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All the Leaves are Brown (2004)


Deep throbbing bass filled the room, mixing with the thick odour of cigarette smoke.  It pulsated through the glassware that D continually refilled.  A never-ending sea of faces lined the bar, handing over crumpled notes of currency in exchange for the alcohol that he served night after night after night.  It seemed an evening like any other.  As always, the behaviour of the patrons was becoming progressively more bawdy, loud and obnoxious… and then it happened.  A single defining moment, a glance crystallised into memory, emblazoned within his mind’s eye for eternity.  His Angel had appeared.  From within the seething throng she floated toward the bar, and when she smiled D almost cried inside.  He never knew that someone could glow with a light so pure.  D beamed like a giddy fool, and while he took her order, it seemed she took his heart.

Kissing an angel was everything D thought it would be.  He was gentle, careful not to be too overwhelming for one so seemingly fragile. When it ended, and only the music in the nightclub remained, she looked him in the eye.

“Is that the best you can do?” she challenged D.  Beauty mixed with fire.  

Who would have thought that the mother of an angel would turn out to be an eight-headed, fire-breathing, direct line descendant of the head Spanish Inquisitor?  The Mother De-Torqemada?  Though cold outside when he first spoke to The Mother, her rapid-fire questions caused him to sweat as if the seasons had been reversed.  He reeled from the concussive speed and force of the hail of questions, each more obtrusive than the last.

“How old are you?  Are your intentions honourable?  What sort of a future do you have planned?  What does your nest egg look like?  Do you have AIDS, or any other communicable diseases?” 

Engaging The Mother in a battle of wits was akin to fighting a vicious samurai warrior armed with only with slightly beaten feather duster.  But he accepted this as part and parcel, a fine-print clause if you will, in the contract of love.


“Are you sure she’s the one mate?”

“I think so.  I’m going to miss you guys.  I’ll come and visit,” he promised.

D took his angel by the hand and they moved into a unit out in the suburbs, where life would be slower, more sane. He had gotten a real job so they could spend more time together, and lead a life more resembling those of so many others.  Week-long partying, broken pieces of glass in the fingers, aching lungs, numb legs and intoxicated monkeys; all this he put behind him.  Seemingly sent from the heavens above and certainly wise beyond her years, Angel taught him of compassion, of honesty, of love and respect.

Though there were certain habits that Angel possessed that D did not understand, even certain habits that irritated him, he did his best to be patient and understanding.  He loved her like he had never any other, and she idolised him.  Even though he had to sleep with the light on somewhere in the house, and sometimes check the cupboards for bogey-men in order to reassure Angel before bed-time, life was good.


The air was prematurely warm and dry. Summer had fought its way before spring in the season cue, and was venting its long pent-up heat onto the hordes crammed into suburbia.  D had planned this moment for some time.  He had expected sweaty palms, nervousness, perhaps even bells ringing.  But he was calm as he presented the ring, uttering the four words that would surely seal his fate.  All he received was a look of disbelief.

“Are you serious?” she asked incredulously.  D blinked. All of a sudden he was keenly aware of his vulnerable position, his bent knees, and his awkward position before Angel. Then she laughed joyously, throwing her arms around him.

“Of course I will,” she cried, and they kissed, and held each other tightly, as the proverbial bells rang.


“If you don’t buy this house I am going to punch your f***ing head in,” growled The Mother.  The threat of physical violence wasn’t necessary.  The house was in a beautiful area, a short walk to the beach, and though it was run-down and looked upon first inspection like a crack-den, D knew that all it needed was a lick of paint and an all over cleanup.  Angel loved it as well, and after weeks of negotiations with real estate agents, solicitors and mortgage brokers, the crack-den became their first home.


Cool timber soothed his feet as he padded along the hallway of his fully renovated home.  He was aching mentally; another petty squabble had broken out into another full-blown argument.  He questioned the meaning of it all- after so much hard work had been put into this home and the target accomplished, only after all this time had the fighting begun. More and more frequently they slept facing away from one another, neither willing to make amends for the harsh word or the sarcastic quip.  The fabric of their love was straining, and inevitably Angel was running out of tears, while D was growing evermore desensitized to her suffering.


The florescent lighting inside the kitchen burned his eyes. Random slivers of sensation beamed into an otherwise numb consciousness.  D watched mutely and without feeling as the papers were passed between the three parties with haste: he signed quickly, not bothering to pore over the fine print. There was no joy, no excitement in this transaction.  Angel and he stood on one side of the smooth marble bench, The Father and The Mother hovered directly across from them.  All avoided looking at each other, and when it was done, little was said.  The silence was heavy, D could taste it, feel it all over him, smothering him like a thick blanket.  A virtual veil of mourning and respect was draped over them all it seemed almost as if a family member had died.

‘Ironic’, thought D.  In a way, the signing of these papers was symbolic of his erasure as a member of his Angel’s family.  He felt as if he were being swept away in a current of fate, unable to control his destiny as events conspired to separate him and his chosen life-mate.


D pauses before the computer…. How to end the story?  How do you explain the whys and reasons for the ending of a beautiful relationship, when you barely understand yourself?  Perhaps he had subconsciously chosen the road less travelled…   He only knows that despite having it all- the perfect partner, the perfect house, and the perfect future- he had not been happy. There had been something missing, he knew that much.  Had he made the right choice?  Or had he really made a choice at all, and if so, should he regret?  Perhaps, D reflected, it did not bear scrutiny at all. Perhaps it was just an enriching experience in his life, a memory to be celebrated.  Bittersweet, thought D.  Now I truly know the meaning.