Two weeks before the collapse, Miranda flies to Toronto from New York. At this point, she is a high-powered, well-traveled business executive for Neptune Logistics. She sees “ghosts” of her older self everywhere, poorly dressed, uncertain, and anxious. Now Miranda is confident and competent. She whispers into the mirror, “I regret nothing,” once again. She goes to meetings for work until she has to meet Arthur.
After her divorce from Arthur, Miranda has made another major life change and evolved into a newly competent woman. She is still able to look back on the memories her life without regret. We can also note that she is fully engrained in civilization, acting as one of the people whose effort is required to keep the world as we know it moving.
The reason Miranda is seeing Arthur is a call she received a few months ago from Arthur telling her that his father died. She expresses her condolences and wonders why he called, as they haven’t spoken since the divorce. Arthur responds that Miranda knows where he is from.
Again, the mutual background of Delano Island is the basis for a unique connection between Arthur and Miranda. Arthur can only seem to talk about his father’s death with someone from the same place.
Arthur is staring in a production of King Lear, and they decide to meet at the theatre, since Arthur is in the middle of his third divorce and believes going to a restaurant will be too public. Though the paparazzi stopped following her long ago, Miranda spends some time on her appearance (her “armor”) before leaving her hotel. On the way in to the theatre, she’s noticed by the paparazzi, and the photo Kirsten discovers in the tabloid in Chapter 38 is taken.
Miranda’s frustration with the paparazzi has lingered beyond her marriage to Arthur, but now she has the clothing and the confidence to more effectively brave the onslaught of photos and questions. The paparazzi continue to symbolize the superficiality of modern civilization.
Arthur and Miranda meet in his dressing room, where they begin by exchanging pleasantries. She asks him how the previews for the play are going, and he tells her he has been enjoying working with a Shakespearean scholar as a consultant for his role of Lear. After Miranda expresses condolences for the loss of his father, Arthur takes the opportunity to tell her about the impending publication of Dear V.
Arthur is at once engaged in Lear and his artistic process, in grieving for his father’s death, and in understanding the fact that he is aging. It could be seen as manipulative to use the news of his father’s death to soften the blow of the impending publication of “Dear V.”
Though she is mentioned in the book, Arthur tells Miranda he did use some discretion in his letters to Victoria. He tells Miranda he thinks he deserves this publication, since he treated Victoria like a diary instead of a real person reading letters. He assumes she agreed to publish the letters for the money. Throughout this conversation, Miranda can’t tell if Arthur is acting or not, and wonders if the blurring of borders between performance and life happens to all actors.
Like Clark, Miranda notices that performance and reality are blurring for Arthur, which leads to the question of whether or not Arthur is being genuine. While Miranda wonders if she is interacting with a genuine person or not, Arthur feels he deserves punishment for failing to remember that in writing letters to Victoria, he was indeed corresponding with a person, not just a journal.
The topic of conversation turns back to catching up: Miranda isn’t married, she has no kids, and she loves her job and her life. Arthur, on the other hand, has an eight-year-old son (Tyler) who lives with his mother (Elizabeth) in Jerusalem.
While Arthur has remarried several times, Miranda remains unmarried, and she seems happier than ever in her working and personal life.
At this point in the conversation, a young Kirsten enters the dressing room with her coloring book. Miranda is introduced to Kirsten and reflects that she will probably grow up to be unadventurous and well-groomed. Miranda also sees in the way that Arthur interacts with Kirsten how much he misses his own son.
Kirsten will not remember this chance meeting with Miranda, who wrote the comics that Kirsten will come to cherish. Ironically, Miranda presumes Kirsten will grow up to be unadventurous, when in reality she will grow up to be a travelling actor with deadly knife throwing abilities. Note also how obvious it is to Miranda that Arthur is in pain and misses Tyler.
Arthur then asks Miranda if she is still drawing, to which she answers yes, always. Her focus has lately been on the Undersea as opposed to Dr. Eleven himself. This question reminds her to give Arthur two copies of the first two issues of the “Dr. Eleven” comic books.
This exchange is what leads to Kirsten’s eventual possession the “Dr. Eleven” comics. As always, art is a constant for Miranda. Even in her new happy life, she is perpetually drawing and working on the comics.
While Arthur flips through the comics, Kirsten colors in her coloring book. Kirsten fears that she has messed up coloring the princess’s dress, but Miranda and Arthur think it’s perfect. The conversation between Arthur and Miranda ends with Miranda saying she’s headed for Asia in four days. She informs Arthur that twelve percent of the world’s shipping fleet is moored outside of Singapore Harbor.
Miranda’s comment about the shipping fleet reflects the excess of civilization. We are so developed that we have dormant ships, wasting away on the ocean and awaiting things to carry across the world. Soon the ability to order an item from the other side of the globe will be a distant memory.
A little while later, Miranda realizes she forgot to give Arthur the paperweight that Clark Thompson brought to the dinner party in Los Angeles eleven years earlier. She studies it for a moment, and then has it shipped to the theatre for Arthur.
This moment is a key step in the paperweight’s connective journey. Miranda once took the paperweight, but must send it back in order for it to end up with Kirsten in the post-collapse world.