Nadia really thought it would last. When they had met Happy told her that her name translated from Chinese as Happy Kitten, but it would take Nadia almost two years to learn her real name. By then of course, Happy would be dead. Happy was tall, an endless stretch of smooth, asian skin that seemed to run on and on for miles. Her neck curved gracefully upwards. Her cheeks were sharp and feline, with piercing narrow eyes that were always watching. Nadia had never loved anything or anyone as much as she loved Happy Kitten.
Nadia’s parents had tried to do their best, but she wasn’t interested. So she was raised free to be her own rebel, unaware or the benefits of her normal upbringing, which allowed her to rail against it so fiercely. She didn’t ‘do’ Instagram, or Facebook, which she judged was too judgemental. She didn’t buy fast fashion and she only drove to get to protests. She wrote letters about climate change on paper not email because she wouldn’t sell her identity to Google. She wasn’t interested in boys, or girls, she was interested in the mind and if that came with a body then so be it sex, like gender was immaterial. She was stubborn, difficult, proud, determined, passionate and deeply unhappy.
Until she met Happy, in the park, aged 17, in a modern day cliche; drawn in by a cute puppy. Happy walked Casper, her Cockerpoo, every morning when she finished work. Nadia would not find out Happy did for work for another 22 months; 1 day before Happy’s death.
Happy stood out from everyone else in the park, her pale, delicate towering presence, like a lone birch tree. Nadia was cautious with new people, but she had felt instantly at ease and they chatted for an hour. One was finishing work as the other started. It grew from there. A few weeks later it was Dinner at Happy’s apartment, some delicious cheese and more than enough wine, saw them sleep together for the first time. No-one had ever made Nadine feel like this. When she came, her breath stopped, everything froze for an age, until it would hit her in an explosion of pleasure. They would talk for hours, politics, art, literature. They shared a disillusioned view of the broken world that was so perfectly in sync, it was at odds with itself.
After 12 months, Nadia moved in. Her parents were strictly against the idea, but she was 18 and Happy who was 29 assured them she would take care of her. Three nights of the week Happy worked her night-shift. They never discussed what she did. Three days of the week Nadia worked in an independent book-shop cafe. The rest of the week they lived in a world of bliss.
It was Nadia’s father who told her what Happy did at night. A ‘colleague’ of his had told him about this woman he had met at an event that matched Happy’s description. He rang Nadia. She didn’t belive him and they argued. That night Nadia asked Happy about it. Happy didn’t argue, she didn’t deny it, she didn’t say anything except that ‘it was just her job, it wasn’t her’. Nadia cried all night. The next day Happy was found dead in the park. She had been stabbed in the chest multiple times, by a small blade, probably a kitchen knife or penknife. Nadia didn't find out her real name until the police informed her.