|The Coopers: Diane (or Mother), Eleanor, Helen, Katherine, and Jamie.|
Helen blinked--once, twice. She opened her eyes. Then she squinted. Bright sunlight was streaming in from somewhere. Where was she? Suddenly her eyes flew open. The realization had hit her. She was in Tennessee, where she would be taking refuge until...until when? She looked over at her sister, who was sleeping beside her in their full-size bed. She slowly lifted the covers, slid off the metal bed, and looked around at their little room here in the attic.
It was medium-sized. The walls were an old, washed-out white color, and the ceiling was slanted. There was a high window built into the slanted ceiling, and a trunk was pushed up to it. On the wall across from the window, there was a wooden chest. Beside the chest were the girls' empty suitcases, the contents of which had been put into the chest. Those empty suitcases were a constant, miserable reminder to Helen that she wouldn't be going anywhere else soon. Next to the chest, a little farther down the wall, was a small door which led downstairs to the rest of the house. On the wall opposite the girls' bed, there was a small mirror on the wall, and a little vanity, painted white, with little pink roses all over it. Katherine had squealed when she saw it.
"A vanity table of our very own?!"
"Oh, yes," Mrs. McClellan had replied with a smile, "it was my sister's, but she passed away last winter and she left it to us. I myself don't have much use for it, being an old woman and all."
Helen looked at her sleeping sister now. She seemed so content here, so at home. Helen herself felt out of place. Gee. Kids sure do bounce back quickly, she thought.
Helen stopped and listened closely. She could hear people working in the fields outside, and the noises of the farm animals, and then--yes! She could make it out now. It was the sound and smell of eggs cooking! The thought of eggs cheered her up. Mother hadn't had time to make a good, full breakfast in a long time, so what a treat this would be! She dashed towards Katherine and shook her awake.
"Katherine, come on! Get up! Mrs. McClellan is cooking eggs!"
Soon, the girls were dressed, faces washed, teeth brushed, and hair combed. Helen helped Katherine braid her hair into two little braids by her shoulders, then put her own hair into a ponytail, tying in an old royal blue-colored satin ribbon her father had given her before he left for the war. It was old and a bit ragged now, but she still loved it and refused to part with it.
The girls were bounded down the stairs. They stopped outside Sergeant Milo's room, where the door was half open. They began to tip-toe past her room, then heard a rustling noise and darted past, straight into Mr. McClellan.
"I'm sorry, sir. My sister and I shouldn't have been running," Helen said politely. Mr. McClellan scratched his head and then nodded.
"But, Helen, what if Seargen--"
"And we're going to go to breakfast now, sir, if that's alright."
"Yes, yes, no problem," he muttered, and walked out the door.
Katherine whirled around to look at Helen.
"What?" Helen said defensively. "He may not want us talking about Sergeant Milo. And we need to be careful. We're new here, and we don't know what kind of people the McClellans are yet."
"I think they're positively lovely," replied Katherine firmly, then skipped off. Helen grinned, shook her head, glanced up the stairs, then followed her sister into the kitchen.
"Well now, I'm glad you're up, I am. It's time to get started on your first full day here at ole Rust."
"Ole Rust? What's that?" asked Katherine as Mrs. McClellan spooned eggs onto her plate and filled her glass with fresh milk.
"Why, our farm, dearie! That's what we call it. There's so many rusty things here, you see, as we're an old farm. Why, we have rusty farm tools, a rusty barn, a rather rusty house, and rusty bones ourselves! Yes, we're Rust."
"Hm," replied Katherine, staring at her eggs, obviously thinking hard. Helen began to eat her breakfast.
Sergeant Milo entered the room a few minutes later, still wearing her army uniform, and sat down at the table. Mrs. McClellan walked and frowned slightly. "Dearie, we'll have to find you some different clothes. All the neighbors will be talkin' about you if we don't."
"Well, I can just wear this, it's no--"
"Now, now, dearie, don't worry, I have something that'll fit you, I'm sure. Just give me a minute or two. Head on to your room and I'll bring it up to you, alright?"
"Well, I..." Agent Carter never finished her sentence. Instead, she looked around, then stood up and climbed the stairs to her room. Helen and Katherine exchanged glances, but continued eating in silence. Twenty minutes later, they heard the stairs creaking. Someone was coming down. Mrs. McClellan came first, her face beaming.
"Well, if I do say so myself, Audrey is quite the beauty," she said with a grin and a wink to the girls.
Sergeant Milo--Audrey--came down the stairs slowly. She glanced around quickly, then, seeing that no one else was around, looked at the girls.
The girls were struck silent. A beauty--why, Audrey is gorgeous, Helen thought. She was wearing a dress that hung a little below the knee, with a pretty, flowy, full light blue tulle skirt. It had a high, wide waist made of the same light blue tulle which came up just a little under the bust. The upper portion of the dress was short-sleeved, with a lovely, summery pattern of white daisies on light blue cotton. It was a simple, beautiful dress, and Helen herself wondered where in the world Mrs. McClellan had acquired a dress like this.
"Well? What do you think of it?" Audrey seemed impatient, even a bit anxious.
"Well...why...why, you look...like a movie star!" Katherine's eyes were as wide as saucers as she blurted this out.
Audrey looked off for a moment, grinning slightly.
"Sergeant Mi--erm, Audrey, you look beautiful," Helen said softly, and slowly.
Audrey lifted her eyes. "Thank you, Helen."
Katherine immediately found her voice and began chattering to Audrey and Mrs. McClellan. Helen looked at Audrey for a moment, then down at her lap.
A German accent? Had she just heard a hint of a German accent in Audrey's voice?
DUM, DUM, DUM, DUM...haha! I promise the story will start moving faster after this. I needed to make a few points first. :) Oh, and yes, Sergeant Milo is (physically) modeled after Agent Carter from my favorite superhero movie. You shouldn't be surprised! Agent Carter perfectly fits Sergeant Milo/Audrey's look..I couldn't think of anyone else to model her appearance after! :)