I didn’t mind waking up to thunder and flashes of light in the sky. The violent cascade of water on the roof was one of my favorite sounds. In California, storms never got too dangerous, and I never understood why my sister feared lightning. There was nothing like the smell of air the morning after a storm—crisp and full of life.
That night, though, it wasn’t rain I smelled. Smoke filled my lungs. Burning embers lit up the night, engulfing an old tree. I watched horrified as the flames devoured each branch it touched, spreading quickly to my neighbor’s lawn.