“I- I- I-,” he stuttered, as they were walking away from the debate, then kicked the ground twice with the toe of his left foot. “I. Get so. N- n- n- n-,” kick, “nervous.”

She looked at him. “Y- y- y- y- y-,” he ground his teeth together and she stopped. “You shouldn’t,” she said. “It makes you stutter.”

“I c- c- c- can’t help it,” he said. “People terrify me.”

“Think of bunnies,” she suggested brightly. “Everybody loves bunnies.”

He thought about bunnies. He remembered his grandmother going out to feed the rabbits one day and not coming back. He remembered the rabbits, rabid, dashing back and forth across the yard while he shrieked behind the glass door and his mother loaded the shotgun. He remembered the rabbits slashing at each other until the yard was snowed under with corpses. He remembered their shrieking, so high and human. He remembered the last rabbit smashing itself bloody against the glass door. He shuddered and shook.

“That d- d- d- d- d-,” kick, “doesn’t. Help. It doesn’t help!”

She patted his shoulder sympathetically. “Maybe you weren’t cut out for the public life, man.”

“B- b- b- b- bunnies,” he said, disgusted. “B- b- b- brrr.”