He'd never imagined himself to be in this situation. When he dreamed of starting his business he thought he would live in success and wealth, and that would mean he'd be happy. He'd make everyone back home proud of him, and prove those naysayers that doubted him wrong. He'd be on top of the world, laughing at the gaping mouths that hold no words.
And for a brief time he was. He had everything: wealth from his prosperous sales, power over the company that he started, fame for his success, and most of all, his own mother finally saying the words he wanted to hear since he was so young.
Oh Oncie, I'm so proud!
He remembered when she said that for the first time, throwing her arms around him when he agreed to chop down the trees. How at first he doubted those words came from her lips. How can she finally praise him after all these years of saying he'll never amount to anything? How can she speak of him as a success after saying his ideas will become failures? How can she proudly declare him as her son during interviews when she couldn't even look at him since his father left?
Yet she really said those words. She finally sees him as what he always wanted her to see: a success, a name that everyone will remember, a provider for the family.
So how can he throw that away over a promise? Although he is one who would keep his word among friends, he only met the Lorax a few days ago. As the Guardian of the Forest says, they're acquaintances and nothing more. So that promise is nothing to him, just as he is to the Lorax.
But even with the pride from his family and the wealth from his sales he still couldn't get that one disappointed look out of his mind. Her disappointed look.
He remembered her coming to his office one day. He was doing some paperwork when he heard a knock on his grand door. A head poked in. It was his secretary, Mrs. Funceler.
"Yes? I'm very busy here." he said impatiently, not even looking up from his desk.
"Someone is here to see you." she stated bitterly.
He looked up and saw a familiar face stepping in, arms crossed over her chest.
He smiled and stacked his papers. They can be taken care of later. "Leave us."
She watched as Mrs. Funceler, with a glare, closed the door behind her. Turning to her old friend, she gave a shy smile. "Hey."
"Hey, I haven't seen you in a while." He got up and walked over to her. "Felt like ages."
She shrugged but didn't say anything.
"Did you get a look at the factory inside? I can show you right now." His blue eyes lit up.
"I designed it all myself and it turned out exactly as I wanted." He took her arm and gave it a tug, leading the way, but she didn't budge.
"No Onceler. I need to talk to you."
He frowned but let go. He thought she would have been glad to see all his hard work paying off.
She took a deep breath. This won't be easy, but he has to know the truth.
"Once...I...oh how do I say this?" She muttered the last part to herself running a hand through her hair.
He gave her a smile and shook his head. Since the day they first met she always struggled with her words. He placed his green hands on her shoulders. She stopped at the contact and gave a sheepish smile.
"Easy." he told her. "You know you can tell me anything."
She looked down from those true blue eyes that have always made her smile, no matter what mood she's in. Why does he always have to look at me like that?
"Okay." She took a deep breath. "Once, I came to talk to you about the tress."
He dropped his arms as his smile fell. "Again?"
"Yes, it's getting worse now. There's smog in the air, schlop in the water, and more trees are being chopped down."
He sighed, leaning his head back. "Again with smog and schlop! You know I get enough lectures from the Lorax."
He gestured to the balcony with his thumb, expecting his furry orange "acquaintance" to pop up any minute now.
"Beanpole!" Surprise. Surprise.
The Guardian of the Forest stormed into the office from the balcony. He grunted as he climbed up the Onceler's desk, glaring at the businessman.
"How long are you gonna keep this up? There's smog and schlop all over the forest! And how many more trees are you gonna chop down?"
"Hello to you too." The Onceler replied dryly, turning to his "friend".
"Don't joke about this kid!"
"What would I be joking about? I'm just saying hello."
"How many more trees are you gonna chop down for you thneeds?"
"As many as I need."
"You're destroying everything for your factory." The Lorax shook his head. "You don't even know what you're doing, are you?"
The Onceler walked over to the Lorax, a sly smile drawn on his face.
"Hm, let's see. I'm biggering my company, making more money each day, and making myself more of a success than ever."
He bended down to the Lorax's level and smirked, enjoying his rather tall stature. The Lorax just stood his ground.
"You're doing a crime against nature."
"I'm creating something everyone needs and making something of myself. Where's the crime in that?"
"You're destroying everything the animals and I care about in order to get what you want. Don't you ever think about them?"
For a brief moment, the Onceler's eyes shifted from the Lorax's gaze. "They can move to the farther trees in the valley. I'm not even touching those."
"How can you say something so selfish?"
"I'm thinking about what's best for my company."
"You're thinking about what's best for yourself."
"And what about you? All you do is barge into my office, and lecture me about your valley."
"This ain't my valley kid. I speak for the trees and the animals, who are suffering this very minute!"
The Onceler glared at the Guardian. "Don't. Call. Me. Kid."
The Lorax raised an eyebrow, seeing where he had hit the young man. "Well, you sure are acting like one."
She watched as the two argued, and knew this has to stop before things get worse. Stepping forward, she placed a hand on the Onceler's shoulder and he turned to her.
"Look, I don't want things to get ugly, but Once he's right."
The Lorax smiled at her support, but the Onceler looked at her betrayed. She's choosing his side over mine? She was always on mine!
"Your taking his side?"
"I'm not on anyone's side. I'm just saying this has gone too far."
He glared at her. "Too far? You think this is too far? I'm just staring my business and you're saying I've gone 'too far'?"
He walked over to his balcony and watched as his factory worked as one machine. Employees on their whackers and choppers were going in and out, turning more Truffula Trees into thneeds. Animals were moving to the far hills in the valley as pink and red trees were being chopped down.
He turned to them. "What do you two want me to do? Shut it all down and end everything I've worked hard for?"
"That could work." The Lorax nodded in thought.
She glared at him and turned to the Onceler. "We're not saying that."
"Then what are you saying?" He stepped closer to her and crossed his gloved arms.
She cleared her throat and stepped back, feeling a little nervous by his size and proximity. "I'm saying something has to be done."
"And what do you propose?"
She looked down, trying to find an answer. Honestly, I don't know.
He smirked at her silence. "Thought so."
He sat on his chair and began looking through his papers again, ignoring the Lorax on his desk.
"I have work to do now. The door is right there."
He pointed to the grand door without even looking at them. The Lorax just glared at him and sighed. Hopping off the desk, he walked to the door and tried to push it open, but it was too heavy.
She watched him grunt and strain with compassion and looked at her friend, who didn't even bother getting up to help him.
When did you turn into...this?She walked to the door and the Lorax stepped back, allowing her to open it.
"Thanks." he muttered and she nodded.
Turning to the Onceler, he saw he still had his eyes on his work.
"Humph, I see very well on what you think of your promises." With those words he turned and walked down the great hall.
My promises mean as much to me as I do to my looked up and saw the Lorax was gone, but she was still here.
"Is there anything else you want to say to me? I'm kind of busy here."
She glared at him. "Yes, I wanna know who are you and what have you done with my best friend."
He looked up at her, ready to make a comeback, but stopped himself upon seeing her eyes. They didn't show any fury like the Lorax's, or the usual disappointment like his mother's. No, they only show a sadness coming from hurt and betrayal. Something he sees whenever she mentions her father. The kind of look that shows someone she cares about has truly let her down.
He closed his mouth and cleared his throat, looking down from those eyes. She shook her head and turned to leave.
She stopped, hand on the door, and turned around to see him with his hand outstretched, but no words to say.
"Don't worry, I won't interfere with your work again. Mr. Onceler."
With those last words she turned to the hall and walked out before he could say anymore.
Now he stands at the balcony, looking over his kingdom. He can see the entire forest from there. He sees it now being half of what it used to be. One half: desolate grey with tree stumps, a black river, and grey clouds in a dark blue and purple sky. The other: green and luscious with orange, yellow, and light pink trees still standing.
He watched as his world grew so fast. His factory was growing bigger by the minute and progress was being made faster than he expected it too.
That's good...right?he asked himself.
After all, this is what he wanted. It was his dream, and it became a reality. He can't just stop. I thought she'd understand.
He went inside and looked at the remaining papers that still needed attendance. He contemplated getting them done, but a yawn came from his mouth and he decided against it.
I'll take care of them tomorrow. Right now, I need some sleep. Rubbing an eye, he stacked the papers and placed them in a basket. Taking his royal blue glasses, he walked out the door and into the great hall. He looked at the paintings of trees that decorated the yellow thin stripped green walls. They are close to the real trees in appearance and make the hallway seem less...empty.
He looked at the artwork that surrounded him. It always brings him back to when he first stumbled into the valley. He smiled at that memory as he stopped at a painting of a yellow Truffula Tree in the center of a river, with humming fish happily splashing around it. It was the most beautiful place he has ever seen. The trees standing together like a flame over the valley, glowing in the spring, underneath the bright blue sky. The grass shimmering like a sea of green. The animals frolicking about in their home. It was Paradise.
"You're destroying everything."
He looked down from the painting as the Lorax's words echoed in his head. Guilt suddenly crept into him like a bug. He walked past the painting and kept looking forward, ignoring the other artwork that gazed back at him like condensing eyes.
He made it to his room and closed the door behind him. Removing his hat and coat, he hung them on a rack and changed into his pajamas. After brushing his teeth, he lay down and closed eyes. Sleep however, wouldn't come to him. The image of that look was once again on his mind. Why did she have to give it to him?
He sat up on his bed, sighed, and ran a hand through his hair. He never liked that look. When she finally talked to him about her father that was the first thing he saw. The light in her eyes dimming, her smile fading, and her voice getting softer as she spoke.
He never meant to make her unhappy then, and he didn't mean to do the same now. It took him a while to get her to smile again that day and he always tried wipe that look away ever since.
He went to the drawer of his nightstand and opened it, taking out a red album. Opening the album he sat back down and looked through the photos inside, through the memories she treasured and gave him.
But why wasn't she on his side? She knew this was his dream, and she was one of the few who actually supported it, who supported him.
"I know you'll make a difference one day. I only wish I'll be there to see it happen."
She told him this when they said goodbye, the two holding each other and wearing graduation robes that day. He missed her, even if he did get her letters, and was so happy the instant he saw her familiar face. The valley seemed even more perfect with her being there too.
Come to think of it, she always made him happy. His lips curled up in a smile as he looked at each photo, laughing at some of the goofy ones. She and him have been through some tough and crazy times together. Yet he was glad to have gone through all of them with her.
His smile dimmed as that look came to his mind again. He stopped his browsing and looked away from the photos, as if she and his old self would have been ashamed to see him now. He closed the album and placed it on his nightstand. He thought about trying to sleep again but with this in his mind he just couldn't.
Maybe a drink will help. He went to the bathroom, turned the sink on, and filled a glass with water. He drank the cool liquid in one gulp.
There. Wiping his mouth, he looked at his reflection in the mirror. He smiled at himself, trying to give the other reassurance.
Everything's just fine. I'm doing what's best for everyone here, and what's best for myself. The company is doing great and everything is just going up.
"You don't even know what you're doing."
A frown grew on his face when he heard the Lorax's words again. Who is the Lorax to say he doesn't know what to do with his own company? I know exactly what I'm doing! Progress is progress, and progress must grow.
He looked down at the sink and drummed his fingers in thought.
I can't just shut everything down. I have workers and machines to manage. I can't leave them behind.
He rubbed his face with one hand and looked at himself again. Leaning closer, he noticed the dark circles underneath his eyes. It's not easy managing this many lives. He remembered the days when he lived in that little cottage with the Lorax and the animals. When it was just him trying to sell one thneed. When he had more time for his music, his new friends, and her.
In fact, he recalled those days in the pictures of the album. The days he have now make the ones back then seem so simple. When all that he worried about were grades, bullies, and his dreams of the future. Where have those days gone?
He frowned as he pulled back. He just stood there, looking at himself now, and thinking about who he used to be. Have I really changed that much? Have I changed at all?
"Who are you and what have you done with my best friend?"
He remembered the way she said those words, as if she really doesn't know him anymore. Sighing, he buried his face in his hands.
"You're destroying everything the animals and I care about in order to get what you want. Don't you ever think about them?"
Well it's hard to think about a bunch of animals and plants when my concerns include workers whose lives depend on my sales that have to keep going up.
And yet...it's not like preventing the trees from being chopped will immediately end my company. He raised his head from his hands. Even if I have to go back to harvesting, the thneeds will still be made, and the workers who chop down the trees can just harvest them. I can even make some tuff pickers to help them out.
His eyes lit up, turning into a celestial blue, as a smile grew on his face. I wouldn't be shutting anything down and no one will have to loose their job. The Lorax and the animals will still have their valley too.
He rushed back to his room and pulled out a sketchbook, some blueprints, and allot of pencils. He began drawing his plans, as if they will go away if he doesn't do this now.
I can make these pickers and put the hackers away for good. Hmm...maybe I can recycle the hackers into something else. Something that can help everyone out. Yes, this will save the tress.
Although, there are still the trees I already chopped down. He stared at the floor, tapping his pencil on his palm. How am I going to make up for those?
His arm became itchy and he absently scratched it. Ugh, these new pajamas are itchy...wait a minute! He snapped his fingers and drew again. I had the seeds harvested from the tuffs after some complaints about the thneeds being itchy. I can plant new trees to replace the stumps.
He drew some new Truffula Trees around his plans growing around the factory. Both living prosperous and in harmony.
He tapped an orange pencil on his chin in thought. And there's still that smog and schlop. He chewed the pencil and the thought over. If only there was a way to collect them, or at least prevent them from polluting the environment. Maybe I could make something that does that, or I could design a new factory that's more eco-friendly. But how would it be like?
He spent the rest of the night drawing out as many possibilities he can come up with, not even noticing the sun rising.
By the time he was finished, the Onceler had papers full of drawings, smudge on his hands and shirt, and a smile on his face. Hope burning in his eyes like two blue flames.
There, that's all I set a blueprint down with the others: a design for a new factory that will hopefully help him and the Lorax. Rubbing his sore hands, he looked at his clock and realized it was 8:00 A.M.
Better get stretched and pushed himself out of the bed. Trudging to the bathroom, he brushed his teeth while staring at the groggy reflection.
Another all nighter. He rinsed, spat out the mix of toothpaste and water, and washed his it was worth it.
Author's Note: Hey guys I just want to let you know on something in case there's confusion. I don't know if anyone else had this problem. Basically, whenever I use different fonts in my work they always mess up whenever I post it on Fanfiction. For example, I'd type in Helvetica for narrating the story but then use Corsiva Hebrew for writing song lyrics, but then when I publish it on Fanfiction everything has the same font or the different fonts would be on the wrong words. At first it didn't bother me, but this particular story relies heavily on my use of different fonts. If there is a sentence that's a line of dialogue but has no quotation marks it's intended to be something the character says in his head but not out loud. I just wanted to clear that up. Anyway, thatnks for reading this, and please leave a review. Also Happy Earth Day\Onceler's Birthday!