The woman behind me had long passed the stage of butterflies in her relationship with inspiration. I could tell by the furious look she gave anyone who passed her by and made her move her position like they were in-laws who lived just across the street.
She had set up a studio on the train cart that had no more seats available, and tucked herself in among her suitcases, each as big as her own tiny build. She propped her laptop on the communal desk, ignoring everyone else who was using it.
Across from her sat a wonderful work of art - a woman with sculpted cheekbones of bronze and hair as black and shiny as the surface of a lake, reflecting an Arabian night.
But this story isn't about her or beauty. It's about the little strong woman who had come through several bumps in her relationship with inspiration, and was now facing another.
While flying to Heathrow two hours back in time from a photoshoot, she'd arranged a date with inspiration. They agreed to meet on the train from London to Bristol to go through the photos. But inspiration liked to mix things up, to keep their relationship exciting. She hadn't told the little, strong woman that the train would be too full for them to have some quiet time alone. She had to make it romantic the best way she could.
She jerked her feet forwards and back, as the moment required, ran her fingers through her greasy hair, cocked her head to one side and tensed, a haunted look in her eye every time someone squeezed past her, and separated her from her work.
As soon as the moment allowed, she would find a new position to be closer to her love - head cocked to the other side now, she looked through the photos, slashed away a line here or a corner there, inch by inch, her full attention on those pictures, pleading: 'Talk to me, baby, please...'
You see, she had already seen the perfect version in her head - inspiration had whispered to her exactly what each photograph was designed to look like, from the beginning of time. She knew the final result before she took each photo; before she met the model; when she first conceived the idea of doing the photo shoot in Europe.
I recognised her madness. I recognised it so well. I stole glances of her while pretending to read a book, one hand holding it up, the other holding onto my own suitcases while the train swayed. The woman's face was worn, like she didn't care much for sleep. She would sacrifice her well-being for this one great love. I saw her later wheeling her two suitcases, like an army cadet with 'guns' or a mother with twins, each screaming and pulling her hand in the opposite direction. She had found her true love, and no one else would do.
Perhaps when she dreamed of that love she didn't know what it would sometimes be like - what sacrifices she'd have to carry for it and how she'd lose her identity when her love called. The desires of her love always became her own.
Only her and her inspiration, bound forever, and that mad look in her eyes - like the world was created for and contained only her and her laptop which contained her work. She wanted them to be bound like that forever, but she could never be quite sure when inspiration would act like a whore and leave her to find someone else.
All ideas, already conceived, already executed, floated in the air between us, at the grasp of our fingertips. I saw this tale unravel before my eyes while I caught glimpses of the woman, and I begged inspiration to please stop, I don't have the means to write it all down! Surely, you can't ask this of me now! There are no empty seats on the train, my phone battery is dead and I can't write in my notebook with the train swaying so wildly - I'll fall on that nice American couple. And even if I survive the fall, the scribbles will be illegible, they'll make no sense... Please, inspiration, just listen to me!
But inspiration didn't stop. It kept demanding. It reminded me that we were bound forever, of the promise I'd made on the day I chose to pursue it. If I want to stay near it, I must reciprocate its madness, to look like a fool in other people's eyes - those who had not had a taste of the same cup.
And so the ideas kept coming. The story I relate now, several days later, is not the same story I saw in that hour, in the train cart that had no more seats available.
It's silly - I know there are bigger tragedies in life - but I weep for that.