His hands were cold as marble, bigger than they should have been for his frame, the veins popped as with anyone who used their hands often and dextrously. He stood shivering before the behemoth, a set of flaming bright eyes set against the dark of the night, its bulk looming out and above, spines erect, and thick salive dripping from its ragged teeth.
"Kneel," said the behemoth, pulling its gnarled club from a leather thong about its waist.
"I will not," said David.
"I am the creator, I am all, and you will kneel," said the behemoth.
"I will not," repeated David, keenly aware that his hands were empty. He had refused to bring a weapon.
"You will," said the behemoth, thumping the club by its feet so that the whole ground shook.
"I can create things too," said David. "You are not the only one."
"You are a small impertinent thing, no better than a wriggling worm in clay. You cannot create," the behemoth sneered.
"You will leave this world," said David, his voice shaking. "You will leave us alone now."
The behemoth stood motionless, unable to comprehend the words of the little being in front of it.
"You will go," said David, his voice more commanding.
"I am bigger than you. You cannot tell me to do anything!" roared the behemoth.
It swung the club in the air above its broad head, displaying its strength and prowess, but David stood as still as an oak tree on a windless day.
"Kneel!" screamed the behemoth.
David closed his eyes and calmed his mind. He thought of the coolness of the river in summer, the scent of the meadow in spring, the warmth of his hearth in the winter, and the crunch of leaves in the autumn. The behemoth swung the club towards David's head. David thought of his village, the faces of his people, the caress of his lover in the night. He thought of the narrow streets and the well and the bricks that were made in the morning to dry in the afternoon that made the houses that the people lived in. He thought of cooking utensils and farm tools and the chalk they drew on the ground with. He thought of the clay tablets he impressed with marks in his youth, and he thought of his mother weaving at a frame.
"No," he said.
He opened his eyes. The behemoth was gone and dawn was at the horizon.
This is actually also inspired by the statue of David by Michelangelo that I got to see last week when I was in Florence (July 2012). The statue is one of the most impressive things I've ever seen and I was really moved. It's sort of difficult to say why it's so impressive--I mean, it's 5 meters tall and super famous, and just beautifully done--but there is just something special about it when you see it in person. One thing that really perplexed me about it is how out-of-proportion the hands and feet are. The hands, especially the right hand, are particularly noticeable--your eye is immediately drawn to the right hand. Since the statue is so skillfully created, I wondered whether or not this was intentional. Surely if Michelangelo could do such a good job with the rest, why would the hands be done out-of-proportion?
Michelangelo was 26-28 when he created the statue, young, but obviously gifted. The project was actually in the works for a couple of decades before he was brought on board, so he did something (quickly) that many other artists were incapable of. I came to the conclusion that the conspicuous rendering of the hands was intentional. The statue was done at around the beginning of the Renaissance, at a time when there was a lot of subversive thought going on. There was also no Goliath, no hint of it, and the statue has no fear on its face, no trepidation. David is simply confident. My theory is that this was a statement about the Renaissance itself--humans redefining their place in the Universe and in culture. The grip of the church was receding as enlightenment approached. The prominence of human hands, man's inbuilt creative tools, might signal man's building confidence in his own free will, and own mastery of the world, free from the influence of god(s) and demons. If so, Michelangelo was one clever dude. Anyway, that's my theory! Hope you enjoyed the story.