Her toes stick out from a huddle
of blue and white smocks.
They point at the ceiling,
pale soles staring out.
Hospital staff, security, and police
stand outside the room
away from the tangle of urgent limbs,
maneuvering around wires and tubes.
Someone whispers her age,
sixteen with a bullet to the groin.
The x-ray shows mangled bone
compressed inside spectral muscle,
the bullet bright and foreign,
intruding into live human tissue.
The femur shattered,
along with arterial damage
from bits of bone and metal.
Blood stains a pair of blue jeans,
torn and cut, discarded.
A thick puddle of it pools
next to pink underwear and a shy
lace covered bra.
Later these articles will be collected,
tagged, and logged as evidence.
A solitary nurse scribbles paperwork.
A janitor cleans the viscous puddles
with a spray bottle and mop.
The victim speaks
to police, an Investigator.
Her words are brief, couched in pain,
few of them helpful.
It was dark.
There were three,
one with a gun.
Get out of the car.
The shot punched through
the driver's window, into her.
Words trail off as chemicals push into a vein
to silence her lips along with the agony.
High pitched tics and beeps
fill the silence.
Her face falls slack around
hard lines of chin and cheek.
Sweet sixteen, but she looks
every hard-earned moment
C.J. reads "Sweet Sixteen":
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C.J. confesses: "Over the past eight years I’ve spent a lot of time in emergency rooms talking to people about the horrible things that put them there. Writing down lines like these can help purge the images left by those experiences. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t, but its best to try."