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About More Voices

Every month More Voices invites readers to contribute short nonfiction prose pieces of 40 to 400 words on a healthcare theme.

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My husband walked upstairs holding his hunting rifle, and all I could say was, "Not in my house." I took one look at that gun and was instantly transported back to that basement, fourteen years ago, when I thought at least one life was going to end.

The first month of our relationship was amazing and fast. In hindsight, too fast. The second month he started to worry that I was spending too much time with my friends and not enough with him. The third month he thought I was cheating on him while I was away at college. The fourth month I dropped out of college to come home because he threatened to kill himself if I did not.
 
The fifth month of our relationship, I was done. I was exhausted and just could not take any more, so I decided to leave. I walked downstairs to his bedroom, looked him in the eye and said, "I can't do this anymore. I'm leaving." He calmly stood up and walked past me to the closet and took out a long rifle. He stood stoic, holding the gun vertical next to his body, staring at me.

I was frozen. When I could have been thinking about ways to escape, all I kept thinking was, "I am going to die tonight."

He lifted the rifle and pointed it right at me for what felt like days but in actuality was only seconds. He then maneuvered the long barrel towards his face and said to me, "If you leave me, I will kill myself right here, right in front of you." After stating his ultimatum, he put the barrel of the gun into his mouth and stared at me.

I finally moved out of my frozen response and promised him I would never leave. He took the gun out of his mouth, and I took the gun from him. We went upstairs to tell his mother what happened, and she convinced me to stay and that I could help him heal.
 
Fast forward fourteen years, and I have finally healed. But I can still say, "Not in my house."

Stephanie Richers
Kingston, New York