Jump forward two years from that day, and everything was different.
I stood before the new building, colourful and warm amongst the dull urban greys, like new earth. I felt renewed and wonderful, as though I was resting by an open fireplace. A name stood out in golden letters.
Underneath this shimmering sign were the words;
'Shelter for the Homeless'
I smiled, knowing that my battle, fought with my mother and my twelve closest friends, against the council for planning permission was sucessful. My mother sat on the bench outside. I was about to sit by her when I saw a throbbing mass of figures head towards me.
I smiled, recognising each of the figures for the beautiful person they were. I saw Alex and Aidan, smiling as they approached, aware of the fact that they would now have a roof over their heads for a short time before they began work. Danny and Simon still limped, but they appeared stronger; coming here was only temporary, as they were soon to be recognised for their services to the Army and treated accordingly. I allowed myself to smile even more once Mia and Michael came into view, holding the hands of two adults - their new parents. Finally, Libby, Sally and Markus appeared, sober, tightly-knit into one unit. They had begun to recieve help for their addictions prior to the completion of the building and, having progressed well, were now leading talks and lectures praising substance safety and warning against the dangers of excess. Jacoby, in his infinate jurisdiction, lead the way, the boss of both his friends and the new establishment.
I became troubled, realising that one of my wingless angels was missing. Then, feeling a pair of warm, gentle hands over my eyes, I smiled, knowing that the last seraphim had arrived.
"Hello, Gabriel," I said, laughing under my breath.
"Hello, Ayla. How do you feel?"
By this point, the others had crowded around me. I replied,
"Terrific. I finally feel that I have repaid in full the friendship that you all showed me so long ago."
"Ayla," Gabriel began, "you have done so much for us. All of us. I for one am about to recieve my A-Level results and move into my own flat. And I couldn't have done it without you. I doubt any of us could have done anything without your determination, your tenacity..."
"Your soup," Jacoby interjected, which drew warm laughter from everyone. In this moment of happiness, Tamara appeared, humility across her face.
"Ayla," she said, her once authorative voice weakened by expulsion - my confession to the teachers two years previously had started a chain reaction, and before Tamara could blink, she had so many black marks against her name that she was thrown out as an example of vindictive and controlling behaviour.
"Yes?" I asked.
"I just wanted to congratulate you on your success. You must be very proud."
"I am, Tamara, thank you. How have you been?"
"Okay, I guess. I've found a job now - the hours are terrible and the pay sucks, but it's a job."
"Well done." I replied, in as well-meaning a voice as I could manage. However, the feeling of her sharp-heeled shoes against the back of my head manifested itself once more as we spoke.
"Ayla," she said, sensing my memories, "I'm so sorry for what I did. I don't understand why I acted like that, even to this day." I smiled, the warmth within me glowing all the brighter as old shackles fell from my heart and I embraced my previous tormentor. So moved was I by this sudden freedom, I threw my arms around Tamara and began to cry.
"I forgive you, Tamara. Thank you, I have waited for a long time for those words to leave your lips."
"Thank you, Ayla. Thank you so much."
It was then that my benevolence came to a head and I offered Tamara a much better job, working alongside Jacoby at the homeless shelter. She nodded excitedly, thanksgiving written across her face. Desperate to share my warmth with another, I flung my arms around Gabriel, staring into his eyes. He responded accordingly, and we kissed, sharing the pure joy in that moment with all who were present. As I broke away, we walked arm in arm up to the door of the shelter and opened it. Then, taking a breath, we stepped into the warm future, flew into it with the winds of hope and charity beneath our invisible wings.
I would like to thank all of those people who have read this story. I have one more thing to say to you all.
In all of your lives, there will be angels. You just may not recognise them.
Remember, not all angels have wings.