Yesterday was Kay-Day, which is what I call my birthday (my name is Kayleigh but I also go by Kay, even though my best friend Jess calls me ‘Kayle’ – sounds like kale – she started doing that this one time after I asked her something and instead of answering ‘okay’ she said ‘kay, and I thought she was saying my name so I answered, “what?” then she said, “‘kay” again, so I answered louder, “what?” and it turned into this whole thing of her saying “‘kay” and me saying “what” – “‘Kay” “What?” “‘Kay!” “What?” “‘KAY!!!!” “WHAT?!??!!” – until we were screaming back and forth at one another so loud that the manager kicked us out of Ulta. After that she started calling me ‘Kayle’ instead of ‘Kay’ to avoid confusion. People still call me Kay, just not Jess).
Where was I? Oh yeah, the murders.
No, not yet. We haven’t gotten to that part. Stay with me, ‘kay? (OMG, even I do it sometimes!)
Anyways, back to Kay-Day.
So I drove over to my boyfriend Ben’s apartment that morning to surprise him into taking me out for breakfast. I’d let him choose where we went as long as it was somewhere that served mimosas and eggs benny (gotta have my eggs benny, it’s a Kay-Day tradition). I had my Instagram Live going the whole time (hands free mode while driving, I’m not a monster) so I could document my whole Kay-Day adventure.
Anyways, I showed up at his apartment, and guess who answered the door wearing one of his t-shirts? Monica! 200 measly Instagram followers Monica! Ben was cheating on me! With Monica! MONICA!!
I. Was. DEVASTATED!
Anyways, I drove back home crying, telling all my Instagram Live followers how awful Ben was and how much I hated him. I might have shared his phone number, email address and Netflix password, I don’t even remember all I was saying because I was so upset. Can you blame me?
To make matters worse, Ben had the audacity to show up in the comments of my Instagram Live stream to trashtalk ME. ME! He was saying how clingy I was, how we never said we were an exclusive boyfriend/girlfriend ‘thing’ and how he was going to give the earrings he bought me for Kay-Day to Monica because she would appreciate them more. I said good, because they were probably cheap laboratory grade gems and not authentic gemstones so they’d look better on a trashy bitch like Monica anyways, which he said was proof that I was extra!
The worst part? All the drama he generated might jeopardize my influencer status and scare away potential marketing campaigns. I’ve worked hard to get over 100,000 followers, and now Ben has to ruin it, on Kay-Day of all days!
Anyways, I got home, put my pajamas on, and crawled back in bed where I planned to spend the rest of the day and possibly the week.
Kay-Day. Was. RUINED!
So, as I was crying myself to sleep I heard this loud banging at my door. First I thought it was Ben, either there to apologize or ask for his stuff back (how dare he!). So I yelled, “GO AWAY!” but then it wasn’t Ben, it was Jess! And she hollered back, “Let me in!” and I said, “Is that Jess?” and she said “Yeah, Bitch! Let me in!” Then the next door neighbor started banging on the wall so I got up and let her in so he’d stop eavesdropping on our conversation.
So anyways, I got up and answered the door where I found Jess waiting in her barista apron. She ran inside and threw her arms around me.
“I came over as soon as I saw what you put on Insta,” she said, pausing to take a sip from her frappe over my shoulder. “You poor thing! How are you holding up?”
“Shattered,” I said, slumping down on the couch. “I thought he loved me.”
“Kayle, I never would’ve said this while you were dating, but I never thought he was good enough for you,” Jess said.
“Why not? He was sweet, had great hair, good abs, not to mention he played guitar in a band.”
Jess shook her head as slurped the last of the whipped cream from her frappe cup. “He played bass, Kayle. Bass. You never date a bass player unless-”
“Unless he’s the lead singer too,” I finished. “Your Mom told us that.”
Jess nodded. “Mom really knows her shit.”
So Jess got up and tossed her empty frappe cup in the trash. I slid down off the couch onto the floor, hugging Bear Bear – my giant stuffed teddy bear. I nuzzled into his fluffy chest, my only sleeping companion for the foreseeable future.
Jess returned from the kitchen and plopped back down on the couch.
“I hate seeing you like this,” she said, prodding me on the thigh with her shoe as I hugged my stuffed animal. “Let’s get out and do something fun!”
I sighed, tracing my fingertip around Bear Bear’s ear. “I don’t feel like doing anything. I just want to lay here and put today behind me.”
Jess gave me a shove with her foot. “Oh come on! It’s Kay-Day, not Ben Ruins Everything Day. You know what we should do? We should get back at him!”
I glanced up at her, resting my chin on Bear Bear’s chest. “How?”
Jess thought for a moment, then a huge grin spread across her face as she pulled out her phone.
“We’re gonna curse him!” she yelled.
Jess held out her phone to me as she spoke. “Check it out. I created a Wiccan Pinterest board a few years back. You remember when I was really into Ariana Grande?”
“Ariana Grande is Wiccan?”
“Where’d you learn that?”
“Buzzfeed, duh.” She took her phone back and scrolled down the page. “I’m sure we could find something good to curse ol’ Benny Two Times.”
She scrolled through the list of the many different spells and curses she had saved. Most where in foreign languages but the titles Jess saved them under were all English.
“What’s that one?” I said, pointing to the one titled How to Summon a Golem.
She opened it, reading the description. “A golem is an entity summoned by the spellcaster to perform a task. This is perfect! We can send it to kick Ben’s ass and get those earrings he said he was going to give you for Kay-Day!”
I pursed my lips, thinking. “What all do we need for it?”
Jess scrolled down. “First thing we need is a vessel to animate… like a statue or something.”
I sat up, hugging my giant teddy. “What about Bear Bear?”
Jess grinned. “Hell yeah! That’s perfect!”
Jess continued down the list. “Salt, precious gemstone, charcoal, purified water, some herbs from your pantry, we probably have all this stuff, if not we can get it pretty quickly.”
She showed me the list. It did look like we had everything, all except-
“It says we need a cauldron,” I said, pointing to the last item on the list.
“Shit,” Jess said, slumping back down in her seat before springing back up. “Wait, didn’t your parents send you an Instant Pot for Kay Day?”
So anyways, that’s when we decided to summon a Golem.
We also decided to do shots of tequila and make it a girls night activity. It was still Kay-Day, after all, and Jess really wanted to cheer me up. I don’t remember how many we did, which is a good indication that we did too many.
At first I thought a Golem was that creepy frog guy from The Lord of the Rings. Don’t get me wrong, that little freak was pretty mean, but Ben was like 6’4” AND he did crossfit, which is probably something they didn’t even have back then, but Jess explained that the movie one was different because they used a different vessel and that our Golem would be Bear Bear. Gotta hand it to Jess; she’s pretty smart sometimes. She gets it from her mother.
Anyways, we put the Instant Pot on the counter and set it to Sauté. As it heated we added the ingredients – purified water (from my Britta filter), charcoal (from a bath bomb), sage and a few other herbs (from my pantry), kosher rock salt (Golem’s are apparently Jewish), and a sapphire (from Jess’s nose ring).
“Can I see your hand?” Jess asked as she plucked her nose ring from her left nostril and dropped it in the Instant Pot.
So I gave her my hand, not paying attention because I was setting up filters to take a new profile pic for Insta, one that didn’t have that lying two-face Ben in it. As I lifted the phone to snap a cute photo of Jess and I making our Golem sauce, Jess sliced my palm with a knife. And it hurt. Like, a lot. To make matters worse, I snapped the pic just as she sliced my hand and I was making an awful face.
“Ow! What the Eff Jess?” I yelled.
“What? The recipe says it needs your blood,” Jess replied matter of factly as she squeezed my hand. The blood ran down my fingers into the pot, swirling into the rolling mixture.
“You don’t just slice someone’s hand!” I yelled, wrapping my hand in a towel. “It’s 2022 Jess, you have to get consent first.”
Jess shrugged. “I figured it would hurt less if you didn’t see it coming.”
I took another shot of tequila for the pain, then another, just because. I made Jess do one as punishment for slicing my hand. Then she did another one, just because.
So anyways, I bandaged up my hand while Jess finished loading the recipe into the Instant Pot. When I returned and peeked over Jess’s shoulder, the black liquid fizzed rapidly in the metal basin as the warm smell of sage and jasmine wafted up into our faces. I’m not sure if the fizzing was from the spell or the bathbomb, but whatever it was, it looked cool.
“Is that everything?” I asked.
“Yep,” she answered. “All that’s left is to read the incantation.”
She held out her phone to me; on it was a wall of text in an unknown language with squiggles that looked like fancy bits of pasta.
“I can’t read this.”
“Oh, Google Translate, one sec,” she said, taking her phone back. After a few clicks, she handed back her phone. “Here, try this.”
“Much better,” I said.
I recited the incantation:
I call upon my sacred power
Bring life to my creation
Bound unto my will
Bound unto my blood
And see my bidding done.
Awaken, awaken, awaken.
Awaken, my creation.
We looked down at Bear Bear propped up against the dishwasher on the kitchen floor. Jess tied a bandana around his head to make him look more badass. I wasn’t sure at first, but seeing him in it, it definitely made him look tougher.
Tough or not, he sat there on the kitchen tile, doing nothing.
“Oh!” Jess exclaimed. “Give him a command. Golems work like Alexa.”
I cleared my throat and leaned down in Bear Bear’s fuzzy cream colored face, staring him directly in his marble eyes. I also may have done another shot. And so may have Jess. Is it still called a shot if you’re drinking straight from the bottle?
“Bear Bear, I command you to go teach that two timer Ben a lesson!”
“Yeah!” Jess yelled. She may have done another shot. “Tell him to get your earrings too!”
I pointed at Bear Bear. “And get my Kay-Day earrings from that gutter tramp Monica!”
Jess slid down the kitchen counter laughing. “Tell him to film it!”
Jess rolled onto her back on the floor, giggling. “Film it so you can put it on Instagram!”
I was laughing too. “Good idea, Bear Bear, do what Jess said too, film it for the ‘gram!”
I high-fived Jess and tried pulling her up from the floor. Instead, she pulled me down with her so we were both on the floor, drunk and giggling as we told Bear Bear to do our bidding.
Anyways, while we were down there, I heard a loud gurgle above us on the counter. I climbed back up to my feet, staring down into the pot as the black liquid bubbled up towards me.
“Oh no!” I giggled. “It’s boiling over!”
Jess was laughing so hard I thought she might pass out. Meanwhile, the black liquid rose up the walls of the Instant Pot towards the lip.
I prodded Jess with my foot. “Is it supposed to do that? Jess!”
Jess was no help whatsoever, rolling on the floor in a drunken giggling fit.
Anyways, before the pot boiled over, I slammed the lid down and locked it in place. The vibrations continued, becoming more violent as the pot walked down the counter, knocking over the nearly empty tequila bottle and spilling it on Jess. I held onto the Instant Pot, trying to keep it in place as I pressed the Stew button. The vibrations grew louder, taking on the guttural tone of a chorus of voices chanting in whatever that squiggly pasta language was. The pot hissed as the pressure built up, the vibrations growing stronger, shuddering more and more violently until-
The Instant Pot reached pressure. The pot groaned and popped as it settled in place on the counter, shuddering one final time. On the readout, the timer counted down from twenty four minutes.
I looked down at Jess, who was preoccupied with licking the spilled tequila off the back of her hand.
“I don’t think it worked,” I said.
Her giggling fit over, Jess looked up as if she was about to cry. “I’m sorry Kayle! I’m sorry that it didn’t work, and I’m sorry that I cut you. I just wanted you to have a good Kay-Day!”
Maybe it was the tequila, or maybe it was the fact that Jess was my best girl and the only person looking out for me when I was at my lowest. Maybe it was both. I kneeled down on the floor and hugged her.
“I love you, Jess,” I said. “You’re my best friend in the world.”
“I love you too, Kayle. Happy Kay-Day,” she said. She might have wiped her nose on my shoulder, but I didn’t care. That’s what friends do for one another.
So anyways, we left the Instant Pot and Bear Bear in the kitchen and headed to the couch where we watched rom-coms, ordered pizza, and drank White Claws. Not that we needed the White Claws; we were both pretty drunk from the tequila shots during our spellcasting, but once you lock yourself into a drunken binge, the only proper course of action is to push it, see it through to completion.
Memories from the rest of the night were clouded behind a drunken haze. I remember fragments, little snippets of clarity, like my brain was a satellite television and the alcohol was a thunderstorm. Thoughts crackled and buzzed, pausing and skipping as I remembered things throughout the night.
I distinctly recall a loud POP in the kitchen not long after we moved to the couch. Maybe it was a bang. Whatever it was, it was loud enough to get my eavesdropping neighbor to pound on the wall and tell us to quiet down (he really needed to get a life).
When I turned to check what had caused it, I noticed the lid from the Instant Pot had shot up from the counter and embedded in the plaster of the ceiling. I don’t think it was supposed to do that. Jess agreed. When the pizza arrived, we asked the delivery guy about it and he too agreed that it didn’t seem like it should do that.
“Must be defective,” Jess said as she folded a slice of pizza and shoved it into her mouth. “Hope your parents kept the receipt.”
We finished the pizza and drank all of the White Claws, even the Grapefruit ones that were pushed to the back of the fridge because, ew. The last thing I remember was counting down to midnight and toasting with Jess that another successfully celebrated Kay-Day was in the books. Then Jess curled up on one end of the couch and I the other as the credits rolled on whatever movie we just finished.
Anyways, sometime later I remember floating through my apartment. I don’t know how it happened, but I remember looking up and seeing the charred underside of the Instant Pot lid hanging above me as I glided through my apartment towards my bedroom. My head was still swimming from all the drinks, so it’s possible someone was carrying me and it just felt like I was floating.
I felt myself lowering into the bed as the covers fell over me, tucking me in. I felt a tickle against my forehead, like you’d feel if someone brushed the hair from your forehead or perhaps leaned in for a soft forehead kiss.
As I fell back to sleep, I remember thinking that it couldn’t have been Jess. I knew that because this one time I jumped on her back at Coachella to get a better view of Post Malone and she folded like a fitted bedsheet – not neatly, rolled up and crumpled. It couldn’t have been her. It must have been a dream.
Anyways, when I woke up the next morning I had a throbbing headache and my mouth was dry as cotton. I went to the kitchen and filled up a huge tumbler of water from the Brita filter on the sink. I probably should’ve noticed that Bear Bear was no longer in the kitchen, but my priority was hydration.
Jess stirred from her spot on the couch, rubbing her eyes and holding her head the same way I was holding mine. I joined her on the couch, handing her the Tylenol bottle and my cup of water.
“Thanks,” she said, gulping a few drinks before handing it back. She pulled out her phone, grinning a bit.
“Oh my God, you sent me a video last night,” she said.
“I did? I don’t remember that.” I patted the pockets of my sweatpants. “Where’s my phone?”
Jess’s grin faded as she watched the video. “Wait… did we leave last night?”
I slid over beside her to watch the screen. The video was dark and grainy, but I recognized the stairs leading to Ben’s apartment.
“Oh my God, did we go to Ben’s apartment?” she asked.
“Oh no, I hope I didn’t say anything stupid.”
The video continued with the loud crash as the front door of Ben’s apartment kicked inward followed by hushed voices from the bedroom. A shirtless Ben came into view from the dark back hallway. In his hands was a wooden baseball.
“What the fu-” Ben began, stunned as he looked up at the intruder. Before he could react he was thrown backwards, busting the door from its hinges.
The recording plunged into darkness as the video moved into the bedroom. We heard a woman screaming, Monica perhaps, followed by tussling and the dull thuds of the baseball bat swinging into something soft, absorbing the blows. Another crash and groan from Ben as the bat clattered on the floor. Ben groaned in pain, but was cut short by one last swing of the bat, landing with a sickening crack.
“Ben!” Monica screamed. Even her scream was trashy.
The bat clattered on the floor again, followed by the shuddered breath of Monica, begging, pleading. Her scream cut off as the video ended.
“Was that, was that us?” Jess asked.
Before I could answer, the front door opened.
As we turned to look, Bear Bear entered, walking under his own power, his furry legs caked with dirt and mud. Up on his head tucked into the bandana on his forehead was my missing phone. The rest of him was matted with what looked like blood or spaghetti sauce.
Oh, and he was cradling Monica’s severed head in the crook of his arm like a football.
Bear Bear lurched into the living room and stood in front of me on the couch. He bowed his head, at first I thought he was doing some sort of show of respect or something so I bowed back but then my phone slid from the bandana into my lap so I guess he was just giving it back.
“I guess the spell worked,” Jess said.
Bear Bear dropped Monica’s head on the coffee table next to the pizza boxes and walked back to his corner of the room, falling to the floor, lifeless, returning to his original form.
My jaw hung open, stunned.
Jess, on the other hand, leaned forward and studied Monica’s head.
“Those earrings don’t look right on her,” she said.
I blinked, shaking my head as I turned to her. “What?”
Jess grabbed Monica’s head and turned it towards me on the table. “Look, her jaw is way too square for teardrop earrings. These would look so much better on you.”
She twisted Monica’s head back towards her as she removed the earrings. Once she had both of them, Bear Bear sat up in the corner, tilting his head towards Jess.
“Relax, I’m giving them to her!”
Jess dropped the earrings into my palm. As she did, Bear Bear slumped over on the floor.
I got up from the couch and headed to the bathroom.
“I’m gonna go wash these,” I said. “And probably throw up.”
I splashed cold water on my face as I leaned against the mirror over the bathroom sink. A metallic taste filled my mouth, going from feeling like cotton to all the sudden too moist. My stomach gurgled as an uneasy feeling roiled up from my gut. It was all catching up to me at once – too much booze, too much pizza, and too much witchcraft murder.
My phone buzzed in my pocket. I pulled it out, seeing a new instant message notification from Jess.
When I opened it, I was greeted with a picture of Bear Bear, taken just now, his fur matted with blood and dirt on my living room floor. She used a sparkle filter and captioned it:
Ariana Grande would be so proud! #MagicMurderBear
So anyways, that’s when I threw up.