Louisiana and nice didn't belong in the same sentence.
"Thanks, but I'm fine." I said flatly, hoping to end the conversation.
It didn't work.
"My name's Nixie, by the way."
I looked up and, noting the friendliness in her expression, felt my impending rudeness dissipate.
There were a few moments of silence before Nixie started up the conversation once more.
"So, uh, where you from?"
Lousiana was where I'd grown up, but I knew that I had both Romanian and Algerian roots, not to mention a good amount of French blood.
"All over, really. And I'm pretty sure I don't know the half of it. I'm like one of those mystery meat things, a weird combination of pretty much everything."
It took a second before the both of us were laughing at my strange analogy, around the same time the bus finally swished its doors shut and rumbled into motion.
"Just like that one time last month when the dining car decided to serve that meatloaf..."
I chuckled and grimaced at the same time in remembering the foul-tasting meal. Usually the cooks had impeccable taste, but occasionally they'd make something that was totally off.
Namely the mystery meatloaf.
"I remember that," I started, continuing to fiddle with my bracelet, "The thing ended up giving me an upset stomach and there was a performance the next day. I was trying to keep from throwing up into the audience each time I had to do a flip off the trapeze."
Eli had wanted me to sit out on that one. I, on the other hand, wanted to carry my weight and went ahead with it anyways. Man, was he mad after that. I couldn't really blame him. I wouldn't have wanted to risk getting puked on either.
And in front of hundreds of people. Ugh.
"That sounds pretty bad."
"It was. But I survived it without losing my lunch, so things could've been worse."
"Yeah, I bet."
The two of us chatted on for the rest of the trip to the rail yard, helping to release some of the panic that had seized hold of me when I had realized the next tour stop. I, being much more sociable than usual, had actually held a conversation for more than two minutes.
It was a miracle.
Soon the buses were unloading everything so, exchanging goodbyes, Nixie and I parted ways. I made my way to coach number seven, the one that I had been assigned to ever since I'd joined Wiseacre's Circus.
I fished the key from a string around my neck and pulled myself up and into the room.
I had the bed opposite the door, by the windows. Eli's was somewhere to the right, closer to the front of the train. We shared the bathroom and kitchenette on our coach, not that I cooked, ever.
All in all the space was somewhat cramped and not exactly stylish, but it was free and it was my home.
For the time being.