He'd gotten his wish. He saw her. She was a sweet girl in his class the only friend of the Once-ler.
"I think your inventions are fun." She grinned. "I like 'em. There so different from what we have here. They just don't see that the world takes all types ya know?"
"Yeah," he smiled. She was two years older than he was. She was funny and sweet and kind. She had messy strawberry colored hair and big green eyes.
"You know what would be fun?" She asked.
"Starting a business creating something that everyone in the whole wide world needs. With your guitar and singing voice and my brains on how to make it super eco friendly, man you and me kid we could have the WHOLE WORLD ON OUR SIDE!"
"What would we call it?"
"We'll to make a real catchy jingle it has to rhyme with need."
"How about Thneed!" He shouted.
"Yeah! It even has the word need in it." She giggled. "You're pretty savvy for a first grader."
"You're not gross or annoying for a girl."
"Compliment accepted." She grinned. "You and I'll make a brilliant team someday."
. . .
He didn't want this memory to come back. He fought it but the fever pulled him into the last scene he ever wanted to see. It was the reason he left. He wanted to forget this.
"Hey there," she coughed lightly. Her smile was still as vibrant as ever.
"Hey there partner," he smiled.
She giggled and coughed a little.
"What did the doctors say?" He asked covering her up with the patterned quilt he'd made her.
"Only a little more time," she said sadly. "You remember that story from when we were kids Once?"
"Yeah, I do. What are you playing at Audrey?" He asked her.
"Just don't forget the story of the Lifted Lorax when you go off to be a big wig. I won't be there to remind you so I just want you to remember he . . ."
"He speaks for the trees, yeah I know the story."
"And if you ever meet a Barbaloot in his cute little Barbaloot suit."
"I'll give him some marshmallows for you." He said with a sad smile.
"Stay with me until I'm sleeping?" She asked.
"I wouldn't dream of leaving." He said solemnly.
"Don't listen to the rest of the world Once. They don't know what they are talking about. You do."
"Yeah. I'll be watching you. I'll always look after you. Where I'm going they say you can see the whole world. You're higher than the clouds and can be anywhere you want whenever you want. I'm sure I can watch over you."
"Yeah? I'll be listening." He said tearfully.
"I love you Once. I'll be waiting for you, and I hope I'll be waiting for a long, long time."
"Thanks," tears rocketed down both their cheeks. "How'd you get lung cancer anyway?"
"Daddy smoked a lot and Mama always had me in her factory that spewed Smogulous smoke. I never wanted us to have a factory. Handmade Thneeds made with love." She grinned.
"And they'll always be that way I promise," he squeezed her hand.
"I'll hold you to that." She smiled. "But if things go sour . . . I'll . . . I'll understand."
"But they won't!" He pressed earnestly.
She smiled. "I think I'm almost spent."
"No," he pressed his forehead into hers.
"As soon as I'm buried go, live your dream." She smiled.
"Kay," he mouthed.
"Thank you Once, thank you for being my best friend."
"'Drey, I always loved you. You know?"
"Once . . . I love you too. Don't use loved. It sounds too sad."
"'Drey I love you." He whispered pressing his lips into her forehead.
"Thanks Once," she whispered her grip slacking from his fingers.
He wouldn't wake. He just slept caught in dreams and seeing things he never wanted to see.
"Audrey," he whispered. "'Drey." He muttered.
The Lorax raised an eyebrow where had he heard that name before.
She was dressed in white. "You're the Lorax." She smiled at him. "I'm Audrey."
"Audrey?" He asked. Her eyes were of an emerald hue. "Okay bright eyes what 'd ya want."
"My friend and I were going to start a business together. His mother is sort of crazy. I was wondering if our plans go sour will you TRY and convince him to turn back around. Please. He's my best friend in the whole wide world. I love him and he loves me."
"Kay what would be in it for the trees?"
"Well he was the advertiser, we both produced, and I was the eco-friendly portion of said operation."
"I see." He said with a small grin.
"So she was part of this Thneed business? For her sake I hope your family and your humanity doesn't take over you." The Lorax squeezed Once-ler's hand.