I sat on the bus when my phone buzzed. Naomi. It took me nearly a minute to fit a face to the name. How long had it been? Ten years?
Hey. Long time no see! Remember how we used to do sleepovers? I’d love to meet up.
I sat and stared at the phone, thinking of the time in school. Trying desperately to remember whether we ever actually had a sleepover.
Half an hour later, just when I arrived home, her next text came.
Hey. I’m not sure if you still use this number. Could you reply? I’d really like to talk quickly.
Five minutes later Naomi called. I had the phone in my hand but let it ring another three times before I picked up.
“Hey,” she said. “How are you?”
“Good. How are you? What’s up?”
“Oh, I’m good too. Excellent. Everything is great. I just missed you.”
“You missed me? Why?”
“Oh, just because. You remember those sleepovers?”
“Don’t you miss them? Being together? Talking all night? Now we could even drink legally!”
“Oh, you know, if you want.”
“Sorry, I think we are a bit too old for sleepovers. I’m married, you know?”
She was quiet.
I hadn’t invited her. Why would I have? A girl I barely knew in school and lost all contact with?
“Sorry if you didn’t know. It was abroad. Not a big thing and not many guests.”
“Oh,” she said. “That’s great. But we could still do a sleepover or is your guy so strict?”
It dawned on me that she was serious.
“I have work,” I said. “I’m a bit busy.”
“Oh, come on,” Naomi said. “Be crazy for once! I really miss you. I would really like you to be here.”
I could hear the sadness in her voice. As if her mother had just died.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Okay,” Naomi said. “Very okay. Just, you know, missing you. There’s nothing wrong if that’s what you’re asking. Nothing wrong. I just really wanted to see you.”
I looked at my watch.
“It’s late and I just came home. I’m not really in the mood to go out again.”
“It won’t take long,” Naomi said. “I just really need to see you.”
“Is it that important?”
“Really important,” Naomi said. I could hear her smile. “I just really want to see you. So badly. Really badly.”
“Can’t we do it tomorrow?”
“It’s urgent, really!”
“Because I miss you so much. Don’t you miss me? Don’t you remember our friendship?”
“I sometimes think of you, but…”
“See! See! I knew you’d miss me too! We should really meet. Really really. And tonight! Tonight! I can’t wait anymore!”
“Fine,” I said. “I’ll ask my husband to drive me to the center when he gets home.”
“No,” she said. “Not the center. Come to my place!”
“Why at yours? Where do you even live?”
“Oh,” Naomi said. “Just come to my old house. I’ll pick you up.”
“That’s pretty far.”
“Please! Come on, please!”
“It will take me at least half an hour.”
There was a voice whispering behind Naomi but I couldn’t make out what it said. A man’s voice.
The sadness returned to her voice.
“Come on,” she said. “Please please!”
“Why don’t we meet in the center?”
“I don’t have a car.”
“How about the bus?”
“I’m not allo…”
A hissing sound.
“The bus doesn’t go here anymore.”
“Are you sure?”
“I sometimes see it in the center.”
“No, they just stopped it this week.”
“I didn’t hear about that.”
“Oh,” she said. “They tried to keep it secret.”
“The city keeps the bus timetables secret?”
Naomi paused. Something that sounded like laughter.
Her voice was shaky.
“Look,” Naomi said. “Can’t you just come? Please just come. It would mean a lot to me.”
“Is someone with you?” I asked.
The laughter stopped.
“No,” Naomi said. “Nobody. Nobody at all. Im alone. All alone. And I miss you, you know?”
“Sure,” I said although I didn’t know.
“I just don’t want to be alone anymore. I just need a friend here.”
“Sorry,” I said. “I really think that will take too long.”
Naomi seemed furious.
“I need a friend. A friend. Is that so hard to understand?”
“Okay,” I said. “I understand. And I want to meet up, but not today anymore and not that far from the center.”
“I need a friend,” she said.
“Sorry,” I said. “Not today.”
There was fear in her voice.
“Do you know somebody else? Somebody nearby? Somebody that might still be free tonight?”
I laughed but stopped quickly.
“You just want anybody?”
“I just really need a friend,” she said. “Someone that can come.”
Her selfishness made me angry.
“What do you need a friend for?”
Naomi stayed quiet for another moment.
“Oh,” she said. “To talk and such. You know, I just really miss you. You and the sleepovers.”
“I’m not sure we ever had a sleepover.”
Naomi’s voice cracked.
“Are you sure? But then we really need to. It would be great! It would be great, wouldn’t it! Just the two of us, alone, at home. It would be fun and safe and everything.”
“I’m not so sure about that.”
“Oh, so you want to end our friendship? End it then! End it!”
Suddenly her words were muffled.
“Hello?” I asked. “Are you okay?”
I heard Naomi inhaling loudly.
“Okay,” she said. “Okay.”
“Okay?” I asked.
“All good,” she said. “I just need to find someone. Someone that can come.”
“Not me,” I said.
“Fine,” she said. “Be a bad friend then. Betray me when I need you most. I hate you.”
“What the hell?”
“You are a bad friend. Not like the others. You are a bad friend.”
The call ended.
For a while I thought about whether to call the police or maybe at least her parents. But she had been on the phone with me for nearly fifteen minutes. I’m sure she could somehow have told me if something was really wrong.
In the end I didn’t call, mostly because I didn’t want Naomi to be even more angry with me.
They found her a week later.
Her body was sprawled out on the living room floor. Her chest had been ripped apart and her heart removed.
In the basement they found two bodies. Two girls that had been to the same school as us. Hogtied in a locked basement room.
The girls’ chests were ripped open too. The hearts violently pulled out of their bodies.