Known for his short, terse writing style, Ernest Hemingway provides a brief and pessimistic description of a wartime relationship in "A Very Short Story."
The main character, an American soldier who has been injured overseas, is never named. Cared for in an Italian hospital in Padua, he falls in love with his nurse, Luz. Luz is a very popular nurse who works more than she has to, but is admired by all the patients. The soldier and Luz sit on the roof together at night, and as their love grows, they decide to get married. Because they cannot properly wed in Italy, they decide to marry in America once he gets a job. After the war ends, he returns home to find employment. They fight about when Luz will join him. He wants her to come right away, but they eventually decide that she will return to America later, after he is settled and able to provide for her. His only purpose is to work so that they can get married.
In the traditional Hemingway style, the narrative takes an abrupt turn at this point. After the soldier has returned to America, Luz has an affair with an Italian major. She writes to her American love, explaining that she would not be marrying him because their relationship was only an adolescent, "boy and girl" attachment and she now knows real love. She intends to marry the Italian instead.
The story, however, ends with Luz neither marrying the Italian nor ever hearing back from the American, who contracts gonorrhea from a sales woman he shares a taxi with—a sudden, indeterminate ending that reveals Hemingway's dark view of relationships and intimacy.