Five and Dolores bunked down in the ruins of the old public library. The place had been good to them in the months since they’d first settled there. Most of the collection had been destroyed by whatever had taken out the rest of the world, but what was left had proved invaluable. Northeast Foraging kept him fed, while The Physics of Time gave him hope, and a bound volume of Vogue magazine kept Dolores looking fashionable. He probably couldn't have survived without them but, as the light began to fade to from the sky Five reached for the only book that really mattered: Extra Ordinary by Vanya Hargreeves.
He’d read it straight through five times in the first week after he’d found it, just devoured it like a starving man. If someone had told him it was possible to miss anyone as much as he missed his family before he’d left them, Five would have laughed in their face. How could you miss someone who was always there wether you wanted them to be or not? It was like missing air. Now they were gone and sometimes it was like he could hardly breath. Vanya’s book was a lifeline, a tank of oxygen when his breath caught.
Lately he’d taken to reading a random passage just before he settled down for bed each night. It helped, he’d found, to keep the nightmares at bay. Tonight, he flipped it open to a page in the middle of the chapter about him, or rather about his disappearance.
I used to make his favorite sandwich, peanut butter and marshmallows, and leave it outside his bedroom door like someone trying to lure in their lost cat, Vanya wrote and Five couldn’t help but smile.
He could almost picture it: the sandwich on a plate in front of his door and himself, winding around Vanya’s ankles purring up a storm. “I’m a lost cat,” he choked out around the hysterical laughter bubbling up in his chest.
"More like feral one,” Dolores said, eying him with disgust. She could be so judgmental sometimes.
Five hated to admit it, but she had a point. Gone was the clean cut boy in his tidy uniform. His hair was getting long and he couldn’t remember the last time he’d bathed, let alone brushed his teeth. If his siblings could see him now, they wouldn’t recognize him any more than he’d recognized their corpses. Dolores herself was always so put together. He was almost pathetically grateful sometimes that she was willing to be seen with him.
The last of the light drained from the sky. Hugging Vanya’s book to his chest, Five closed his eyes and tried to imagine eating one of her sandwiches. Peanut butter and marshmallows. It had been so long, he could barely remember what it tasted like. He would have it again though, if it was the last thing he did. He’d get home to his family and the first thing he’d do would be to have a peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich.