~Hugs are Free~
It had been a long, hard day for the Once-ler, although it had been successful. Sales were up, only about a thousand more Thneeds needed to be sold before he hit one million. One million Thneeds, one million happy customers. It was mind-boggling to him, positively unreal. The thought made him smile, albeit tiredly.
He sunk into his comfy chair, sat his top hat next to him, and ran a hand through his hair. This shampoo smells good, he noticed absently. Manly, yet, pleasant. It seemed the Once-ler made no independent decisions anymore. Everything was usually up to his mother, who had more control over the company than he did himself. She even chose what products he would use in his hair! The Once-ler almost laughed at the thought. Almost.
As tired as he was, he knew there was work to be done. He got out the blueprints for his latest idea, a way to improve the boxing of the Thneeds, make the process more efficient. He unrolled the paper and smoothed it out across the surface of the desk with his custom made gloves. His trusty pencil wasn't where he usually kept it, the left corner of the drawer next to the stapler, and he came this close to having a flip out.
When he realized the thing was already in his hands. Well, that was that. Back to work, Once-ler thought with a sigh. Time is money, after all.
Money. The Once-ler had more than he could even handle. He tried to convince himself the green stuff was not the reason his family loved him, but they loved him simply for the fact he was their little Oncie, all grown up. All grown up...and successful. Money and success was all that mattered to them. It may have well been one of his unintelligent brothers who invented the Thneed...Oh well. The Once-ler literally shook his head as if knocking out such saddening thoughts. There were other things needed to be thought of at the moment. Business to be done.
After a good hour of work, and a nub of a pencil later, he was almost satisfied. Now to figure out how long it would take to set this whole thing up...
There was a sudden, faint thump sound from the slightly opened window, and the Once-ler fiercely turned his head to get a look. Who would dare disturb him-
A little brown ball of fluff lay on the floor. Pipsqueak. Of course. Once-ler rolled his eyes and went to scoop the little guy up. As he knelt down, Pipsqueak flinched and shrunk back slightly. The emotional pain he felt at that moment hurt nearly as bad as when his mother nagged him for never amounting to anything, telling him over and over and over. But he never wanted the animals to be...afraid of him. He would just prefer they left him alone, for obvious reasons.
He sighed, removing his gloves and holding out his bare hands. Hands Pipsqueak was familiar with, hands he recognized and knew. Slowly, cautiously, the fuzzy creature sat his bottom in Oncie's palms. He carried the Barbaloot to his desk and gently sat him down next to a small model of the future Thneedville he had been working on in his very limited amount of free time.
Pipsqueak immediately forgot anything that had recently occurred. He seemed absolutely taken with the minuature city. His eyes grew wider than saucers as he stared especially hard at the pink marshmallow factory, Oncie's personal pride and joy. The building he seriously could not wait for, the first on his list.
At the fond memory of marshmallows, the Once-ler couldn't help but grin. The first real grin a long time. It sort of kind of hurt his face. He half-heatedly dug around in his pockets, but found none of the good stuff. When was the last time he himself had the time to relax and enjoy a good jumbo bag or two of marshmallows?
"Sorry, little guy," he said. "I know that's what you wanted, but I'm all out." He patted his pockets. "But!" he remembered, "I do have some mints if you want some."
At the word, 'Mints,' Pipsqueak's face scrunched up in pure yuckiness. He shook his head and rather than going back to the city, he waddled up to Oncie's arm which was resting on the desk, and dove right into the crook of his elbow. Sighing contentedly, he snuggled right into the green fabric.
The heart of the Once-ler swelled. Warm and fuzzy little Pipsqueak still loved him. I guess all he really wanted was a hug, he thought. After all, marshmallows are nearly two whole dollars for a bag. Hugs, however, were free.