Polly Gutierrez is my name. My dad was in the military and my parents are split. Not divorced, just split. Technically, they are still married. My mom lives with me in a two-bed apartment, with one bathroom. It's cramped, and because my dad isn't around often, we live here. My mom's addicted to alcohol. She needs it, and I try to keep it out of the apartment as much as possible, but I can't. It always seeps its way back into our house. It makes me mad. She always is in a relationship and gets money from the men she dates. Like sugar daddies.
I go to school, and that's my only retreat. I'm not very popular, and I like it that way. I never want to be popular. My dad has spent nearly ten years, and I know he's going to be out in a week. He's going to stay in our apartment for a couple weeks until he can find a place. My mom wants him out of state, and that's where he'll have to look. Things have always been weird when my parents are together. My parents have to go before a court to decide which parent I'm going to get.
Now, as much as I love my dad, my mom needs me. I'm the only person who knows how to take care of her. She only gets up in the morning because of me. She needs me. But according to both of them, we have to go before a court to figure it all out. They are both very insistent on that. My parents almost never agree on one thing, so having that in mind, I must cooperate to make them happy. The court is going to hear our case in two weeks, enough time for my dad to find a place. The only person I told was my best friend, and I didn't include my mom's situation.
A week later, I saw my dad for the first time in ten months. We hugged and I told him all about school and my friends and other things. Everything was great, even my parents were being civilized. Well, my mom was being as civilized as possible. She had a bad hangover from last night. She went drinking. I couldn't stop her and she lied. But she wasn't drinking now, because she had to act for my dad so no one would have anything on her.
Soon, the conversation turned to me. My mom started saying that she was thinking about just keeping me. No court. My dad said they needed a judge to weigh who I'd be safer with. My mom frowned. I know what she's going to say before she does. "I know her. I have took care of her for years." I run to my room. I take care of her. I would tell my dad that, but that could be used against my mom. I needed to know she was ok.
I need to keep her safe. If I don't, who knows what's going to happen. She might have to go to rehab, or get the apartment revoked from her ownership. She needs me to stay on top of her and her business. She just recently got a job she can keep. I want her to keep the job, stop with her bad habit. To stop her addiction. She's going to need her loved ones to do that. She needs her family. She needs me.
The day of the hearing came. My mom lost to my dad. The judge saw too much evidence against her. The bad news was that. The good news was that my dad had got a house, and he had found a place in town so I could stay with my friends at school. But I still had to move. I couldn't believe it. I needed to stay with my mom. Not move in with my dad. Before my mom left with the social worker, we hugged and cried. She said she'd get better. She promised she was going to get her life together.
The social worker said I could visit whenever, but I knew it wouldn't be the same. My dad had established a job where he was gone constantly. My life felt empty. The stress was off, but I wanted my mom. The addict and all. I love my mom. I needed her in my life. Even when I visited her, it didn't feel like we were really together. After a few weeks of someone else having to be in the room with us, we had to have a camera.
My mom would be out in six months if she could show massive improvement. That would take a lot. The place she was in was strict. My dad came with me to visit her sometimes too. They didn't fight when I was around, but if I left I knew they would. They would look like they were hiding something. I yearned to be with her, in a house, apartment, anywhere, with just me and my dad. I wanted nothing more than to have her, the way she was.
Eventually, my dad had to move from one house to another. I couldn't believe I had to move again. I said my goodbyes to my friends, and after many tears, hugged and climbed into the car. My dad was quiet, but an hour into the drive, he started to talk to me. We had talked often, but not very in-depth. "So, you're gonna get a fresh start, huh?" I nod my head a little. Not with mom, I think. I was going to miss her.
The place where she is, compared to where we would move was going to be really far. I knew it was for work, but I think my dad didn't want to be around her. "Well, umm...I was thinking about getting us a pet." I look up. I'd always wanted a gerbil. I ask if that's what we're getting. "If that's what you want, then yes. I want you to have a pet you want." I'm super excited. A gerbil would not be the same as a mother, but it would be the pet I've wanted since I was in third grade.
I nod, smiling. Our first pit stop was the pet shop. I got a cage and a little gerbil. I named him Harry. He has light brown fur and food pellets. On the way there, I got to hold him. I got to keep him in my room and I showed him around the house. My dad moved his stuff to my room while I did that. Life may not be perfect, but it is close.