lives longer than the average man, meaning that most women will die alone. So I tell myself, often, that there’s no use in falling in love if I am to die alone. I wish that I understood the symbolic billboard for falling in love for all I’ve heard is that it’s like bubbles cascading down a cloudless sky, the kind of bubbles that make you feel like you have to get up and dance in the midst of a Cairo sand storm to stay sane. I suppose that I would also talk to you about what it means to be a girl, a woman. Is it alright to be too much of a woman? Why is it cool to be a medical archaeologist and not cool, and is it alright to be a housewife or is that lazy?
Is it alright to wear oversized organic cotton sweatshirts in summer winds or is that not being enough of a girl?
I think that you’d like to know that I decided to get a double ear-piercing last March and I thought of you. I think that if you were a living bean, smol sister, we would be obsessed with competing with each other like the daughters of bunnies. Yet when the grass and dirt caves swallow us like thicc caterpillars, I’d hold your hand and your body and whatever else you give me like nectarine, for I would love you a thousand times over.
But you listened to the calling of the Earth, and it must be fun to be an artist for the moon, painting yourself in my thoughts in bright yellows and oranges, promising me an adventure everyday. So perhaps this is not so much of a hello or a goodbye smol sister, but a thank you for not existing and for existing.

The cockroach and butterfly passage is a summary of a discussion the poet read on Quora.

EDITORIAL PRAISE

It’s enrapturing, enveloping, and honest. The roving metaphors seep into my mind each time I pour over this piece. Perhaps what’s most pervading is the longing for what is not; the author must pave the cracks made by forces beyond her control. She’s demanding, uncertain, unapologetic, bursting with love.

Zoha Arif will graduate from the Academy for Information Technology in the spring of 2021. She lives in Union, New Jersey and melts away her free time appreciating peanut butter, eating books, breathing computer science, chasing squirrels, and spilling her strangest ideas into her works of fiction and creative nonfiction.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR