There's a placid, clear, beautiful lake. Caged in the center of a world of concrete. It's clean all the way down. And for a second she saw -- Dylan saw, even Norman saw -- just how far down it goes. How clean it is, all the way to the bottom.
Miss Watson is still alive. Emma's heart is not yet broken. Richard Slymore waits in the wings. Miss Watson waits in the wings. Everything is going to be okay.
Everything is a man who burns from the inside, choking on thick black smoke. But if he could breathe, it would be this: Just a peaceful lake, beautiful as our boy. Beautiful as a girl, out in the woods. Only sleeping.
She looks at the bottom and she sees two choices: Alex Romero, dirty though he is, gets her free. Or else she dies and she goes free. After decades of putting up with things, in the world of men, she looks down the barrel and she sees stars. She has one chance to be seen, known, by the person she loves the most. Who knows her best. The best thing she ever did, in her whole shadowed life. Born, made, reared, shaped to carry this. In a world of concrete, one soft thing.
For a moment, she is free. She passes him her secret and she's clean.
Jiao. She always was.
JACOB CLIFTON is a freelance writer and critic based in Austin, Texas. He currently recaps Bates Motel and Defiance for TWoP. Jacob can be found online at jacobclifton.com, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as a regular column for Tor.com, Geek Love.
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