Once upon a time there was a small little girl called Iris. She was staring at the Big Wheel of the Bellecour square in Lyon. People in the street did not even pay attention to the ugly girl in her black coat that was too large for her. She did not see them but waited for her mother who would come back, her pockets full of sweets as it was Christmas.
That day, she waited for a very long time but Mum did never come back. Mum had died a few hours before as a BMW had run over her in front of the Part-Dieu shopping center. Around her mother’s body the sweets looked like little peas in snow-covered pie. Iris never saw the little peas, but she saw all the hurried customers going out of the Decitres bookshop with their arms full of presents.
Iris was very ugly but she was very clever. She spent all her time dreaming of castles full of secret books. She wondered if one day her dream would come true. She dreamt she was the new best-seller writer who had imagined the capital of French cuisine as a huge Pérouges cream and sugar tart with honey that cracked open as Dark Victor, the terrible enemy of the city, had cast a spell on all the local people.
But now, she was crying as the last customer left the bookshop, her favorite best-seller under his arms. She would never be given such a present and she would never listen again to her Mum’s fairy tales about the mysteries of Lyon. That night, she decided to leave the Big Wheel that turned as slowly as the Earth rotated once in 24 hours. Iris liked this comparison since the Big Wheel was a beautiful lady in a translucent dress ornamented with shining multi-colored diamonds. She said goodbye to Lady Big Wheel and took the train to the Old Lyon station.
Iris was very sad. She knew her life would not be the same anymore. She had to contact her uncle who lived near the Fourviere Basilica. She was afraid of him. He was always dressed in black and looked like a scarecrow . Of course, uncle Thomas was a priest who had spent all his life in a single room lit up by one light bulb at night and the sun rays going through the only narrow window that was almost opaque as it was dirty with dust. Iris was afraid of him.
However, she did not have the choice. She could not survive alone in the street. She had to find him and try to forget her disgust for a man who remained a mystery to her. So, she took the first train that disappeared into the dark tunnel. As it was going further into the tunnel, Iris began to feel ill at ease…