by Summer Block Kumar

The old man had carried the crossword puzzle folded in his wallet for so long that the paper had gone soft and fine as cotton. He was one clue away from being done. He was too old to hurry. He was waiting for the world to teach him another word for relent. "Slacken," his son-in-law said loudly in the visitors lounge, "seven letters." His son-in-law was right: now nothing else fits.