On my tenth birthday my grandparents sent me three pieces of paper in a manila envelope. One was a newspaper clipping of an article talking about some misprinted state quarters that had accidentally been released into circulation, and were worth several thousand dollars a piece. The other was an index card with my grandmother’s highly illegible handwriting on it, which read “hopfrg brighthy,” until someone else read it out loud and then it said “happy birthday.” The third was an 8.5’/11’ grey marbled printer stock sheet which read “Coupon: Good for one trip to Washington D.C. with your grandparents, trips to the museums on the National Mall, visits to the historic land marks, and $100 spending money. Signed, Bob and Reba.” It didn’t have an expiration date. It would be the first time since I was two since I had gone anywhere outside of North Carolina or Florida, for family vacations.
A week later, my dad got an unexpected phone call from my grandmother. I heard my parents yelling in the bathroom. No one told me what happened. When I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth that night, I saw a baseball sized hole punched through the yellow-blotched drywall above the light-switch. You could see through to the wood paneling on the outside of the house. No one said anything about it all day. I asked my mom, and she said my dad closed the door too hard and the towel hooks nailed onto the door did it.
A day passed, and my mom said she had to tell me something. She took me in the bathroom with the hole above the light-switch and told me my grandparents weren’t going to take me to Washington because my grandfather was in the hospital. “But what about my coupon?” I asked. She didn’t think I could use it anymore. My grandfather had a stroke. “But what about when he gets better? Can I use it then?” She wasn’t sure it would work out that way. Strokes were very serious. When I woke up the next morning, I wanted to look at the coupon and see if there were any rules for what should happen if one of my grandparents went to the hospital, but I couldn't find it the piece of paper anywhere. And I've not seen it since.