On November 3rd, 2008, it was my 9th birthday. My mom had just picked me up from the after-school program I was going to. We got in the car and went to the grocery store and she started picking up rabbit food, the bedding for a cage, and lots of pet toys. “Who has a rabbit?” I asked. “Oh, I’m picking it up for your cousin.” That made me sad because I wanted one so badly. Then when we got home, my dad was waiting. “Walk with me to the store,” he said, giving me a hug. That seemed odd. I hadn’t even had a chance to go inside and put down my stuff from school. Then, when I finally did arrive at my front door, I could hear someone inside saying, “She’s coming! She’s coming!” Then people jumped out from everywhere: behind the door, the couches, tables – and yelled, “SURPRISE!!” There, in a rabbit cage, sat the cutest little bunny ever. I instantly picked him up and named him Caramel for the color of his fur.

One morning, a few snuggly years later, when I looked down into his cage, Caramel wasn’t moving.

Right about that time, when I was in 6th grade at Turn of River middle school, I was bullied. It was the hardest thing for me to deal with. I was tiny. And didn’t really know anyone, because I had just changed school midyear. These girls were ten times bigger than me, they used to call me mean names, throw stuff at me at lunch, push me into lockers, steal my things out of my bag and pull my hair. I was so hurt because I didn’t understand why these girls would bother me. My mom used to say, “It’s because you’re pretty and they’re jealous. Just laugh it off.” I used to call myself ugly because that’s how these girls used to make me feel. I dealt with these things until I got tired of it in 7th grade. Then I put my foot down. To correct the pain of feeling victimized, I began to fight back for myself and for my friends. Some of the fights got physical. I became the righteous wrath of God.

I was heartbroken when I got the call; it took my breath away. Her name was Asia Dunmore. She committed suicide on 9-26-2013 by hanging herself in her closet. She left a note. It said she was being bullied. I was a close friend of hers, yet I had no idea. If I had, naturally I would have fought on her behalf. Asia didn’t let her feelings out at all. Everyone assumed she was happy all the time.

Last spring, nine months after Asia’s suicide, for a seemingly unrelated matter, I got arrested for putting someone into a hospital with a busted head. Righteously fighting someone else’s battle.

That’s when the light began to dawn and I began to find my equilibrium, when I learned how to sidestep drama by just focusing on myself. I learned that every action doesn’t need a reaction. My mom said my only friends should be math, science, social studies and reading. She said real friends wouldn’t let you fight their battles; they would fight their own.

Now when I think of Asia, as helpless and as angry as her unexpected suicide makes me feel, I know there’s nothing I or anyone could have done – except Asia on her own behalf. Sometimes the rabbit dies.

Still, there are battles over wrong that must be fought, and I plan to find a positive way to do that fighting. I am considering enlisting in the military… becoming a mediator, or becoming a psychologist. Or why couldn’t I do all three? … doing what I can to help others fight their battles on their own.

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