I see smoke.

I always want the sun the most. And I smile when the weather is predicted to be scorching: I always want the sun the most.

A California girl to my core, I want the sun to heat me through and through—to bake my bones until they’re soft and mellow.

Yes, yes, I know, all the time, that fire is a heat-cousin. Fire is the warmth of the sun, melting and white, shimmering and yellow, unproportionate and squared a factor of one hundred times on earth. Fire is a torch from the devil, I believe, and the term “hell fire” is an apt one. Hell fire: the slow-mo liquification of all you hold secure, safe.

A recurring daymare we dream every fall. I stare at it via the newscast.

See, I always want the sun the most, but I want it for the pool, for the chaise, for the beach towel. Miss me with the scorched trees and the square number of acres that are blackened from the choked air and the exhaustion of the bodies who run toward it, while we flee, while we pack important papers and baby pictures and linens our grandmothers wove. Evacuate with what? The clothes on your back, the dream of an easy life left to steam in pools of the water we prayed would pour from the skies but came from helicopters, from trucks—all is waterlogged in the aftermath.

And we are told fire season is not upon us, as yet. This is the warm up. The arsonist’s lit match before the storm.