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Francis Woodland
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almonds.jpg
Art by K.J. Hannah Greenberg 2018

Almond

 

Francis Woodland

 

 

After fighting with his wife, he wandered around the city,

He did not know when he left the town and got to the countryside,

Where he saw farmers dancing around the fire,

As he approached them, he wished his family was there,

As he got closer, he found them full of sound and fury,

Running around the burning flames of fire, trying to put it out! (Inspired by Saib Tabrizi)

 

 

As Jason sat waiting for the bus, he thought about how much he would like a warm bed, a hot shower, a clean bathroom. After two months of traveling, he actually missed his tiny studio in Brooklyn. It was early in the morning and there were only three other people waiting next to him on the bench.

An older man with a beard, maybe in his fifties, sat with a young girl of no more than four or five lying asleep across his lap. Next to them sat a younger man whose wrinkled forehead and lack of facial hair made it hard for Jason to determine his age. Based on the structure of his body, he had to be around 15—16 at the most—Jason reasoned.

He was tempted to take their photo, but he already had enough photos and didn’t want to invade their privacy. They looked stressed. Even though they were far away from the front line at the moment, the region had been under attack not long before. Most of the people who lived there were farmers, but all their farms had been burned to the ground.

Three months before, Jason had graduated from college. He planned to go to law school, but photography had always been his passion, and he wanted to go to Syria to takes photos for a couple of months first. His parents didn’t like the idea, but Jason was able to convince them by promising he would travel only through the peaceful regions.

As the bus approached the station, Jason gathered his belongings. When the doors opened, he climbed the stairs and gave the bus driver his ticket, but the man shook his head no. “I have a ticket,” Jason said, holding it out for him to see. Once again, the man shook his head no. Jason was beginning to get frustrated. “I have ticket,” he repeated, trying to remain calm. 

Without a word, the bus driver pointed to the west, and suddenly Jason understood. This bus was going to the front line, not to the airport. Behind him, he could hear the older man and the boy saying their goodbyes. It was then that he realized they were father and son. 

As Jason de-boarded the bus, he watched as the father kissed the son on forehead. He remembered how his own father had dropped him off at the bus station when he was accepted to NYU—how proud he’d seemed of Jason as they hugged goodbye. As the memory washed over him, Jason was suddenly struck with a pang of emotion. He missed his dad.

The bus doors still ajar, Jason watched as the father pulled something out of his pocket and tried to hand it to his son. The son refused, pushing his father’s hand back. They went on like this until the bus driver said something and the son finally got on the bus without the thing his father had tried to give him.

Jason stood with the older man and the girl, watching as the bus lurched forward to the west. He thought about how his father had given him money when he got on the bus to New York, stuffing the bills in his overcoat pocket.

Soon, another bus approached the station—the bus Jason had been waiting for. This time when he held out his ticket, the driver took it without a word. He sat in the front seat and as the bus pulled away, he watched the older man once again put his hand in his pocket, offering what was inside to the girl. As she plucked one of the tiny objects from the man’s outstretched hand, Jason could finally see what was inside: Almonds!


Francis wrote his first story when he was nine years old. His teacher asked his mom to take him to a class after school to get professional training in writing. It took a long time to go to the class, using public transportation, and then they found out the teacher for that class was sick on that day and did not show up. So he never went back. Many years later, he wrote a small piece at University and one of the Literature teachers found it interesting and wanted to publish the piece, but the department chair found that short story against school policies. He was asked politely to pull it out if he wanted to keep his scholarship, so he did. Many years later, when he was in a Conference and got bored with the topic of the discussion, he started to write a short story, on his cell phone Notes app and then texted it to his wife. She enjoyed it and asked him why he had not written, so far! 



He is not a trained writer, and as you read his piece, you may find strange sentence structures that you won't usually see in professional writers. He does not mind it; he thinks the form and structure of sentences have been created by people who had the courage to write in the past, and they formed our taste. As long as someone can pass his thoughts, emotions, and most importantly, his pure observations, and the reader can see things slightly differently from before he read the story, that writer has been successful, and the mission has been accomplished! He hopes to deliver this. . . ."

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