Lives We Lost,The
toward the next.
“Yeah,” he said. “Just . . . a little impatient, I guess. I miss the truck.” He laughed, but it sounded strained.
“Me too. At least we haven’t run into that woman in the green van again.”
“No kidding.” He pulled up the second empty snare and looped it over his arm with the first. “It’s funny,” he said after a moment. “I keep thinking about how much I wanted to get off the island before. Have some long road trip with Warren, see the whole country and all the things I was missing. Figure out where I fit in. But then, this virus comes, and . . . it’s all the same now. Everything’s screwed up, everywhere.”
A lump rose in my throat. “Gav,” I said, quietly.
“And it turned out the one place I could make a little difference was right there on the island,” he went on. “Who would have thought?”
“You’ve been amazing,” I said. Could he really not know that? “And it’s not going to stay like this. If the vaccine works, if people can stop getting sick, we can start fixing everything.”
“Yeah,” he said. He wrapped his gloved hand around mine and held it as we continued our circuit of the field.
The next three snares were undisturbed too. “I was hoping we’d get something ,” Gav said.
“When Leo was traveling back, it was still fall,” I pointed out. “Most of the animals are hibernating now.”
“Right.” He paused as we headed toward the last snare. “You and him . . . You weren’t ever anything more than friends, were you?”
“What?” I said, my face going hot, grateful for the scarf that hid my cheeks. Had he seen something, overheard something? But what had there been to see or hear, really? The fact was, I could say with complete honesty, “No. We’ve always been just friends.”
Gav stopped, sliding his arms around me. “I’m sorry,” he said, his head bent beside mine. “I don’t know why I was thinking about it.”
“It’s okay,” I said. As if I could prove it, I nudged down our scarves and kissed him. His lips were dry but warm. He held me close for another few seconds, and I wished we were anywhere but in the middle of an empty field, hundreds of miles from anything familiar. Somewhere we could be our normal selves, if only for a moment.
When Gav drew back, the longing in his expression suggested he was thinking the same thing. A tingle shivered over my skin. But he just cocked his head and gave me a grin that was a little less strained, and said, “We’d better finish up before the others send a search party.”
As we came up on the last snare, I spotted a furry shape beneath the bush where we’d set it. “Hey!” Gav said, hurrying forward. I followed, slowing when I made out a long slender tail.
“That’s not a rabbit,” I said. I forced myself to take the last few steps to Gav’s side.
It was a cat, a brown tabby, its scrawny body rigid, head twisted where it’d struggled to free itself from the snare. I closed my eyes. From the looks of it, the cat might have died soon anyway, thanks to starvation or the cold. We might even have done it a kindness. What made my stomach lurch was the thought of what we might do with it now.
“Doesn’t look like it has that much meat on it,” Gav said uncertainly. I could feel him watching me. And suddenly I wanted to hit something. This was all because of the virus. The virus had stranded us here with no heat or food or people to help. The virus had put us in the position where we had to consider eating what had once been someone’s pet. I hated it. I hated it so much.
There was no way I was letting it beat us, no matter what it took.
I made myself shrug, exhaling my anger. “A little bit of meat could be the difference between making it one more day and . . . not making it, right?”
“True.” He crouched down by the bush. “I think it’s mostly frozen. We could pack it with snow so it stays that way, not use it unless we have to.”
I nodded. “Let’s get a bag. I don’t

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