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Submitted on
July 14
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Five is the number of times you worry he’s stopped breathing, as the surgeons carve around his heart, twisting away the plaque ridden arteries, and pulling a vein out of his leg. Five is the number of heart wrenching hours you and your family were waiting in the hospital room, worried that your lives would crumble, that there would be five members of the family instead of six, that five days out of the week he would not come home for dinner, that five kisses from him would no longer be given to his wife and four children. Five was the amount of fingernails you bit off while watching people enter and exit the waiting room, and the amount of minutes your mother spent on the phone, explaining that something was wrong. Five is the critical difference between holding a father’s hand as your mother cries into his heart shaped pillow. The difference between rejoicing and smiling weakly because he’s okay or carrying your father’s American-flag-covered-casket and watching your mother try to find the words to describe loss. Five is the importance between a complete family or one left ruined in devastation.
This piece is something I wrote for a scholarship when I was back in high school. I've yet to hear back, but they asked "What number meant most to you?" So I wrote about my fathers double bypass surgery. Obviously. 

I have no idea if this is poetry or prose or somewhere in between. It reads like a slam poem when it was meant to be a vignette. I'd love any thoughts or critiques. 

Questions:
Is the number five TOO repetitive?
Can you tell that heart surgery was going on?
What do you like most and least about the piece?

critique:  www.deviantart.com/art/post-mo…

7.14.14 edit: thank you to :iconseaboundstars: and :iconnuttyjigs: for helping me refine this piece with their insightful and lovely comments~
8.23.14 edit:

Thank you so much for the Daily Deviation and all of everyone's lovely comments. This piece means an incredible amount to me and I'm glad it means something to others as well :heart:
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Daily Deviation

Given 2014-08-23
five. by saevuswinds ( Featured by IrrevocableFate )
:iconliliwrites:
I don't think the number five was too repetitive. In fact, this is one of those times when the repetition is absolutely critical to the piece, and you pulled it off very well.

I could tell it was heart surgery after the line about pulling a vein out of the leg. My grandpa had heart surgery and they had to do something similar to fix him. But that was a scheduled procedure. This one feels much more emergent, so I'm not sure that detail is actually correct. But it didn't distract from the reading in any case.

I do think that you should mix up how you use "five" in a few places. For example, you could change up "five was the amount of fingernails you bit off..." to "You bit off five fingernails..." You still have the repetition of "five" in there, but it isn't as redundant and gives the reader a much more immediate feeling by revising to a more active voice. There are a few other areas this tactic could be applied. I will go over them with you if you want in the comments.

This spot: "Five is the critical difference between holding a father's hand as your mother cries into his heart shaped pillow." confused me....the difference between that and what? :\

Otherwise, it was very well done for such a short piece. Good appeal to emotion and use of small details to create tension. Keep it up!

And thanks for participating in the Great Lit Crit Event!

:heart: Lili
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:iconpurplejeans1:
purplejeans1 Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
This is so realistic and vivid I thought it was actually happening. Bravo!
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:icontommyboywood:
tommyboywood Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Emotional. And here we all thought thirteen was the number to avoid.  :)
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:iconjasonmasters:
JasonMasters Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I've heard this kind of stuff referred to as "lyric prose."  It's prose, but worded so that it sounds like it could be song lyrics.

My suggestion would be to try to divide it into paragraphs, separating each section at logical points.  It makes the whole thing easier to read and also "sets off" the points you make.

No, I don't think that five is mentioned too often, because it's the whole point of the piece.  Your choices, stylistically, would logically be to either mention the number twice, once at the opening and once again at the ending, or to do as you've done and open each point, if not each line, with the number.

I'm glad this became a Daily Deviation.  I would have missed it otherwise.
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:iconartbyfieldsofsage:
artbyfieldsofsage Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
My first thought: It sounds like 5 can be a very lonely, painful number.  Good piece.  Congrats on the DD!
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:icon5150animator:
5150animator Featured By Owner Edited Aug 23, 2014  Student General Artist
...That was beautiful. 

I feel so uncreative right now compared to you it's crazy. 
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:iconblackbowfin:
BlackBowfin Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Congrats on the DD.  It's well deserved.

Is the number five TOO repetitive?
No.  It's essential- and I agree w/ TonguesOfMenOrAngels above that switching over to the 4(+1) scenario was really nimble and smart ("thought provoking").

Can you tell that heart surgery was going on?
Yes.  This was evident.

What do you like most and least about the piece?
Most: wife and four children changeup.  This really impressed me.
Least: one left ruined in devastation - I personally feel that using ruined and devastation is a bit much.  Maybe would have gone a little math-y, trying to find the answer to remainder 5 times devastation or ruin- something like that, but I know that (assuming this is based on real-life events) when a work is personally gripping, you sometimes gotta go w/ your gut.  It remembers better than the mind sometimes.

Really compelling work.  Great job
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:icontonguesofmenorangels:
TonguesOfMenOrAngels Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Student Writer
Hey, congratulations on the DD

The number 5 is repetitive, but it needs to be. It ties the whole piece together beautifully and is the catalyst for some very thought-provoking observations, such as "that five kisses from him would no longer be given to his wife and four children." Very, very moving writing there.

Yeah, heart surgery (or surgery of some sort) is quite evident. The incredible seriousness of the operation is communicated very well; though not all readers would pick up that it's heart surgery, everyone will understand that it some sort of life threatening medical procedure is under way.

I love this piece. It's excellent. My only thought (and it's just a thought) would be if the last sentence can be adjusted. Currently, it's functional but perhaps breaks the flow in an awkward way. To me, it's a bit jarring (which could be considered good). Perhaps if it was a shorter, sharper sentence it would create a more decisive end to the work. All the same, it's an excellent piece, congratulations!
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:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you~! I am absolutely thrilled.

Thank you so much for your feedback and comments. I'll see what I can do about the last line, and if I decide to change anything, I'll let you know~! :heart:
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