The Life We Live

A collection of Drabbles (and one slightly over long attempt) interweaving in and out of a possible life well lived. Polly/Mal.

Disclaimer: Author respects the rights of Sir Terry and fully comprehends that these characters belong to a certain Mr T. Pratchett. No profit is being made and no insult intended.


The Games We Play (100 words)

Mal had been kind in the beginning, reluctant to hurt Polly's feelings. Naturally the girl was inexperienced, that was only to be expected, and Mal was a veteran at pretence (including encouraging noises). Until one quiet afternoon, when Mal found out exactly what happened when Polly did that, and Polly discovered – all evidence to the contrary - that Mal was actually silent when certain things worked.

After that they played the game of "make Mal shut up", whereby Polly was given licence to explore at will, revealing surprises that Mal herself hadn't yet learnt, for all her years of practice.


The Names We Give (100 words)

They were always in company, never free to say openly what they meant or how they felt. So they'd developed a code. They were army after all, code-words woven throughout their daily life.

Polly used Sergeant when she meant love.

"Come over here Sergeant..." "I wouldn't do that if I were you Sergeant..."

"…Are you alright Sergeant?"

Mal, vocabulary expanded by education, was allowed a variety of terms. Boss, Lieutenant, Ma'am.

Even in the night, finally alone, they found themselves keeping to the code-words, pet names by any other descriptor, enduing them eternal power.

"Oh Gods, Sergeant…!"

"Steady now lieutenant…"


The Way We Get By (100 words)

A day off here, a quiet posting there, a late morning lie in stolen from the army, an early afternoon taken in lieu. These are the times they remember when the shells rain down and the blood of friend and foe runs equally through their fingers.

Moments snatched whenever offered, in full knowledge of a future uncertain. Minutes of ecstasy, half hours of muffled laughter, hours of peace and days of quiet adventures. Good food, good views, good company.

A life chosen freely and then re-chosen all over again when their indentured time was completed.

This is how they live.


The Moments We Steal (100 words)

"How long?" As she comes round the corner I flick away the butt of my cigarette and she slides into my opened arms to melt against me.

"Not long, I have to brief the colonel in five." She holds tight, the tension easing out of her.

"Is it a good plan?"

"Perfect" I lie. The huff of breath against my neck her comprehensive retort.

She lifts her head to rest her forehead against mine. "Till next time lover."

A kiss and she is gone, leaving me to light the umpteenth cigarette and sigh out my frustration to an uncaring sky.


The Healing We Find (102 words)

War does strange things. They're exhausted, their first leave in months. Horrifying weeks spent hunting and being hunted. Safe now, they should sleep like babes.

But they don't.

Awaking from nightmares to talk into the early hours, struggling together - no love in it - to allay the pain, until finally gentleness returns and they move together in aim of a more tender goal to lie at last exhausted, burdens set aside for a few hours more.

Let the sun in, it will not wake them, curled up, intertwined, only now able to let go, every limb wrapped tight in tangled desperation.


The Way We Fall (100 words)


The scream tears out of her as she runs forward, only to be halted at the gap by another ricocheting arrow. Before her, so close yet still beyond reach a small figure lies huddled, immobile in death. Fair hair falling over that well remembered face, hiding it one last time.

Firm hands hold her back, trying to shield her, but she owes Polly that much. Wide opened eyes, no avoidance of this horrific truth.

"But the war was meant to be over! We survived!" Falling to her knees she curses the stupidity of it.

"I'm sorry Lieutenant."

I'm sorry.


The Grief We Bear (100 words)

Liquor a fiery distraction in her stomach…

Flick, scrape, flame, snap…

Rough spirit befuddling her thoughts, making no inroads toward softening the cold, dead stone clenched in her chest.

Flick, scrape, flame, snap…

The lighter an anchor of impersonal metal in her hand. Repetitive spurting flame revealing the suffering painted bare on that expressive face.

Flick, scrape, flame, snap…

Memories… Polly laughing, alive in her arms, honeysuckle drifting down in the garden behind The Duchess. Dusk bringing the cool of the evening. "The reservoir's empty – Paul'll refill it, doesn't last forever…"

Flick, scrape… scrape…


"Wouldn't keep going for ever…"