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       Hare Moon, p.4

           Carrie Ryan
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  She thinks about the kiss they almost—but never—shared and she wonders if his lips could have been a part of her, if the two of them could have left this world before his infected brother Returned. If their love had been pure, maybe they’d have been able to stop time.

  “I will love you always,” she says, pulling his lips to hers.

  Through her kiss she tries to explain everything that words cannot. About love and duty and God and need and choices and memory and history. She wants him to taste her and understand her. In that kiss is everything she was and could be, all that she’s giving up in her life.

  She needs to take this part of him with her because it’s the only way she can go back to the life she must live. To her duty to village and God.

  When she pulls away she’s crying, and Patrick reaches up to her cheek and catches a tear on his finger. He doesn’t realize she’s saying good-bye to him. “I will love you always,” he says, and she smiles, sad and aching.

  She gestures for him to go up the stairs first and he pushes open the door. Without having to look she picks up the rope leading to the gate outside and twines it around her wrist. Before he disappears aboveground she presses her fingers to her lips and then against his spine. She pulls the rope and then he’s gone and she closes and locks the door behind him.

  She huddles on the top step and listens to him bang and call for her and then to the sound of the moans. She tears at her clothes and her body, raking her nails against her flesh, hoping to let the agony pulsing inside her escape, but nothing can dull the torment.

  Her hand shakes as she dips the pen into ink and holds it above the page. The printed words are impossible to decipher through the tears trembling from her eyes. Her body is wracked with sobs. Still, she writes: There is always a choice. Choice is what makes us human. It is what separates us from the Unconsecrated. But that does not mean that choice cannot turn men into monsters. I have chosen survival over life.

  In her life, Tabitha has felt consuming desire only during those too-short moments with Patrick. She watches him along the fences with the others now, watches the way he grabs at the metal links and pleads and begs. She touches the old note from him, tucked against her breast under the cross she wears around her neck.

  A part of her likes to believe that he’s different from the others, that he doesn’t moan for anyone but her. That he spends his days and nights trying to return to her.

  He is always there for her, always waiting. The most constant companion anyone could pray for. One of these days she will return to him. She will feel that desire again, that need beyond human comprehension, and they will be together forever.

  Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Carrie Ryan is a graduate of Williams College and Duke University School of Law. Carrie now lives and writes in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can visit her at Read all of the Forest of Hands and Teeth books: The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Dark and Hollow Places.



  Carrie Ryan, Hare Moon



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