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from The Brightest Firefly by Dacia M Arnold

I Should Not

I Should Not






Mary Magdalene Gilliam was my grandmother. My father’s mother. She passed away in February 2015. The years leading to this moment were riddled with incoherence, frustration, and fear. Then there were moments of clarity, comfort, and the desire to hear her daughters sing. This story, inspired by her illness, became my very first published work and appeared in the international anthology COLP: The Passage of Time. The story itself moves through time as the narrator, confused at her physical state, retraces her steps to put the pieces of her entire life back together. Again.


I am lost. Hurt. Blood is drying down my leg. I have been injured worse before on hikes, but for some reason, my entire body seems slow and pained. I need to find help. At the end of the road, I can see a house, a white farmhouse. Surely someone there can help me. How did this happen? I have never been lost before. I am an expert navigator; ask anyone on my team.

I am a member of a hiking group and have led some of the most dangerous excursions in the country. In 1956, I led a team of five to the summit of Yosemite’s Half Dome. This was on day one of our twenty-six-day journey through the Yosemite Valley to Lyell Canyon. Everyone who started, I saw to the end. How is it I can navigate a wilderness on the sole knowledge of maps, but fail to find my way back home from my own backyard? This has been my home for my entire life. I have walked these woods hundreds of times, named the trees and the rocks. These woods are my second home; I escape here when life is too much.

This morning I woke up to a beautiful sunrise, a perfect mix of pale blue, white, and yellow in the east. The weather was crisp and ideal for a hike. I chose the east entrance. With the season being mid-spring, the trees and underbrush were lush and vibrant green. Had I been anymore unfamiliar, I would not have found it. It took ten feet to see the beaten, age-old path that I stomped bare, season after season. Smaller than I remembered, but my path nonetheless. Every year brought new life and a familiar welcome to nature and its beauty. Birds chirped unseen in the canopy of ancient elm and maple trees easily seventy feet above me. The gro...

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