The Vacuum

Jide Badmus
5 min readMay 25, 2020


The sirens jolted you back to life — light had just been restored. For a minute you could not recall where you were or how long you’ve been lying there.

You had slept off on the couch — coming back to a dark empty house, you had dropped your suitcase and slumped into the arms of the fluffy cushion without undressing.

You reached for the phone in your jacket pocket and forced weary lids open. The glare of the phone screen made you squint while you stumbled through the apps to put on the lights. You were still not used to the smart home system that your friend encouraged you to install two months back.

You walked to the kitchen in socked feet, checked for a meal to microwave — the fridge was empty save for some beer. You picked one and downed it in a gulp, contemplated having another, changed your mind and closed the fridge.

The house was quiet. You stood still for a moment to take in the sound of the building breathing. You could hear the soft purring of the fridge, the second hand running across the face of the spoon-shaped wall clock above the door that leads to the backyard — you could hear the voice of this vacuum you called home.

A spider swanned across the ceiling, dropped, suspended midway and pulled back up — an Arachnid circus in the middle of your kitchen. One would think a place inhabited is no home for cobwebs, but the whole place feels like your marriage — dust, rust, mildew and catacombs — void of life.

It was nine-oh-five and your wife was not yet home.

Helen used to call when it all started. She would tell you she was at the church or running some errands for the Pastor. She would try to explain how her role as the church building committee head was such a demanding one while you fall asleep. You stopped listening after a couple of weeks.

“This is God’s work, babe”, she would say if you complained about the late nights.

“You need to come with me once a while…you know, improve your prayer life. We are not called to be Sunday-Sunday Christians”, she would chide as she undressed.

You would grunt in resignation wondering if you should talk about how homemade meal was no longer regular, how the fridge turned up empty every time you returned from work. The last time you raised this conversation, the argument lasted the whole night — you ended up a mess at work the next day.

“You can at least leave me a portion of whatever you cook before rushing off to church”, you couldn’t hold it.

“Segun, I am not your cook!”, she calls your first name when she’s angry.

You could feel her laser gaze burn into the back of your head. You would somehow hold your burning tongue — it’s best not to start a fire you can’t quell. She would freshen up and lie on the bed sulking. You would reach for her body, she would shrink at your touch and complain of tiredness. The home was suffering — you were suffering.

She stopped talking too. You were like stones on the bed of earth, lying next to each other yet oblivious of each other. Intimacy became a lost language. You stopped praying together in the morning. You stopped waiting up for her at night — she would come home few minutes to midnight and fall like a log of wood, her snores no longer woke you.

This night you would wait up for her — both of you would have this conversation you had long been running from. Things needed to change. The church needed to take a break, the home altar needed to be rebuilt.

You opened a bottle of red wine and took a slice of the Debonair Pizza you ordered for. A white-haired woman was speaking on CNN but you didn’t hear a thing — you were drafting the agenda for discussion, in your head.

The wine was half-way down when your wife’s car drove through the automatic gates — the pizza had been devoured. Don Riddell was giving some updates about the English Football League. You would normally be interested, but at that moment, serious business was at hand.

Helen’s perfume washed into the room. She followed, dressed in a white, open-collared, sleeveless silk blouse and a too-tight blue mini-skirt. A legion of emotions overtook you. You lashed out with a whip of tongue.

“Are you fucking that pastor?”, it wasn’t what you had planned to say!

“Pardon?”, she stopped in her tracks. Then put the thoughts of putting up a fight aside and kept walking towards the bedroom.

“I’m your husband, you don’t walk away when I talk to you!”, your anger was welling. The veins in your neck were throbbing.

She threw her bag on the chair and retorted wearily “I don’t have time for this, Segun. You are drunk and I am tired…”

“This is not the night to be tired, lady, I want you…I want you tonight”

The flesh between your legs had mutated into a rock. You were shaking like a leaf in the hands of a hurricane. You pulled her back gently, at first, then harder when she resisted. It was reflective — she slapped you on the right cheek.

“What has come over you?”, she yelled.

Richard Quest laughed at the same time. Everyone in the room was talking but no-one was listening.

“I will have you tonight”, you were screaming.

“No, no, no…”, she was yelling back.

The 50-inch TV was still chattering away. Richard Quest still had his characteristic wide smile on his face — he is always amused, always lively. You, a popular Lagos business mogul, were about to rape your wife.

You hit her with the back of your left hand and pulled her back immediately with the right. The wedding ring split her lower lip, left trails of blood on her top. You pulled at the silk blouse and ripped it open to reveal white bra that struggled to contain a pair of luscious breasts. She yelped in shock. Your pants were magically down around your ankles as you tugged at her skirt.

She was startled by your animal grunts. She shook you back to consciousness. You were having a nightmare. The dream was still vivid, still fresh in your head. The rock in your loin was there in reality. You looked at your wife that was getting back to sleep, her breasts were practically spilling out of the white lingerie. Your reached out to touch her. She slapped your hand off.

“I must have you tonight”, the voice in your head whispered.

You reached — with shaky hands — to touch her again.



Jide Badmus

Author of There is a Storm in my Head, Scripture, and Paradox of Little Fires. Poetry Editor, Con-scio Magazine.