“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.


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.


There came an elegant river that was brought to August’s attention after jogging through a variety of dead trees. It was rather confined and shallow, its stream originated from somewhere up north because the current is oriented toward the way heading back the town, and perhaps, passes the Lachlan Forest to its final destination which is a lake. He scrutinized around, the water was not too gritty and muddy, so he chose to wash the weariness off his face to regain some consciousness.

When his fingers swam in the flow, an unidentified, long, bendable and soft object got caught in his fist. A sense of weirdness crossed his mind, so he pulled the hands out of the water to have a look at the strange thing.

“He scrutinized around, the water was not too gritty and muddy, so he chose to wash the weariness off his face to regain some consciousness…”

Greyed out. On top stuck a hard dome-like layer, covering a portion of the soft surface near the top. At the bottom came some red patterns, whereas the center lied a white, rigid component

His eyes slowly rolled down until the conclusion jumped into.

Two upper phalanges remained. Rotten and decaying. Rancid flesh

Half of a finger.

Someone’s finger

He almost dropped the disgusting piece back to where it came from as soon as he disclosed its true nature.

Nail polish. Dark purple nail polish

A female? A woman? A girl?

– “How can you be sure if that’s a female? Possibility also does include a male, doesn’t it?”

– “No, I have seen it before. The smell, the color, I know what they are.”

– “Darling, don’t let your emotion overshadow your conscience.”

– “I know exactly what the balance of probability suggests. And it’s memories, pure historical facts. So don’t bother me and leave me alone.”

– “Darling…”

A new theory He refused to believe it, but couldn’t stop the violent stream of thoughts conquering his frail perception. In the middle of a bewilderment storm, he strode unconsciously, to find his shoe wrecked in the river.

There is always a root for everything

Everything, including sins

For me, it is a road tunnel

For this river, the question remains an unfinished map

Where does it come from?

“But couldn’t stop the violent stream of thoughts conquering his frail perception…”

One stride… two strides… three strides… His curiosity acted on behalf of his instinct, putting both his legs in full cold water and allowing them to be against the approaching flow. He focused on where it was pouring from, and far away, as his shoulder lightly tilted backwards to the left, and in favor of his vision, his eyes caught a glimpse of the distant bushes on the bank, where the black cover of the AC’s trunk could be seen tangled in a web of thorny arms, with little available space for an access to its front seat; regardless of the fact, that was sufficient enough to slide a thin body through without any hazardous physical interaction with those bizarre vines.

Closer, closer to you now…


Hardly did he realized that behind those wild plants and above their heads, erected a dark, spiral column of smoke.


“Well, mine is empty, and yours too. What a sadness!”

“Our baskets are empty, but the same thing can’t be said for our hands. Not necessarily. At least we got some fun today.”

“Yeah, it was ridiculous though. The first time I got to use a real fishing rod, and also the first time I broke two rods in one single afternoon. How brilliant is that!?”

“Yeah, you made a new record today, Diane. I’m proud of you.”

“Don’t mock me, dad…”

“I am not mocking, I am telling the truth, really!”

“If it weren’t for this stupid leg and that dumb driver, I would be enjoying this much more, and you wouldn’t have to quit a day job for me. I feel very guilty right now.”

“To be frank with you, I desperately do need some breaks like this. Many years to come and we may never have moments like this again. There’ll be time when you have to leave me, or I have to leave you, so I hope you can see the river of time is a precious thing, no changing, no turning back, and you must treasure it, treasure this moment, treasure today. Once we look back what we’ve had somewhere in time, memories form a map and show us the right lead to follow, reminding us of the purposes we live for.”

“The river of time… mom used to say that…”

“Yeah, she said a lot of great things. And someday, we’ll join her again. Someday…”

“Yeah, she said a lot of great things. And someday, we’ll join her again. Someday…”

The river led him to a pathway resting on a feathery carpet of swaying grass surrounded by a forestry fortress.

There, he observed an obscure, old-fashioned lantern post whose candle-holder lost its glass sheets, set up midway of the trail. As he peered into the candle plate, there was no candle or a fragment of wax, instead, a corroded classic version of a house key. On its steel bow, wrote a large stylized, capitalized letter: C.

When he reached the last of the road, August made a turn to the left, and the next scenery bumped into his own eyes was beyond astonishment.

Surrounding by a zigzag timber fence, accompanied by a sense of mystification and glamour, combined with a wooden touch of pure white color, the three-story colossal mansion channeled its breathless magnificence to August. There were eight windows on the upper side, eight more on the lower, and the lowest constructed a sole green red door between two similar windows.

He stepped closer on the courtyard, up the steps, and glanced at the faded yellow sign hung on the door. It illustrated the same stylized initial he found from the key at the pathway. His forehead shaped a wrinkle and his brows developed a scowl at the strange similarity. His hand grabbed the knob and failed to swing it for there was a frustrating keyhole. The picture of the key from the lantern reappeared to August, and he let out a deep exhale, citing a bothersome forgetfulness. Hand still on the doorknob, out of irritation, his palm squeezed the piece vigorously, unusually smashed the mechanism part and unsealed the entrance.

He wasted no time feeling startled, and crossed through the giant house in a haste.

Once inside, the first thing embraced August’s awareness was the gleaming crystal prisms from the chandelier hovering on the textured ceiling. Near the far right wall situated a wooden set of tea table and chairs, on the opposite side of the room placed a floating bookshelf. A soaring winding staircase was structured at the core of the space whose handrail was manufactured from sturdy pine, and spindles were a refined blend of marble and ceramics.

He avoided the stairs and moved past behind it, to figure out another opening to a wider vertical passage that simulated the design of a corridor. There were plenty of glass display cases in here, most of them seemingly enclosed several handicraft items such as copper plates, ceramic vases, aged nameless oil paintings… August glanced at their years-old existence, questioning the origins of those appearing artifacts while satisfying his rising concern. The corridor lengthened its path as he made a slight turn to the right, observing more cases on the way. This time, he found out they were containing pieces of ammunitions and dusty rifles. August estimated that those weapons possibly dated back to the Second World War, or even older, the Great War, for they were the famous models soldiers always carried to the battlefield: Arisaka, Enfield, M3-Carbine, … There were also a pair of uniforms shone under the faint electric light inside a taller and rectangular case. He leaned forward, almost touched the glass, to read the name tags on the chest: Corporal Lewis C. and Pt. Evan C.

Evan C.?

Evan Cairstine?

Phalange: xương đốt ngón tay

Bewilderment: sự bối rối, lúng túng

Wrinkle: nếp nhăn

Scowl: sự cau có, giận dữ

Rancid: bốc mùi ôi, bị ôi

Vigorous: mạnh mẽ

Sturdy: cứng rắn, kiên quyết

author: hoàng phan anh tuấn

author: hoàng phan anh tuấn

From Specialists

Spelling and Grammar Checker: Hoàng Phan Anh Tuấn
Vocabulary Editor(s): Hoàng Phan Anh Tuấn
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

Posted by Phương Vy from Communications