Exit wound for a bullet

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This is the sound your mouth makes in the time it takes you to work out if the bullet has left your body yet.

I can tell you it might be years you’ll breathe like this – a slow, raspy intake trying to grasp the fact that you’ve been shot.

There’s no going back or stitching up until the bullet has left. Don’t breathe too hard or you’ll let them know you can’t cope. Just breathe enough until the bullet leaves.

Depending on the gun – and look, it’s no fun whichever they choose – it’ll lodge itself into places you never knew could hurt as much as they do.

What they don’t tell you when they pull the trigger is that the bullet becomes a part of you.

I present three observations concerning exit wounds:

1. We are scared that if the bullet leaves the exit wound, we’ll lose a part of ourselves too. So we plug the hole and carry it with us. Get the gauze and cotton swabs. They heard it happen but can’t prove it did.

Did it? Make it go away but keep it with you. This pain. This sting. Stuff the hole with smack and booze. Forget the crack it made when it first entered you.

2. We are scared that we might bleed out – in surgery or in the same sorry place were shot. So we move.

We use the momentum to go anywhere, with the bullet still lodged in our arteries, bones, throat. We forget that whether we run or stay, the blood will run, the bullet will stay. This is our fate.

3. We are scared that they’ll think we wanted it. But it’s not about them. It’s about us and this exit wound. It’s about entry and the come down once the steel comes out. Let it go.

There is no exit wound for a bullet you think you need.

Let it go. Let the goddam bullet go. Let it now warm and covered in your red life, go. Let it go cold again.

Some people are the bullets that lodge between your heart and ribs. Part pericardium. Part person. Love was never meant to feel so steel, so cold. So you breathe, scared to remove it – scared they’ll leave. Scared you’ll leave with it and start to bleed.


Some words are a moulded metal. A mouth and an armory are often for the same purpose offering the same things: bullets, guns, the sting of weapons in cold blood by warm blood. Words can never leave.

I wish you were never born. You’re the reason I want to kill myself every day. I can’t live with your sadness. You’re tearing this family apart. You took away my best friend. Disappointment. Liar. My reason for death.

There is no exit wound for fibre and failure – for finding the reality of the lie you thought lived only in your dreams. This bullet is a masterpiece, not a trigger-happy coincidence.

This bullet is shot with precision. The shooter knows the lives it will take. He knows it can print new veins with the blood from these severed syllables. Your blood is trained to trust them – the words. That’s why they never go away.

Some bullets are suicide. No one else spins the cylinder or puts the muzzle to my head. No one else pulled the trigger. No one else wanted me dead.

It was me all along – with the revolver in the bathroom alone. Waiting for an exit wound.

Here’s what really happens when the bullet enters your skin: your flesh absorbs the momentum – like it’s asking for it. Following that, the initial bullet hole expands to create a large cavarty which then falls back on itself.

The tremor is what might actually kill you. The shake. The shiver. A bullet travels at 1448km/h. The energy has to go somewhere. So you use it to drive you forward until it leaves you, or lets you leave.

When you realise you do not need it, you will walk on. It is not a part of you. I promise.

You did not ask for it. Forgive yourself.

You have done well to breathe this way all along – rasping lungs, thrashing mind, clutching hands. You can do better.

You are better. You are not the bullet or the barrel. You are now the exit wound. Open. Healing. Whole.


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