"Momma?" I ask. "Is Santa actually real?"
She blinks before answering: "Of course darling"
She looked startled and unsure.
That was the first time I knew something wasn't quite right.
That maybe Momma's answer wasn't all true.
But it was only the first time, so I brushed it off and forgot about it.
The news had come on after the cartoons I was watching.
Momma told me not to look, but I heard loud noises and I peeked.
It didn't look very pretty, not at all like the happily ever afters I had imagined.
That was the second time I doubted what I was being told.
That maybe I wouldn't grow up and live in a castle and be a princess.
It was a bigger crack, but it was only the second time so I didn't notice.
My friend in class had a new little brother.
I asked my teacher where babies come from and he told me to ask my parents.
After school I went up to Momma and asked "Where do babies come from?"
"They come from their mommies and daddies love" She replied.
I wasn't sure about that so I asked another question.
"Where did I come from then? Mommy-cause I don't have a Daddy."
She looked away before answering. "You came from mommy's love."
That was the third time I suspected she wasn't quite telling the truth.
I had been in school long enough to realize something didn't add up, that momma was leaving something out of what she was saying.
But she looked sad, so I just said okay.
It was the third time though, so it left me thinking.
Number four came later that year.
I overheard some girls talking in the bathroom.
They mentioned a word that I had never heard so I decided to ask Mommy about it later.
"What's 'sex' Mommy?"
She looked so startled when I asked and whispered under her breath. "shit."
"What's 'shit' Mommy?"
She just closed her eyes and sighed. "Grown-up words darling, grown-up words."
That was the fourth time I realized that something was being kept from me because of my age.
I didn't understand how words could only be for grown-ups. Not when I had been talking since I turned 6 months of age.
It left me confused, number four did.
Someone was knocking on the door.
Momma was home so I answered it.
It was a strange looking man with brown hair and a bit of a beard.
"Momma" I called. "Someone's at the door"
She walked down the hall with her hair still wet and I saw her face pale as she got closer.
"Darling" She said. "Come here please"
I walked over to her because she seemed worried and sad and angry and I didn't want to get in trouble.
But she just clutched me to her and looked at the man. "You are not welcome here" She had said angrily. "You lost any right to come see me or her or us when you walked out that door ten years ago."
At this point I was even more confused.
But, Momma shut the door in his face and I heard an engine roar and a car go down the street.
"Momma, why didn't you let him talk?"
She just pulled me closer and tighter.
I wiggle some. "Momma?" I ask again.
She just shakes her head. "Not right now darling,"
I think it was the fifth time when I knew that something had changed for real.
When I realized that life wasn't butterflies and sunshine and rainbows.
I had figured out answers to many of my questions over the years just by looking and listening.
I knew that that man was important. That by what Momma had said and how he sorta looked like me that he was probably my father.
But I didn't care-I just wanted Mommy to be happy again.
So I just said ok and hugged her back.
Number five was when I knew that nothing would ever be the same.
I wasn't lost in a world of fantasy anymore.
I was just lost in the real world.