That night, Angelina stood on her fire escape, looking up at the stars. You couldn’t see many in the city, but she’d camping in a state park once, and seen thousands of them. Tens of thousands. It reminded her of seeing the angels, each one doing good deeds every second.
“Ahhhh,” she sang, middle C. Angelina liked music. “I wonder if angels like music, other than harps,” she said aloud. You talked to yourself, when there was no one else, when you were an orphan.
She could feel her wings fluttering behind her. They wanted to fly. She wanted to do more good. Then she heard purring and felt a soft tickle walking around her ankles. Milo was wondering why she was out here. He hated the fire escape, but he wanted attention more. Angelina looked at him. “Did you always know what I was, and just not tell me?” Milo just rubbed up against her. His green eyes were steady and sure. “Well, at least one of us knows what his horizons are. Good for you, cat.”
She had an idea. Angelina carried Milo back inside. She changed into her favorite black jeans and black shirt. She turned off the lights, went back outside, and went for a flight.
The next day at lunch, Daniel showed up again at the soup kitchen. Angelina beamed when she saw him. She was wearing the same shirt she’d worn last night, one with little crystal beads that formed stars on it. “Hello, Mr. Daniel. Today we have tomato vegetable soup. Would you like some?”
“That’ll be fine. Thank you.” Angelina nodded to the student volunteer next to her. He started preparing Daniel’s tray. “Have you thought about the little stroll we took yesterday?”
“I thought about it all last night.”
Daniel frowned. “Do my ears deceive me, or do you sound strangely chipper today?”
“It’s not strange to my friends. I’ll bring your tray over and we’ll talk.”
Daniel still didn’t look happy. Angelina had the feeling he’d been making reservations for her with the celestial choir. She collected his tray and led him to an empty table near the end of the line.
“Last night I did some more good. I stopped three muggings, helped six kids study for college, comforted a lonely old woman, reminded a couple to use birth control, gave a triathlete strength to keep swimming, and kept someone from driving drunk.”
“Well, good for you.” Daniel didn’t sound happy yet.
“Then I went to bed. This morning, instead of t’ai ch’i, I helped a mother get her kids off to school, then flew over to Camden and encouraged a homeless person to get some support.” Daniel held his cane. He was losing patience. “I made that soup myself. Aren’t you going to have any?”
“Angelina. I came here for a reason.”
“Well… ‘dad,’ if you really are… it’s time to let your little girl fly on her own.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You showed me yesterday that I don’t have to go to Heaven to help people on Earth. So I didn’t. I’m my own superhero now. I can help people right here. My pay job is my secret identity.”
Daniel stamped his cane on the floor. “This isn’t a game, child!”
“I didn’t say it was! But if you believe things happen for a reason, then there’s a reason I got lost. I’m not supposed to go home yet.”
Daniel froze. “You’re truly serious about this.”
Angelina took a breath. She nodded. “More than I’ve ever been about anything.”
Daniel chuckled. Then he laughed. Then he dropped back his head and laughed so hard people turned to look at him. Angelina didn’t know if he meant it or he was putting on some kind of mocking show for her. When he recovered, he was dabbing at tears in his eyes. “The Almighty truly does work in mysterious ways. I’ll need to ask Her about that when I get back. Maybe She wanted to teach an old angel something about service.”
Angelina smiled uneasily. “You’re not mad?”
“I’m confused, but I don’t think it’s any more confused than people are with the way things work.” He reached for his cutlery and found the spoon. “I think I’ll try some of this soup before I go. It does smell delicious.” He held out his hand. “Fly on, Angel. Be good.”
Angelina shook it. Her stars glittered under the fluorescents. She said, “Keep playing that flute. I’ll listen for it while I’m out doing my thing.”
Daniel nodded. Angelina went back to the food line, helping one person at a time.