The magic of other paths

Back in the summer, when the train I was travelling on pulled into the next station, a young woman blew in through the doors and hurled herself into the seat across from me.

She was rail thin, her T shirt and tracksuit bottoms hanging off her frame. When she swivelled around and hugged her knees into her chest, I saw that her massive trainers were way too big for her. Her messy blond hair was scraped back with a scrunchie, and her sharp features were riddled with grime and tell-tale sores. The energy around her was scrambled, hostile and defensive.

She tilted her head back against the seat and closed her eyes, shutting out the world.

I surreptitiously watched her. If, as some religions would have us believe, we are all made in God's image, here he or she was, sitting across from me, broken.

And I saw a fragile kind of beauty.

Who knows what her story was. But I was interested to observe the line where grace meets ugliness. Where someone has managed to spin a fierce fable in order to survive.

I don't have to live this woman's life – lucky me. But something about her has gone into my subconscious and will emerge in my work, I'm sure.


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