“But Dad, I’m tired! Can we stop, please?”
“No honey, we are still on the Lorax’s property. We will be able to stop soon enough.” It wasn’t a lie, but he had left off some very important details. When the Lorax had sent the Brown clan of Bar-ba-loots away, it wasn’t an act of compassion; it was a threat.
The Lorax was a slave driver, and while he made no requirements of the Bar-ba-loots to pick a certain amount of fruit per day, it was clear that if they didn’t deliver enough bounty, his punishment would be swift and violent. After all, everyone knew about his temper, but he was very passive aggressive when delivering a scolding to his workers. It was no wonder he got so upset when the Once-ler moved in and started mining the resources for his own benefit, cutting the Lorax out of the profits.
The Lorax hid his own greed well, making sure everything was in balance and everyone was happy. However, he just wanted to maintain his lifestyle and lead everyone to believe it was better for them this way. The older Bar-ba-loots of the clan couldn’t even remember a time when there was no Lorax. Sure, there were stories of a time before the Lorax, but it was always spun as a world of mistrust, crime, and constant fights between the species. The Swomee-Swans dive-bombing everyone as they crossed the open fields between the Truffula trees and the Humming Fish spraying water in your face as you tried to drink from their ponds. The Lorax brought order to chaos, or so the stories said.
He looked over his shoulder at the long line of Bar-ba-loots stretched out over bare hills without Truffula tufts to shade them as they walked. Without any fruit, they couldn’t make a living picking the fruit for the Lorax, so he had sent them away to fend for themselves. He looked to the sky and saw the Swomee-Swans flying East. “Good, at least they aren’t following us.” He wasn’t sure if the stories were true, but he didn’t want his empty stomach to compete for any food they may find. Maybe the Once-ler did them a favor by moving in on the Lorax’s territory and forcing them to find a better life; he wasn’t sure.
“Are we there yet, daddy?”
“Soon,” he said aloud before whispering under his breath, “I hope.”
This is part of a 30 day series of 2-3 minute short stories written for the 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 2011. You can view all the stories in the Short Story A Day category.