The day after they identified the Boston Marathon bombers my mother texted me a picture of a teenage boy by Edgartown harbor. He was facing away from the camera and wearing a white, backwards baseball-cap and a backpack over one shoulder. “The Boston bomber?” her caption read.
We call them coincidences, but for my mother they are her daily hell. I started noticing it when my mother was in her 40s. Maybe it was there before and I just didn’t notice because she was my mom. We’d talk about someone and later in the day see the person in the grocery store. “That’s just a little too coincidental, don’t you think?” My mother would say to me in her I know what’s really going on, voice. “I’ve been looking for the pasta strainer all day and then it just shows up in the dishwasher,” she’d accuse. “Who is telling you to say that?” she’d demand when my opinion differed from hers on anything.
Now, six years after her brother’s suicide triggered a complete mental breakdown, my mother calls me from her rented room on the Cape to ask me about conversations I’ve had with random people in the past or to ask if I’ve heard from my ward-of-the-state-little-sister who lives with my brother and refuses to see our mother. “What exactly does Rebecca do for a living and where did she go to college?” was the text message she sent me this morning about a friend of mine from childhood. I mostly ignore these inquiries along with the long texts about the vibrations that stalk her wherever she goes.
I want to tell my mother that no one is after her. That she is safe. That the NSA, the local high school and the counseling center did not team up to ruin her life and take her daughter away from her. But I know that after she stops screaming at me to believe her and support her she’ll ask me, “It’s just a little too coincidental, don’t you think?”

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