VIENNA, Austria – Ten-year-old Natascha Kampusch and her mother argued before school, and the girl left home without her usual goodbye kiss.
It was a cruel parting, made infinitely harder by being the last time her mother saw the girl for 8 1/2 years until she escaped last year from captivity in an underground cell.
Brigitta Sirny, Natascha's mother, published a book Tuesday detailing what she went through during her daughter's absence.
Natascha Kampusch was kidnapped on her way to school in Vienna on March 2, 1998, when she was 10. Her captor, Wolfgang Priklopil, largely confined her to the windowless cell in his home in a rural and quiet town on the outskirts of the Austrian capital.
The book, titled "Desperate Years: My life without Natascha," is being released weeks before the one-year anniversary of Kampusch's escape on Aug. 23, 2006. Kampusch fled to freedom when Priklopil was distracted by a cell phone call while she was vacuuming his car. Priklopil killed himself by jumping in front of a commuter train later that day.
Sirny said writing the account helped her come to terms with what happened.
"I won't ever be able to forget these eight and a half years, but it's easier to deal with it," Sirny told reporters.
Sirny, noting she often receives phone calls from parents asking for advice, said she also wrote the book for people in similar situations.
"They ask me for advice and so I think to myself it's also good for these people when they can read how one feels," she added, noting that on Sunday she spoke with a mother whose child disappeared two weeks ago.
The first chapter of the book, which comes to 206 pages, begins with the sentences: "My life in hell began at 5:30. But I didn't know it then."
She goes on to describe how mother and daughter had an argument about what to wear to school that morning. It ended with Kampusch, who uses her mother's maiden name, storming out of the house without kissing her mother goodbye.
Kampusch, shielding her face with a white hand-held fan, appeared at her mother's news conference. She sat at the back of the room and declined to make any comments.
Sirny, who dedicated the book to Kampusch, said she had "very good contact" with her daughter, adding she saw her on a regular basis but less so than at first because she now had her own apartment.
"I don't want to annoy her," Sirny said with a laugh.
When the two spend time together, they visit friends or relatives and go swimming or shopping, Sirny said.
"We're a real family," she added.
Kampusch spent some 11 hours reading through every line of the book and made some minor changes, according to Fritz Panzer, head of the Vienna-based publishing house Verlag Carl Ueberreuter.
Panzer declined to specify how much money Sirny would receive for the book.
Sirny said Kampusch gave her approval for the book but added that the two have not talked about it. She said they might do so in the future.
"We have other things (to talk about) that are actually more important than the book," Sirny said.