A List of Demands From Your Roommates, Your Books

Vivienne Woodward


Vivienne Woodward lives in Philly and works as the events coordinator for an indie bookstore. She can often be found drinking too much coffee in the sunny spot on her couch and over-identifying with fictional characters. She enjoys collecting hobbies, dancing to radio pop, and rearranging the book stacks on her side tables.

The world is unfathomable and you, like most people, are spending more time than ever at home. One day you come home from another grocery store run, glasses foggy from breathing heavily into your mask, and there is a note on the counter with your name on it. After you’ve cleared your glasses fog, you realize it is not a note, but a list. The list is titled “OUR DEMANDS. AGREE OR MOVE OUT” and signed “Your roommates.” At first you don’t understand; you thought you lived alone. You look around your apartment, to see if someone moved in and you just didn’t notice. It becomes apparent after a few minutes of head swiveling. Your books surround you on all sides, and suddenly their spines look ominous. How did they write a list? What do they do when you go to the grocery store six times a week and have they been…conspiring against you? Your hands start to shake as you read the list. 

1. Do your dishes, especially if you have a habit of mindlessly leaving your dirty dishes on top of your roommates. 

2. Clean up; be considerate of the fact that some of your roommates are prone to dust bunnies. 

3. Open the window when it’s nice, sure, but don’t forget to close it when it’s really hot or especially if it rains. Some of your roommates are very sensitive to temperature and anything but a cool breeze may cause them to wither and age at 800x their normal rate. Be respectful. 

4. Be considerate of common areas. Don’t just leave your things sitting out wherever. Especially if your “things” are candles that you leave burning for hours very near your roommates, who are more flammable than you!! 

5. Be mindful of the guests you bring into shared living spaces. The friends you bring over should be respectful of the friends you live with. People who come in, look around, and say “Oh. So you read.” create a hostile living environment for your roommates. 

You take a break midway through the list, and look around at the books that you now consider roommates. Your new roommates are pretty reasonable, actually. You nod at them, pleased that they decided to come to you with their demands, rather than initiate a coup. You continue reading. 

6. Apartment votes and majority rules should be taken on major purchases such as ereaders, New Yorker subscriptions, or under-the-bed storage containers. For the record, all parties vote “no” except for you. 

7. Be aware of what and how much TV you are watching. Your roommates find television to be a waste of time. Your roommates request that you end all TV subscriptions. The TV may be kept for emergency broadcasts—your roommates would also like to be aware of when it is time to evacuate. P.S. When it is time to evacuate, you are responsible for ensuring the safe transport of yourself and all of your roommates, who do not have legs. 

8. Spending time with your roommates is important for the apartment dynamic. Aim to spend a few hours with each of your roommates every week. When you ignore one of your roommates for months, or even years, it has an effect on morale. Activities your roommates unanimously enjoy include: quiet time. 

You look around your living room at the books lining three out of four walls. Your stomach drops. You…have a full time job. You…haven’t finished the final season of The Great British Bake Off. You read on. 

9. No loud music. 

10. No cats. 

You watch your cat Jason walk back and forth, back and forth in front of your lowest bookshelf. She swishes her tail, and you slowly lower the list. There is silence.