Gertie Bird sat in the food court of Maple Acres Mall. She lay plastic sign letters randomly around the table. This was part of her daily routine. Most people ignored the old woman. Not Jerome. Every morning, before opening his watch repair booth, he’d sit and watch Gertie Bird arranging and rearranging her letters. Occasionally she’d sit back and flash a toothless smile. Most of the time she’d look determined, even frustrated. By ten o’clock she’d leave and not return until the following morning.
One ordinary Tuesday morning Jerome brought his coffee and sat next to Gertie Bird.
“Good morning,” said Jerome.
“Good morning,” said Gertie Bird, smiling her toothless grin. A drop of drool clung to her chin.
“Nice letters,” said Jerome.
“Thank-you. I find them, you know, all over the city. I see them here and there,” said Gertie Bird.
“So you collect them,” said Jerome.
“Yes, but I don’t steal them. Some people think I steal them, but I don’t. That wouldn’t be right,” said Gertie Bird.
“I didn’t think that. I was just kinda curious to know what you do with them,” said Jerome.
“I put the letters together and see what they tell me. See?” said Gertie Bird.
“They tell you things?”
“Oh yes, but it’s not really the letters. God speaks to me through the messages,” said Gertie Bird, who was busily arranging letters.
Jerome felt sorry for the old woman. “Why do you think God speaks to you through the letters?” he said.
“He’s been doing it my whole life. I’m ninety-three years old and he hasn’t let me down yet,” said Gertie Bird, still arranging letters.
“But they’re just letters.”
“They’re letters I find on the street. God puts them there and I find them. I can only get the messages the letters bring. I write them all in my book,” said Gertie Bird. She pulled a ratted old notebook from her bag. It was packed with messages.
“I need to open my booth. I hope you find something good,” said Jerome as he stood to leave.
“Wait. I need to show you something. See? Here’s the message I got yesterday,” said Gertie Bird.
Jerome read the message pointed out by her arthritic, wrinkled finger. ‘Note for Jerome tomorrow.’
“So many o’s. Never seen anything like it,” said Gertie Bird.
“I didn’t tell you my name. How’d you know that?” said Jerome.
“God doesn’t need an introduction. He already knows you,” said Gertie Bird. “There, it’s done. This is for you.”
Tears welled up in his eyes as Jerome read the note. He fell helplessly to his seat.
“How,” he said softly.
Gertie Bird placed her hand on his arm. “Are you asking me to explain the note or God? I don’t really understand either of them,” she said. “I only know enough.”