The following is in response to Gabrielle Hovendon’s “Vital Signs.”
The point of this short comes at the end as a flash of insight, that we don’t always know who we think we do. Hovendon develops Florian as a go-getter and honest guy; I did not expect that he was doing drugs. This play on expectation hits you all at once at the end, making for one good flash prose piece.
The story is driven by the speaker telling us about the first six syringes that she sold while working at a pharmacy. The repetition of the line “I sold my [insert ordinal number] syringe” really caught my attention because it is a successful rhythmic element that moves the story along, building tension as it goes. Since she is selling the syringes to customers, she creates two types of characters: the ones behind the counter and he ones in front of it. When we find out Florian is just like those in front of the counter our expectations have been “blown out of the water.”
Another interesting line in this short is when the speaker asks the question, “Have you ever actually let the whole bottle of tablets spill out into your palm and stared at their perfect ovalness, wondered at the marvelous alchemic processes that make you happier or healthier or more attentive or less likely to die?” The effect that happiness has on our lives, the fragility of humanity, our mortality—they are unearthed by Hovendon’s question, adding another layer of complexity to the short.