When the garage door starts opening by itself, the family has questions. (Jennifer Bardsley)

When the garage door starts opening by itself, the family has questions. (Jennifer Bardsley)

The mysterious case of the garage door with a mind of its own

“It’s a good thing I have a guard dog with me,” she told their miniature poodle.

It was an ordinary Monday morning. I said goodbye to my husband as he rushed off to an early meeting at work. Then I threw in a load of laundry, headed downstairs and cooked breakfast.

Ten minutes later, one kid slurped down a smoothie while the other ate a bowl of cereal. I brewed myself some coffee and poured milk into the frother, on my continued quest to learn how to make latte art. But when I drizzled foam into my mug, it came out as a blob. “Dang it!” I said, to nobody in particular. “I could never be a barista.”

Just then the garage door opened.

“Did Dad come back?” my daughter asked.

“Maybe he forgot his lunch.” I checked the refrigerator for leftovers, but they weren’t there. A few minutes later, when my husband still hadn’t walked into the house, I looked into the garage. The door was open, but his car was gone. “Weird,” I muttered, as I pushed the garage door button.

The morning rush began. My son hurried off to the bus stop for middle school, and my daughter packed her backpack. I leashed up Merlin, our miniature poodle, and grabbed two extra poop bags, to be safe. We marched off to the local elementary school with plenty of time to spare.

But when I returned home 20 minutes later with Merlin dragging his leash, sniffing every bush he could, both garage doors were wide open. “What the heck?” I asked my poodle.

Merlin offered no answers.

I crept into the garage, scanning the walls to see if anything was missing. But no, the tools were still there, along with the bicycles.

“Hello?” I pushed the door open into the house and poked my head inside the living room. Nothing looked suspicious, but that didn’t curb my apprehension. “It’s a good thing I have a guard dog with me,” I told Merlin. He ran to his food dish and gummed down kibble with his remaining six teeth.

I went back out to the garage and closed the doors again. This time I stood there and waited for them to close all the way. Satisfied that I secured the house properly, I began my morning chores. Dishes, tidying up, vacuuming — the life of a stay-at-home mom is glamorous, for sure.

When the washing machine beeped, I went upstairs to toss wet clothes into the drier. This particular load was a random assortment of garments I found on the bathroom floor, along with some dirty socks scattered in the hallway.

The damp clothes fell into the drier with a clunk. I reached into the bin and pawed around the tangled heap. My fingers clasped a small plastic box. It was the garage door opener!

“Ha.” I slid the garage door opener into my pocket, along with 27 cents in loose change and some hairpins. “Mystery solved.”

Only one question remained: How did the garage door opener get into the washing machine in the first place?

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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