by John David Ira
Adonis is the only other name I would take at this point. At the hands of Michelangelo, I was born an exaggerated man. My namesake, David from the bible—the boy who killed the giant—bore only my name in conjunction. Rather than a teenager cowering under the shadow of a massive being, my artist had fashioned me bold in muscle and hand. My feet as giant as raw stone and my features harsh in their off white pallor, I stretched higher than David’s original brutish foe. As if purposefully, the threat of David’s giant had been subverted in one large block of art. All that was intimidating and overpowering about the giant was now recreated in me so as to show the power of man to conquer and then embody its own enemy. Pensive, yet astute, my face stared deeply and penetrated even the darkness. I stared so blankly yet so fiercely towards the same horizon for so long that I sometimes forgot what people look like.
My creator first gave me sight shortly after the year 1500 and I rested in my own hall for many centuries with onlookers flooding in from India, South America, and the like. They would come to gawk in wonder at my perfection. I could never turn to face them, but I felt their hard stare. I heard their words and their thoughts. As if screaming from within their ribcages, they affixed their impressions to me. They saw beauty in my cold surfaces—in the muscles that seemed lifelike, yet still and surreal. Every slow step they took as they paced around me with their eyes glued to my Carrara flesh was filled with wonder at what kind of man I could have truly been. So many theories drifted through their minds about what I was thinking for so many years—what I would have said given part in my lips.
I heard their sweat drip from their noses and hit the ground. Thinking of things they would do to my godlike figure given the chance to be as naked as I in an empty hall with me—perverse thoughts that had women grinding their thighs and men shifting awkwardly from side to side, thoughts about touching and carnal bodies, thoughts that had their cheeks swelling with blood in embarrassment. They objectified me and brutalized me in their minds. They’d slap me and chain me up, and then toss me like a beaten animal. I could hear them snicker at how small my member was. Students would laugh and point at it. They pondered it and considered why I was carved that way. They asked if it was meant to humble me. They asked if it was from the cold. They asked, as if I would answer.
I bathed in their words. My marble was washed clean with each silken string of compliments. I wore them like a crown and held them fast like the stone I perpetually rested upon my shoulder.
I wanted them to fill me full of praise and to adore me. I wanted them to treat me like their god and let no others stand more handsomely before them. I willed that they would ogle with drool dripping. I wanted them to hang jewels from my limbs and lay naked in pain at my feet as if raked through hell by simply looking at me. I wanted them to suffer and bleed beneath me so that they felt the truth of devotion to their muse. I wanted them to write stories of my magnificence and to sin for me. I wanted them to grovel as I stood, unmoving in my years.
I wanted immortality.
At least that was until a small woman came flying through the night into my hall.
I couldn’t see her because she came from the shadows after they had locked the doors, but I heard how lightly she flew across the slick floor—dress licking the ground and snapping softly. I could hear her mind racing as if trying to beat her body to my feet.
“Leave no god behind” is what ticked through her mind repeatedly.
What a curious thing for such a young woman to be thinking. No god behind? Was I this god? I had not heard the whisper of her subconscious before, so I wasn’t sure if she was a visitor from the day. Had she come to see me in the moonlight or perhaps to speak to me about her secrets? Many had broken in at night to unburden themselves to me like the collared clergy, but this felt different.
As she abruptly landed on the ground, knees bent, in front of me, her ginger hand stretched out towards my enormous pedestal. In her hands, she bore a white cloth drenched in water and oils. As if washing them, her hands and towel met my white feet and I was immediately enveloped in torture. A whirling pain like fire leapt inside my solid body. It twisted and clawed at my core so as to empty it fistful of rubble at a time. I could hear shrieking in my head and my façade began to crumble. First, my shoulders and arms cracked. Then my fingers, hands, muscles, torso, ears, hair—they all disintegrated as I deconstructed and scattered across the floor. The largest piece of me left recognizable, a fraction of my head, spun loosely as it settled by the woman still kneeling on the floor.
As the sounds of falling rock and clatter faded from roars back to nightly silence, she leaned over her lap and placed her gentle hand on my cheek, whispering lightly as she rose to stand.
“My dear child, David. You have stood before man and watched as he turned to beast. You have heard his darkest demons bantering and cawing from within the breasts of leaders. You have been slandered and praised, watched and ignored, glorified, vandalized, and murdered in their minds. Through all, you have been stalwart and poised. You have maintained your grandeur and stamina while their thoughts cut and bruised even your stone. All of these things are the markings of a god to be recognized. There was but one thing you had yet to experience before your ascension: the touch of a soul. It was when I stepped toward you, placed my hands upon you, and shared my soul with you that you shattered beneath its weight.”
As she finished, she turned to depart with only a few final words escaping as she evaporated.
“It will forever be your curse to peer from the ground towards the pedestal on which you stood and asked for godliness, constantly reminded of your downfall at the hand of the beast’s soul.”
And with that, the witch was gone.