He sighed as he listened to his mother's...reaction. He told her his plans and showed her his ideas, but that didn't matter to her. Once he said that he is going to stop cutting the trees she almost had a heart attack.
"Oncie, are you crazy?! You're going to bring the company down because you're not using our resources anymore!"
"I'm not saying that. What I've decided to do is we're going to stop cutting down the trees and instead go back to harvesting the tuffs: what I originally intended to do when I came here."
She looked at him as if he's speaking nonsense. "But that will slow down production, which will mean less sales for the company, and less money made. Are you planning on letting your mama suffer in poverty?!"
He took a deep breath and was glad he wore his dark glasses so she wouldn't see him roll his eyes. "I don't think a little change in our methods will affect our finances. Besides, I believe this will help everyone here."
He spread out the plans for his company on her rather large desk. "See ma, we can have the people who chop down the trees just harvest the tuffs, and I even designed pickers and collectors for them to use. The tuffs can be brought into the factory, where the thneeds will be made. I will also have every seed harvested from the tuffs planted in healthy grounds so new trees can be grown. We'll also prevent the smog and schlop from invading the forest. I even designed a new factory that wouldn't make any."
He smiled at his plans, feeling quite proud of his work. They may not be perfect, but at least they're better than just continuing something he knows is bad. He turned to his mother, hoping she would understand and say again how proud she is of him.
For a brief moment she looked at his drawings before turning to her son. She sadly shook her head at him, as if he were a child talking of an impossible dream.
"Oh Oncie, these plans will never work." The Onceler's smile fell.
"Do you know how much money these machines will cost? Or even the new factory?"
She held up the design of the new factory, taunting him with what can never be. "We can't afford this, and it's not like any of them will work anyway."
With a deep breath, and silent gratitude for the glasses being large and dark enough so she couldn't see the hurt in his eyes, he just cleared his throat and asked "What do you mean none of these will work?".
"I mean you cannot taint your good progress with something that may go wrong. If these machines do not work, and the factory we currently have is gone, we will not be able to make any thneeds. No thneeds means no money, and no money means you will let me loose...I mean let our family's company go into bankruptsy."
"And what if these ideas do work ma? We'll still be making my thneeds, and this time we won't be costing any trees."
She pressed her lips into a thin line. "Why are you suddenly concerned with the trees? Has that furry orange creature said some things to make you disagree with me?"
"The Lorax," he emphasized. "didn't came up with these. Yes, he keeps telling me about the trees, but I just think we need to make some changes that will help the environment."
"Ah, so you decided to let the giant furry peanut tell you what to do with your company. I guess this means you can't decide things for yourself. I'm not surprised though." She shook head in disappointment.
Any anger and hurt he felt was held in as he spoke. "He didn't tell me what to do. I just took his words in thought."
She wondered where this change of mind came from, and then remembered his recent visit.
"Oncie, you're uh...friend came to see you before. Is that right?"
"Yes." he said, looking at his mother critically. What is ma going to say about her this time?
"Did she put you up to this? Has she told of these ideas?"
"No, I came up with these by myself. She had nothing to do with them."
Well...she didn't make me do these, but if it wasn't her I wouldn't have at least...thought the Lorax's words over and came up with them. I did think of her, but I still came up with these ideas on my own. I don't know how, but she just...inspired me. He smiled in thought of her, and his mother caught it.
"So she has."
The Onceler wiped the smile away, hoping to hide his feelings from his mother, but it was too late.
"Very well, if you want her to tell you what to do, I guess I could call her over for any more advice you need."
"No ma, that's not what I said."
She looked at him with an encouraging smile. "So you want to run the company your way. Yes?"
He bit his lip, choosing his words carefully. "Yes, but..."
"Then you will forget these ideas, that wouldn't have worked anyway, and we are going to keep things as they are."
Turning away from her son, she gathered up the blueprints and sketches, not bothering to stack them neatly, and handed the pile to him.
"Now Oncie, if you'll excuse me, I will go have my lunch break."
She began to leave the Onceler. Pausing at the door, she turned to only see the back of her son as he organized his ideas, clutching them tightly as his head lowered down.
"We can't pause our work now. So what if a few trees are dying? Progress is progress, and progress must grow."
She left without a goodbye. Keeping his cool, and trying not let her get to him again, he breathed in frustration as he heard her footsteps out the door.
Why do I bother? She's never happy with any of my decisions. He looked at his ideas as he heard his mother's words again.
Maybe I should just forget it. I mean what if I bring the company down with these?
But what about the valley?
He drummed his fingers on the sheets.
It may be bad, but maybe I shouldn't change anything. It's like my mom said. Progress is progress and progress must grow.
And what of the Lorax? What would he say?
He would probably say some things about my mother like he's done before. Before he would have defended his mother and say something about the Lorax himself. But now he just gave a chuckle at whatever words that would have come out the Guardian's mouth now.
And what about her?
His mind drifted to his best friend and how she would feel now.
She wouldn't be happy, but what else can I do?
He frowned as he saw that look again. Why does it keep coming back to him? Why did he thought of changing his methods after seeing it again? How can such a look make him want to do better for her? Why does he want nothing more than to see her smile instead?
He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. I'm tired, and I'm not thinking straight.
He went back to his office and dropped his ideas on his desk, not wanting to look at them now. He went to the balcony and looked at the forest, his eyes focused on the half that is still healthy. Shielding his eyes, he saw a female figure walking through the trees.
I wonder if she can see me. He waved a hand, hoping to get her attention. When that didn't work, he called her name and waved both hands this time. She didn't turn and he sighed, giving up.
Going to his desk, he began attending his papers. He worked without taking any breaks, praying to get them all done in time. I have to make sure everything goes right here. Lest I loose everything.
As soon as he finished, now having both his hands and neck cramped, he heard a knock. Mrs. Funceler stepped in and held out more stacks of documents. He sighed, rubbing his sore neck with one green hand, and took them with the other. She simply collected the papers he finished and went out the door without even a word or a glance.
Gee thanks. He huffed and looked at the paperwork that was just given to him. This pile felt larger than yesterday's.
I'm done with one thing and now I have to do another. Great. He dropped them on his desk and continued to massage his neck. Leaning on his chair, he turned to the balcony and looked at the sky, once clear blue but is now turning grey with smog.
Well it couldn't possibly get worse, could it? He turned back to his desk. But what do I do?
He thought of his friends outside and what they may be doing. A particular one on his mind would probably be taking photos of the valley like always.
Maybe I could go there to say hi, and get a break. He looked at the new papers he must attend in disgust and decided. I'll get to them later. I need some rest.
He got up and looked down at his suit, eyeing the green gloves, large coat, black slacks, and shiny shoes. They aren't exactly something to wear exploring a valley. Maybe I should change into something more casual.
He went outside his office and walked down the hall. His brothers standing outside the door glanced at each other but merely shrugged.
Entering his room, he opened the closet and looked at the clothes he used to wear: the grey vest, white shirt, stripped pants, old shoes, even the fedora his father gave to him before he left.
He eyed the hat and took it in his hand, feeling its fabric as memories flashed in his mind. He didn't say anything but replaced the top hat he had on with it. Then he changed.
It's weird. He thought, looking at himself in the mirror. I wore this all the time but now it feels like I haven't even touched it in so long.
The fabric felt different on his skin: not foreign, but like he hadn't worn it in years. When was the last time I put it on? He tried to find a memory but could only look back to the days before he build his factory and got his green suit.
He stared at himself in the mirror, wondering if he still the same person he was coming to the valley. He took note of his dark circles, stiff posture(an attempt to make himself taller then he already is), and growth by a few inches. There wasn't even a smile on his face. Unlike before when he would grin at himself each morning and kept that on as he sang and danced.
He looked back at the days when life seemed more carefree to him and relaxed his shoulders with a sigh. Still trying to find that same young man who came to the forest, he pulled a smile. It was easy to do, and others can buy it. He taught himself a long time ago to just grin and bear things. It will make them much easier. Yet when he took a good look at himself he can tell that smile was forced.
I don't know. He sighed and walked away.
Going down the hall, he passed his two brothers who were guarding the door to his office.
"If anyone asks, I'm going out for a while. I'll be back later."
Brett shared a look with his twin before calling out his younger sibling.
The Onceler paused in thought before shrugging and continuing on.
"I don't know. Just some time later."
"You sure about that? Don't you have some things to do?"
He frowned at the questions and turned to his smirking brothers.
"That is my concern. Just tell them what I said."
Blinking in shock of their little brother standing up for himself, the twins watched as he leaves.
"Ma's not gonna be happy." Brett told his brother, who chuckled, eager to see what happens.
The Onceler stepped into a glass elevator and pushed the button for the first floor. The clear doors closed and he felt the little room being pulled down. He watched his factory from the glass doors. Machines were collecting tuffs and turning them into thneeds as many workers controlled them. He looked at the trees being taken from their home as the Lorax's words came back to him.
It would be easy for you if I just shut everything down, wouldn't it? He remembered how the Lorax said that could work. Maybe it could. He could just have the factory torn down and end the destruction. His life would then be easier. He could just go back to that little cottage and live amongst the animals, if they would let him.
But then he saw his employees working, some even laughing together, and knew he couldn't do that. He hired them because he needed help and they needed work. If he just threw all this away, they would loose their jobs, and where would they go then?
I can't end this. I have to decide what's best for everyone. The elevator stopped and he stepped out of the doors. Some people looked up, seeing their boss coming out in casual attire, but none of them said anything.
For the first time in days, he stepped out of the factory and took in the sun on his face. He shielded his eyes until they adjusted to the light, thinking he should have at least brought his glasses with him. When he became more comfortable with the light, he took it in, letting the sun warm his face.
It's actually feels kind of nice. Better then through the closed windows inside. Deciding to also get some fresh air, he takes a deep breath, but stopped as coughs escaped his throat.
Rubbing his throat, he frowned as he tried to find the source of his coughs.
"Oh" he said when he saw the sky above him was mostly grey.
"Smog. Right." He covered his mouth and took small breaths in.
Looking ahead, he could see the valley that still holds trees. Its sky was still blue and he could even see some Swammy Swans fly by.
Well hopefully their air is still breatheable. Still covering his mouth, he walked to the clean valley, far from his factory.
He admits that when he dreamed of starting his Thneed business he never thought of coming to such a glorious place as this valley. He didn't know exactly where he'd begin on the road to success, and he knew it wouldn't be easy and take some take time. Yet, after going through miles and miles of no luck, he almost thought he wouldn't find his own place. That is until he found this valley and the material for his thneed. He knew this was it because the trees were just perfect.
And he'd never thought of considering the valley as his home. He didn't say it out loud, but he enjoyed staying there and looking at the trees everyday. He also grew use to the company of the animals, especially Pipsqueak who grew on him, and of the Lorax, even though the Guardian doesn't consider him a friend.
He was especially glad he saw her again. She never told him exactly where she was living, only describing her home as "Gorgeous, peaceful, and having so many cute animals". Yet, he saw her again and learned she was living here in the valley too. A place where he can make his thneeds and see his best friend everyday. What more could he ask for?
Then his family came to help and his mother suggested they chop down the trees. He didn't want to at first, but she almost gave him the disappointing look he hated seeing, and he reluctantly agreed. He almost regretted it, but once she said he made her proud he felt like he did something right, at least in her eyes.
Then he had to build a factory and hire some help. He planned on designing one before and putting it somewhere not far from the valley, but his mother suggested they just build it right here so he can be near the resources. When it was completed, he looked at it with a proud smile, but the Lorax only saw it as a doom machine.
The Lorax kept trying to talk to him about the valley being destroyed, but the Onceler always brushed his words off, not wanting to hear anything when he has other important matters on his mind. Matters such as keeping his sales up, managing all his workers, and deciding the future of his company. He didn't have time to think of someone who didn't care about him from the start. So he buries himself in his work, making sure he does everything on time.
It's funny now that he is here again because he spent his days cooped up inside his factory, and now, he is right where he started again. In the valley all by himself, with only some new things to worry about. It's almost like he was back in his old easier life.
He didn't exactly plan on coming back here but he needed to get away from work for a while. Just to stop, sit back, and enjoy the day.
As soon as he came to the area where the trees still stand he took a deep breath and sighed in content, relishing the clean air and scent of butterfly milk.
Much better. He looked at the beautiful trees that shine under the sun in red, pink, yellow, gold, orange, and purple colors, as if the valley holds a sunset flame.
He also saw some barbaloots playing under the trees and eating some Truffula Fruits. Looking closer at them, he saw a certain cub struggling to get one from a tall yellow tree. He jumped up and down for a while before climbing the stripped trunk, only to slide back down due to its smooth bark.
Aw! Poor little guy. The Onceler smiled sympathetically and walked over to the cub.
Hearing footsteps, Pipsqueak stopped climbing and turned to the sound. He saw the Onceler(his close friend's) familiar face, and shrank back in fear.
With an "I got it, don't worry.", the Onceler picked the Truffula Fruit the cub wanted out of the tree. Bending down to his level, he held out the fruit with a friendly smile.
Pipsqueak stood there frozen as the tall man he grew to adore held out the fruit. He didn't know if he should trust him after what he's done to his home.
The Onceler frowned, wondering why doesn't Pipsqueak just take it.
"Go on, it's for you." He inched the fruit closer.
Pipsqueak's eyes darted from the fruit to the human. He didn't want to accept anything from him, not even the marshmallows he came to love, but he was hungry and this was the only fruit he found today. It's not like there are plenty in this region.
Slowly, he inched closer to the human. He looked up and down from the human to the fruit, as if making sure it wouldn't just be snatched back, and grabbed his food before running away.
The Onceler stood there frozen, watching his little friend run away from him as if he would have hurt him if he stayed longer. His mouth was open, as if he wanted to say something, and his other hand was outstretched, hoping to scratch the cub's tiny ears.
What just happened? Why did he...? Doesn't he trust me? The Onceler stood up and looked at the path Pipsqueak just ran through. Taking steps forward, he tried look further to see if he can find his little friend, but couldn't.
Meanwhile, Pipsqueak hid behind a tree. He looked briefly at the human he ran from and sadly stared down at the grass. He picked up his fruit and began feasting, savoring the taste, for the supply was limited now.
The Onceler stopped and looked down in shame. What happened to make him no longer trust me? He walked some more before stopping by a pink Truffula Tree, where he lay down under the shade.
Aah, finally some rest. Tipping his hat forward, he listened only to the sounds of nature and spring and allowed his body to relax.
Meanwhile, she stood there looking at the remaining beauty of the valley, where some Truffula Trees still stand and the air was still clean. She watched it all and held out her camera, taking as many pictures as she can of the place. Some animals stopped what they were doing and smiled for their shot. She chuckled and pretended to snap photos like a paparazzi. When she was done she looked through her shots with a smile.
Turning away from her animal friends she walked down the green grass, eyes glued to her camera as she went through each shot. The trees provided enough shade for her to see better, and a beautiful sight of mixed glowing colors when she looked up.
Oh these are gorgeous! She raised her camera up and carefully took as many pictures as she can, wanting them all to turn out as beautiful as she sees the trees. She continued walking, awing at the every new blend and glow the trees under the sun provide. She never took her eye off the camera and allowed her feet to move on their own.
This is amazing! I knew these trees are more beautiful then I thought they'd be, but I never saw them like this! Who knew the sun could make them glow like that! I hope these pictures will do them justice, because if they don't I will have failed as a photographer and...
The Onceler gasped, feeling a sudden weight crash on his chest. Pushing his hat back, he opened his eyes and saw her pushing herself up. She turned to him and gasped, seeing who she bumped into.
"Oh my God! Onceler I am so sorry! I didn't see you there." She pushed herself off of him, a blush forming on her cheeks.
He blinked, still in shock from the sudden crash, before carefully pushing himself up. Hissing, he placed a hand on his abdomen to ease it.
"Are you okay? I didn't hurt you there, did I?"
Opening his eyes, he turned to her and saw concern in her eyes and a flush on her cheeks.
"No, I'm fine. That was just...unexpected." He sat up and blew a breath, letting his body relax.
She sighed in relief. "Well, that's good." Oh my God! I can't believe I just...so embarrassing!
He watched in amusement as she looked down with a small laugh. She suddenly reminded him of a red Truffula Tree as her face turned dark.
"Hey" He placed a hand on her shoulder and she looked at him with that same sheepish smile.
"It's okay. You didn't see me, and I probably should have heard you coming."
She nodded and looked away, the smile still on her face. He kept looking at her though, finding that smile to look actually...adorable on her. He sees her allot with it, and now she just looks cute with it on. Her blushed dimmed a little, but he could still see traces of pink on those cheeks. Moving some hair from her face, she looked down and frowned.
"Oh. Where's my camera?"
The Onceler turned and saw her small camera, lens down on the grass. He picked it up and dusted the dirt off the screen.
"Here." he said, handing it to her and accidentally pushed a button, turning it on.
"Thanks." She took it from him and began looking at the photos inside.
Curiously, the Onceler leaned closer so he can see. She looked up briefly before smiling and shifting herself closer.
They sat together, looking through her recent shots. He hears her mutter about some being bad and having to delete them and chuckled. He doesn't understand how any of them could be bad. All of them are actually very beautiful.
"They're beautiful." he told her, taking the camera in his own hand.
She shrugged. "They're not perfect, but I try my best."
"Are you kidding me? I don't think I've seen any better." She blushed at the comment, but felt a little a pride hearing it from him.
He continued going through each shot. Some were of the valley at night, some were of it under a gorgeous sunrise, some were of the animals playing, one was even of the Lorax smiling under a tree, and...is that the Onceler?
"Is that me?" he asked as he found himself in her camera.
Her eyes widened. "Oh...no that's not a good picture. Just skip over that one!" She tried to reach for the camera but he held it back.
"What? I just want to see."
"No! I...I hate that picture! I was going to delete it!"
He paused, but then smirked. "Why? Did you make me look bad?"
Like that's ever possible. "No, it's just...it's just not one that I'm proud of ok? Now give me my camera!"
She tried to grab it from him, but he had a hand on her shoulder and he stretched his lanky arm from her reach.
Why do have to be so tall Onceler? She huffed and stretched herself further to her camera, but the Onceler continued holding her back, now laughing at their banter.
"Just give it already!"
"C'mon, I just wanna see."
She noticed his laughter. "This isn't funny Onceler."
He only laughed at her frown. "It is to me."
She inched to closer him, the camera just in her reach. "If you don't give me my camera this instant, I'll swear I'll..."
Her fingers touched the camera in his hand. "I'll...I'll...Aah!"
She slipped and fell forward. The Onceler caught her and he fell back on the grass.
Does this always have to happen with us? She pulled herself up and saw his face inches from her own. Her hand was on his shoulder while the other held the camera in his hand, his finger intertwined with her own. His other arm was around her waist, almost like they were in a middle of a dance.
He stared at her as she blinked at him in shock. Curls of her hair fell down, brushing his cheeks. He looked at her as a halo formed around her head, making her shine. Her lovely face glowed under the sun, her cheeks once again turning red, and her eyes becoming brighter.
Uhhhh...Okaaay this isn't awkward. At all. He gulped. He defiantly never thought they'd be in this position. He wanted to say something, but remained silent. He saw her cheeks turning red again. His thoughts wandered back to red Truffula Trees, and how their color burned under the sun. He felt his heart stop. Did she always look like this under the sun? How did I not notice?
Oh God I'm so close to him! She can feel her own heart pound in her chest, and her cheeks turning warm. Her first instinct was to move, but she couldn't. She lay there on him, frozen. His breath blew on her face and she blinked at its warm kiss. Oh man! What is he thinking? He'd probably want me off now. Get off!
Time seemed to stop for them as they just remained where they are. All they could hear were each other's breathing. Her breaths came out in short gasps and she gulped. The wind tickled her face and blew some curls on it, covering one of her eyes. Neither one of them moved. The Onceler found himself staring at her lovely face, and she swore she was going to have a heart attack if she stayed longer.
"Um...I'm sorry." She pushed herself off of him, and he felt like he came out of a trance.
She moved away from him, too nervous to be close to him now, and moved her hair from her face. She allowed her hand to rest on her chest and feel her beating heart.
Just...calm down. It's not like he wanted you to stay. I can't believe I just...!
He sat up, the camera still in his hand, and cleared his throat. He turned away from her and saw his factory not too far. He didn't want to see it now and looked away from it, turning back to her. She had her head down, her hair falling to her face, and those cheeks now red again. But she didn't have that sheepish smile.
He looked at her guiltily and held out the camera in his hand. "I'm sorry."
She turned to him, her hair still covering half of her face, and took it from his hand.
"Thanks." She gave him a small smile, which he returned, relieved to see it.
Looking at it, she saw the picture they wrestled over was still there. If he really wants to see it...Taking a deep breath, she gave in.
"Once, if you really want to see it, you can." She held out the camera.
He shook his head. "No, if you don't want me to that's fine. I was just joking."
"Once, it's ok. Go on." She inched the camera closer to him with a sincere smile.
He froze for a second to just look at that smile, remembering those days when he began seeing it more often. She didn't smile much when they first met, but over time she gave him those smiles more often. In fact, he saw them everyday since he came to the valley.
Looking at it now, with her under the sun and trees, that smile actually looked good on her. He couldn't help but return it.
"Okay, if your sure." He took the camera, but noted she turned away from him. He smirked and finally looked at the photo.
It was the Onceler, only he was standing in the valley wearing his old outfit, fedora and all. He was leaning against a golden Truffula Tree playing his guitar, a content smile on his face. The sky above him was clear blue, and his guitar caught a bit of sunlight. His eyes were focused on the instrument and his mouth was open, in the middle of a song.
He looked at it with a smile, seeing his old self again. He seemed much happier there. He only had his music and all the time in the world. He played with the animals, he lived in his own home(despite the fact that the animals bunked in with him later on), his only trouble was an annoying furry mustache creature that keeps badgering him about the trees, and he only had one thneed to worry about selling. If only I can turn back time.
He looked at her and thought back to how he was even able to spend time catching up with her. He visits her home often and she would tell stories of how she came to this place and of the creatures living here. They would look at her recent photos and she'd tell the stories behind them. Sometimes they even look at her old photos to remind each other of the days since they first met. She always had a way of capturing the good moments.
She turned to see him looking at her and dropped her face into her hands.
"I know! I know! It's not something you'd remember because you didn't see me when I took it. I was just walking by and I saw you there, and well...you were standing just perfectly under the tree and the light and...I'd thought it would make a good photograph. So...I just...took a shot." She rubbed the back of neck. Also you were singing so I'd thought I'd listen for a little while.
He smirked and handed the camera back to her. "Well, you did made me look good in it."
She shrugged. "It's not like you can ever look bad to me."
She froze and her eyes widened at the words that slipped out of her tongue. Did I just say...?
He smirked as soon he heard that remark, and just nodded. "True, very true."
She shook her head when he said that and rolled her eyes. "Just as modest as I remember you were."
He shifted closer to her, his shoulder touching her own. She couldn't help but smile.
"And you are just as sarcastic as the day I met you." The Onceler said.
"Please, you were the sarcastic one in school. I was just the silent one."
"Not always. You remember when we always sang together?"
She sighed contently. "Yeah, I love singing."
"Well who doesn't? Hey, remember that day when you first sang in front of others?"
She laughed. "Oh my God! Yes, I was freaking out the whole time."
He laughed. "You almost got the words wrong and we had to just roll with it."
She buried her face in her hands. "Don't remind of that."
"I think you almost said a naughty word in front of the principal."
Her head shot up from her hands. "What?!"
"Or maybe it was just something he didn't like. Because I saw his face once you sang it and I swear it was so red and he had the most hilarious frown I'd ever seen."
She stared at him and then started laughing, the Onceler joining in. The two sat together, laughing harmoniously, as they think back to that day they shared. When they started calling each other friends.
She leaned her head on his shoulder as peals of laughter escaped her throat. It felt nice for her to just sit back with her friend and not have a care in the world. He always did know how to make her laugh or smile when she was down. If they hadn't met life would have been pretty dull for her.
She took a deep breath as her laughter died down. He stopped laughing as well and the two just sat down together, watching the sun over the valley.
Comforting silence was between them as they watched the valley they both considered to be their home. The sun was high in the sky and some clouds even departed, letting it shine. From his view, the Onceler could see his factory and the smog darkening a part of the sky. His eyes lowered down.
She looked at him and saw a look of guilt on his face. Moving her head from his shoulder, she asked what's wrong.
"Nothing." he said.
She raised an eyebrow. "Nothing?" She poked him. "Nothing? Nothing tra, la, la?"*
He laughed at her reference.
"But seriously, what's up?"
He sighed. "Well, I've been thinking lately about what the Lorax said about the valley, and I came up with some ideas that may fix everything."
Her eyes lit up with hope for her home. "Really?"
"Yeah, but...I don't know if they'll work."
She frowned as her hope began to disappear. "Why not?"
"My ma doesn't think they're good."
Of course his mother doesn't think they're good. She never thinks any of his ideas are good. "So, she never liked your ideas before."
"Yeah, but...this is different."
"How? Is she still saying you'll never amount to anything?" She frowned at the thought of it.
"No, she just said they'll never work, and I can't just ruin my good progress."
Right. Good progress. She cleared her throat. "Well, she was never exactly supportive with you before, but you still did what you love."
"Yeah, but...it's different. This was my dream for a long time, and now that I finally made it come true, I don't want it to end just because I made some changes that didn't turn out well."
He looked at the place where he made something of himself. She followed his gaze and saw more thneeds coming out of the factory and into trucks to be delivered, the Onceler's name painted on the vehicles.
She knew this was something he dreamed of doing since the day she met him, and was always there to cheer him on. She hoped to see him succeed. Because when she got to know him she admired how determined he was to make his dream a reality, to make a difference in the world and a name for himself. Even when others say his ideas are ridiculous and he should just give up, he still believes they will make an impression on the world and he refused to let those ideas die. She wouldn't admit it out loud, but he inspired her allot during the years they've grown.
She also saw people outside the factory brining in more chopped trees, and gave a sigh. Even if she did wanted to see her best friend succeed, she didn't like how this turned out. The valley she loves is slowly going away. Beautiful trees are disappearing, animals are loosing food, water is changing from crystal clear to inky black, the sky is turning grey, and the air is becoming too toxic to breathe. Her home is dying, and she didn't want to just stand by while it did.
That's why she needed to talk to the Onceler. He may have started this with a broken promise, which she found odd because he always kept his word-at least to her he did. Yet he may be able to fix it. He doesn't have to end his company, but there must be something he can do if he doesn't want the valley to die. Would he even care if it did?
She remembered how he spoke to her and the Lorax when they both tried talking some sense into him. How coldly he said "The door is right there." and didn't even bother to help the Guardian out. This wasn't the person she knew years ago, the one who was so nice to her when they met, who gave the Lorax his word after seeing how much the valley means to everyone, who letted the animals stay in his home and even gave them food. This was a stranger who cared about no one but himself, and she just couldn't believe he and the Onceler are the same person.
At least he isn't that person today. Her gaze turned to him. She felt like she was with her friend again, not that stranger. At least he's not acting like the jerk I saw before. She looked at his eyes. They were blue like the sky, and not hidden behind those obnoxiously large dark blue glasses he wears allot. Why does wear those things anyway? She couldn't see his eyes and always feels like she's not really speaking to him with them on. His eyes, she admits, were one of her favorite features of him.
The Onceler turned to her and she immediately looked away, her hair covering her face again. He smirked, that hair always hid her face and blocked his view of her smile. Why does she always hide it from him? He gently pushed the curtain of hair behind her ear and saw that adorable sheepish smile, along with her red cheeks.
There's that smile. he thought.
She felt her cheeks becoming warm again, and butterflies flew in stomach, when he moved her hair back. She felt a smile pull on her lips, and couldn't stop it.
Will you calm down? He just moved your hair. It's not a big deal. Her beating heart however says otherwise.
It's not like he feels the same for you. Just forget it.
She cleared her throat. I hope he didn't notice that.
Come to think of it, does he ever notice how shy I feel around him? How I always struggled with my words when he is near? How I even look down from his eyes because I'm worried of what he may find out if he keeps looking into mine?
Does he know how much I care about him? Would he ever think of me in the same way? Should I just say it out loud right now?
She opened her mouth, the words she longed to say ready to come out, but shut it immediately. I can't. What if he doesn't think of me in the same way? What would happen to us then? I might ruin what we have now. I shouldn't.
Her eyes dimmed in sadness, and the Onceler noticed.
"Hey, you ok?" he asked with concern.
She turned to him and pulled a smile. "I'm alright."
He gave her a critical look, for he knew her well enough to tell when she is lying.
She averted her eyes, but could still feel his waiting gaze on her. A glance at him showed proof.
"I...I'm just...worried about the valley." she confessed. Technically, that wasn't a lie.
He huffed. "I get it, ok? The valley's not exactly what it used to be, but there's nothing I can do."
She frowned. "You said you came up with some ideas that..."
"That may not even work. So can we just forget it?" Huffing, he crossed his arms and turned away.
She felt a little guilt for making him upset in order to keep her secret, but her main concern was how he thinks of himself and his ideas this way.
"Once, just because your mom doesn't like your ideas, that doesn't mean they may not work."
He turned to her and sighed. "You don't get it. This affects everything here."
He gestured to the factory and its workers. She looked at it, and the valley where it stands.
"No, you're right. It does affect everyone." More then you think. "But when you came up with inventions before and showed them to your mom, did she ever say that they're gonna be good?"
He looked down sadly. He would be lying to her, and to himself, if he said yes. "No."
A hand rested on his shoulder and he looked at her encouraging smile. "And did you ever took her words in thought?"
He thought back to years of trying so hard to earn the proud smile of his mother. Whenever he did show his inventions, she would brush them off as failures, and never do anything if his family laughs at them. She would even join in the mockery. So, he stopped coming to her for advice and encouragement, learning instead to encourage himself. Eventually, he stopped caring about what his family would say and focussed on his inventions. Because he didn't want to just leave them as ideas, but instead bring them to life. Still, he wanted so long to hear her say "I'm proud of you." and knew the success of the thneed will finally give him that.
"Most of the time, no."
"Exactly, and look at where it got you now."
He did and saw that it brought him what he wanted. After years of dreaming and working his way up, he finally made something of himself. And now his mother even lives off of his money. She finally said she's proud of him and he finally made a name for himself. And he did because of his ideas and his ways. He knew he didn't need to chop down the trees because the tuffs can be harvested. But he allowed his mother to say otherwise because he wanted her to be happy.
He knew things are bad and found some solutions, but once again, his mother's words stood in his way. And he's tired of it. He's running the company, and he needs to do what he knows is right.
Your right ma. I want to continue running the company my way, with my ideas. He stood up and dusted himself off. She looked up at him in confusion.
"I have to go. There's something that needs to be taken care of." He offered her his hand and she took it.
When he helped her up she saw a light in his eyes that she sees whenever he has a great idea. She couldn't help but smile as she saw those burning blue flames again.
"Okay then." She was about to turn to leave but suddenly felt trapped by a pair of arms wrapping tightly around her.
"Thanks for the encouragement." he told her.
She was frozen, but then relaxed and hugged back with a smile. "You know you can always come to me."
Even if he has heard that before, it was actually comforting for the Onceler to hear it now. He smiled over her shoulder before pulling away.
The two stood there smiling at each other, looking at the other's eyes. He didn't turn his eyes from her and time seemed to stop for them. She however, looked down shyly and realized he still had his arms around her.
"Um Once...can you..." she gestured with her head to his arms.
He looked down and saw he was still holding her. Letting go, with an awkward grin, he rubbed the back of his neck.
"Right." He gestured to the factory. "Better get going. I'll see you around."
With a small wave, he turned and went back to his work.
"Yeah, I'll see you too! Hopefully." She said the last part to herself. Their days spent together have been dwindling.
"What is Beanpole up to?"
She turned and saw the Lorax popping up from an orange Truffula Tree with a suspicious frown.
"I don't know, but I've got a good feeling about it." She smiled in the direction her friend left before turning to the Guardian.
"By the way, were you spying on us?"
"No." The Lorax dove back into the tree and she laughed, shaking her head.
The Onceler walked back to his factory with a smile of hope and a light in his eyes. He waved to some of his workers before going in the glass elevator. They shrugged to each other before resuming their stations. He watched it all from the glass doors, seeing what his factory is like now, and imagining what it could be.
With a determined nod, he went to the floor of his office and his brothers opened the door for him. He marched right in, ready to look at those plans again, but stopped when he saw familiar scowl standing in his way.
"Hey mom." he said nervously.
She shook her head. "Where were you? Mrs. Funceler came in with more work you're supposed to do and couldn't find you anywhere."
He briefly frowned at the snicker he heard from his brothers outside the door before calmly explaining he went out for a little while.
"What do you mean you 'went out for a little while'? You have important work that needs attending and you can't afford to just go gallivanting off whenever you wish!"
He took a deep breath. "Ma, I only went out for a small break today. I'll get to my work."
She moved from his desk and gestured for him to sit down. He obliged and began reaching for the large stack of documents. His eyes, however, were searching for the scribbled plans of his life's work.
"Ma, where are the drawings I showed you?" he asked, looking up at his mother.
*"Oh those silly ideas? I threw them away." She shrugged carelessly.
"You what?!" He dropped his paper and whipped his head to her.
"Don't snap at me! We both agreed to not use those ideas, so I threw them away."
He stared at her in shock. "Did you ever think that maybe I might want to keep them nonetheless?"
"Oh don't be ridiculous Oncie. Why would want to hold on to something if it isn't gonna work for us?" She scoffed.
Because maybe it might work for me and everyone besides you. "Where did you throw them away?" he asked, with anger kept it.
"I just dumped them into the waste basket," She gestured to the waste basket by his desk. "and Brett took it away."
He got up and went to the doors, not even looking at his mother as he leaves.
"Where are you going?" she demanded.
He ignored her and opened a door himself. Chet moved away from the other side. He and Brett glanced at each other confusion. The Onceler simply turned to Brett and asked where has he taken the waste basket.
"I took it downstairs to the garbage." he said.
The Onceler nodded and began going downstairs.
"Oncie! What? Where are you going?" his mother demanded and he stopped in his tracks.
"I'm getting my plans back, and no one is going to decide what happens to them but me." He turns to leave.
"Oncie just forget them and focus on what you have here." She gestured to the office inside.
He took a glance at it. "I am." He began walking down the hall, past the paintings of the Truffula Trees. "And I know what to do this time."
His mother stood there, taken aback by her son's words. What does he mean by that?
The Onceler went downstairs without turning from his destination. When he found the garbage bins he saw workers were about to throw them into the trucks, to be gone forever.
"Stop!" he called as the bins were lifted off the ground.
The garbageman froze and answered the voice he heard over his truck.
"Something wrong?" he asked.
The Onceler stepped forward and breathed a sigh of relief. "There has been a mistake. Something wasn't supposed to be thrown away."
The garbage man set the bin and the Onceler began rummaging through it, muttering prayers to himself about "them being still there". He took out the contents of the bin and dug deeper until only half of him was buried inside. The garbage man simply looked to his companion who shrugged.
"Hallelujah! I found them!" the Onceler exclaimed as he held up a stack of papers and blueprints.
Pulling himself out of the bin, he checked all the papers he found and looked through the trash again. Nothing was missing.
"Thank God! I got them all." He held the plans to his chest and breathed a sigh of relief. I almost lost them.
Turning to the mess he made, he gave an awkward laugh. "Uh,..Sorry about that."
"It's fine. Probably would have been worse for you if the trash went in there." The garbage man gestured to his truck with a thumb as he began cleaning up. "By the way, didn't I see you before? You look familiar."
"Um...I don't believe we've met but..."
"It's the Onceler! The founder of the Thneed!" his partner exclaimed.
The garbageman's eyes widened in recognition. "So it is." he laughed. "I didn't recognize you without that green suit you always wear."
The Onceler nodded and thanked the two men before going back to his factory, not letting his plans slip through his fingers this time.
He went back to his office and saw his mother waiting outside the door. Her blue high-healed boot was tapping impatiently and she drummed her fingers over a crossed arm. As soon as she saw her son she huffed.
"Oncie, where have you been? There's important paperwork that you're supposed to be doing and..." she eyed the dirt and grime on his clothes and face, and wrinkled her nose at the foul odor he bears.
"What on earth?! You're a mess!" She pinched her nose. "And you smell horrible! What have you been doing?!"
The Onceler simply held out his plans. However, keeping them out of her reach. "I went looking for my plans and got them before they were gone for good."
"I thought we agreed to keep things as they are." she said in a nasal voice.
"I've changed my mind. It's time we make some changes." He tried to go in but his mother blocked his way.
"You're not going anywhere until you've washed up and changed. I will not gain a reputation of having a slob of a son because of you."
He sighed. "Mom, I promise I'll clean myself up later..."
"You'll clean yourself up now! Do you want to have people seeing you like...this? Think of what they'll say about you and our company! No one would want to work with someone who can't even make himself look decent!"
He looked away from his mother, not wanting her to see the hurt in his eyes, and wishing he were wearing his glasses now.
"Okay, I'll go clean myself up."
She nodded in approval and satisfied he turned to leave.
"And make sure you change into your suit as well. Honestly, you are businessman and you need to dress like one!"
He went to his room and placed his plans in the drawer of his nightstand, with the photo album. After a quick wash, he put on his work attire. Slipping on his dark glasses, he collected his plans and went back to his office.
His mother was still in his office, waiting to see some progress. He remained silent as he settled on his large desk. She eyed his attire and he heard a "Better" from her.
Sighing in relief, he looked up and saw she was still here. He looked away awkwardly and waited for her to leave. She didn't move, but instead drummed her fingers on a crossed arm. He picked up a pen and studied it, as if it were the most interesting thing in the world now.
Please ma, just leave now! He begged silently, her presence not making him any more comfortable now.
She frowned. "Are you going to do your work or what?"
He jumped at her tone and began picking up a document from the pile. He looked at it closely, with fake interest and mumbled a little, pretending to read. His eyes occasionally went up to his mother, hoping she will be happy and go now.
"Hm" she said and walked to the door. Turning back to him, she saw he was hunched over on his desk, focussed on his work.
"And don't go distracting yourself with silly ideas Oncie. You are running a company now, and you need to focus on it."
I am ma! The Onceler yelled internally. He hid his frown with the paper. I work on it everyday and loose days and nights to get everything done!
She walked out the door and gave her youngest son a final glance before turning to her two elder sons. "Make sure he gets all his work done, and don't let him go out anymore."
The twins nodded, but a thought occurred to them.
"Ma?" Chet asked. "Wouldn't Oncie get mad at us for this. I mean we work for him, so..."
"He may run this company, but I am his mother. And what I say goes." With her final words, she left them, her boots clicking on the carpet floor.
The twins watched her leave before facing their little brother.
"You herd what ma said." Brett told him with a smirk on his face.
"You're not leaving this room until you have everything done." Chet chuckled and the two closed the large doors.
"If these two aren't my brothers, I swear I would have kicked their butts out of here right now." The Onceler muttered as he got to work. He suddenly had a mental image of his brothers flying out of his factory from his shoe, or from a boot that literally kicks anyone he doesn't want around out.
He chuckled at that image and began to actually read the paper he was holding. Well, since I'm stuck here for the rest of the day, I might as well get to work.
He looked at the plans that rested on his desk and placed a hand on them. I'll look at them and see what I can do tomorrow. I can't do anything now.
He worked the rest of the day nonstop. And when he was finally done he thanked heavens that he could get some sleep, his wrists and neck still cramping.
*The reference is to a pretty well known David Bowie movie.
I just want to say I'm sorry this chapter took long to publish. I've been getting advise on what fonts to use and thank you so much! You all are really helpful! But I've been mostly occupied with school. However, I have been working on where this story will go so I'm hoping to make my next chapters soon. I've been done with this chapter for some time and I wanted to do a last minute spell check, but I honestly haven't been trying to use new fonts so if this story looks…different from how I see it on my computer than I'm sorry. Just remember: if there is a line of dialogue with no quotation marks it's something the character says in his head but not out loud. Again, thank you for the advise and encouragement. It's really what I needed.