Mathis had been telling jokes about me. He always did that. But on that day, for some reason, I lost my temper. Rage like a pain shot down my spine, and before I’d even thought, I’d knocked him down with the stick that I’d been carrying around. When he was on the ground, he told me that he was going to kill me.

I panicked and started bringing the stick down repeatedly on his head as rapidly as I could. It was actually pretty fast, and he wasn’t able to get back onto his feet to kill me. His shocked friends took a moment to act, but then they grappled me and pulled me away. They took my stick, and Mathis was able to stand up again.

They beat me thoroughly. Of course, they didn’t actually kill me, but when they were done, I was barely coherent and covered in my own blood. After I had lost the energy to even whimper, they left me alone and started walking away. Luckily, one of them must have stopped and called an ambulance, or else I might have just lain there bleeding.

After a few weeks, I had largely healed. Mathis and his two friends were expelled from school. The police were eager for me to lay criminal charges, but I never did. It would have felt hypocritical.

I knew that if Mathis’s friends hadn’t been there to stop me, I would have beaten Mathis to death. I knew that for certain. That didn’t mean that what he did was actually a good thing to do. It did mean, however, that in spite of what had really happened, he ultimately had more restraint than I did.