Bestie | by Lauren Roach
Updated: Aug 8, 2022
In my life, there has only been one person that I could truly count on. My best friend. My rock. My platonic soulmate. Her and I had been best friends since we were ten. That's 20 whole years. Two full decades. Everyone else came and went but she stayed through all of it. Through my parents' murder trial and the abusive foster homes. Through broken engagements and whirlwind romances, it was me and my bestie against the world. I trusted her with my life, I trusted her more than I trusted my own self sometimes. No matter what anyone would say to me about her, I wouldn't believe them. I couldn't. She is my best friend. I owe her my life. I need her.
I looked around the bar. It was empty except the bartender and a few other lingering guests. The bartender kept glancing in our direction, with a worried expression on his face. I ignored him. I couldn't tell for sure if he was looking at us, since there were people seated behind us as well. I turned to my best friend, her face puffy and eyes low, right on the edge of tipsy, leaning into drunk. I laughed at her and sipped my own drink.
"See I told you that you didn't need to drink so many. You know you can't hold your alcohol." She shrugged at me and took a swig of her drink. "That doesn't mean I won't try to though." I could see the bartender watching us over her shoulder. Maybe he was watching us and he wanted to come talk to her. She has always been considered the prettier of the two of us. I tapped her shoulder and nodded my head towards the bartender. "He seems interested in you." She barely turned around to look.
"That doesn't matter. I am here with you. It's been so long since we've seen each other. How long has it been? a few years right?" It had been a while since we had gotten the chance to hang out. Life gets so busy sometimes and whether we meant for it to happen or not, we drifted apart for a bit. But that's the thing about best friends. No matter how much time you spend apart, you can always come back together like nothing happened. That was true for us. No matter how much time passed between the times we got together, we could always reconnect like no time had passed at all. I smiled at her and shrugged.
"It's been maybe..3 years I think. I'm sorry so much time has passed. I've been so busy with work and with Jackson. You know how that goes." She rolled her eyes at me. Jackson is my husband. The two of them have never gotten along. I will admit that it bothers me a lot more than I let on, but I try to remain positive. "How...how is he doing?" she asked me. I could tell it was difficult for her to pretend like she cared, but I appreciated the effort. A weird feeling washed over me, but I ignored it.
"He's okay." I saw a flash of red out of the corner of my eye, but when I turned to look, there was nothing there. The bartender was still watching us closely. I couldn't read the expression on his face, but it was making me uncomfortable. Bestie didn't seem to notice him. She was too preoccupied with her drink. The bartender and I made eye contact. He took that as a sign to approach the two of us. I braced myself, waiting for him to completely ignore me and focus his attention on the beauty beside me, like always. Instead, to my surprise, he stayed focused on me. "Is everything okay over here? Can I get you anything else?"
"No thanks. We are fine." I answered for the both of us, since it didn't look like she was going to acknowledge the fact that he spoke. Sometimes she had the habit of being rude to other people. I really wish she wouldn't do that. It made a lot of encounters more awkward than they should be. His gaze flickered in her direction but then landed back on me. "Are you sure? My name is Derrick by the way. I own the place." I smiled at him and offered my hand. As soon as our hands touched, a chill raced down my spine. Another flash of red. I blinked it away smiled again. Hoping he didn't notice.
"It's nice to meet you Derrick, I am Kaia. This is my best friend...Lyla." I looked over at her, she kept her head down, staring into her drink and refusing to meet his gaze. She had trouble talking to people. One of the things that made our friendship what it was. She wouldn't speak to anyone else. Almost like she was afraid. He glanced in her direction again, eyebrows raised.
"Uh...sure. Okay. Well yeah. If you need anything I'll be right over there." He pointed to where another bartender stood, watching our interaction. The people in this place seemed a little bit too concerned with what we were doing. There were other customers. Why were we being watched? Another flash of red. I shook my head again. Maybe it was the alcohol making me see things. It was a new drink this time. I stood up, ready to walk home. Thankfully, the bar was right down the street from the townhome I shared with my husband. Lyla followed absentmindedly behind me. As I walked towards my home, the flashes of red became more intense. I caught a glimpse of a mirror. Red streaks covered it, making it almost impossible to look in. The walls around the mirror covered in splotches and splashes of red. I shook my head again. What was happening? Am I hallucinating?
"Lyla? Do you feel weird? Or is it just me?" I turned to look at my best friend, but she was gone. She must have forgotten her purse in the bar. She would catch up later. I kept walking in the direction of my apartment, determined to get home and sleep off this alcohol. This would be the last time I drank for a while. I reached the front steps ten minutes later and grabbed the door knob. As soon as I opened the door, a powerful smell overtook me. It caused my stomach to lurch and empty it's contents right there on the floor in front of the door. I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand and stumbled to the bedroom.
There, in the bedroom, lay my husband on the floor. In a crumpled heap, blood everywhere.
On the dresser and the mirror. On the walls near the mirror, on the bed, on the floor surrounding his body. I stood there, in my drunken haze, trying to piece together what I was looking at.
"Do you remember?" Lyla's voice next to my ear made me jump a little. I hadn't heard her come in. I must have left the door open by accident. Jackson used to get so mad at me for coming home and leaving the front door wide open whenever I was drunk. It was a really bad habit. I opened my mouth to respond. Sorting through my fuzzy memories, desperately trying to figure out what I was supposed to remember.
There had been a fight. Between Lyla and Jackson before we left for the bar. There was a lot of yelling. My stomach flipped again. I turned to my best friend, tears welling up in my eyes.
"Lyla?? What did you do?!"
It had been a slow night at the bar when I saw her come in. She was beautiful, but that was not the thing that made me stare at her. She had red splatters on her shirt and in her hair and she seemed to be talking to herself. Not in an absentminded "Oh did I forget the to take out the trash?" kind of talking to yourself, but a full fledged conversation with no one. It was fascinating, but also a little concerning. I nudged Landon, my co-bartender for the night and nodded in her direction. "Does something seem off about her to you?" I asked. He looked in the direction I was talking about.
"She seems like she's talking to herself. Probably another one of those homeless people that found their way inside. I wouldn't worry about it. Just give her a drink." He went back to what he was doing. She requested two different drinks. It made me a bit uncomfortable but I gave them to her anyway. At this point I really had no reason not to serve her. I watched as she drank both drinks, her posture shifting depending on which drink she was holding. One minute she was slightly hunched with her hair over her face. The next minute she was sitting up straight with her hair over her shoulders. She continued to talk to herself. Laughing and leaning forward as if she was whispering. Some of the other patrons looked at her, mostly with nervous glances, others seemed disgusted. After a few minutes she looked over at me. We locked eyes for a second and I took that as my chance to speak to her.
"Is everything okay over here? Can I get you anything else?" She glanced to her left at the empty chair and paused for a moment, almost as if she was listening for a response. "No Thanks. We are fine."
I hesitated, wondering if I should question who she was talking about or not. The poor girl seemed like she was hanging on to reality by her fingertips. I tried again. "Are you sure? My name is Derrick by the way. I own the place." She smiled a beautiful smile at me and offered her hand. As soon as I touched it, her eyes glazed over for a split second before she blinked and focused back on me.
"It's nice to meet you Derrick, I am Kaia. This is my best friend...Lyla." she nodded towards the empty chair. I froze for a second, unsure of what to do. Should I call the police? Is she dangerous? I really couldn't tell. All I knew was that I needed to escape this moment immediately.
"Uh...sure. Okay. Well yeah. If you need anything I'll be right over there." I pointed to Landon who was watching us from where he stood. I could see the amusement on his face. He knew I had gotten myself in over my head. I should have just left the situation alone. I walked back over to him, my eyes wide.
"Okay yeah. She definitely thinks someone else is with her. I don't know man. I feel like I should call the police or something. She seems like she needs help." He nodded in the direction of the door. As if on cue, two officers had just walked in.
"Looks like you're in luck." The officers approached us, just as Kaia got up out of her seat and slipped out behind them. They didn't notice.
"Good evening you two. We are looking for someone by the name of Lyla Brendan. She called and reported a murder here at this bar. You mind if we look around?" My eyes widened. Lyla was the name of the imaginary friend Kaia had introduced me to. Could that be a coincidence?
"Well...a girl just left here. Her name was Kaia. She was talking to herself, but I don't think she realized it. She said her friend's name was Lyla." I pointed in the direction I saw her walking. "She literally just walked out. She went that way." One of the officers spoke into his handheld as he turned to back towards the door to follow after her.
Whatever was happening with that girl...clearly it wasn't good.
2 Years Later
I had always wondered what happened to that girl after that night. The whole situation was bizarre. Apparently, the cops had followed in the direction I told them she went and saw a townhome with the front door wide open. There was blood and vomit by the door. When they went inside, they saw her standing over her own husband's body crying: "Lyla what did you do?!" but there was no one else in the room with them. I found myself obsessing over the details of the case. Every time I came across an article or an interview, I had to stop everything and watch it. It was a highly talked about case, since it turns out it was connected to another famous one that happened in this town years earlier. As I was scrolling on Facebook before my next shift at the bar started and I came across an online posting of a newspaper article that caught my attention.
"Local Woman Arrested for Killing Husband. She Claims it Was Her Long-Dead Best Friend."
I clicked on it, a sense of dread settling in my stomach. I still find it so hard to believe that I was face to face with a whole murderer that night. She didn't seem dangerous. She seemed...broken somehow. I felt sorry for her, watching her giggle by herself, convinced she was talking to her best friend. A text message popped up on my screen, but I closed it out to read the article. At the bottom of the article was a picture of Kaia and a link to the latest interview she had done.
Local Woman Kaia Thompson was taken into custody for the murder of her husband Jackson Thompson, last Thursday around 10pm. Kaia maintains her innocence claiming it was her best friend Lyla who committed the murder after a violent fight broke out between the two of them earlier that night. Upon further investigation, it was concluded that Lyla Brendan was murdered 20 years prior by Kaia's parents Degra and Boris Thompson. Kaia, who was ten years old at the time, witnessed Lyla's horrific murder.
It is said that in order to cope with the trauma of what she witnessed, and the abuse she later faced in her foster homes, Kaia kept Lyla alive in her own mind. Kaia experienced a psychotic break when she snapped and killed her husband over his accusations of Lyla being a "figment of her imagination" during a fight they had that Thursday night. Kaia was unable to process the reality of what she had done and the two personalities split, but not before Kaia called the police and reported the murder. Essentially, by calling the police on Lyla, she was calling the police on herself. Kaia was found, standing over her husbands body, covered in his blood and sobbing. Mrs. Thompson was medically evaluated and deemed fit to stand trial. She faces life in prison for the murder of her husband. After much therapy and medication, Kaia still maintains her innocence. She claims that Lyla committed the murder in order to protect her from Jackson. In the interviews we have seen, Kaia almost seems grateful that he was killed.
Even to this day, Kaia still lovingly refers to Lyla as Bestie...