Once upon a time, there was a king and a queen. They lived in a castle in a kingdom in a land far away. One day they decided to have a child and sure enough the queen soon had a little baby princess and everyone was very happy. And they called the princess Princess Pink
We are enjoying the last days of the holidays, without papers and television news updates, in the watery heat of the summer’s end. I look out from my favourite vantage point above the back garden. My wife is reading at the green metal table, while my daughter plays next to her in the paddling pool, sunlight flickering on its silvery surface. The hosepipe lies nearby. Earlier I had pointed out a rainbow in the fine spray, sliding into the flowerbed. “Look, there it is! Can you see it?” “In real life is there a rainbow?” my daughter asked. She is very keen to work out what is real and what is not nowadays. “Yes, in real life I said. “Oh yes! I see it!” she replied, beaming.
But soon the queen became ill and the king was sad and all the subjects were sad too. The finest physicians in the land tried to find a cure but they couldn’t. So the king took care of Princess Pink. And in return she slept in a little basket next to him every night and kept the sadness away.
I’m not near enough to smell the sun lotion, but I can sense it. The splashing and the singing and the giggling I can hear. I look at her playing and I can see she’s happy, or at least not unhappy. But I worry she’ll not be as happy later, on her own. It doesn’t matter now, of course. To everyone else it might seem that a brother or sister could come along. Many of her friends have them already. But it is unlikely to happen. I know that. And I hope she won’t mind. I’ll explain one day and I know she’ll understand. As for me, later on in the day she makes me happier than she could ever know. Just by lying there asleep against me, story books scattered on the floor, her light breathing matching mine.
In the end, a clever wizard came to the kingdom and he found the cure for the queen. She returned to live with the king and Princess Pink in their castle and got better over the years until she was the same old happy queen. But the king never forgot what Princess Pink did for him and he always tried to keep the sadness away for her too.