TALES FROM HAWTHORNE: AN ANTHOLOGY

“Tales From Hawthorne: An Anthology” is a collection of five short stories all taken place in Hawthorne, a fictional town located in Scotland. Each story is individual, and specifically set in a different place in Hawthorne and at a different point of time, surrounding from 1970s to 2010s, with different storylines and characters.

By WRITER team - SPECIALIST

HAWTHORNE /haw-thawrn/: A small town located in the Northeast of Scotland. It situates near the city of Aberdeen to the north, and borders the North Sea of the Atlantic Ocean. Its population is approximately 20000.

(HAWTHORNE’S GEOGRAPHICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA, BOOK I)

 

[…] From Nolan Turton – To Vivian Trance It left Nathan quite confounded for a moment. Nolan was his grandfather’s name but he had yet to come across the name “Vivian”. Some conspiracy theories immediately sprouted in his mind. “Grandma, who is Vivian ? Aren’t these letters yours ? Is Vivian grandpa’s ex-girlfriend ?”, He asked directly out of curiosity. “No, Vivian is me ! my idiot grandson”, Her voice and manner reverted to their old self all at once. ”Now I’ll tell you quite a story. Keep your ears open !” Her eyes which were riveted on the letters turned to somewhere into the distance exuding a boundless wave of nostalgia. She lowered her voice and let her soul return to the past. Firstly, she expatiated on her background.

“Vivian was my pseudonym during the war against the invasion of colonialism in the previous century. I was born into a family of farmers in the central region of the country. It was in 1924, when I was 14, the enemy launched multiple air raids across the area my family lived in, culminating in the death of my grandparents. I was so dejected and then I was determined to become a doctor. When I turned 18, I took the decision to enlist in the army as a nurse. At the time, an aiding team consisted of 5 people, 2 doctors and 3 nurses. We had to go to all places on the battlefield and my team was ordered to serve in the deep forest”

“And you met grandpa because he was a doctor in your team right ?”, Nathan wittily came to the conclusion.

“No, your grandfather was a soldier and a composer”, she calmly replied.

“Now I get it ! So that explains the music sheets”, the confusion written all over his face in parts dissipated.

“Your grandfather was in the battalion of 20 soldiers that my medical team served in the forest”

“So he fought and got injured and love at first sight struck you two right !?”, he quickly asked.

“I was so dejected and then I was determined to become a doctor. When I turned 18, I took the decision to enlist in the army as a nurse.”

“No, it’s on a rather awkward occasion that we got to know each other”, She gave a slight smile. “It was one day when the girls were bathing by the waterfall that we got detected by the enemy’s military aircraft. They then released bombs across the forest and everything turned into an upheaval. My clothes were blown away by the bombs so I didn’t dare to run away but stay still in the water. At that time, I thought it was the end but then your grandfather came with a blanket to cover me and carried me and my backpack to a nearby cave”.

“I would’ve done it as well if I were grandpa”, Nathan let out a short, amused laugh.

“You’ve become a naughty kid, haven’t you”, Vynci ironically remarked.

The place had been detected so everyone had to stay in hideouts until there were new signals. Not until late did Nolan realize he had a bullet embedded in his leg. Vivian gave him some first aid treatment but there was neither anaesthetic nor painkiller so the process caused a great hurt. Then she started singing some traditional songs out of a habit trying to assuage a bit of his pain.

“You know… you have too much of a seraphic voice for a nurse”, to her surprise, Nolan, in a sonorous tone, paid her a compliment even though he was perspiring and breathing rapidly. “It reminds me of a tree called cassia fistula. Its golden flowers are as bright as the sunshine”

“I’m glad it helps. Thank you for your compliments. I’m much flattered”, Vivian continued to bandage his wound up. “I guess singing can cure as well”.

“Yes, it does. Why don’t you try serving in the Art and Culture department. You can cure a massive lot of people with your voice… Oh I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Nolan Turton, a soldier and a composer. I’m planning to join the Art and Culture department”

“… Oh yes, I’m Vivian Trance, nice to meet you”, Vivian remained silent a few seconds after feeling his words deeply and kept it to her heart.

“I guess singing can cure as well”

Singing had always been her hobby but because of the determination to become doctors engendered by the death of her grandparents, she had never taken it seriously until she heard his words.

“I wonder if it is possible for me to perform and sing to everyone ?”, she shyly asked.  

“My pleasure”

“You don’t have to sing to everyone, you just need to sing for everyone”, Nolan replied without thinking.

Vivian felt a sense of enlightenment arising within herself. Her long forgotten passion had now been reignited.

“If I did, could you guide me with your songs ?”, she plucked up her courage to ask.

“My pleasure !”

A big smile emerged on Nolan’s pale face. Vivian felt like it had shone her a new way to a glorious future.

The next day, the enemy retreated allowing the battalion and medical team to regroup. There was no loss of life but a lot were injured so they had to return to barracks. Nolan and Vivian both went in for the department and got accepted. They were sent to the country’s prestigious conservatory for musical training. Nolan enrolled in the course of composition and piano while Vivian took up singing. Their talents thrived greatly in every nook and cranny.

After two years of formal training, the raw precious stone had turned into an exquisite gemstone of the era. Vivian’s voice reached a new dizzy height in the repertoire for a coloratura soprano. She could sing above the high C comfortably. She got the chance to perform for important figures of the country and other nations’ leaders, but most importantly she could sing for all the people and give them the best mental cure. Nolan and Vivian went on to perform together on all battlefields through thick and thin. Her voice to the accompaniment of his piano penetrated through all the fears, bombs and guns notwithstanding. The image of the gun-toting pianist together with the elegant singer then became an endless inspiration for poets and writers. And soon, their affections for one another flourished.

In her apotheosis, Vivian’s voice even reverberated over borders and distances. Aarif Shanon, a high-ranking general of her country’s most important ally, after hearing her voice had fallen in love with her. In one of his ample letters, he wrote

“My Vivian your voice is out of this world !
Gold can’t match your voice. Nor can water can’t rival your tone
It transcends all boundaries of this mortal world
I pray to god for eternity in your voice
I wish to be its servant all this life”

Vivian felt happy initially when she received the first few letters since it was the first time she had a foreign fan. She wrote thank-you letters for him eagerly. Be that as it may, as the number of letters steadily accumulated, reading between the lines, she realized his burning and kind of aggressive ardor. Vivian knew it would go nowhere so she stopped giving responses.

Days and days passed since he received her last letter. Her isolation had made his stomach churn every single day. His lust drove him crazy. Since the two countries were contiguous, He immediately decided to pay a one-month visit, in the role of an officer, to her country’s government as an act of amity. It was also for mutual military power exchange and reinforcement. But the ultimate purpose was obvious.

He knew Vivian was one the few who was chosen to perform to other nation’s leaders. Only through this travel could he meet her in the flesh and his mission was accomplished. One day, in the National Opera House, when she was singing, he suddenly stepped up the stage and proposed.

“Vivian, I’ve been entranced by your voice since the first time I heard you sing through the radios ! You’re beautiful in your own kind. Please let me stay with you my entire life”, Aarif knelt down in front of her holding out a ring.

He seemed to be falling into the abyss of despair fearing that his beloved Vivian, who had gone through all the hardships with him, would disappear forever.

The whole audience, taken by surprise, gave a standing ovation. There was nothing barring excited shouting and congratulations. Aaron’s handsome figure had long made him a famed womanizer. Hardly any lady could resist the temptation of his charm. In the front rows, Vivian’s country officials were clapping their hands non-stop. Their marriage would be a wonderful blessing for the two countries’ relation. The power and authority Aarif wielded could lead Scotland to the ultimate victory in this hard-fought battle in no time. If it were a bargain, they would strike it outright.

All the lights were directed at Vivian and the general on the stage. Nolan was shocked to the point of being speechless on his piano in the dark. He seemed to be falling into the abyss of despair fearing that his beloved Vivian, who had gone through all the hardships with him, would disappear forever. Vivian approached and helped the general stand up.

“General, I wholeheartedly appreciate your feelings … but I had to refuse. I’ve already found my predestined partner for this life. I’m sincerely sorry”, Vivian calmly expressed and turned round to the pianist behind with a smile. “Without him, this life would be meaningless”

Aarif’s face went blank. He gradually stepped down the stage back to his seat in the absolute silence of the atmosphere. His eyes turned ablaze with anger rather than disappointment. Vivian then went to Nolan on the piano and held out her hand waiting for his.

“Let’s take a bow to the audience with me”, she smiled.

Nolan’s heart had missed several beats but his soul had been composed. He held her hand tightly in the light, gave a bow and went backstage together. Two weeks later, they had a small happy wedding ceremony. They moved to a newly bought house where in the small yard, Nolan planted a golden shower tree, scientifically called cassia fistula, as a reminder of their fated meeting. Happiness was filling the house.

But things didn’t last long. The storm had once again risen in Aarif and later was inflicted on newly-wedded couple. He awarded Vivian a four-year scholarship in advanced singing training in Sofia Conservatory in England, which had an undisputed reputation for its long-standing history, in recognition of her exceptional talent. On this pretext, he could meet her daily and change her mind. Since the scholarship was given as a symbol of amity, the government and her department foisted it upon her.

“I guess I have to go…”, she glumly sat by the window looking out on the tree after reading the request letter from the government.

“Don’t worry Vivian, no matter where you are, no matter how far. My heart is always by your side”, Nolan gave her a tight warm hug from behind.      

Those four years passed slowly with continual interruption and distraction by the general. He kept visiting her and sending her gifts and flowers but her heart had been set. Her dream was kept far away, behind the moon, beyond the rain, … somewhere over the rainbow. That said, she put intense efforts into the training, as a result of which, she gained unprecedented achievement. Her all-out assiduity in art came to fruition. She could sing flawlessly in the 6th octave and even reach the C above high C.

The longed-for reunion had finally come as the hard London rain was releasing its last few drops from the sky. Such was her anxiety that she couldn’t sleep the whole day before the flight and spent all day pacing up and down the apartment preparing for the return. The flight took almost 3 hours and the cab another 30 minutes. She counted and didn’t miss even a second. Having arrived, she stood outside looking carefully at the house for a while. The small tree planted back then had grown beyond recognition. It beautifully embroidered the front of the house whose freshly-coloured paint had worn off a bit. The door was suddenly opened from inside. It was Nolan who came out. He knew she would be back that day but didn’t expect such an early return. His hair had been touched with grey and he had got thinner.

“Welcome back, my dear”, he said in a slow and cordial tone of voice.

“Yes, I’m here … forever”, she ran up to hug him shedding tears of joy.

They resumed the happy life that had been postponed for 4 years. Love then spread all over space. A year later, the family had a new little member, a lovely baby boy. Nolan was overjoyed. That cheerfulness all was conveyed through his songs.

When their son turned four, Nolan was commissioned to serve in the northernmost regions where the fiercest battles were taking place. It was at this time that he was inspired by the sedulous female warriors of the minorities and composed a masterpiece. Once it was done, he sent it to his wife immediately. Vivian then recorded the song to a perfect degree. In addition, she created an extra part of staccato imitating birds that became famous nationwide. She was invited to perform it everywhere and radios aired it across the country.

When it reached Nolan’s ears, he was thoroughly satisfied. Her creativity helped him get over all ups and downs. Two months after the song became a success, Vivian received a letter from Nolan at home. Her happy expression disappeared with tears from the first few lines.

“Vivian, when you read this letter, I will have departed from this world.

I’ve heard the song on the radio and I’m still at a loss for words. It was indescribably beautiful ! You have never ceased to amaze me with your god-given talent since the day we met. I wish your creativity would ever-germinate in the rose-coloured world your voice created.

In retrospect, I’m such a terrible husband and father. I can’t fulfill my promise to go to the end of this life with you raising our child. But please give me the chance in the next life ! I promise I will”

“But please give me the chance in the next life ! I promise I will”

It was said that Nolan had made the supreme sacrifice to save the whole badly wounded battalion by using himself as a bait to distract the enemy. The enemy got lured away in another direction and the soldiers were saved. However, it was at the cost of 3 bullets in Nolan’s body. When they came back and found him, he was seriously wounded. They brought him back to barracks for medical treatment. After a week, he passed away peacefully.

“A year later the war ended in victory on our side. I stopped singing so I could have my full time caring for the family. I also changed my name back to Vynci”, she looked out the window at the golden shower tree and exhaled. “It has been a long journey. I hope he’s still waiting for me…”, she smiled.

“I’m sure he is, grandma !”, Nathan’s eyes were brimmed with tears.

“Now it’s too late ! turn off the radio ! You still have school tomorrow !”, She returned to the whining grandmother version. “Escort me to bed, Ithan !”

“…. Again it’s Nathan, grandma”, he smiled.

[THE END]

NOUNS

Battalion: tiểu đoàn

Upheaval: chấn động, biến động

Apotheosis: tinh hoa, sự tôn vinh

Ardor: nhiệt huyết, sự hăng hái, sôi nổi

Assiduity: sự chuyên cần

 

VERBS

To rivet: cố định

To expatiate: bàn nhiều, viết dài dòng

To perspire: toát mồ hôi

To assuage: bình tĩnh, thả lỏng

To engender: sinh ra, đem lại

 

ADJECTIVES

Sonorous: kêu, vang

Prestigious: có uy tín, uy thế

Contiguous: gần kế, tiếp giáp

Glum: nhăn nhó, quạu quọ

Sedulous: cần cù, cần mẫn

 

Author: đặng tiểu bảo

Author: đặng tiểu bảo

From Specialists

Spelling and Grammar Checker: Hoàng Phan Anh Tuấn
Vocabulary Editors: Hoàng Phan Anh Tuấn – Đào Thanh Ngân
Executive Supervisor: Nguyễn Dương Trung Tín

The Anthology created by: Võ Thường Hằng, Đào Thanh Ngân, Danh Nhật Sang, Đặng Tiểu Bảo, Hoàng Phan Anh Tuấn from Specialists