Maggie Harden

Cloudy Mind

Abandonment.  Loneliness.  Forsaken.   Sorrow.   Each of these emotions I have felt, each with its reasons.   For me, these emotions are everyday.  No matter how happy I may be, I still feel this way.   My parents, gone without a trace, move from foster home to foster home, no friends, no background, and no other family.  My name is Caitlin Janssen and I am a fifteen-year-old orphan.

    I was only two years old when I was found in the trunk of a rotting tree by a nice couple.  They had heard my cries for my mommy and daddy.  My parents were not around.  The only thing that was in my possession at the time was a picture of my parents and I and a locket from a grandmother that I have never known.  Of course I know this from the families I have stayed with for I alone wouldn’t have remember in detail such an event.

After a period of foster homes, the Janssen family, who are very generous and Catholic, opened up their home and adopted me.  When I was adopted, Mr. and Mrs. Janssen’s son, Lyle, had only a year left in high school before he would leave home for college.  I was only a ten-year-old then, and had seen more things than Lyle had seen in his eighteen years of life.  Obviously, this guy would be in for a rude awaking.

Mr. and Mrs. Janssen treated me as an equal to their son and loved me as if I were their own child to whom they gave birth, unlike the foster homes, who seen me as another mouth to feed.  They nurtured me and accepted me as who I am.   They were surprised in how much I knew for just a ten-year-old orphaned girl.  Since I did not have anything better to do, (the TV and computer were always taken) I went to the library and read adult books, especially mysteries.  I was offered to skip a grade but chose not to do so.  I just didn’t see the use.

           When it was time to attend high school, Mr. and Mrs. Janssen sent me to Joan of Arc Catholic.  I didn’t mind, for I had no preference.  There weren’t any friends that I desired to chase after and Joan of Arc Catholic seemed a good choice.  But even though the Janssens gave me the home, faith, and support I needed and thirsted for, I still was curious about what happened to my birth parents.

Thus, this brings me to explain what happened to me a few months ago.

It all began with a conversation with Mrs. Janssen.  A few peers teased me about not being 'cool' and my personality in general.   I really needed to talk to someone.

“I just don’t fit in.  I never had a boyfriend or any friends for that matter.”

Mrs. Janssen comforted me.  “Now, now child.  Why do you think you don’t have any friends?”

“I know why.  I just don’t try.  I’ve never stayed in a place this long.  So for me, it’s hard to get used to it.”

“Believe me my dear.  You’ll find a friend soon.”

“Maybe.  But the others kids also have their birth parents.  I don’t.  I’m not saying that I don’t like you.  It’s just that…”

“You wish you had yours.”

“Yes.  I don’t even know what happened to mine.  It’s like they fell off the face of the Earth.”

“Maybe we can find out together.”

“Yeah, maybe.”  At that, I decided to discover the truth.

I searched online and read obituaries.  I read an article about me being discovered in a rotting tree trunk.  Another article said that there was an investigation of my parents’ whereabouts.  I tried to find out what the authorities discovered but it was under strict access.   I looked for any other family members.  None were still alive.  It seemed as though I was born into this world without anyone at all. 

That is until I met Mr. Williams.

It was pure accident that I met him.  I had an errand to run for Mrs. Janssen.  A half-gallon of milk, a dozen of eggs, loaf of bread, sugar, flour, and a package of butter were the list of things I needed to get from the supermarket.  I was leaving the store when I literally bumped into the guy.  I nearly broke the eggs.  I didn’t know then but I bumped into the most important clue in my inquiry. 

He took one glance and said, “You are Caitlin, are you not?”

I was in complete shock.  “How did you know my name?”

He smiled, his eyes closed.  “You look so much like your mother.”

“My mother?”

“Yes.  I could not mistake such a face.  Your mother was such a pure soul.”

“You knew my parents?”  By this time, we were sitting on the bench outside the store.  I took notes as I listened to this man’s tale.

“Knew them?  I was their childhood friend.  As a matter of fact, I was the one to encourage them to get married.”

“Well then, let me introduce myself properly.  I’m Caitlin Janssen, and you are…”

“Daniel Williams.”

“Well, Mr. Williams, what were my parents’ names?”

“Lillian and Vincent Garnett.”

“Garnett? That sounds about right.  Do you know what happened to my parents?”

“No, not really.  They just seem to disappear.  But there had been threats.”


“Yes, threats.  On their livelihood, your life, and their lives.” 

“Who sent these threats?”

“I don’t know.  The next thing I know, you are found in a rotting tree trunk and your parents gone.” 

I obtained a piece of paper.  “I would like to talk about this further.  May I have your phone number and address?”

“Sure.  If you need to talk, you can count on me.”

“Thank you.”  After I received his contact information, I left for home.  When it was the next weekend, I decided to visit him.  I saw a middle-aged woman, leaving the house.

“Excuse me, miss, but is Mr. Williams home?”  She turned towards me.  Her mascara ran down her cheeks.  Her hair looked as if serpents were really upset and would strike at any time.

“I’m sorry young lady but he’s dead.” 

Shocked, I responded, “How?  I was talking to him last weekend.”

“Many things can happen in that time period.”

“But how?”

“He received a letter.  He freaked and left in his car.  Before I knew it, a police officer said he plunged into the lake and drowned.”

“What could have the letter say that would allow such an impulse?”

“I really don’t know.  All I know is my husband is dead.”

Deeply saddened, “I’m sorry for your loss, Mrs. Williams.”

“Thank you.”  She got in her car and drove off as I made my way home.

I could not believe it.  The one person who knew about my parents was dead.  It was as if someone was trying to cover something up.  Such an fact I wrote down in my journal.  I prayed that things would not get any worse. 

But, they did.

Two weeks after I learned about the death of Mr. Williams, I received a letter, a threat from an unknown source.  It read:

Dear Caitlin:

            Hello my dear.  How is you life?  How's the Joan of Arc Catholic School?  It seems you are quite the sleuth, inquiring about your biological parents’ disappearance.  Well, don’t waste your time.  What you have discovered is what you will know.  If you know what is good for you, you will stop your little ‘investigation’ and go on with your pathetic life.  If you don’t, well, you may get more than what you bargained for.  Have a nice day.

          Even though it was short, it most disturbed me and I became wary of my

surroundings.   But I could not stop my obsession to know, just like any other orphaned child. 
So, I continued.

            I did not turn this letter over to the authorities.  I knew how they would react and keep me in the dark.  Even though, I admit that now it would have been more helpful if I did.

I decided to look around in Mr. Williams’s house.  It was not hard to do so.  Mrs. Williams was very fond of me because of how proper I spoke and was very kind.  So, she invited me in.  As she prepared tea, I looked in his papers.  Bills, bills, and more bills. Until finally, I came across what I was looking for.  But this time, Mrs. Williams had returned to the parlor with the tea.


“Yes?  I’m coming.”  I returned to the parlor as she sat the tea tray down.

“So Caitlin.  How about some tea?”

“Certainly.”  I sipped some of the warm liquid as it passed through my lips.  “So, did Mr. Williams ever mention about a Lillian Garnett or a Vincent Garnett?”

“Only once.  Said something about their disappearance and the discovery of their daughter.”

“I’m that daughter.”

"Oh," she said as she stirred her tea.  "Then it must be hard for you.”

“It is.  Is there anything else he said?”

“No.  Just that ‘tis a shame that something like that could happen to such good people.”

“Why thank you Mrs. Williams.  You have been a great help.”

“My pleasure.”  I left the house with the information I needed, even though I was shocked at my discovery.  Of course, I knew my nemesis would not be pleased.

That night, I wrote a note to Mr. and Mrs. Janssen, knowing it may save my life.  I said my prayers and went to sleep.

Later that night, I awakened to hear something at my window.  I looked and see a black figure, trying to make its way in.  Naturally, I would have been frightened but I suspected this to happen tonight.  The window opened and in climbed the figure with a gun pointed towards me.

           “I warned you.  I told you to stop, but you are a persistent brat!  Come with me now or I will blow your brains out!”

“Do not worry.  You do not have to wave your gun around.  I will.”  I followed the figure out the window, down the drainage pipe, and to the getaway car. 

“You’re more cooperative than I thought you would be.”

“That’s because I see that there is no point of fighting when one person has a weapon and the other doesn’t.”

“Whatever.  Get in the car.”  I climbed into the passenger seat and put on the seat belt.  The figure did the same.  We drove off.  After a while, I decided to make conversation.

“You know, you don’t have to hide your face from me.  I see this is the end for me.  My actions have caused my demise.  So at least do me the honor of seeing who is my killer.”

Through the eyeholes, he certainly was surprised. 

“I’m not showing you anything.”

“Quite cowardly of you, don’t you think…  … Mr. Williams?”  He pulled over. 

“How did you know it was me?”

I smiled.  “Well, wouldn’t you find it quite odd that you bumped into someone who happened to know about your missing parents and many other things?”

He remained silent.

“I found it quite coincidental.  A girl whose does not know what happened to her parents, who is making an inquiry about it just happens to bump into the person who has the answers to all her questions. Quite coincidental indeed.”

“But how?”

“Well, I gain access to your information.  You never really were friends with my parents.  Sworn enemies because they excluded you.  You weren’t even invited to their wedding.  Plus, I saw the impression of the threatening letter you wrote to yourself which led to your ‘demise.’  All seemed very convincing except of your willingness to share your knowledge about my parents.  Every nice thing you said seemed to be forced out along with your smile.”

“So now you are Sherlock Holmes’s daughter?”

“No need to flatter me.”

“Wasn’t trying to.”  He paused for a moment.  “Do you know where we are?”  I looked around in the darkness.

“This is where I was found.”

“Yeah.  If I known you were here, you wouldn’t have to worry about all of this playing detective.”

“So what are you going to do to me? Torture me?  Kill me instantly?”

“No my dear.  You watch too many crime shows.  I'm not a psycho." 

Unexpectedly, he pushed me so violently that I lost my footing.  I began to tumble down the slope.  Twigs and leaves flew everywhere.  I grabbed a hold of a low branch as I saw a ravine nearby.  Williams took a trail that led to me.  He picked me up by my nightgown’s collar.

“Well, well, well.  I guess you can’t know everything.  You know, your parents were quite resistant but they met their demise.  I don’t think we will have to worry about their bodies surfacing.”

“You monster!  I would suspect that you had a bit more mercy.”

“Apparently not.  Well, you don’t have to worry about that anymore.  You’ll get see your parents. …in death.”  He laughed.  He laughed at my life.  I never felt so pathetic.  I thought was in control but who was I fooling?  At that moment, I really accepted my death.  My choice and my fault.  I will have to pay for my mistake.

Mr. Williams hold me by my neck and began to strangle me

“Good night Caitlin Garnett.”  I gasped as I tried to breathe.  My life flashed before my eyes.  Then, everything went dark.

I woke up with bright lights in my eyes.  I heard a faint beeping noise in the background.  I looked around and saw I was in a hospital.

“Caitlin?”  I turned my head and saw Mrs. Janssen.  She smiled tiredly. 

“Caitlin dear, how are you feeling?”

“Tired and sore.”

“Well, it could have been worse.  If we didn’t find your note, we wouldn’t have found you in time”

“I know.  And thank you.  I’m sorry that I put you through…”

“No need to be sorry.  Just promise not to do that again.”

“I promise.”

Soon enough, I released from the hospital. 

Mr. Williams was charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.  How?  Well, it turns out he had canisters of my parents’ ashes and they were able to prove that they were, in fact, the ashes of my parents.  I knew that he did not dispose of them, at least not yet.  His wife was charged too.  Why?  Because she was his accomplice.  Again what I had figured out before.

As for me, I do not do such inquiries nowadays.  I am more on small mysteries, like missing money or secret love notes.  As I stare at my locket, I wonder if my parents will be proud of me.  They probably are.  Either way, this is one girl who definitely will need to sharpen her detective skills if she is going to take on another suspect like Daniel Williams.



I wrote this for an assignment in school. I got the inspiration after my friend was wondering about what happened to his parents.
I'm a 'writer-in-training' and could use some advice. Please, I'm good at accepting criticism.
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All rights belong to its author. It was published on by demand of Maggie Harden.
Published on on 03/04/2008.


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