Nicki was such a nice girl. She wanted to play. She wouldn’t tell a soul, of course, but I could see the truth. She was a nice girl and she wanted to play.
I like nice girls, and nice boys. They’re so much fun to play with, and Nicki was very fun. Have you ever met somebody that you knew right away would be your very best friend? That’s how I felt when I met Nicki. I met her a long time before she realised we had met of course, as is always the way, but I saw her and just knew that one day, she would want to play.
She didn’t want to play, at first. I asked to come over and she said “No.” I knew, deep down, that she wanted to play, so I asked her again. She was shy, I suppose, so she said “No.” again, and that was when I started to get angry…
I always know, you see. I know that my friends want to play. They want to smile. They want to be part of the game forever, and sometimes, they just need a little persuading. I don’t mind, I suppose, but all that wasted time, all the dillying and the dallying means we have less time for games, and that’s no fun at all.
Nicki’s house had such a pretty garden. You might have seen it on the news. There were roses lining the pathway up to her house, and I picked a few to give to her. They were splashed a little, with the blood of that silly police officer, but both blood and a rose is red, so I was sure she wouldn’t notice the difference.
All the roses that were left got trampled by journalists in the weeks after the game. They all wanted to know her secrets, but the truth is, they couldn’t have ever understood her secrets, or her truth, not like I can.
I had told her that I’d be coming over, but I think a part of her thought that I shouldn’t. I knocked at the door, jammed my finger against the bell, and though I could see her through the frosted glass of the door, and even through the gaps between the curtains she hadn’t closed all the way, she hid behind the couch, with her cowering parents, punching “999” into their phones, so that somebody would come.
I knocked again. I tried not to be offended, but Nicki was beginning to make it difficult. She was a nice girl, but she wasn’t being very nice to me. She wanted to play, I could feel it. This was just hide and seek, but with a door between us, the game wasn’t fair, so I raised up my axe and I made things even.
I watched her run towards the back of the house, fiddling with the keys at the back door as I dragged my axe along the hallway carpet, slowing to give her a bit of a head start on finding a new hiding place. She made it out of the door with her parents trailing behind her and I watched them run across the garden towards the fence, each helping each other over it, but it was just another obstacle, just a fun little addition to the game. I didn’t mind at all.
I made it through the fence, swinging and smiling with my trusty axe in tow, and then, I gave chase through each of the gardens on their street. Up the fences we’d go, then down onto the soft grass, across the garden and then back up and down the fences. Oh, it was such fun!
I could tell that Nicki and her family were getting worn out though, and as they struggled over the last fence and out onto the street, I could see they were struggling, so I held back, hiding in the shadows and listening to them run away.
I gave them a few minutes before I found them again, but I hung back, hiding behind cars and in bushes, as they found a police officer and made their way down to the station. I followed in a taxi, my axe underneath the driver’s seat, with the driver’s head, and through the back window of the police car, I could see Nicki. She didn’t see me, sitting with her head on her father’s shoulder, but I could see her, and that’s how I knew that our game was still on.
She was playing, you see, pretending to be tired, as if she didn’t want to play, but I knew that we were playing a little game of tag, and I was it.
I followed her into town, pulling up next to the officer’s car at a set of traffic lights, so I could pull him into the game. I had no idea he’d put up such a fight as I reached into the window and dragged him out through the broken glass. They all screamed in delight from the back of the car, and if I really focused my mind, I could feel their smiles.
The officer fell from my hands and I pulled the door of the car open, wiping his blood on my jumper before I held open the door for Nicki. She just stared from the back seat, her parents pushing in front of her to try and keep us apart, but I could see her. I could see her smile. I could see how much she wanted to be a part of the game.
You see, that’s my gift. They call me Mr Smiles, but I do more than smile. I see the secrets everybody holds. If I come to visit, then I only come with the truth you’ve already told me. If I come to visit, then it’s only because you’ve invited me. You might say “No.” but I can see your smile, even when nobody else can, and I know exactly what it means.
Nicki smiled like nobody I’d ever seen before. Her tears trailed down her face, but there was a secret smile, so bright, beaming like the blinding sun, hiding and waiting for the seeker to see it, and I did. Reaching into the back seat of the car, I pulled her to her feet, pushing her parents back into the car, clutching her to my chest as she began to struggle, another little game of hers, and my axe kept her parents at bay before we headed away into the darkness of the night, to play a game.
I took her to my hiding place, where nobody could interrupt, and I had to take her phone away of course, so that all our games would be fair. It turned out, she’d written a post online about me and my video invitation. Many people have, I’ve discovered, so hello to all my friends around the world. I thought I’d write my own little post, so here we are, this is your update. Nicki had nothing to fear, and you don’t either. We’re just going to play.
The trouble is, though she wants to play, sometimes, I just can’t get Nicki to join in with our games, so would you like to play? She bumped her head so she’s feeling a little under the weather. Would you like to play in her place for a while? Oh. I think you would. I can see it in your smile.