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At first Miss Ticher struggles to both stand and tolerate the Quillian, loathing his false teeth bouncing around in his mouth, hating the ill-fitting clothing, and his general garrulous nature. As the time passes and Quillian details his long list of failures, her character turns inward and revealing an unmarried woman who had given her entire life to teaching, a life that also tingles with regrets. Childless and nearing retirement, Miss Ticher vacations with her lifelong friend Miss Grimshaw. In truth only Miss Grimshaw is happy (if she even is), in control, and looking to live the life she wants. Such a life includes embarrassing her friend and controlling her. As she grimaces over her friend’s morning drink with a stranger, she plans out the elaborate teacher’s lounge embarrassment to come. Yet, this haughty victory is never fulfilled and will not be, for Miss Grimshaw observes a character change in her friend. Lacking the disinterest that existed early on in the conversation, by the end, Miss Ticher notes “‘How cruel the world is’” (55). Life does not unfold according to plan. Humans cannot and do not have a choice in every event that happens before them. There will be a break from Miss Grimshaw and perhaps even a finger point of blame for the chain of events in her life.
Closing their conversation, Miss Ticher notes: “‘I’m sorry,’ Miss Ticher said quietly. ‘I’m sorry your parents were drowned. I’m sorry you don’t like the work you do’”(53). This consolation digs into the crux of the problem: despite his past, despite her past, they cannot change the truth. Nor can the woman cheating on her husband who Quillian is following around for the weekend. Facts are facts, the past is the past, and Trevor cements these facts with each passing word.