"It's okay. I can...I can just do it again. Yeah..." Once-ler tried to ignore the weight of dread settling in his stomach. Melvin nudged him from behind, a steady and reassuring presence in the chaotic series of events that was his life. Bits of paper caught in the breeze as they fluttered down toward him. Blues and whites peppered his dark hair, the remnants of dozens of hours and carefully laid plans.

How his brothers had found the stash of blueprints, or how they'd gotten into his room at all, he didn't know, but there they were tossing handful of the stuff out the windows of his small attic room. Their mocking laughter floated down to where he stood in the yard. He guessed they'd been at it for a while, too long for there to be much point in stopping them.

Once-ler stood in the yard, upturned palms catching scraps of paper out of the air, as if her were grasping at the shredded bits and pieces of his dreams, his ambitions, his future. He tried to ignore the burning in his eyes. He told himself it didn't matter, that it was still in his head where he could find it again, but that didn't make it any less frustrating.