The things I carry make me worried and fearful. I hold a weight which is perched upon my shoulders. I don’t truly know how much this weight weighs but it feels as if it is over a ton. I ask my friends. How much does this weigh? Their opinions vary; some say an ounce, others a pound, but me, I feel a ton. Their opinions can be clear and logical but regardless I will still ask. I overthink about it all; is there even any weight there? I sit down and I almost can’t get back up. I lay down and I almost become lifeless. However, standing and smiling is an obligation in my hometown; so I carry a meaningless smile. I carry a meaningless smile through the halls of my school. I carry a meaningless smile through the halls of my job. I carry a meaningless smile through the halls of my home. I am forever walking with no real destination but regardless I will do it with my smile. A smile so wide you could enter with ease. A grin so perfect you’d see it in a magazine. This weight on my shoulder is invisible to the people I don’t know because of this smile. Life is easier. The heavier my weight gets the wider my smile becomes. No one will ever know how I truly feel; I will hide behind this smile until there is nothing left to hide. I feel as if I am annoying the world when I remove my smile. My tears and panic are just a grasp for attention – aren’t they? The world wouldn’t help if it knew. The world wouldn’t listen if I talked. My brain will remain a coward as it convinces me that these thoughts are true. Oh, what I would do to carry something real.
The things I carry can give me shelter. I don’t want to be pointed out as a minnow in a sea of sharks. I would rather drown in water than drown in my thoughts; carrying a cell phone gives me somewhere to float. Or rather to hide. This object so complex gives off a feeling of ease and satisfaction. The blue light will shine on my face as it removes my darkest thoughts. Are they staring? I wouldn’t know. I will scroll through Facebook and Instagram focusing on people I’ve never met and games I’ve never played. Posts so simple can give me reasons to take a breath and take my next step down a long narrow hall I call my brain. So many corners and so many loops in it yet a caption helps me navigate. I carry my messages in all sorts of apps, each one holding a secret darker than the next. Somehow I have conversations so deep they are surreal, but the only emotion I can understand is the one in an emoticon. I keep in contact with my family and friends to ensure those secrets and feelings never surface. Are these relationships even genuine? I am afraid to keep my thoughts to myself almost as much as I am to let my thoughts escape. I carry my memories, each picture representing a different moment where I forgot about it all; smiling through a time that was so easy and uplifting. These memories in my pocket are all locked up in a memory card so I can relive those moments. One more time. I see a picture of my friend with a smile wider than the sky. I can feel the fresh air from the park the picture was taken in; my skin warms up as I imagine the sun beaming on us. Presently, I feel cold and confined.N I was having such a good time three hundred and sixty-five days ago; where has the time gone? My anxiety is innate, but I can never read it, for my phone carries me to a place so beautiful, that only I can see it.
This passage is based off of “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, a collection of short stories about American soldiers in the Vietnam War.