Hare Moon

Hare Moon by Carrie Ryan

Book: Hare Moon by Carrie Ryan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Carrie Ryan
Tags: Fiction, Romance, juvenile
It’s because the paths are forbidden that Tabitha always finds her way to them. Despite the Sisters’ warnings about what lies beyond the village fences, she’s tired of being trapped. Tired of being told what to do all the time. Tired of hearing that the village is all there is of life.
    She wants something more. Needs something more.
    The fences exist, the Sisters tell her, to keep the dead at bay. Tabitha wonders whether they might also serve to keep the living docile and trapped. Lately she has begun to understand the claustrophobia of an unexplored life, and the only time she breathes easy is when she thinks about what might lie outside her tiny existence.
    The first time she opens the gate it’s on a dare with herself, to see if she’s truly strong enough to follow through on her awakening desires. She touched the gate once, as part of a bet when she was seven. To win she kept her fingers wrapped around the thin coil of metal for ten seconds, watching the dead shuffle toward her with vacant hunger.
    As she counted off seven … eight … nine … one of them reached out to her, ran his thumb over her knuckles, trying to pry her grip from the barrier.
    She made it to ten, won the bet and had nightmares for a month. Until recently, the fence and path have been nothing but off-limits stretches of treacherous, forgotten land unfolding from the village proper. There is no such thing as life beyond the fences , Tabitha has been told her entire life.
    Except that now she’s not sure she can accept this edict.
    As she approaches the gate, she’d like to believe that she isn’t terrified. That she isn’t hesitant. That the dead along the fence don’t frighten her, withtheir broken fingers reaching, always reaching, and their moans calling for her.
    It’s the sound of them that gets to her—the way it invades every part of her life. She hears them in her sleep, in her daydreams, during chores and services. She hears them when she’s praying to God.
    And on the path there’s no escaping the Unconsecrated. They stumble along the fences on either side of her, pushing and pulling the rusted metal. She’s never known need like that in her life. Doesn’t understand it.
    Yet she recognizes it as more intense than anything she feels now, anything she has ever felt, and she begins to realize she wants to feel it as well.
    Tabitha knows there are rules and that rules are meant to be followed. Every morning she attends the services at the chapel and every evening she recites her prayers. She respects her parents, cares for her younger siblings and completes chores without complaint. Well, without too much complaint.
    During the winter months she does as she’s asked and smiles demurely to the eligible young men her age, wanting one to choose her for a wife.
    But they never do.
    Tabitha’s okay with this, though. Because it isn’t the young men who call to her at night. It’s the Forest. It’s the whisper of the trees that there’s something else, outside the fences. That there’s still a world that’s bigger than any she could ever comprehend and all she has to do is find the strength to go after it.
    At night she tosses and turns in her bed, listening to the Forest. Wanting it. Needing it until her cheeks burn red and tears run from her eyes. And in the morning she slows her steps as she passes by the gate on an errand. She promises herself that tomorrow she will sneak through it. Tomorrow she willtaste the world beyond.

    The first time she actually crosses out of the village and onto the path she pauses and waits for the siren to wail. The sound of the gate hinges screaming as she pried them open still sits too heavy in the air, and there’s a moment of absolute terror as she realizes that she has taken an irretrievable step and broken a rule inviting unimaginable consequences.
    But she doesn’t turn back. Instead she takes one step forward and then another, until she is fully through the gate. She waits,

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