The Hawthorn House

Elara opened her eyes and looked out the window. The morning sun bathed the town in a golden hue – a town named Hawthorn. She tried to remember yesterday’s events, but it was all hazy.

As she met her buyer’s agent in person for the first time, he greeted her warmly. “I’ve been called the best buyer’s advocate Melbourne has ever seen.” Elara felt like she had heard that before. In fact, she was sure she’d met him before.

Why do I feel like his name is Mr Hampton, when his nametag says Mr Thorn? Elara pondered.

They continued through the town, with Mr Thorn (or was it Mr Hampton?) acting as her buyer’s advocate for Hawthorn property. They toured several houses, all of which were familiar to Elara. None stood out like the old Victorian house, however. She was sure she had been inside before, yet she couldn’t recall when. Perhaps she had simply seen photos. But no… that didn’t feel right.

Those stained-glass windows, I’ve seen them… The rich musk of the old oak floor, I’ve smelled it.

As she observed the townspeople, something was different. Although this was the first day of her property search, she vaguely remembered walking around town the day before. The cheerful postman from yesterday was now a stern butcher. The kind lady at the bakery was now the town’s florist. And their smiles, still wide, seemed strained.

What is happening? Is my mind playing tricks on me?

Towards the end of the day, Elara sat on a bench, clutching her bag. She found a notebook inside, filled with notes and scribbles about the properties. Notes she didn’t remember writing.

Her heart raced as she read descriptions of the Victorian house. It was the same house, but the notes mentioned Malvern, not Hawthorn.

Malvern? That’s today. No, wait, was it yesterday?

As Elara tried to piece together the fragments of her memory, she felt the eerie déjà vu creep over her once again. The townspeople, still smiling, moved around like clockwork as the sun began to set on the town of Hawthorn.