Spare some change please? The unkempt young man asked.
Alice looked at him as she passed. She knew most of the beggars in this town, but she hadn't seen him before.
She tossed a pound coin in the hat that he had put onto the cold ground in front of him.
It was a cold day, frosty and clear – he must be cold!
Later, she popped into town during her lunch break. The young man was still there, shivering in the cold.
She went into the coffee shop and came out with two steaming cups and two chocolate muffins.
She handed a cup of coffee and a muffin to the young man. Here you go, she said, and stood by him whilst she drank hers.
Thank you Miss, he said. Not many are so kind as you.
She smiled and sat down beside him. So what's your story, she asked. Why don't you have anywhere better to be on such a cold day.
He began to tell her about his life, how he had come from a rich family, how they disowned him when he dared to disagree with them about how the family business should be run. How they had thrown him out of the family home, left him penniless on the street.
He spoke about how thoughtless his family were about others. As long as they were alright and could afford staff and exotic holidays, then they were happy. They didn't care about suffering and poverty.
They sipped their coffee, and then he said, but since then, I've learnt so much. Being on the streets shows you both the best and the worst in people. There are some truly special people in this world – people like you!
She smiled and said that she needed to get back to work and that if he was back again tomorrow, that she would bring him another drink and continue their chat.
He was there the next day, and for every day after that.
Each day they talked about hopes, dreams, things they would love to have whilst the sipped their coffee and ate their cake.
She laughingly told him about her dream house. It would be a decent size, but not too bit – maybe around the half a million mark. But it was just that, a dream that she would never be able to afford.
Weeks passed and they met each day, sharing food and good conversation and then one day, he was gone!
She often thought about him, wondering if he was ok, wondering if he had been taken back by his family.
Years went by and his memory faded.
One morning, she arrived at work to find a letter on her desk.
She opened it absently mindedly. A sheet of paper fell out. She blinked, unbelievingly. It was a cheque! It was made out to her and the sum was half a million pounds!
She pulled out the sheet of paper within the envelope and read it:
'To my coffee and muffin angel. You were my light in the darkness all of those years ago. My parents passed away recently and I am sole beneficiary to their estate. Go and buy that house that you have always dreamed of.'
She looked out of the window and straight into his eyes. She smiled, grabbed her coat and ran into his arms.