Move quickly, scent the air. The wind shifts. Down! I flatten myself, lying on my belly against the cold snow. Old Colin’s pelt wrapped around my body, his gift of life to me after his death. Our foraging quarry pauses, head up, ears swiveling. I all but stop breathing, digging my claws into the snow in anticipation.
The beast turns, walks away from me and I’m gliding like Cailean taught me, unheard. She’s there, ahead and far, far to my left, in that thicket, waiting. Across, Cana and Convil, my parents, await to cut off any escape. Conri shadows me, watching always, from a distance. Cruan, my den-brother, squirms up next to me and touches his dark wet nose to my dry, colorless one. Conri circles right. We have it surrounded. I clutch my knife against my breasts.
This is the moment. In the darkness of a blink, I feel the warmth and closeness of the den. In every breath and footfall, the nips and growls of instruction. A leap into the air, startled cry, blood in my mouth. My first kill. My family within me.