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.

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