First Page: The Demon Hour
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Some women will say that time metaphorically stands still when the man of their dreams gets down on bended knee, but for me time literally did. Of course, I’m pretty sure most people would say the same thing in the face of the most horrifying tragedy they could ever imagine. For me, they were one in the same.
“Sit down. Right here. Aww, c’mon, Ana. Just trust me.” Danny’s voice compelled me like the most euphoric drug.
I eyed the scuffed blue paint of the derelict bench he was pointing at. Someone had sharpied devil horns and a mustache onto the real estate agent’s picture, but it seemed otherwise free of anything gross or dangerous. No gobs of spit or discarded syringes, as far as I could tell. Then again, this was Parkdale, land of the addicted, dispossessed and those naïve enough to think they were making a difference in their community. So far, I only fell into the latter category.
This bus stop was exact the spot where Danny and I first met. I rode the 127 bus to work every day for the past five years until we started dating four months ago. He always drove to work, except for that one time his car was in the shop and he had to take the 127 to get from Parkdale to downtown. We would have never met if it weren’t for that busted carburetor. Now we carpooled every day in his Vantage roadster. God, it was a sexy car.
But in the five years before I met Danny, I never once actually sat down on the dirty bench. He just kept smiling ridiculously at me until I complied.
Darn. There was no resisting those dimples. Or those cobalt blue eyes and messy blond hair. I sighed and planted my butt on the least offensive section of the bench, hoping that my shirtdress wouldn’t get too dirty. It was the nicest outfit I owned. I couldn’t figure out why Danny was so insistent on my dressing up today if we were going to be riding the bus.
At least I was wearing all black. Unless Party-Marty, the homeless guy who slept here most nights, suddenly developed a cocaine habit, my dress would still look relatively clean no matter what I sat on. The pamphlet I’d given him a couple weeks ago for the new soup kitchen nearby was lying on the ground near my feet. Symbolically trashed, but at least the information was still visible to any passerbys, I thought optimistically.
Caught up in my thoughts, it took me a few seconds before I noticed Danny was crouched down in front on me, one knee dropped to the dusty pavement.
My mouth fell.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small navy box.
My stomach sank.
He opened the box and pulled out the yellow-gold ring with a huge teardrop sapphire.
I squeezed my eyes shut.
“Ana Lee Wight, will you—”
Too soon! Don’t do this, Danny. I opened my eyes again.
And that’s when everything froze.