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Submitted on
March 29, 2012
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Do you remember the Once-Ler?
Saw the world as his to take.
Said, "I only really fractured
Rules we made to break..."


Once-Ler had been hearing the song in his head for so long after they all disappeared.  The grey skies, the grey land, the sad little stubs of trees long gone… all brought back memories of happier days. Twisted reasoning, but the song came regardless and with thoughts almost forgotten.

Once-Ler watched, fascinated, as his father strummed slowly on his old electric guitar. It hadn't been long before the man left; Once-Ler was nine at the time.  But here, now, on the back porch, Once-Ler didn't know or even dream of a world without his father the music maker.

"Do you remember the Once-Ler?
Saw the world as his to take.
Said, "I only really fractured
Rules we made to break...""

Once-Ler's father stopped playing for a minute to smile at his son.

"I always loved this song," he said to the boy, "since before you were even born. In fact, I named
you after this song, son."

He continued the song. Once-Ler furrowed his brow as it went on.

"Never really seemed to notice
Things we found appalling.
Smiling as the final
Truffula was falling, falling, falling…"

"Daddy?" he questioned, "What's a Truffula?"

His father stopped playing again.

"A Truffula…" he mused.

"A Truffula is a very tall, very skinny tree. It sort of looks like a lollipop, with a stripy, grey-and-white stick. Instead of leaves, it has a tuft of something… kind of like cotton candy, but softer than silk, in all colors of the rainbow. You won't find any around here; they don't grow around here."

"But, Daddy," Once-Ler asked, puzzled, "does that mean the Once-Ler--"

The older man nodded, once, "Chopped down all the trees. Wiped 'em all out."

He returned to his music. Once-Ler became more upset with each line.

"…Leave the world to heal tomorrow.
Knowing we can always
Run to higher ground.
Same day, different story,
When we pay the now we borrow…"

As the song ended and the last notes faded, Once-Ler burst out crying. He leaned against his startled father.

"Hey, hey, Oncie," his father soothed, "what's wrong?"

"All those horrible things… he did, he cut down the trees… all of the trees…"

He sniffled for a little while, and finally choked out,

"An' I got his name."

His father gripped his shoulders, firmly yet gently.

"Once-Ler Avery," he said solemnly, using both the boy's first and middle name, "listen to me. I didn't name you after this man in the song because I expect you to turn out like him. I know you, champ; you're better than that. I want you to carry your name proudly; you are going to do great things one day. I want you to know, no matter whose name you have,
you choose who you are."

He smiled, and let Once-Ler cry himself out.

"C'mon," he said finally, "lemme show you how to play this old guitar."



Now, the lines of the song chased themselves around and around in Once-Ler's head, adding guilt to guilt with every sad note.

Do you remember the Once-Ler?
Saw the world that he designed,
Looking from an empty factory
At the nothing that he left behind…


Once-Ler glanced out the window. Through the spaces between the boards nailed up years ago when the factory closed, the grey world still managed to glance back. Guilt, terrible and cold, settled into Once-Ler. He had let them all down; Lorax, the barbaloots… and his dad. His dad had trusted him to turn out differently than the song had said. But here he was, just the same as the Once-Ler he was named for.

He tore his eyes away from the boarded up window. A mirror across the hall caught his reflection and threw it back at him accusingly, mockingly. Unfortunately, he was still recognizable. It had only been-- what, two years? Three?-- since the last tree had fallen. His suit was a little crumpled and dirty from constant wear, his face a bit thinner, his hair a tad longer. But it was undeniably him. The Once-Ler…

Do you remember the Once-Ler?
Finally drove the world away…


The face in the mirror twisted in rage as Once-Ler angrily balled his gloved hands into fists.

"I… HATE… you…" he hissed at the face in the glass. Then, he was shouting, over and over.

"I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!"

Sobs broke through, and Once-Ler simply wept for a while. He sank into a hunched ball on the ground. For hours afterwards, the small green ball shook brokenly and whispered.

"I hate you… I-I-I… HATE… y-you… I hate you so much…"
I have been obsessed with this song for so long now...[link]

Thought I'd do something with it. Don't own anything.
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:iconamielthegreat:
AmielTheGreat Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
I love the mash up of the song and the movie. It's sad that the Once-ler had to worry about that song's burdens, but then his father tried to lead him in a different path, but Once-ler still failed to meet his success.
By the way, I love that you gave Once-ler the name Avery as his middle name. I love that name, it's so cute.
Reply
:iconteam-van-helsing:
Team-Van-Helsing Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
D'awww, thanks! Glad you like it.
Reply
:iconemberwyng:
Emberwyng Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2012
NNOOOOOO! I came to deviantart to STOP crying, but that song makes me cry so hard! YOU HORRIBLE (awesome) PERSON.
Poor Once-ler...
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:iconteam-van-helsing:
Team-Van-Helsing Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Aww, D: I'm sorry! It's just... so sad and beautiful, you know? I had to share. Here, have a funny: [link]
Reply
:iconemberwyng:
Emberwyng Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012
Thank you, that was awesome :) And the second time i read this, I HAPPENED TO BE LISTENING TO THIS SONG. Weird how that always happens.
Reply
:iconteam-van-helsing:
Team-Van-Helsing Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Huh. Looks like Fate has a sense of humor, eh?
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:iconmissylemon3443:
missylemon3443 Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2012
ALL MY FEELS. *Feelings explosion*
Reply
:iconteam-van-helsing:
Team-Van-Helsing Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Uff, thanks?
Reply
:iconmissylemon3443:
missylemon3443 Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2012
lol. It means I cried reading this. Good story!
Reply
:iconteam-van-helsing:
Team-Van-Helsing Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! I basically combined two of the most basic Once-Ler fanon fave topics: memories of his dad, and his regret.
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