Critique courtesy of :GrammarNaziCritiques:
“twisting away the plaque ridden arteries” … what does this mean? Are they getting rid of the arteries, or moving them aside, or cleaning them? I don't know – or I can't see - what twisting means here
“his wife and four children” … in a piece about the number five, using other numbers feels a little distracting
“the amount of fingernails you bit off” … bit clean off? As in, you were in extreme pain for a while and your fingers were really gross and the nails had to slowly grow back? Or does this just mean nervously chewing on the nails?
“as your mother cries into his heart shaped pillow” … is this happy crying or sad crying? Is she crying at home or at the hospital? Or does pillow refer to his chest? Too many questions from this line
“your father’s American-flag-covered-casket” … isn't the casket being covered with a flag something they only do for military funerals? And if you're revealing that he was part of the military, what does that have to do with the number five and this piece?
“one left ruined in devastation” … a little over dramatic here for the ending. Of course it's sad if he died, but you don't want to smother the reader with that sad
“Is the number five TOO repetitive?” … this question is the crux of the issue. You are doing a flash fiction piece about the number five, which means the number five definitely cannot be “too repetitive” in this piece about the number five. You want the number five to be repetitive, the number five should feel like a drumbeat resounding through the reader's heart as they read. Sometimes using the number five will seem fanciful or even fictional, but that can be forgiven because using the number five is the most important thing in this piece about the number five. And because this is a piece about the number five, I don't think you want other numbers getting involved. Just keep using the number five, over and over and over, five five five. The piece is pretty short so I'll show you what I mean and how I would edit it:
Five is the number of times you worry he’s stopped breathing, as five surgeons carve around his heart, scrubbing away at five plaque-ridden arteries, and pulling five veins from his leg. Five is the number of heart wrenching hours you and your family waited in the hospital room's five chairs, worried that there would now be only five members of the family, that five days out of the week he would not come home for dinner at five, that he would never again give five kisses to his wife and children. Five was the number of fingernails you bit while watching five times five people enter and exit the waiting room's five doors, and five was the amount of minutes your mother spent on the phone explaining to five uncles and aunts that something was wrong. Five is holding a father’s five cold fingers as your mother cries five heart shaped tears, and five is the difference between rejoicing and smiling weakly because he’s okay, or carrying a casket down five church steps and watching your mother try to find five words to describe loss. Five is a family welcoming him home from the hospital, or five is a family left devastated.
“What do you like least about the piece?” … It looks like you previously had five sentences but then you split the fourth into two parts. Why? You cannot have too much five in this piece about the number five … Also, minor gripe, I want to know if he survived. All those “difference” and “or” sentences kinda left me hanging, as if you were showing me both possible futures but forgot to say (or even imply) which one came true
“Can you tell that heart surgery was going on?” … nope. I know that arteries are part of the heart, but is pulling a vein from a leg part of heart surgery?
“What do you like most about the piece?” … you have a core idea (which you can strengthen) and just that is enough to make me like this piece
And congrats on the DD! Any more questions for me? Would you like to make that five questions perhaps?