Rules for Surviving Eighth Grade by Linda Simoni-Wastila

Rule #1) Never hurry home. After soccer, hang out at the library. Try to get invited to Marcy’s house for dinner. Just don’t act too desperate.

Rule #2) Don’t have friends over. If they ask why, say, “My mom works nights and sleeps in the afternoon.”

Rule #3) When you do come home, don’t change the TV channel or mute the volume, even if she’s sleeping on the couch. It’s not worth the fight.

Rule #4) If anyone asks, she works nights.

Rule #5) Never talk about it, even with Nana on the phone. Never, ever with teachers or the counselor. Better here than with your dad.

Rule #6) Never water down the bottle. Then you’ll have to explain the bruises.

Rule #7) Keep the babysitting money in your locker for lunch and tampons.

Rule #8) Don’t sign up for band because you’ll need a ride to the concerts and she’s always losing her license.

Rule #9) Always listen when she says she loves you, even when she’s too drunk to remember the next day. Tell her you love her too, even if it’s a lie, and hope Jesus understands.

Rule #10) Hide your journal in the cellar behind the dryer – she never washes clothes and besides, she’s afraid of spiders and falling down the stairs. But don’t stash it under the same loose tile as the Stoli, in case she gets desperate.


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Filed under Linda Simoni-Wastila

7 responses to “Rules for Surviving Eighth Grade by Linda Simoni-Wastila

  1. What a sad sad story. It started out light and funny … or so I thought and with each lengthening paragraph grew darker, descending. The structure works well.

  2. randalhoule

    Wow, so much sadness. Well thought out and a great form for this theme.

  3. I like the mingling of fact and organization that tries so hard to overcome the pain. Nicely done.

  4. The starkness of the numbered-list form increases the impact of this story.

  5. Al McDermid

    So unassumingly powerful. This one really shook me; the rules are different, but I still recognize them, especially ‘Better here than with your dad.’, though I made what turned out to be the wrong choice and couldn’t escape.

  6. Reading this again, it’s just as powerful.

  7. Pingback: Week #21 – Unseen « 52|250 A Year of Flash

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