“CHILD’S PLAY”

A little story about the big world that lived inside a small boy’s head

by Nick Schupak


play SimCity BuildIt for iPad. I play it so often, in fact, that it might be the thing I do most these days. It is not nearly as immersive and complex as past SimCity titles, but I nonetheless feel wanted, sometimes eve needed, and loved by the Sims who inhabit my city called Monteblo. Monteblo didn’t begin with my recent download of the game, though. No, Monteblo rose from a distant — and imaginary — location in the South Pacific around the time that puberty surged pimples through the pores of my skin.

Monteblo is a place that straddles time. There are books filled with graph paper pages on which are drawn the intricately detailed designs of Greek temples, and mayoral estates designed after Greek temples, structures that dapple the countrysides, suburbs and grand cities that make up the magical land. That same magical land is home to one of the States’ (Monteblo is a territory of the United States of America, of course, with voting rights) most successful collegiate sports programs: Deusis Testy. There are football and basketball cards with famous players’ pictures, heights and achievements on them. Among the most famous is of a player known simply by his surname: Frekmeiesy.

( frĕk • mī • ĕs • ē )

Frekmeiesy was a two-sport athlete who was bound to fall victim to his popularity. His name alone was enough to drive his Creator mad. It elicited smiles. Smiles from adoring fans, even smiles from opponents’ fans. Hell, Frekmeiesy’s appeal was so universal that his Creator’s Creators could hardly go a single moment without mentioning him!

And always with those smiles, those smiles that confessed simultaneous love and mockery. As his popularity grew his statistical output began to wilt. The hand of his creator pointed lightning bolts at him fierce enough to siphon the athletic ability from his joints. Game by game Frekmeiesy could but sit idle on the bench as other players stole the spotlight that was once his, players with normal names like Joe and Jack, Johnson and Franklin; players who could barely draw a glance from the home crowd much less smiles from the Creator’s Creators, no matter how high their shooting percentages!

The Creator had a soft heart. The Creator felt pain and bore great responsibility when Frekmeiesy struggled. Temporarily, Frekmeiesy was even removed from the basketball roster entirely. The Creator thought this would bring an end to Frekmeiesy’s front page fame. If only He, the Creator, could extinguish Frekmeiesy’s existence from memory, well then he’d… he’d…


he Creator’s Creators implored the Creator to release the player from the hallowed chains that imprisoned him. “He doesn’t even need to play, just bring him back. We love him so.”

The Creator was embarrassed by his rashness. He was ashamed at how he’d let his anger be his guide. And he realized why he had banished and besmirched Frekmeiesy so: he thought he was protecting him from his own embarrassment, his own shame. He thought the smiles, the irresistible enjoyment at his name demeaned the player. He saw Frekmeiesy as one thing while other saw him as something else. Once the Creator recognized that whatever Frekmeiesy was, whatever he was thought to be, Frekmeiesy was loved, everything else about the player was inconsequential. And the Creator knew that Frekmeiesy would rather be exposed as a clown than protected as a hero.

And suddenly Monteblo was no longer real. Instead it appeared as a thing that lived in the Creator’s imagination. And things were better. Monteblo was free, and the Creator was free, too, for he knew he was no longer the hero he’d so wanted Frekmeiesy to be. Rather, he was the gentle clown they both naturally were.