He took a few deep breaths. "You aren’t bullying me?"
Dad’s eyes wandered. "Are you feeling sick or something?"
"No, sir, not sick. But I think . . . I think out of absolutely nowhere I might be going crazy or something. I’m scared I might be. That’s why I was carving on the bed. I keep a record of how long it’s been between when the voices come."
My dad rubbed a hand across his cheeks and mouth. "Penn, sweetie, I’m not exactly sure, but I think this might be a real type of problem. Normal people don’t hear voices is all, not if they aren’t sick-feeling."
"I know," I answered, getting a little more worried.
"God Almighty," Dad said. Ignoring my long-standing instructions not to give me a hug, he leaned over and slapped his arms around me and jostled me in a loving way, in the way he can. He jammed his nose against my head, mooshing his nostrils so that I could feel his wet breath against the roots of my hair.
"Sorry," I told him, feeling guilty.
"It ain’t your fault, sweetie."
"I don’t think it is."
We sat quiet for a few minutes. As his breath tranquilized me, as the room got darker, he let go. Slowly, his sad look changed, and he put a hand under my chin. "You know what? I take it back. I bet this all goes away. I bet you’re gonna be okay. I can feel it inside, like woman’s intuition, except for, you know, I’m a man. You’re a good, normal teenage boy, and you’re gonna be fine. This is just a momentary problem that’s gonna disappear. Maybe it’s just hormones. Maybe it’s a flu. Who knows, but it ain’t permanent."
"Oh yeah. Craziness just doesn’t happen to a boy who’s been normal his whole life. It doesn’t hit sudden like that."
"Really?" I asked, worried that he had no idea what he was talking about.
KING OF THE PYGMIES by Jonathon Scott Fuqua. Copyright (c) 2005 by Jonathon Scott Fuqua. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.