Jenna ran, but there was no way she would make it. She rounded the corner, her shoulders sagging as the bus trundled off without her.

Too late, her shoes squelched as she trudged to the shelter.

Very late, agreed the pharmacy bag peeking out of her purse, and Jenna shoved it further in. The box inside was already creased, anyway. She’d stared at the options for ages before making her purchase. They all said “#1 choice” or “highest quality,” but she’d picked this one because it was like her: last on the shelf, a little damaged. The one left behind.

I wrote Late for the first round of NYC Midnight’s 100-word Micro Fiction Challenge 2022, where it won first in its group. My prompt was Genre: drama; Action: running after a bus; Word: quality. You can read my second round story here. Read more Newsletter Exclusives here.