Derived from the Latin Meaning Happiness
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.
Sandra Arnold is a New Zealand novelist, short story and non-fiction writer with a PhD in Creative Writing. Her work has been widely published and anthologised and has won or been short-listed for several literary awards. She was the recipient of the 2014 Seresin/Landfall/Otago University Press Writers Residency and the winner of the New Zealand Heritage Week Short Story Competition. A recent convert to the challenge and joy of writing Flash Fiction, her first flash story was longlisted for the 2016 New Zealand Flash Fiction Day Competition and her second piece was short-listed for the 2016 UK The Short Story Flash Competition.
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(Artwork derived from image by Clinton 1550)