Counting Down

Jennifer Lyn Bartlett
2 min readOct 6, 2020


Image by Mod Bettie (used with permission)

Flashbacks to that hazy rust glow often invades my thoughts. The slow lowering of the sun as it dipped through the tall pine trees spilled warm beams of hope through my window and I imagined myself dancing amongst them, weaving in and out of the light.

Things seemed so simple then.

Though that underlying sadness softly simmered beneath my ribcage, the low hum of the boats on the lake, the scent of emerald green from freshly mowed lawns and the singing of birds that didn’t know anything but the sky served an iridescent distraction from my thoughts. The sadness wasn’t a soundtrack. She was just an anchor working to keep on the ground the feet of a romantic.

I was ten, eleven…maybe twelve or sixteen and spending most of my days in my head. Mostly an observer, my eyes and ears moved more than my mouth did. I had a few friends but I didn’t really know how to get close to anyone. I relied on my journals and my CD player to bridge a connection from my heart to my hands. I wanted nothing more than to love and be loved but fear and anxiety kept me armored.

Then I jump forward, remembering when we were 19. Hopping pool to pool in the dead of the night. The air started to bite at our skin as September was creeping in but we barely noticed or cared as cheap vodka warmed our cheeks and our elation for each other sealed it in.

We quietly stumbled over fences and tried not to get caught though our laughter was likely heard in the next town over. We took our chances anyway because of the glow that the moon offered our spirits. The water sparkled around us as we shimmied out of our bathing suits and every cell in our body felt alive.

I traverse the path where it all started.
Right back to where we came from.
But the fences were replaced with brick walls and the pools filled in with cement.
As I tiptoe back into those spaces, the moon still shines but you are nowhere and we are not the same anymore.

As I drift into the memories, that anchor sinks a little deeper.
She reminds me the only constant is the consistent proof of our impermanence.

She reminds me that the clock doesn’t count forward, it counts down.