By Pont Marie
He walked around the small body laying on the concrete floor. The girl had been bludgeoned, the blood matting her dark brown hair. She was tiny, about seven or eight years old, he guessed, her blue and gray plaid skirt exposing a skinny leg, a bony knee smudged with dirt. After they took pictures and examined the crime scene they put her body in a bag, one much too big for her.
He and his partner searched for days, looking through missing children reports, recent files, anything that would lead them to the girl's family. No one ever claimed her. She was Jane Doe, one of so many, but most Jane Does were much older, women who didn't really want to be found. The M.E. had found the girl to be malnourished, a few healed fractures on her ribs and left arm. The detective felt rage well up inside him. He was almost glad they had found no one to answer for her death; he did not know what he would do to them.
Weeks later he went down to the room where they held unclaimed property. He opened the bag with her clothes, the pink Hello Kitty wallet with the 23 cents inside. There had been a pin on her blue sweater. The American flag. He imagined her playing in the sun, the metal of the pin glistening in the sun. She was never claimed. She was buried alone, without anyone there, without a name. He took the pin, feeling the smoothness of the enamel against his thumb.
The next day he woke up, next to some woman whose name he could not quite remember. She was still sleeping, thank God. He showered and dressed, and felt the small bump in his shirt pocket. He dug out the pin and stared at it for a few seconds. The woman in his bed began to stir and he took his jacket, closing his apartment door behind him as gently as he could. Once in the car, he looked at his reflection in the rearview mirror. The pin looked good against the gray of his jacket. His partner noticed it the minute he walked into the precinct, but to his credit, he never said a word. There were few things he was constant to, but he'd look at the pin every day and every night, occasionally catching the glint as the sun hit it, and remember her.