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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 HugQueen )
: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
What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
38 out of 38 deviants thought this was fair.

The Artist has requested Critique on this Artwork

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:iconcobrateen:
Cobrateen Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2014  Hobbyist Writer

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?

Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner May 17, 2015  Student Writer
Thank you so much for your detailed critique and kind words! I really appreciate it, especially as there's always room for improvement. I'll definitely have to come back to this piece and do a few more edits! :)

To answer your question, my dad did turn out alright! I didn't want to include that in this piece however--because it was the moment of uncertainty I wanted to highlight, not exactly the real outcome. 
Reply
:iconcobrateen:
Cobrateen Featured By Owner May 17, 2015  Hobbyist Writer

You're very welcome, and I'm glad your dad was okay


I like the idea of highlighting that moment of fear and not knowing, but if your audience is asking themselves that question I was about his survival while they read, they might become distracted from that feeling of uncertainty. I think someone else said it best: “Even to a writer who is being intentionally obscure or wild of tongue we can say, 'Be obscure clearly! Be wild of tongue in a way we can understand! … Be cagey plainly! Be elliptical in a straightforward fashion!'” (Elements of Style, Strunk and White) In other words, be unclear clearly. Be uncertain with certainty. Be afraid fearlessly. The piece doesn't need to say whether he lives or dies, IF the reader knows it is taking place in that moment of not knowing, with the full weight of not knowing upon them

Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner May 22, 2015  Student Writer
Yes I totally agree! Thank you!
Reply
:iconpurplejeans1:
purplejeans1 Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
This is so realistic and vivid I thought it was actually happening. Bravo!
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner May 17, 2015  Student Writer
Thank you! It means a lot. 
Reply
:icontommyboywood:
tommyboywood Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Emotional. And here we all thought thirteen was the number to avoid.  :)
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner May 17, 2015  Student Writer
Thank you so much!
Reply
: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.
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner May 17, 2015  Student Writer
Thank you so much! I'm glad you got to see it too--the literature section on deviantart in general is often one with too many missed gems.
Reply
: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!
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner May 17, 2015  Student Writer
Thank you so much!
Reply
:icon5150animator:
5150animator Featured By Owner Edited Aug 23, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
...That was beautiful. 

I feel so uncreative right now compared to you it's crazy. 
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner May 17, 2015  Student Writer
Awww, don't say that. This is based on something that really happened, so it's not so much the good idea as having the experience to document it. 
Reply
:icon5150animator:
5150animator Featured By Owner May 18, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Still, you really formed it into words beautifully. 
But thank you ouo
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner May 22, 2015  Student Writer
Thank you :) No problem.
Reply
: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
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner May 17, 2015  Student Writer
Thank you so much for your insight! I really appreciate your comment, and I apologize for the almost unbelievably late reply! Nonetheless, it means a lot. 
Reply
:iconblackbowfin:
BlackBowfin Featured By Owner May 17, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Heheh.  No worries.  :)
Reply
: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!
Reply
: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:
Reply
:icontonguesofmenorangels:
TonguesOfMenOrAngels Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2014  Student Writer
you're welcome! you should be thrilled - your work is very good :)
Reply
:iconshadowedacolyte:
ShadowedAcolyte Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014
I'd call this prose; it lacks the sonic qualities and imagery I'd associate with something more prose-poem-ish.

Your questions:
No, Yes, Most: the 5s, Least: Leapy tense issues

Thanks for sharing.
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you so much for your feedback~! :heart:
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Somewhere in between, I think, and the fixation on five does an excellent job of relaying the fear.
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you very much~! :heart:
Reply
:iconleftunfinished:
LeftUnfinished Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Very good. Congratulations on the DD! :happybounce:
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you! It's an honor!
Reply
:icontinaaw:
tinaaw Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Wonderful piece - kept me riveted.
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you so much. I'm glad it kept you interested :heart:
Reply
:iconthegalleryofeve:
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on your well-deserved DD!!! :iconflyingheartsplz::iconlainloveplz::iconflyingheartsplz: :clap::clap::clap:
I’m very happy for you!!! :iconloveloveplz: :tighthug:
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Student Writer
:heart: Thank you so much! I'm really happy about it too~!
Reply
:iconthegalleryofeve:
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:iconflyingheartsplz::iconsweethugplz::iconflyingheartsplz:
Reply
:iconayeaye12:
AyeAye12 Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Student Writer
Congrats on the DD!! :tophateager: 

You deserve it :highfive:

Is the number five TOO repetitive?

No, I think it's a perfect balance of consistent use.

Can you tell that heart surgery was going on?

Yeah, I guessed that early into it.

What do you like most and least about the piece?

Most: The urgency and emotion really hits in later into the piece :clap:
Least: "plaque ridden arteries" Isn't plaque teeth-related? Less a least as it is me confused, haha.
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you so much!!! I'm so thrilled to receive one. :nod:

Thank you so much for the insight and feedback~!
Reply
:iconliliwrites:
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
:clap: Congrats on the DD! :D
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you so much :heart: It's certainly an honor. 
Reply
:icondiablo0153:
Diablo0153 Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
The number, as it is the title and the main point of the piece, is not really repetitive as that seems to be the point. You didn't start every sentence with five so it's ok.

Yes, I can tell, though I was a bit confused by the leg part since I'm not that familiar with heart surgery (as most people aren't).

Most I like the ending sentence "Five is the importance between a complete family or one left ruined in devastation.". Least I like the "American-flag-covered-casket" which could have been replaced by simple "casket" and wouldn't feel as pompous (I don't feel like that helped the overall style and urgency of the story).
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2014  Student Writer
Alright! :heart:

Okay! Anyway to make it easier to understand?

Thank you~ I'll see what I can do. Your advice was very much appreciated :heart:
Reply
:iconyobi-chan:
Yobi-chan Featured By Owner Edited Aug 17, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I don't think that the number five is too repetitive. The number five is the thing that ties the whole story together and makes an overall red thread throughout the piece. Writing five so many times emphasizes the importance of the number, making it significant you keep it in mind. Without it so many times, I think this kind of story would lack something important.
It is pretty clear that a heart surgery is taking place, and that the family is anxious, scared of the worst case scenario. The one thing that doesn't make sense to me is the first sentence is the "pulling a vain out of his leg". I know very little of heart surgery, so it doesn't really make sense to a reader like me that a vain should be pulled from the leg when it's the heart that's being operated on.
I like the roll of the sentences. The way they're written like if listed. one thing upon another. I'm not sure you understand my explanation, but I like it nonetheless ^^' It brings out the story without you really having to describe the procedure and what's going on.
There are two sentences I don't really understand, though:

"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"

What do you mean by "five is the difference 
between holding a father’s hand as your mother cries into his heart shaped pillow"? Five minutes? Five feet? Five emotions? I don't really understand.
And in the other sentence: "...he’s okay or carrying your father’s American-flag-covered-casket..." is it a brother that's carrying a father's casket? Is it the father himself? It sounds like it's the father himself carrying his own casket. Maybe you could put in a "you're"? I don't know what you wanted the sentece to be, though.

But overall I really liked it. Repeating the number five is probably the thing I like most about this piece because of the reasons I have mentioned (: And I understood the rest of what I haven't asked about. It's a very sad and scary story written in very few sentences. It must have been a hard time. Thank you for sharing it and being an inspiration to people. You did very good on it! : D
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you so much! I understand completely--I did that intentionally! In heart surgery such as a double bypass, a vein is pulled from the leg to attach to the heart. :nod:

Five is the number that my family would become if my father was not there. Perhaps I could find a way to make this clearer. Thank you for telling me it sounds like my father is carrying his own casket; I could make the fact that I would be carrying it a little clearer. I like the idea of my brother carrying it though. We'll see what I do. 

Thanks again! I really appreciate your insight, and I'll let you know when I get to editing it. :nod: It means a lot. 
Reply
:iconyobi-chan:
Yobi-chan Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Oh! Now it makes more sense to me : D Thank you!

And you're welcome. I'll be happy to read the edited work (:
I'm glad I could help!
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2014  Student Writer
No problem!

:nod:
Reply
:iconyobi-chan:
Yobi-chan Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:tighthug:
Reply
:iconmirrasae:
Mirrasae Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2014   Writer
Strong, emotional, with clear and startling imagery. It's a powerful piece.
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you so much~:heart: I'm glad it has impact.
Reply
:iconilyilaice:
ilyilaice Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2014
In the last sentence, the word importance was jarring. Maybe you mean difference?

Nice piece with strong emotion.
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you :heart:
Reply
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