(Cross Words)
Catherine Lacey

The sister comes and we hug the sister. The boyfriend comes and we handshake the boyfriend. What's a five letter word for romantic advances from bald men? we ask her. She says, It depends on whether or not they are married.

The brother appears and we hug the brother. The girlfriend appears and we hug the girlfriend. What's a five letter word for in order to be happy I have to be deeply confused? we ask him.
Don't tell me, he says, I know this one.
Ok, good
, we say and then we watch him think and then we see him stop thinking.
Never mind. I don't know. You tell me.

The aunt comes and doesn't know what to do with her hands. The uncle comes and won't look at the brother. What's a ten letter word for loss of consciousness? The aunt pats down her own hair. The uncle looks at his feet. Did you hear us?
, the aunt says. Yes, the uncle says.

The father appears and we handshake the father. The mother appears and we hug the mother. The children run in and past us. What's a seven letter word for troop maneuvers on a beach?
I don't like your tone
, the father says. The mother apologizes and we look fondly at her. Father grabs a child by the wrist. No running, he says.

The mailman also arrives and we touch the mail but do not dare to open it. The neighbor appears and hugs us. The neighbor's dog walks in and we hug the neighbor's dog.
What's a forty-letter word for sunshine?
I can't even think of forty letters and even if I could why would I want to?

He had a point.

The grandfather arrives and we hug the grandfather. The step-grandmother arrives.
What's a six letter word for I used up all my self this morning and now there's none left for you?
, he says.