Happy Birthday, from Taco Bell <3

CW: rape

I turned nineteen the day before my birthday
in a Taco Bell parking lot.

Baja Blast tastes like Febreeze,
I am a good vegan:
two shredded chicken quesaritos
with extra sour cream, please.

I’ve seen my manager more
than I’ve seen my mother in the past year.
I am on my fourth therapist.
It is finals week, and I am here alone,
In this lot watching the rain fall.

I remember what happened to me:
Coerced consent, painful love.
Nobody tells you what rape feels like.
Is it emptiness? Overflowing?

My credit card has hit its limit.
The other day, I felt the wind welcome me home.
Grandmother recommended a doctor,
a good strain of weed, and garden pebble.
“She misses you like hell.”

Nineteen years.
Almost three since. Four before that.
Twelve before, and now on the clock
that says you are nineteen
and there is nothing you can do.

W.C. Perry is a writer from southern Ohio whose work has appeared in Meat for Tea, GRIFFEL, Lupercalia Press’ VULCANALIA ’21, and elsewhere. To contact this author, burn a candle on a starless night and scream into the nearest cornfield — they’ll get back to you eventually.

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