Happy Anniversary | Zach Ellis

“Save your poison for a lover who is on your side.”

On paper it looked good. Thin tip black Sharpie on her card stock. Her precious card stock that had its own shelf in the office.

“What the hell are you doing in there?”

“Daddy? I need to go potty.”

“Be right out. Jesus, I’ll be right out.”

“Hurry up, because Lilly has to go. Are you picking at your face again? I think your daddy’s picking at his face again. Could you stop, please? Your daughter is going to have an accident.”

“I said I’ll be right out!”

I blow on the card stock. I don’t want the words to smear. I don’t want there to be any mistake. “Poison” could look like “passion” if the ink smeared.


“Owen! Would you get the fuck out of there? Now?! There is nothing wrong with your face.”

Was that a compliment? The ink was dry. “I’m coming, just hang on! I’m flushing!” I put the note in my back pocket. I make the appropriate bathroom sounds. Unzip, zip, flush, drop toilet seat lid.

“God dammit. Well, I hope you’re happy. Your daughter has just peed on the floor. Happy? Are you fucking happy?”

“Daddy? I’m sorry, daddy. I made a mess. Mama? My shoes, mama.“

The piss slowly inches in under the door. I move my foot, but the big toe starts to get soaked. I hate how close the toilet is to the door.

“Sweetie, take those off and I’ll meet you in your room. I’ll be right there.”

The Strawberry Shortcake shoes. The Strawberry Shortcake theme song starts to play as she walks into her room. It sounds wet. Like Strawberry Shortcake is drowning.

She bursts through the door. “You’re pathetic, you know that?”

“Fuck! I was just about to open that! I said I was coming out. Maybe you could gently open the door next time?!” Blood. I know there’s blood. “I think you broke my fucking nose! What the fuck?”

There’s nothing between us now but that bamboo floor mat.

“Is this what you want? You like to see me this way? I suppose I’m going to be the one to clean that up like I do everything other fucking thing around here?”

The licking sounds drown out Strawberry Shortcake.

“Oh for fuck’s sake, your god damned dog is actually licking up her piss. What the fuck is wrong with you? You and that dog are perfect for each other.”

I rub my back pocket.

“What the fuck were you doing in here all that time?”

“Writing you an anniversary card.”

Zach Ellis writes creative nonfiction and is the author of the memoir Being, published by Instant Future. He has been published in The Nervous Breakdown, Rad Dad, and NAILEDHe lives in Portland.