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100-Word Contest Second-Place Winner: “Marked Absent” by Jordan Shields

We sat in little seats, listening to the teacher drone. Outside, the swings swayed, unoccupied. In the corner, a chair had fallen over. Just where she had spilled onto the carpet two years ago. A different teacher then, a marriage, a future.

No one saw it coming. A slow bleed became a bubble, bursting like spangled stars, the last light my daughter saw, slowly slumping there, in that corner, her chair tipping with my world.

I barely heard the buzz of anxious parents around me now, oblivious to the room’s history, what happened…just over there.



—Jordan Shields is an employee benefits consultant in Petaluma, California, which means the best thing he has ever written to date has been a long business letter. Some of those are fiction, too. In his next life, he would rather be writing something else.