'Derived from the Latin Meaning Happiness' by Sandra Arnold

He always had music in his head. She liked the way he broke into song or played a few bars on the piano when he walked into the room. Every night she fell asleep to the rhythm of his fingers playing a tune on her backbone. She always had stories in her head. He liked the way she broke off in the middle of a conversation to stare into another world before picking up the threads of this one. On their walks they liked talking about the origins of words. The first time they saw a fantail in the forest she said, “Its Maori name is piwakawaka. The Messenger. Some tribes believe it brings news of a death, but others say it means good fortune.” At other times they were silent, breathing in the wild wood scents of bush and tussock, listening to the narratives of river and sea. They let the music settle in their hearts. When she was sixteen he told her he would always love her. Now they were no longer young he wanted a tangible way to show her this was true. Not with flowers. Not with chocolates. They weren’t enough. So he went down to the churchyard and removed a headstone covered in moss. He brought it home and in secret cleaned it in his shed, singing the lullabies he remembered her singing. When it was ready he called to her to come and see. “We haven’t been able to see her name for such a long time,” she said. “And Felicity is such a beautiful name. It means intense happiness.” “Cleaning the stone,” he said, “still doesn’t feel enough.” “It is,” she said. Published in Jellyfish Review August 2016

Comments

  1. This is very beautiful, Sandra. I just read it to my partner, wanted to share the power in your words.

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