The Conversations Between the Mentally-Ill Daughter of a Mentally-Ill Mother
by Lily Tolchin

Runestone, volume 10

You need to stop doing that so much, she says as I rinse the soap
from my hands, It’s becoming an obsession, I think, she says

Well then you need to stop checking the stove, isn’t that an obsession? I ask
It’s different, she says after being silent for a while

What is it that you see? she asks me one day and I tell her,
Well, they’re everywhere, all over my shoes, the cracks

in my fingernails, y’know, that sorta thing, what do you see? and she tells me
her visions of her home and family burning up like a dying star, all disappearing as

if she had woken up from a dream,
People like us, she says, We spend so much of our lives seeing

things that don’t exist- that will never exist, I just hope you’ll remember
to see your real life, too, and then I say, I hope so too

I think I’m just stuck this way, she says one evening as she swirls her glass of wine mixed with
the gin you get on airplanes, That’s why it’s different for you, you still have time

But isn’t that what you told yourself when you
were young, I say without thinking and she takes a sip

I’m not this person because I want to be, I say, I know I’m wrong,
and this is one of those moments

where she decides to do the motherly thing and looks at me,
You’re not wrong, you’re my daughter,

she’s holding my head to her chest now and I stare ahead, forgetting
what part I’m supposed to be playing until

she breaks the stillness, But maybe being my daughter is what made you wrong,
she whispers just above her throat


Growing Apprehension by Alexis Carter


University of Pittsburgh

LILY TOLCHIN is a junior undergraduate English writing major at the University of Pittsburgh. Her work has previously been published in two editions of the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Anthology.

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