The Things She Carried

Slung over her shoulder, she carried a school bag that weighed probably no more than five pounds, only carrying the necessities for the long and short days ahead of her. She carried a binder that held her hopes and dreams; aspirations for the future. It was a large part of her life and losing it would mean that she not only lost her dreams in a material sense, but also a part of herself. Everything in that couldn't be replaced because most of it had never before been typed up or made into copies; it was mostly irreplaceable. Along with her aspirations, she carried that which needed to be doneā€¦most of which was never finished until it was absolutely necessary.

Trudging home, she would carry the fear of what would happen that evening; would there be a fight or would it be safe for the night? There was always that fear that she would get kicked out of her house again for a week before her father forced her back to her mother's to make up. Not without suggesting family therapy, of course. But she wouldn't have to deal with those thoughts much longer; her fear was no longer going to be carried starting the last day of school for she was moving.

She carried the hopes that things would get better like she had been told, but also a sort of disbelief that they really wouldn't improve. On her shoulders she carried what she thought that she must but what she knew that she didn't: the happiness of others for she had always felt that they should be put before herself. Although she had once before been told that it was time for herself (thank you, Mr. Fernandez), she still couldn't completely believe that her happiness should come first and still believed that she needed to ensure everyone else's contentment.

She carried the burden of playing the part of the mother (when she has one in her family who should be doing it instead of her), something that she vowed not to do because she disliked the job. It wasn't because she didn't get along with kids because all sorts of kids seem to love her, but because she's afraid that she'll be a horrible mother. That she won't be able to love them like they deserve or that she'll be like her own mother and hurt them without knowing.

She had the fear of failure weighing down on her shoulders, making her afraid to try in case it ended in disappointment on her part. She never wanted to disappoint a soul. That fear never completely stopped her; she would put it behind her and she would try her hardest so that she didn't fail. Why continue to fear if it'd keep from reaching the goal that has been set?

Her shoulders were covered with what once belonged to her father, which reminded her of that which he had been through and made it past. It gave her hope. She had the blood of long forgotten men on that jacket. Maybe it was the blood that led to their end, but it's been near thirty years since it was spilt, and the original owner of the jacket as long forgotten the event that put the stains there.

She carried scars; mental, emotional, and physical. Although she had forgotten how most of the physical ones got there, the memory came back for some whenever she set her eyes of the marks. Most of the reasons for the wounds had flown free to never be remembered, but there was the few that had some hidden meaning behind them. Like the scar that she carried on her knee.

It brought back painful reminders that she would never be able to play the sport that had once been what the rest of her life worked around. It hadn't been intentional; she had slipped when she was younger and knocked something out of place. One wrong move while snowboarding had sent her career in soccer flying down the drain at the worst possible time. She had carried the guilt of losing the county-wide play offs by herself, feeling that it was her fault that she hadn't been in the game to stop that goal.

She carried the burden of a mother who didn't believe in her; a mother who felt that she wouldn't, couldn't, reach her dream. From day one, she had been told that she wouldn't get published; that she wouldn't be able to make a living out of her desired career. But, to her excitement, she got what she had been told that she wouldn't. It was small, but it proved her mother wrong and that was all she really had wanted to do at the time.

She carried a smile behind which she hid everything that was not physically carried.


Author Note: We're reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien in English, and the first chapter has the same title as the book. It goes into detail about what the soldiers in Vietnam carried both physically and mentally/emotionally.

My English teacher assigned the writing prompt to get to know us better and see what kinds of things we carried. Writtin in third person because I don't like writing in first person very much.