Laughter: A Short
Story by Femi Eromosele
Saturday, May 14, 2016.
I know the exact moment I stopped loving my
wife. Many people say the corrosion of a marriage is a gradual process, like
the drip from a leaking roof that ruins your carpet. Not so. I remember the
exact day and minute I lost all affection for her. My carpet was ruined
She had been watching something – I can’t remember what
exactly – and she turned to me, laughing hysterically. For the oddest reason, I
thought she sounded like a hyena. The thought took me by surprise. I had always
loved her laughter. My smile stopped midway and I was glad she couldn’t see my
face. While she continued staring at the screen, I went to the bathroom to
stare at the mirror. I used my hands to pull my eyes up to see if I was
alright, and poked my ears with my little finger to double check.
The next few weeks, I would do everything to make her laugh.
And she did. It’s the one thing she said
had attracted her to me. I could make her laugh even when she didn’t want to.
For me, it was easy; hearing her laugh was like being startled by extreme
beauty. This time, I was doing so out of compulsion. I wanted to stop hearing
the hyena in her voice. I wanted to convince myself that I still loved the
sound of her voice ringing through the house. I strove for the laughter because
in a few days, it had gone beyond that.
Her face seemed to have morphed into someone I didn’t recognise. The
other day she caught me staring at her sleeping frame. I was standing over her,
my eyes darting from her face to the picture in my hand. She opened her eyes
and smiled at me.
“It’s been three years already isn’t it? Time flies when
you’re having fun”
“Oh yea,“ I forced a smile and a perfunctory kiss before
stepping out the door.
It was a picture of her in a wedding gown, her beautiful teeth
reflecting the sunlight in the garden we held the ceremony.
I sense she is happy. These past weeks have been great, she’d
told me last night. Our anniversary is
in two weeks, and since that day in front of the T.V, I have been putting extra
effort at making her happy. I have surprised her a few times at her office to
take her to lunch, and later at night, given her a massage. She loves massages
and cuddles. In spite of the increasingly inconsistent lovemaking, she does
But I am miserable. Frantic. My drawer at the office is
becoming a full blown library of a marriage counsellor. Nkechi, my colleague
has commented on it twice, asking almost mockingly if I am thinking of a new
career apart from advertising. Of course
I’m not. I love my job. I am only looking for answers, looking for my wife’s
laugher. I have every popular title in my drawer and on my table: How to Sustain a Marriage, Happily Ever
After, 50 Ways to Make Her Happy, What a Man Needs to Know, and many other
obscure but recommended titles. I have tried everything. But I feel no different. I feel myself stifled in the heat of my
I talked with Thompson yesterday about it. He smacked me on
the shoulder with a twinkle in his eyes.
“You bad boy! You’ve taken it to the next level with Nkechi?”
“Of course not. I barely talk to her these days.”
“So what’s wrong with you?” he asked rather seriously after
“That’s what I’m asking you.”
He knew about Nkechi’s passes at me and my rather amused but
not very firm refusal. I have never had any intention of having an affair, but
I loved the attention she gave me. She was good company at lunch and on the way
home. Lately, even she has kept her distance. After a few flimsy reasons for not
being able to meet at lunch or give her a ride home, she must have caught on
that I didn’t want her around. Perhaps,
like my wife, she thinks I am aiming for the Husband of a Lifetime Award.
Thompson could not understand when I told him the truth. The more
repulsive I found my wife, the more I acted otherwise. The more I wanted to
give her no reason to suspect or be unhappy. I couldn’t have an affair or the
hint of it on my conscience because it was already enough that she disgusted
me. For the umpteenth time, I wish we
had decided to have children early. Then I wouldn’t have had to work this hard
to cover up. I hear mothers barely have time for anything else apart from their
babies. Thompson complains now and then about not getting some from his wife eight
months after their last baby. I wish I could trade places with him. I don’t
want to get some. Don’t want to get any. Not from my wife.
As I drive into the garage, I see the light in the kitchen
hasn’t been turned on. She’s probably just getting in too. The traffic on her
side of work gets very unpredictable sometimes. I hear sounds in the bathroom
as I drop my tab and phone on the table and crumble on the couch. I breathe in
and out severally, rehearsing a few jokes in my mind and getting ready for the
opening act when she returns from the bathroom. With my eyes closed I smell her freshly
bathed body as she comes behind me. I ask about her work today and drag her to
my laps. She shrieks with excitement and forgets to answer. Her face is close
to mine, and for the first time in a long while, I see her eyes. She is smiling
but she is not. I forget my lines and we blurt out simultaneously:
“Dayo, who is she?”
“I think we need to talk.”
Femi Eromosele loves reading and telling stories.
His works have appeared on Naijastories,
Africanwriter and ynaija.