Short story Friday: A short-short story by Ernest Hemingway

Text: Solveig Hansen, 2022

This short-short is from in our time, which is Ernest Hemingway’s first collection of short stories, published in 1924. The book contains 18 vignettes, later included in the expanded short story collection In Our Time as chapter introductions.

Vignette #8, set in Italy during World War I:

“While the bombardment was knocking the trench to pieces at Fossalta, he lay very flat and sweated and prayed oh jesus christ get me out of here. Dear jesus please get me out. Christ please please please christ. If you’ll only keep me from getting killed I’ll do anything you say. I believe in you and I’ll tell everyone in the world that you are the only thing that matters. Please please dear jesus. The shelling moved further up the line. We went to work on the trench and in the morning the sun came up and the day was hot and muggy and cheerful and quiet. The next night back at Mestre he did not tell the girl he went upstairs with at the Villa Rossa about Jesus. And he never told anybody.”

A night in a trench under shelling, and the morning after, and the evening after, all in 134 words. Note the change to capital “J” in “Jesus” at the end. in our time is available at Project Gutenberg.

Image: SamHolt6, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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