Tag Archives: Amanda O’Callaghan

Interview with Amanda O’Callaghan
June 2017 Flash Fiction Winner

  • Can you tell us how your wonderful micro Tying the Boats came into being?

I once knew a woman who really did have a long hank of her hair in a drawer. I think it had been cut off when she was a child, but I have no idea of the background to the story. I’ve only recently remembered seeing it, and from the vantage point of many years I started thinking, “What on earth was that about?” It seemed to me that there was a tremendous amount of regret tied up with the act of keeping it. Of course, hair has always been a potent symbol in stories – of power, strength, beguilement, for instance – but, for me, “Tying the Boats” had to be about regret, the hair a symbol of something lost, of a warning unheeded.
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Amanda O’Callaghan
June 2017 First Prize

Tying the Boats

by Amanda O’Callaghan

A week after she married him, she cut her hair. The scissors made a hungry sound working their way through the curls.

“You cut your hair,” he said, when he came home. Nothing more.

She thought he might have said, “You cut off your beautiful hair,” but his mouth could not make the shape of beautiful, even then.

She kept the hair in a drawer. A great hank of it, bound together in two places with ribbon almost the same dark red. Sometimes, when she was searching in the big oak chest that she brought from home, she’d see it stretched against the back of the drawer, flattened into the joinery like a sleek, cowering animal.

Once, she lifted it out, held it up to the light to catch the last of its fading lustre. She weighed it in her hands. The hair was thick, substantial, heavy as the ropes they’d used when she was a girl, tying the boats when storms were coming.

About the Author

Amanda O’Callaghan’s short stories and flash fiction have been published and won awards in Australia, UK, and Ireland. A former advertising executive, she has a BA and MA in English from King’s College, London. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Queensland. She lives in Brisbane, Australia. More details and links to Amanda’s work can be found at www.amandaocallaghan.com

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