Ms. Gibson’s life was sketched in a trail of paper napkins left on tables after lunch. She wrote missives on them, letters to lonely waitresses. Some of them barely ran to six words – ‘Quit. Go out and kick ass.’ – and others filled up both sides till the edges ran out.

For Ms. Gibson, the writing was telepathy – ‘I can read your mind. And I can talk to you without moving my lips.’ Some of the letters went unheeded, she knew, but some of them made big impressions on people who meant something to her, if only for a few minutes.

Word spread. Ms. Gibson always got good service. The letters began to gather in a central museum. The waitresses got less lonely. Months merged into years, Ms. Gibson went grey and stopped being able to hear. But there were always letters.

Then there was a final letter, after writing which Ms. Gibson went out on the pavement and collapsed. She was remembered, but only in things she had said for other people.