The Things I Carried

I strongly believe we are products of our surroundings and, unfortunately, when we are young our surroundings cannot be of our own choosing. We are born into the time we are born into, to those we are born to, and if we’re lucky… well, we’re just lucky. The thing is, we don’t have to carry the bad stuff from our past with us, and the sooner we realize this simple truth, the sooner we will become the person we can be. Countless times I have said, “I wish I’d known then, what I know now.” Now… I’m just glad I know it now.

The Things I Carried


I carried with me, for many years, the fear; the fear of those Friday night lights. Lights from the old pickup that would rumble into the yard; the door, after long seconds of silence, opening with a groan of rusted metal, then slamming violently.

I carried with me, for those same long years, the hate for the man whose voice spoke softly then louder, from the room down the short hallway, just before he struck the first blow of the long night and morning.

I carried with me the shame that I could do nothing to stop the madness.

I carried with me the memory of never being quite good enough; of making the team, but being just another player, forgetting the times I shined like a star, and remembering only the ground ball skipping toward me then hopping wildly past my face.

I carried with me, not the cheers from the crowd when I carried the ball into the end zone, but rather the jeers and shouts of the fans when the ball slipped through my fingers. The loudest coming via the same angry voice of the man who would, later in the night, drive the old pickup into the yard.

I carried these things and more, living a lifetime of regret and judging myself a failure. I became like him; a victim of a life not lived, but endured. Living each day with the weight of the past driving me toward a grave I had no fear of.

I carried with me these things, and so much more, until I realized they were the keepsakes of my life. And then it came to me, like the unheard footsteps in the grass on those long ago nights; I had a choice now. I could let them go. I could put them down and walk away.

I kept nothing.


Copyright © 2013 C Mashburn


I’m a couple days late, but sharing this on Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday feature. Kellie just released her second book of poetry, Jagged Little Pieces! Check it out!


Click here to read my story, Those Dreaded Friday Night Lights.


  1. Ziibi said

    Yes we can walk away- but memories stay and experiences grow a person that learns to be better or to follow the footsteps they fear. (the thoughts that ran through my mind)
    Good writing!

  2. Great write Charles, I too carried with me so much of my past, little by little I was putting it behind me. Now I have the Lord to turn to and He has helped me face the past and grow from the experience. He is an awesome God!!

  3. Reblogged this on God's Glory.

  4. Sherry Mashburn said

    You threw away the bad, which allowed you to remember, and focus on, the good that your Mom and others gave you. As a result, you are an amazing man, and I am so grateful to have you in my life.

    • Aw shucks. I’m still workin on it. And, by the way, you had a lot to do with it, too!

  5. Oh my gosh. Yes. I know this. Why do we carry our past with us, hold on to things that hurt us? It is so hard to let go and free ourselves. I am so happy that I learned to use my writing to let go. It has been my savior so many times (Jagged is a big part of that for me)

    Thank you for writing. I have sure missed you. You always hit me in the gut with your stories. ♥

    • Like you, Kellie, I’m busier than a one-legged man at a butt-kickin contest, and though I try to keep up with all my favorite sites, I sometimes get behind. (pun intended?)
      Yes, it is sad that we tend to hold on to the past–mostly the worst parts–and don’t enjoy the present. There is so much good to enjoy, if we simply focus on it.
      I do tend to use writing as a tool to purge these things from my inner safe. I like to open up and just let it pour out of me ( I was gonna say like puss froma wound, but thought that sounded kinda gross).
      I’m stubbornly waiting for Jagged to be available on Kindle, and can’t wait to see what you’ve done. I love Magic, and, as you well know, am in awe of your talent.
      Keep on keeping on, my friend!
      Oh! Almost forgot! I absolutely love the cover of Jagged!

      • I am still laughing! I love your humor, Charles! I love you! 🙂 And tomorrow is the release on ebook. I am SOO nervous! I hope you are not disappointed. It is different than Magic and I am worried how my readers will take it. 😦

      • I’m yer huckleberry, and I’m sure it’ll be great!

  6. Charles … this is something we can all relate to … a memory, a secret, a thing that needs to be let go … I am really working hard at letting go something that has haunted me most of my life. Thank for this beautifully written piece … inspires and encourages me!

  7. Joanna said

    You took control of your life and didn’t allow it to be determined by the forces which came before you. It’s a story of triumph. I am amazed by the bare honesty of participants in Kellie’s FWF. Beautiful.

    • Yes, I did! Honesty is truth, and the truth will set you free. I believe that!
      Thanks for the visit and comment!

  8. Powerful, powerful, powerful. Keep moving forward!

  9. Wow! A totally different view of keepsakes! Really enjoyed it and yes, the end was a surprise.

  10. beautiful post. thank you for sharing. i sometimes wish i could just completely leave everything behind and carry nothing – at least i try. 🙂 good luck with everything. xo

  11. Reblogged this on Marbles In My Pocket ~ The Official Blog of Charles L. Mashburn ~ Poems, Short Stories, and random thoughts from the author of "Be Still… and know that I am God" and commented:

    Many times, we carry baggage from our past that distorts the present and holds the future at bay. The thing is, we have a choice what we carry, and when we finally realize we can put the baggage down, it not only frees us from the hurts and failures of the past, but it allows us to step boldly and with hope into the future. If after reading this post you want to know what the reference to “Friday Night Lights” is about, click on the link at the bottom of the post.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Please leave a comment! We love hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: