Claire Hennessy


“So, will we make a list for the housework and stuff?” Joe says to me the first evening we’re in the flat. We’re not properly moved in – not staying the night – but we’ve a few bits and pieces. Keys handed over this afternoon.

“Jesus, you’re such a romantic,” I say. He’s literally just woken up after his post-sex snooze – we’ve both been living with our parents for far too long – and this is the first thing he says. As punishment, I whip the blanket (Flying Tiger, fifteen quid) off him, exposing his pale body to the air. 

“Hey!” But he’s laughing. I’m back in my clothes already; he reaches over and slides a hand under my top. “Not fair.”

We get distracted, it’s fair to say, but two days later, after dragging boxes and bulging black bin bags up the two flights of stairs, he brings it up again. 

“Like, if we have a list now,” he says, “before we get settled in, then we’ll know, you know?”

“Okay,” I say uncertainly. I sort of thought the point of moving in with a boyfriend was that you didn’t have mad flatmates organising a chore wheel, leaving pass-agg notes about leaving the immersion on too long. (A girl I lived with in college was utterly obsessed with the thing, I’m still scarred from her shower-monitoring.)

Joe gets out his phone and opens up a spreadsheet. I kid you not, a fucking spreadsheet. “We can do this by task or room, what d’you think?”

I examine the screen, where he has already prepared both options for us in different columns. Bathroom / Living Area / Bedroom. “Eh, task.”

Our initials begin appearing next to each: Joe takes bins, I go for doing the dishes. “I’ll do the bathroom, if you can do the washing machine stuff,” he says. “Is that all right? It’s not too, like, gendered or anything? I’m just not great with the different options . . .

I shrug. “That’s grand. Take the toilets, take them!”

“I mean, I just want to make sure you’re not, like, carrying the mental load,” he says. 

“Right,” I say, getting it now. I share a lot of feminist memes on my Instagram Stories. I just didn’t think he actually, you know, paid attention. “Sure. Yeah. Thanks.” 

I should consider myself lucky. I tell my friends about the spreadsheet and they’re envious, even the more sceptical ones who first ask, yeah, but does he actually do what he’s supposed to? I’m the one who falls behind, leaving clothes in the dryer too long so they get that weird musty-clean smell. Washing things is fine; it’s the putting-away I find tedious.

After a while he asks if I have too many things on my plate, do we need to revisit the spreadsheet? It’s kind, or it’s meant to be, I think, but I look at him and see that he is getting uglier to me by the day.

Claire Hennessy is a writer, editor, reviewer, and creative writing facilitator from Dublin, Ireland. She’s the author of several YA novels and a forthcoming short story collection for adults (2025). She can be found at