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Something Like a Life - Year 5Traditional Burdens
There were some days he just didn't get out of bed, and his companion, for once, understood.
They never really talked about it, or mentioned it when they did talk, so it wasn't hard to believe those days couldn't affect them, as spaced out as they were. It was either that or... do something, and for all of their so-called genius, neither of them had figured out how to go about that, yet. So of course it was just a casual thing for the Once-ler to wake up one of those mornings to find his pillow tossed off the bed, replaced by his younger self's lap and hands.
"Happy birthday," the man in gray would whisper, bending to kiss him on the nose. And like always, the other would smile sadly down at him, and it didn't matter his own answering smile was never too real.
"Yeah, you too," he'd say.
And somehow, it was always good enough.
Something Like a Life - Year 3The Misery Scale
It was another four months before he acknowledged the thneed's presence with more than just a glance. And even then, it wasn't his idea.
Up until that day, or better yet, until the moment he first cracked his eyes open that morning to feel the usual scratchy sensation at the back of his mouth persist past clearing his throat, the Once-ler had hardly noticed how monotonous his existence had become. Oh, he functioned. Ate, slept, breathed and all that, but there was nothing that could lift the heaviness in his limbs or the dullness from his eyes or the ever-present thought of you did this that hung like a gray haze over his mind. Not one thing, except possibly the seed growing, but that was another problem all on its own.
Perhaps it was fitting. No doubt, it was more than deserved for him to deteriorate into something as bleak and colorless as the world around him, right? At least he could say he was a part of what he'd created, that way. At least there
Something Like a Life - Year 2Better Off Forgotten
"I think you should go into town today," his other self said, first thing in the morning, two years after their exile. When the Once-ler gave him an incredulous look in return, his companion just shrugged and smiled. "You need things. Normal people need to eat and fix their clothes and stuff, after all. Just go!"
So he did, and the news would spread like wildfire. Later, in their homes and on their phones, Thneedville's people would murmur and whisper amongst themselves that yes, a familiar face in a green suit had walked right in around noon. He looked terrible, some said. Tired, like he'd trekked for ten miles just to get there. Those gloves of his were dirty and his hat… must have been lost somewhere, since he wasn't wearing it.
No sunglasses, either, though the dark rims around his eyes had much of the same effect.
At first it was just a rumor, but later witness reports would confirm that Ms. Roswell, who'd had to send her asthmatic granddaughte
Something Like a Life - Year 1Crowd of Two
For the first year, the last thneed ever made lay untouched, in the farthest corner of the top room where no light could reach.
Under different circumstances, it might have been very easy for the Once-ler to forget it was even there. This was reality, though, so once in a blue moon, while life or an imitation of it tried to go around it, the pink bundle just had to catch his eye like a spark in the distance.
Ignoring it most of the time took more effort than expected, but he managed. There was always something else that needed to be done whenever he let himself look at the thneed, like trying to keep the bugs out of the little kitchen downstairs, or inventing a filter-thing so the shower wouldn't spew black water anymore, or sitting, which was what he usually did. Sitting, staring out the window at nothing in particular, thinking dimly of a time long ago when a dark sky meant rain and nothing else.
Or working on the Unless.
That's what he figured the Unless was, a
Strawberry Snack CakeFor those condemned to this world, the collapse usually comes after they regain their memories.
Because what else is there to do, after walking around in a daze for days or months or even years and then, suddenly, seeing people you somehow know are your parents burning your arms with a cigarretes and screaming at you for ruining their lives? Or someone sneaking a hand on a part of your body they shouldn't have and leaving you to die a little later? Or something, anything, whatever horrible thing that happened to you that made your soul come to this world as a... punishment? Reward?
Most who come here don't figure that last thing out until it's too late, but during the collapse it hardly matters, because the most important thing right then is, depending on who you are, either sobbing or hating yourself for sobbing. For most. It's five minutes. An hour. A day, at the longest, before they break. It comes when everything's still fresh and the danger of forgetting all ov
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