Welcome to the eleventh story in a series of stories that others tell and I write.
Thank you for telling your stories.
Thank you for reading mine.
My daughter shuts the car door and buckles the seat belt even though I always forget to ask her to. She sits forward a bit and looks at me expectantly as I put the car in reverse and dread this conversation.
“Mom?” she says. “Tell me.”
“Can I at least get out of the driveway?” I say to her, frustrated that my daughter is growing up, that this is the first of many explanations she will want from me.
“It’s true, isn’t it?” She persists.
I just decide to tell her. It’s been long enough and there is nothing more I can do.
“Yes,” I say to my nine year old. “It’s true.”
She is quiet then. She looks out the window. I don’t speak either. I never wanted to in the first place.
We are at the end of the road now and when I come to a stop and look to my right she is looking straight at me. She tells me that she can’t believe it. I think at first that she means she can’t believe there is no Santa, but that’s not exactly what she means.
“I can’t believe you lied to me all this time,” she says.
I am stunned.
“I didn’t lie to you,” I say
“So all those presents from Santa?” she replies quickly, like she’d been waiting. “Who were they from?”
I don’t say anything. I see what she means. But it never felt like a lie. Until now.
“Well they were from me and your father,” I say, telling her what she already knows.
“Right. So you lied.”
I get a little angry with her now, or angry with something anyway.
“I didn’t lie to you. I told a story. It’s a story everyone tells and it’s meant to make Christmas happier, more fun.”
She is quiet again. She looks out the window. I don’t speak either. I never wanted to in the first place.
More time goes by and I think that maybe that was the worst of it and now it is over. But suddenly she sits up tall in her seat and turns to face me, twisting in her seat belt. I look over at my daughter and her eyes are wide and worried.
“So The Easter Bunny,” she says pointedly. “He’s not real either is he?”
I force my eyes away from hers and back to the road, but I still see them. I see her eyes realizing for the first time right this minute that none of it is true. None of it.
“No,” I tell her simply.
“And the footprints that smelled like powder? That really was powder.”
“Yes,” I say.
Again she does not speak and she looks away and I don’t say anything either, but I know what’s coming, some of it anyway.
“The Tooth Fairy?" she asks, but not really. "You're The Tooth Fairy?”
I don’t pause. I just tell her. “Yes. I'm the Tooth Fairy.”
We came to the base of a hill then, one we traveled up every day, and from that time forward I would always remember it as the place where my daughter asked a question I’ve never really known how to answer.
She turned to me then.
“Mom? Are you God too?”