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Submitted on
March 17, 2012
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Once-ler was used to the teasing.

As the child, barely twelve years old, walked down the crowded halls of his small school, he pushed them to the back of his mind. The mockery grew steadily worse as he continued on, and his head remained bowed, as if to not catch attention—though at nearly five foot six, he towered over his peers, and he stood out like a weed amongst flowers.

Gigantor, Toothpick, Long-legs, Einstein, Brain-less, Once-nerd and the most common and cliché—freak. Or geek, sometimes. They liked to play around with it. But the boy ignored the jeers and comments, and kept his small hands tightened on the straps of his backpack.

Soon, they would see. Soon, very, very soon, they would learn to appreciate his genius. It may not be today, it not be tomorrow, or even next week, but soon. Fate and destiny couldn't be so cruel to him.

And so Once-ler continued on his way, a hint of a smile across his cut lip, the blood having dried hours ago since lunch, and hummed a small tune, the designs for his new invention, the Thneed, buried deep within his backpack, away from prying eyes.

One day….

"Hey, it's Tree Girl!"

Audrey winced, but stood up taller anyway. Her teasing peers couldn't to anything to her when she was out in the square…

"Are you going off to paint s'more?" the group laughed. The redhead stiffened, her slim hands tightening on the handles of the cans of paint. She risked a glance towards them, and mentally chided herself the moment she did so. At the café beside her, the trio sat under and awning outside, watching her with identical smirks painting the three of their faces.

"Oh look!" one of the two girls cried, far too gleefully, "The artist is giving us her attention!"

"We don't deserve it!" the other girl jeered.

The only boy spoke up. "Are you gonna go home to paint some more trees, Autree?" The trio guffawed, and the tall redhead forced back the burning sensation behind her eyes. The group noticed.

"Aw, I think we hurt her feelings!" one of the girls crowed. Her friend crackled, and Audrey turned her head away.

Taking a breath, she muttered a soft, "excuse me," and began walking again. Their taunts followed her to the other side of the road, where she paused before a large fountain. She glared at them from her new position's relative safety, and rebuked herself for not having done something to defend herself. She faced worse at school, and yet she got worked up over little things now.

Audrey shook her head, and picked up the cans of paint again to continue walking. A young and jovial voice called out suddenly from behind her. "Hey, Audrey!"

The teen paused, recognizing the voice, and turned back with a smile. "Oh, hi, Ted."

In Thneedville, everything was structured specifically.

The buildings, blocks, and streets were all similar, laid out in the specific grid pattern. Every home was two stories, with three bedrooms, and two bathrooms. And the families—there was to be a mother, father, and child. Those few elderly people were live in a retirement home of sorts, where they would be cared for correctly, and out of society.

Ted Wiggins was one of the few whose family didn't follow these precise guidelines.

His Grammy Norma outright refused to go the retirement home, and his mother wouldn't have allowed it anyway. But he did have a father…once. Everyone did, of course.

But Ted couldn't really…remember him all that well.

What he did remember, were brief clips, snapshot if you will, of moments he spent with the invisible figure. A birthday here, an awards ceremony there…but one thing constantly reminded him of the father long-gone.

The stars.

And not the real one outside, of course, hidden far behind the smog, but the ones plastered all over his walls and ceiling. His dad's own father had been an astronaut, about a hundred years ago, and he still kept the books depicting each constellation and far-off planet. So Ted's father had bought him hundreds of the stick-on stars for his bedroom, and the two had placed them all together. And there they still were.

Now, several years later, the boy laid in bed, the lights off, going over every constellation. It was a Friday night—while most children his age would be out with friends, at the arcade, the ski slope, the beach, or even some pizza place, Ted preferred to remain at home. It wasn't like he had many friends to hang out with anyway.

He could hear the rest of him family already asleep, his mother's raucous snoring filling the whole house, and he managed a smile at the comfort it provided. His family may've been unorthodox, but it was all he had.
Just an idea that came to me. It stemmed from the fact that in computer animated movies, such as The Lorax, every small detail is important. If Audrey and Ted had a singular group of friends, they usually would've mentioned them, or shown them. As neither was done, I took my own liberties.
And we all know that the Once-ler was probably teased as a child.

The Lorax characters and story belong to Dr. Seuss (Random House) and Illumination Studios
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PerrythePlatypusGirl Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013
This is so cute! I love it! :la:
Yeah, I always felt that Audrey would have been made fun of at some point because of her obsession with trees. I wish we could have gotten a glimpse of that in the movie...:/
Vanilla-Fireflies Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
aww.... i wish i had friends like them! sort of an outsider to.
zara2148 Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Student Writer
Aww, I like the idea of them all being outsiders... makes a lot of sense, especially for Oncie.
iSpazzyKitty Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I love this. It was very well-written & quite believable. :D
numbuh35 Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2012
This story rocked! I like how you put Once-Ler in a different light. I can relate too him more now since i was also a victim of bullying. I'm also very curious about Teds' father. I had one thought that O'Hare had him banished from Thneedville.
Digi-Writes-Fanfics Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2012
This is pretty sweet. I enjoyed the little descriptions of things like the Once-ler towering over everyone and the bit of backstory about Ted's father. My favorite description was actually the houses and families, and how Ted's is pretty much the only one that sticks out-- and this is coming from someone who isn't really a fan of him or Audrey. You did a nice job fleshing out characters and who wouldn't enjoy that?

Lovely job~!
ant5b Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2012
Thank you! :) I'm not that big of a fan of Ted or Audrey either, as several other characters (namely the Lorax and Once-ler) are far more interesting, but they are fun to write about.
ChyTag Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2012
I can’t help but fall in love with your stories, they’re so emotional! :heart:
ant5b Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2012
Haha, thank you! :la:
ChyTag Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2012
you're welcome! :iconepiclaplz:
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