We arrived home from our spring break vacation, after a 10-hour drive. Exhausted, we dragged our suitcases through the front door and up the stairs.
Suddenly my husband's voice broke through the numbness, yelling, "Everybody out of the house! Right now!"
The call to action startled us. "Whyyyyy?" voices whined, but I scooted the children into the yard, as told. Then I went back in to sharply accuse my husband of unwarranted drama. The beeping sound of the carbon-monoxide detector stopped me short, however, causing me to pause long enough to see that the door from the den to the screened porch stood wide open.
While my husband investigated the root of our carbon-monoxide problem, I crept around, not knowing if a criminal lurked in a closet, beneath a bed, or behind a door. I hunted for clues and evidence of vanished valuables.
Two overdue library books spoiled the floorspace near the front door. The tub of markers used to finish a school project the week before sat on the living room rug. Our computer in the playroom hummed crazily. A pair of tennis shoes threatened disaster on the staircase, sofa pillows scattered the den floor, the comforter on the bed in the guest room lay askew, and tools spread across the back porch.
A dirty towel littered the bathroom tiles. The TV remote and a half-eaten package of gummies strew across the couch in front of the X-box, which sang an endless loop of music to accompany the PGA golf game stuck on hole seven. Two forks and a paper plate with a petrified piece of pepperoni pizza adorned the kitchen table. Sifted mail sat on top of the piano. Everything looked just as it had when we left.
Based on my expert examination of the large footprints in the pollen on the porch, one of two things must have happened. Either (a) after jigging the lock and flinging open the door, the bandit looked at the mess and made a split-second decision that the golden egg would be too hard to find and the risk of a broken ankle was not worth the work required to pull off this heist, or (b) after jigging the lock and flinging open the door, the culprit heard the lone, intermittent beep-beeping of the carbon-monoxide detector and mistook it for a burglar alarm. Whichever occurred, in his haste to exit, he rudely left the door wide open for any number of vermin to enter at will.
That's when I saw the note written in red marker on a full sheet of purple construction paper. It read, Dear Easter Bunny, We are in south Florida. Although I hadn't yet considered this explanation for the open door and undisturbed personal possessions, it did possibly explain why the footprints on the porch were left by bare feet.
Mr. Easter Bunny, sir, I know the carbon-monoxide alarm sounded surprising. Next year, if you kindly will, please use the chimney like the guy in the red suit, or at least close the door behind you on your way out; especially if we are somewhere else. You just can't be too careful with your egg basket these days.
(Lucy Adams lives in Thomson. Contact her at email@example.com or go to www.IfMama.com.)