Texas is burning.

The fires in Bastrop, which is only about 30 miles from Austin, have been burning for days. So far over 35,000 acres and 1,000 homes have been destroyed, and firefighters are only now beginning to get it under control. The maps of the fires show all of Northeast Texas ablaze, with new fires springing up all over. Yesterday there was one so close to my vet’s office they could see the thick billowing smoke, and all day today the whole city has been hazy with the campfire-smell of smoke and fear. In the last three months, Central Texas has seen on average less than two inches of rainfall (not per month. Total.) and the drought isn’t likely to break soon. My neighborhood is as much a tinderbox of crumbling brown grass and yellowed trees as anywhere else in the state. It would take no more than a driver’s careless cigarette butt or a gust of wind on a neighbor’s grill to start it. Our neighbor in back had their house burn down just a few weeks ago, and a tree we share caught too. The amazing men and women of the Austin Fire Department kept it from going further but nonetheless that night stands sharp and hot in my mind. I have been afraid of fire for as long as I can remember. I spent many sweaty childhood summer camp nights, crammed into a sleeping bag to avoid the whine of the mosquitoes and listening to the undulating sussuration of crickets and cicadas, worrying that fire is destroying everything I love.

I have been treading a careful line between prepared and paranoid the last few days. Gathering paperwork that we would need if we had to leave our house in a rush, but not putting all I own in a car. Keeping the gas tank full but not leaving the keys in the ignition when at home.

And yet, when I hear a siren spinning up and off into the night, I can’t help but glance around to make sure I can see all the cats. Brief catalogues of canned foods whirl in my mind before dropping back into my ocean of thoughts.

I’m more than nervous, less than terrified. I am on the balls of my feet, ready to burst into fear and run. The adrenaline stays contained, crackling within me, but I’m not sleeping very well these days.

The sirens keep waking me up.