Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 849
Snapshot: Disneyland 8:57 a.m., Saturday, June 25th
Disneyland is again ready for business two weeks after the official end of the Tap-Out. An unnamed eighteen-year old, the park’s newly hired ticket taker, waits at the front gate for the park to open. The Emerald Gates of Disneyland open at exactly nine o’ clock, marking humanity’s return to normalcy.
It is two weeks after the Tap-Out. Alyssa takes a shower in her house, mindful of the water she consumes. She thinks of the three types of people who have survived the Tap-Out: the PTSD victims (such as herself), the “heroes,” and the “shadows”—those who can’t face the unspeakable things they did to survive. She also thinks of how things worked out for the people in her lives. Her mother had to be hospitalized after the Laguna Beach riot, and her father was jailed because he was mistaken for one of the violent instigators. Their parents then arrived home to find Alyssa and Garrett gone. The two, along with Kelton, were air-lifted out of the San Gabriel reservoir and into the evacuation center at Lake Arrowhead, where they were treated for smoke inhalation. Luckily, Alyssa and Garrett were able to reunite with their parents after reaching out to them from Arrowhead. Uncle Basil is also back with the Morrows, having tragically lost Daphne.
Alyssa goes down to the living room and catches the television announcing the resignation of the governor of Arizona—one of many public officials who have stepped down. She asks Garrett if he’s ready to leave, but he tells her he doesn’t want to come. Kelton then comes in and switches the channel to a news report featuring Henry, who is being interviewed for allegedly rescuing people from a burning building in Tustin. However, Alyssa and Kelton know that Henry was nowhere near Tustin at the time of the Tap-Out. They also find out from the report that Henry’s last name is Groyne and that he is only thirteen years old. After complaining about Henry’s lies, the two decide to laugh it off and go outside.
Outside, Alyssa glances at the “for sale” sign in the McCrackens’ front yard. She thinks of the McCrackens’ divorce and the traumatic events they all experienced inside their home. Kelton tells her that he will be staying at his father’s until the latter heads off to Idaho, after which he will be staying with his mother. Alyssa and Kelton then talk about the nature of their relationship and jokingly schedule a date in thirty years. Finally, Alyssa’s father pulls up to the curb and asks them if they’re ready to go. It is revealed that they are going to Foothill Hospital, where an unnamed patient being treated for burns—hinted to be Jacqui—has listed Alyssa Morrow as her emergency contact.
The opening scene of the final chapter mirrors that of the first. Instead of an image of a dry tap, however, readers are met with the image of a soaking wet sponge. The image is powerful in its simplicity, as it immediately marks a return to civilization. The opening phrase “Soapy sponge, wet washcloth, dry towel, repeat” also implies that Alyssa has learned a valuable lesson from her experiences during the Tap-Out: that she must appreciate and try to conserve life’s simple luxuries. Alyssa bathes without turning on the shower and instead tries her best to use simply a sponge, a washcloth, and a basin of water to clean herself. Although this isn’t likely the behavior of all the survivors of the Tap-Out, the novel raises it as the ideal.
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novel’s theme of classification, such as Richard’s classification of people as sheep, wolves, or herders, Alyssa classifies the survivors of the Tap-out as PTSD victims, heroes, or shadows. The “heroes” are those who have found in themselves the wisdom and strength to help others—one clear example of this is Charity, the Water Angel. Meanwhile, the difference between PTSD victims and “shadows” is that the latter feel deep shame at the possibly immoral things they did to survive, while the former are simply relieved to be alive. One of the “shadows” includes Alyssa’s high school classmate and varsity teammate Hali Hartling, who has gone from social and competitive to reclusive. In fact, Hali has her own “snapshot” chapter in the novel, where it is revealed that she was forced to perform sexual favors for water. However, Alyssa does not know this. It is clear from her classification that, for better or worse, the crisis has forced people to confront their true selves.
Finally, the last lines draw on the novel’s central motif of water and apply it to the human body. Alyssa contemplates the fact that the human body is sixty percent water. She knows from her experiences during the Tap-Out that humans are also composed of an extensive range of emotions such as grief, sorrow, and joy. The water inside people represents hope and the possibilities of the future.