She had been crying, he could see that. ‘You all right?’
‘Not really,’ she said. ‘Why are we meeting here?’
‘There is something I want to show you.’ He took her arm and walked her along Via Ricasoli towards the Academia.
They didn’t make it easy for locals like Emelia to see inside. Most days the museum was besieged by tourists waiting for up to an hour to get in. But Giancarlo had a pass and that meant they could just walk in past the lines. Emelia did not complain but it was clear that she was apprehensive about where he was taking her.
‘Why here? Why here?’ was all she would say.
Gianacarlo moved them on through the entrance hall and, in a few short minutes, they were standing in the Gallery of Slaves, the long corridor-like space that housed Michelangelo Buenorotti’s unfinished sculptures – partially completed figures trapped in the huge blocks of stone from which it seemed they had failed to escape. They had been donated by Michelangelo to Cosimo Di Medici after they had been turned down by the Vatican for Pope Julius III’s mausoleum.
Emelia stood and stared. Giancarlo did not say a word. She knew immediately why he had brought her here. Yes, he thought that her life was that of little more than that of a modern day slave, no different from the life of those souls trapped in those blocks of stone. She caressed the form of the Awakening Slave, running her hands over the cold, hard stone, feeling how the body shape had been worked out of the hidden structure of the stone, feeling the tool marks left behind as Michelangelo’s chisels struck with such precision all those years ago. And she began to cry.
Gianacarlo was concerned that the gallery staff would have them removed for touching the sculptures but in the event, no-one came.
‘So you brought me here, to show me this, to tell me that my life is no better than this?’ The anger in her voice matched the tears in her eyes. ‘Is this some new way you have found to drive me further down?’
‘It’s not designed to make you feel worse about yourself _______ .’
‘Then why bring me here to tell me something that I should already know? Don’t you think that that is humiliating? Nothing to lose, eh?’
‘That’s not what I’m trying to say.’ He tried to hold her but she pulled away.
‘And I am so much the slave that I wouldn’t understand any of this if you hadn’t brought me here?’
‘Look up,’ Giancarlo said. He had managed to place his arm around her and was pointing her towards the statue of David in the circular gallery beyond. ‘What do you see?’
Michelangelo’s statue of David, fully three times life size, rising high above the surrounding tourists, looked back.
‘We trap ourselves. We make slaves of ourselves,’ he whispered. ‘We make our own chains. The powerful look on without a care, inflated by the pride made possible by our entrapment.’
‘And the David looks down on the gallery of slaves, and it’s been like that for as long as anyone can remember,’ she said. ‘Where is the hope in that?’
She looked at him and he could see the anguish in her eyes. ‘And you are no different. You use me and abuse me just like them. Why should I care if the sight of art gives you an excuse to seek to ease your conscience?’
‘It doesn’t have to be like that,’ Giancarlo said. ‘I’d never have known you if we hadn’t both been as we are, here and now.’
Seb Kirby is the author of the James Blake Thriller series (Take No More, Regret No More and, coming in March this year, Forgive No More) and the Raymond Bridges sci fi thriller series (DOUBLE BIND). He says: ‘I’ve been an avid reader from an early age – my grandfather ran a mobile lending library in Birmingham and when it closed my parents inherited many of the books. From the first moment I was hooked. Now, as a full-time writer myself, it’s my goal to add to the magic of the wonderful words and stories I discovered back then.’
To buy Seb’s books from Amazon:
Take No More: http://smarturl.it/tnm
Regret No More: http://smarturl.it/rnm
Double Bind: http://smarturl.it/dbb