Chapters 13–18 Summary and Analysis
Last Updated on January 20, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1331
Fourteen years before the disaster, the night from one of Kirsten's clippings, Arthur Leander and the very young Miranda are talking in a Toronto restaurant. Miranda, bruised, tells Arthur she is going to leave her boyfriend, and he offers to have her stay with him. They are photographed leaving the restaurant, and journalists subsequently ask about the "mystery brunette." Arthur says she is from his hometown on Delano Island.
Arthur loved Delano Island but found it claustrophobic and left at seventeen for the University of Toronto, before dropping out and attending acting auditions. He then went to theater school and soon hired an agent and went to Hollywood. Hollywood quickly became drug-addled and sloppy, and he was pleased to return, aged twenty-nine, to film a movie in Toronto.
His mother suggested he take Miranda, the niece of their old family friend Susie, to lunch, although she was only seventeen. Arthur obliged and found her very beautiful. They discussed Toronto and acting, and for several years they saw each other rarely, with Arthur briefly dating other women. By the age of thirty-six, Arthur was irritatingly famous.
On the evening the photo in Kirsten’s clipping was taken, in a hotel in Toronto, Arthur pulled out Miranda's number and called her again.
Miranda is an administrative assistant at a shipping company, working for Leon Prevant, an executive. Miranda feels she dresses badly and that her clothes are cheap; her boyfriend, Pablo, complains about her conforming to the "bullshit corporate dress code." He is an artist she met at school.
She tells Pablo that the job is temporary, but actually she enjoys it. Their apartment is too full of pictures Pablo paints but never sells. Work is quiet, so she can spend a lot of time working on her graphic novels about Dr. Eleven, who lives on Station Eleven with the people who have been exiled from Earth.
The day Arthur calls, Miranda tells Pablo when he phones that she'll be home around eight. Pablo is irritable about what she does all day, and Miranda realizes he is calling her office phone to ensure she really is there. She reminds him she is the one who earns their money and hangs up, not responding to an aggressive email he later sends.
Arthur calls and asks to buy Miranda lunch. She suggests dinner instead and does not call Pablo. Pablo has no interest in Miranda’s project, and she is tired of explaining it to him. At dinner, however, Arthur is interested and asks about the inspiration behind the project. After dinner, in the taxi, she tells Arthur she is leaving Pablo, and they kiss and return to the hotel together. A series of irritable texts later concludes with Pablo telling her not to bother coming home.
Miranda takes a taxi home at six the next morning, packs her things, and leaves. She then returns to Arthur's hotel room, and they discuss what is happening with them. She promises that Pablo will do nothing except shout at her.
Several years later, Miranda is married to Arthur, and they have a Pomeranian, Luli. One night at a dinner party for their third wedding anniversary, Miranda feels awkward; there are too many people there, including Elizabeth Colton, who is acting with Arthur. Clark Thompson, Arthur's oldest friend, is a management consultant and the only other person who doesn't work in film.
Shyly, Miranda answers some questions about her work; she does not wish to publish it, thinking that the work itself is what’s important. The narrative turns to how Miranda and Arthur met, and Miranda escapes into the garden to be with the dog, listening through the open window to Arthur telling the story of her turning up at his hotel room with her suitcases. He doesn't add that Pablo hit her when she returned for more of her things or that she spent the next day on set with Arthur.
From outside, Miranda notices Elizabeth touching Arthur's thigh and suddenly realizes they are sleeping together. When Clark emerges, she wonders if he knows—he wishes her good luck.
Dr. Eleven has a Pomeranian, too, also named Luli. Miranda draws her in her study, which looks out over the pool. The guests have all departed, except Elizabeth, who is sleeping in the living room. Miranda tells Arthur they need to talk.
Afterward, she goes out to the front drive and finds a paparazzo there. She recognizes him, and he introduces himself as Jeevan Chaudhary. When he asks why Elizabeth's car is still in the driveway, Miranda tells him Elizabeth is an alcoholic. Before she leaves, Jeevan snaps a picture of her, which will be published under the headline "TROUBLE IN PARADISE?"
In Arthur's study, Miranda finds a legal pad on which he has written that he is "thinking a lot of the future." She also finds a paperweight, which she takes with her back to her own study.
Elizabeth Colton appears in her doorway shortly afterward and apologizes. She says she doesn't believe she is an awful person but that she thinks this is what was supposed to happen.
Three months later, Miranda and Arthur divorce, while Elizabeth packs to move into the house. Miranda returns to Toronto to work on a commerce degree and shortly afterward returns to Neptune Logistics, where she rises rapidly through the ranks of the company. She is often lonely, but there is always Station Eleven to draw in hotel rooms.
Twenty-six years after this, and fifteen years after the flu, a man named Diallo speaks to Kirsten Raymonde, asking about the small towns they have passed through. He has decided to create an oral history of the time they are living in.
Kirsten asks Diallo if he has ever seen the Dr. Eleven comics she has, but he has no recollection of them.
A year before the flu, Arthur and Clark met for dinner in London. Arthur was no longer so famous that he couldn't eat in peace. Clark saw him and wished him a happy birthday, feeling as if both of them were impossibly old. Arthur was about to leave for Paris to visit his son, his child with Elizabeth.
Halfway through the meal, Clark became aware that people were looking at them: Arthur was drawing attention, telling stories as if performing. Clark felt disgust.
In a dialogue between Diallo and Kirsten, Kirsten performatively explains that she was a child actor before the flu and that the Symphony found her in Ohio, aged fourteen. They were on an expedition through a place they never returned to afterward; it was too dangerous.
Kirsten explains that in some towns, the past is discussed; in other places, the children don't know the world was ever different. Some towns are run by cults; some have elected mayors. The cult towns are the most difficult because they are unpredictable, illogical, and can't be argued with.
In these chapters, the reader is brought repeatedly backward and forward in time. Some elements of the past, such as Clark's recollection of his dinner with Arthur, remain firmly in the past, but the character of Miranda is real and present, and her experiences are immediate. This suggests, perhaps, that just as part of Arthur still exists in the person of Kirsten, who remembers him, and in the press clippings about him, a large part of Miranda still exists in the comics about Dr. Eleven that Kirsten has treasured for so long. Arthur is part of the old world; he is gone, and his life experiences are history. Miranda, however, although she is part of the time before, is still alive, her memories preserved in the pages of her comics.
The threads between past and future become more densely woven throughout this section, as the importance of Jeevan to the pre-pandemic timeline becomes clear and the interrelationships between him, Miranda, Arthur, and Elizabeth shed more light on the situation for the reader.