Before I could blink, the two of us were dragged into the headmaster's office. The other boy waited outside whilst the headmaster talked to me first.
My hands were shaking, because, although I had already punched one boy in the face and got into an all out fight with another, I didn't really consider myself to be misbehaved.
I justified my behaviour to the headmaster by explaining my circumstances - the bullying, and the retaliation towards one of the boys after they beat me up. He seemed to accept that they were valid reasons to lose one's temper, but he explained to me and insisted that if ever I found myself in a situation like this again, where I was being intimidated by other students or anybody at all, I could confide in him, and he'd do his best to ensure that I was happy.
I thanked him for his understanding, and as I was about to get up and leave, he addressed me once more.
'However, I can't let you get out of this just like that. I know you were provoked, but it's still a very serious incident - punching a boy in the face and then fighting back to another are things that we don't take lightly here.'
I panicked - I thought I was out of the woods. I thought that the headmaster understood that none of this was my fault - I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
'I- I don't know what to say! I haven't done anything wrong. I... I was just standi-' I began.
'Standing up for yourself, I know.' The headmaster interrupted. 'But no matter the circumstances, lashing out against somebody is never justifiable. I understand that it's not entirely your fault, but-'
I had had enough. He wasn't even trying to understand! 'This was not my fault! I had it in the neck for three long years, and you sit here telling me that I was wrong to defend myself?! They beat me up first. I punched one boy once. And then his brother breats me up, and you think it's wrong for me to fight back?! What would you rather me do?! Run away and let them treat me like this forever. Just keep running, always afraid?'
The headmaster tried to say something, but I cut him off again.
'Or what else? Just sit there and let him reduce me to a bloody pulp? I had already been beaten up the day before! You don't understand!'
I sat there, shocked to my very core - how could he honestly think that it was right to punish a victim. I knew where this was going... The headmaster waited for me to calm down a little, then spoke.
'We're temporarily excluding you, Frank.'
I wanted to shout. To get up and destroy everything in the office. To shout and swear and hit him. But I knew that wouldn't make anything better. Judging by his attitudes towards sticking up for oneself, I decided it was better to just stay silent.
We sat there for several moments, silent. A question regarding my exclusion arose, so I broke the silence, and asked it.
'How long am I being excluded for?'
'One week. That's not too long now, is it?'
'No. I guess not.' I guess not. A week wasn't that long. But it'd be long enough to spend with my parents, constantly displaying their dissapointment in me all week. I sighed as I looked ahead. This was going to be a tough week.
'You're lucky you're not getting as long as the other boys are,' the headmaster smiled. I smiled slightly, too. 'Two weeks to those boys in your year, and a month for the older brother.'
I smiled, even more broadly. 'I look forward to hearing about how they take that.'