The year is 1864.
It’s winter, and you're in an unfamiliar place, bloodied by the pain of wounds and illness courtesy of your service to the Union.
A male nurse walks in, hands you a glass. “It’ll be over soon. Drink up.”
“Over soon.” Your fear plays games with you. One way or the other, it'll be over soon.
Long minutes pass, and numb and drunk, you're moved into a room that smells like blood. And fear.
Your stomach is sick.
Your vision narrow.
And you think back on those random days of your childhood that have nothing to do with here and this place, and the choices you made that brought you to this.
Tending your field, and at peace with your loved ones.
That's all you wanted. All you tried to save.
And now the only way home lies on the other side of the next few minutes.
A clock ticks on the wall. One. Two. Three.
A burly man with sweat and sadness on his forehead. He looks into your eyes, but not for too long.
He's got a bullet rolling between his fingers, and as he nears the bed, he motions for you to open your mouth.
"Bite down on this. Don't swallow it."
Two more men. They walk up to the table. Don't look you in the eye - just wrap their thick fingers around your arms and pin you down.
Your leg throbs. And stinks.
Stinks like the room they've brought you to. And you wonder if the relief will be worth it.
Heart pounds, and your fingers tingle with nerves, and it feels like you've tripped in a dream and reality's fallen off kilter.
The relief will be worth it.
When the sawing starts - it's everything and nothing you imagined.
Goodbye skin. And muscle. And bone.
“The worst is over," says the surgeon. You're too numb now to feel him packing sawdust and lint into the gaping, red place your leg used to be.
A nurse throws the severed part of you under the loose floorboard.
He doesn't know the wheat fields where you ran, or the crystal lakes where you swam, or the prickly bark of the oak tree in mama's yard where you climbed back home.
And you're not that child anymore.
You're a man, with a badge of honor.
“Welcome to Savannah," says the surgeon. "Welcome to The Marshall House.”