Inspector Maggie Hoffman holstered her weapon and picks up the child to hug and kiss her. While her partner pulled chalk from his kit, Maggie let the child smear chalk dust on her uniform collar as she wipes tears off the girl’s cheeks.
Ten minutes and a protective order too late, a drawing with an outline replaces a butterfly sitting on a flower, both etched on an asphalt driveway.
Little fingers creep into Maggie’s mouth, a dusty bitterness slides across her tongue, a pale reflection of the broken heart thudding in her embrace.
“Mama?” cooed the little voice, tinny and fragile. Maggie turned her away from a picture no one should see toward the cruiser nearby.
“See the pretty flashing lights,” she offered. Little eyes stare into hers, searching for answers but finding none.
[The first line of this was not mine but selected at random.]