The corridor leading to Michelangelo’s David was lined with the sculptor’s unfinished slaves, only half carved out of their marble blocks. The Galleria dell'Accademia security guard, Maria, weaved between tourists, past the slaves, and towards David himself. To Maria, he was perfect, from his long marble toes and the veins of his hands, to his mournful eyes and thick curls. Both soldier and naked child, giant and giant-slayer.
Then he turned his head towards her, and every part of her body was aware of his fragility and her fear for this towering boy. He stepped down and through his enclosure, sending glass skidding into the crowd. People prayed and fled and fumbled for phones. The unfinished slaves tried to free themselves from their stone as he passed, one heavy hand swinging by Maria’s face.
He left the Accademia and set off through Florence, past an empty pedestal in the Piazza della Signoria that usually bore a copy of the statue. Instead, his twin was waiting at the edge of the river Arno, staring out over the water. Looking back from the opposite bank was a bronze replica that had come down from atop the city’s hills.
All three dropped over the embankment and into the water. Crowds gathered along the wall and on the nearest bridges. The three figures walked with the current until their heads disappeared below the surface.
From Copenhagen to California, Davids deserted their plinths and set off into the sea. Pygmy Davids left gardens and waddled in gangs through suburban streets. The plaster version in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum crumbled as it tried to escape. A statue on the Gold Coast left its post between a supermarket and an Indian restaurant, crossed the boulevard and marched into the lake, following rivers of waterfront properties to the Pacific Ocean.
I missed all this. I was reading in my apartment when I heard a scratching in the kitchen. Something clattered to the floor. I closed my book. A five-centimetre souvenir David, cast crudely in plastic, was kicking against the receipts he held to the fridge. The magnet on his back was too strong for him, and he thrashed and writhed and managed to knock another magnet loose without freeing himself. The hum of the fridge and the rustling of his tiny struggle were the only sounds in the room.