Josie squinted as the bus lurched forward and caught her off guard with the harsh rays of morning sun. It was now 650am and she had been riding the 114 bus for the last 20minutes but forgetton to pack her sunglasses this morning. She normally forgot something when scrimmaging around in half-light packing her bag for the day! It would be easier if she didn’t have to share her room with her snoring (younger) ‘brother’ Jason who complained of needing more of his precious sleep to finish his higher school certificate well enough to get out of his ‘crazy’ poverty-lined life.
Sure, she understood he needed precedence for his final year at school...but still, she was working her butt off from dawn til dusk just to pay the rent for the small-3-bedroom apartment they were all living in.
The bus screeched round another corner and this time the poppa hit the aisle floor with a thud, bursting at the sides and sending it’s sugary-scented water into the sole of the man’s shoe under which it now lay “sorry” he mumbled, as he trudged up the aisle and off the bus, mumbling something about how people need to take more responsibility for holding their personal belongings better in public places or something along those ‘personal space’ lines.
Josie groaned as she picked up the two, vagrant minties that had also fallen out of her bag and quickly stuffed one into her mouth. Another comment about the incongruence of ‘morning breath’ and ‘customer-service’ from her boss and Josie would just about throw up. It was hard enough just working the breakfast shift at Red Rooster in the wee hours of the morning (7am) when only truck driver customers chose to frequent the place, without having to add further insult to injury by needing to EXPLAIN herself WITH morning breath to her sarcastic chauvinistic boss who obviously hated her presence there.
But where else could she go?
Mum getting sick out of the blue, now bed-ridden for 3months, had not helped their struggling family – especially with their eviction from the family home due to some sort of foreclosure problem (better known as eviction) due to their extrememly low income. Jason’s grand plans to do Medicine and somehow rescue the family from imminent poverty sounds great in essence, but how does that help Josie find some sort of meaning in her life til then. As the only breadwinner in the family (til graduation time that is) she was leant on far to heavily with nowhere to move. Nowhere to breathe.
The bright billboard sign caught her off guard... “Oasis - More than an immaculate house... it’s a HOME” ‘Yeah right!!’ she thought to herself, while gathering her bag and pressing the aisle buzzer for the next stop; ‘cant they see the problem with that billboard?’ she muttered. ‘Oasis’ don’t exist!!”
And for the next 10 minute walk to the corner red-rooster store, all she could think about was the ‘pipe-dream’ of a house, a home, a place to belong. Oasis – mirage – something that looks like it exists but doesn’t. Where was hers? Well, they say no man is an island...but what about his older sister – who didn’t get the brains in the family, has to feed the rest of the mob with her own income, leaving nothing for herself, all so her ‘gifted younger brother’ can live his dream, at the expense of her own.
Deep in thought, a newpaper blowing in the sharp morning breeze caught her toe and she picked it up. Her breath was still making puffs in the early winter morning air but not dense enough cover her seeing the adverstisment on the front page... “‘foster-carer needed – turn your house into the home they never had’
Suddenly it dawned on her “that’s it” she thought – She’d apply to be the carer she’d never had! With all the best of intentions, her (foster) ‘mother’ and ‘brother’ had tried to make this ‘family’ work for her. Or, was it for them? Anyway, it wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate it – she did. But just cause it didn’t work for them, didn’t mean that Josie herself…