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Something Like a Life - Year 7The Last Thing
His whole existence might have been one big question (or a thousand all lumped together) with not much in the way of explanations, but for the young man in gray, life was always pretty okay.
That's what it was like for those kinds of people, he guessed. The ones who would spend forever being that little whisper over the hero's shoulder, or the hands that pushed him in some not-always-right direction, or the body he indulged himself in on cold nights, or the smile that wasn't always returned. The ones who's need to be there and be needed was such a part of them that it went right back around to being selfishness again. The ones who always reached out first.
Sometimes, during a quiet moment or maybe just a soft guitar tune in the background, the young man would sit, and look up at whatever was above, and wonder if everyone got their chance to play that role. Had you even lived, if you'd never felt that raw validation only giving something (br
Something Like a Life - Year 6Breathing Wastes
The Once-ler said a lot to the Truffula seed over the years. And whenever there was some inkling of self-awareness present in his mind, he was sure he made a sight when doing it, too.
After all, what would Mom say? Or the rest of his family? Or any of his former employees? Was there a universally accepted reaction to seeing someone who used to clench a stretch of land in his money-green fist be reduced to scratching around in the dirt in front of his own factory every day, wasting his breath on a tiny brown dot that couldn't even answer him back?
All things considered, they'd probably laugh. It was most likely hilarious that the knees on his pantsuit were being worn out from so much kneeling, dark and slightly torn from the sandy earth no longer suited for growing much of anything, anymore. The same could be said for his poor gloves, and the elbows of his jacket, and his scuffed up shoes, and... everything about what he wore had gotten its share of abuse over
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
The Parlour IncidentOne day in July, I believe it was, I found myself sitting with several acquaintances in Christopher's parlour. It was one of those deliciously lazy afternoons which only the summer in her full glory can bring. The room had a wan, listless light to it, relaxing the other guests and myself as we languidly chatted over tea and crumpets. The air was also sluggishly heavy, dulling the senses to a slowly-blended calm engendered by the heat of St. Othniel's southerly climate.
At length, after much stimulating conversation, Christopher stood, producing a book of sheet music.
"What do you all say to a bit of music?" he asked.
"Certainly," I answered.
"Oh yes, please do darling!" Tabitha exclaimed, "he's quite the maestro."
Christopher laughed, shaking his head.
"Now, now love, I'd not go that far."
He strode over to the piano as the other guests urged him on. Ida entered the room bearing a merrily steaming teapot and more crumpets.
"More tea sirs?" she inquired, shooting sideways glances at her
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