A Very Short (Love) Story

Ernest Hemingway and his art of keeping things unsaid.

Radhika Ghosh



A soldier. A nurse. And a short-lived romance.

Welcome to A Very Short Story (1924) by Ernest Hemingway. Bearing the hallmark of a perfect vignette, this short story narrates the brief love story between a World War I soldier and a nurse. Set in a hospital in Padua, the story barely follows any plot. But it succeeds to have a lasting effect on its readers through its bittersweet conclusion.

It all begins with a short encounter between Luz and the unnamed hero at the hospital. While treating his wounds through her loving care, the two develop an inexplicable bond, a nameless relationship.

But love has to wait as the war continues.

It is only after the armistice that he receives more than a dozen of letters from Luz, revealing her deepest feelings and sharing her dreams of being happily married to him.


Things change after their brief railway journey from Padua to Milan. The two go astray. With their ways separated, the hero and the heroine lose a part of themselves and welcome new relationships, shelving the brief attachment and naming it a mere ‘boy and girl affair’.