SALVATION • by Ann M. Pino

First Place Winner
Flash Fiction Chronicles String-of-10 TWO — February ’10

Friday before Easter, and a raw wind blew down from the mountains. Vince huddled in his jacket and wondered by whose standards the day was known as good.

He needed her to be there, on that curb where she harangued the curious with promises of redemption. Vince wasn’t a believer; he put his faith in a gun and she put hers in the Lord. On their first meeting he challenged her belief and she assured him of damnation. But he saw past her pious ways. Her brimstone words masked forbidden yearnings he longed to satisfy.

When he arrived at her corner, he found a crowd of onlookers reading pamphlets and listening to her sermon with fascination and bemusement. Stray dogs tussled over scraps, and from some unseen place the strains of a radio show competed with her strident words.

He pushed his way toward her and she fell silent in recognition, her features a cryptic mask. She darted a nervous glance at the crowd, then spoke to him alone. “Have you repented of your ways? The survival of your eternal soul is at stake.”

Vince didn’t give a damn for eternity. He only wanted an end to his burning nights and sleepless days. Her touch would cool his fever and her soft hands would lead him by still waters.

“Save me,” he said.

She couldn’t redeem his soul, but there were other ways to be a man’s salvation.

Ann M. Pino lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband Dan, and her rabbit Cadbury. Her novel Maelstrom will be released later this year by L&L Dreamspell.

About String-of-10
The String-of-10 Contest challenges writers to choose four out of ten prompt words and use them in a story of 250 or fewer words, and an aphorism is provided for inspiration but does not need to be used in the story. The prompt words for String-of-10 FOUR were: SURVIVAL — SKIM-MILK — LOLLYGAG — CRYPTIC — ONLOOKER — LEAK — RAW — FORBIDDEN — RADIO — VERDIGRIS. The aphorism was: “A person usually has two reasons for doing something: a good reason and the real reason.” — Thomas Carlyle.

Read the interview with the author at Flash Fiction Chronicles.

Rate this story:
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Every Day Fiction

  • Sweet story, very sparingly constructed. Worthy winner.

  • R.A.S.

    Good stuff, Ann. Congratulations on a well-deserved win!

  • Now that’s a “short” story! I liked it, send another.

  • A fabulous, burning story. Love it!

  • Just so every one understands the parameters for the String-of-10 Two Microfiction contest. The contest was open to stories of up to 250 words. There was a one-week submission period. All stories had to contain at least four words from the String of 10. The string included the following words:


    Congrats to Ann for such tight, clear story.

  • Angela

    Fabulous!!! Congrats Ann!

  • Margie

    I felt like I just read the prologue. So where is the rest of the story? 2 stars. 🙁

  • Rob

    Congratulations on winning the contest. Personally, I found the writing clear, but the story did nothing for me. Sorry.

  • Short but sweet. I get the feeling he wants to take a bite out of her. 🙂

  • Amy Corbin

    Wow! I sign of a great writer when you can tell such an intense story in so few words. Good job.

  • Bob

    This needed to either be longer with more backstory, or to have alluded to less, and become more poetic.

    I don’t want to beat up on this story – it’s nice, just packed a little too full to be satisfying as written. A few examples of what made this frustrating to me:

    “He put his faith in a gun”; is he cop or criminal?

    “Her brimstone words masked forbidden yearnings” – nicely phrased, if a little cliched, but what does this mean?

    So many sentences in this piece are doorways into backstory or insight, but the doors are all locked. Give us more, or give us less.

  • Ditto Bob.

  • I love the brief ones, the ones that are little story starters. They can be used as prompts for larger works. Add history, add geography, sprinkle with conflict, fold in resolution, stir and ah-ha…you wind up with a fully evolved tale.

  • I see why the story won. Great work. The words left out were just as important as the words left in. But of course you already know this.

  • Jen

    I liked the plot of this story, to me it seemed clear that the protagnist was a criminal. Their love story had a nice slow burn to it. I found the story a little overwritten, but I do the same thing so it could just be me picking a knit.

  • Margie,

    Here’s why:

    String-of-10 Two Microfiction contest. The contest was open to stories of up to 250 words.

  • Bob and Paul:

    here’s why:
    String-of-10 Two Microfiction contest. The contest was open to stories of up to 250 words.

    It’s not easy to pack a whole story in so few words. The goal is slightly different in these kinds of stories and that every detail isn’t clear goes with the territory.

    Some people don’t like microfiction for that reason and I respect that. I suppose I should have put a disclaimer before the story so that it was understood the authors in this contest had no choice.

    This contest it designed to help writers find the right words to tell the shorter tale, not just tell a tale and they need to be judged within that context.

    But I do get that readers of EDF get very few of these kinds of pieces and prefer the longer stories that fulfill their expectations.

    I just don’t want the author to feel criticized for not doing something she was not allowed to do.

  • Margie


    Thanks for the explanation on micro-fiction. WOW! I can’t say I actually like the style, but, I certainly respect the style more. As I said earlier, it leaves me wanting to read the rest of the book; which would be a good one from the sound of the snippet we were able to read, so I hope that the author will consider writing a full fledge novel. Congratulations to the author on the win. You are a much braver gal than I would be. I don’t have that kind of restraint. 😉 Margie

  • Congratulations, Ann, on a well-deserved win! The story is amazing — so much packed into a few words. A powerful story, strong characterization, and crisp, hard-hitting, poetic prose.

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