child in the attic

The princess lives from day to day in the dark tower.

Lirin has never known anything else. Her brother has always been there to warm her and guard her. His friends are family, too; big brother Doku and big sister Yaone, to run after her and fuss over her and be there when she needs them.

Lirin isn't sure about mothers. She knows what her mother -- madam-my-mother -- is like, but Kou talks about his mother as if mothers could be someone like Yaone, only bigger, better. Able to protect her.

There aren't any fathers in Lirin's world.

Lirin likes to play. Sometimes she plays with Kou and Doku and Yaone, and sometimes they all go to play with Sanzou and Gokuu and the other two. It's a lot more fun than sitting around in the dark tower or wandering round the corridors and trying not to run into madam-my-mother or the bunny-man who smells of cigarettes.

Sometimes Kou tries to get her to study. He says, "You must learn these things," and "A princess should know these things," and Yaone clasps her hands and says, "Your highness, you should work at your lessons!" They don't realise that Lirin doesn't need to know about lessons and schoolwork, because Lirin is the most powerful princess ever.

Some day Lirin is going to go down to the basement and tear all the nasty papers off Kou's mother and make her wake up. And then Kou's mother will tell madam-my-mother how nasty she was for being horrible to Kou, and madam-my-mother will cry big tears and say she's sorry, but Lirin won't forgive her, oh no, and Kou's mother will hug Lirin the way that Yaone does and all the nasty people will go and the bunny-man will go and she and Kou and Doku and Yaone will have adventures and . . .

. . . and there isn't any further than that, because Lirin doesn't know how to imagine it, because madam-my-mother is carved out of stone and as cold as stone and as old as the tower and nothing is ever going to change.

Sometimes Lirin thinks that she must be asleep and dreaming, and wonders if she will ever wake up.

Lirin lives in the present, from day to day. The future is a foreign country to her, far away, with impassable borders.

---