Lock and Key – Chapter 11

Chapter 11

“All I am saying …is that to the casual observer, it looks like something is going on.”

I am with you Olivia.  That and I have the privilege of witnessing Ruby’s girly reaction to Nate’s proximity.  They go to and from school together, he rescued her from losers and the woods and she helps him with gift bags – it is definitely suspicious.  And by ‘causal observer’ we know she means herself.  Girls aren’t all that great at code.  Well this one isn’t that’s for sure.  She might as well start singing – Nate and Ruby sitting in a tree… and making kissy sounds.

Ruby and Olivia are definitely friends now.  There may not have been a solidifying point but if you are trading barbs over whether or not a girl’s got a guy or not, you are definitely buds.  Pestering is a uniquely girlfriend tool.  Unlike teasing, bullying or abuse it is usually well intended but interfering all the same.  They are calling each other out on their weaknesses – Nate and the incessantly ringing cell phone.  I really like them together.

Gervais is a stalker.  Stalker in the crush sense and less on the psychotic bent.  He’s twelve and got the hots for Ruby, I feel bad for both of them.  It’s never going to happen.  In the burgeoning friendship between Naby (I decided they needed a couple name), Gervais has been left out in the cold.  It is unlikely he would have friends in his high school or college classes and the one guaranteed interaction he did have was now gone.  His two friends more interested in each other than conversing with him.  Bless his little heart. I am going to assume that the hair combing, headgear loss and reduction in toxic emissions is due to his lurvvvve for Ruby.  A girl can be just the motivation a guy needs sometimes.

When Nate sits next to Ruby, he nudges her with his knee.  Her interest in him, no matter how tepid, is reciprocated to some degree.

Huge family events are not something I can relate to.  I get weirded out in crowds so I can completely understand why Cora feels the needs to hide.  After all who would expect her to be in her sister’s room, let alone her sister’s wardrobe?  Roscoe could make anyone feel reassured, he’s such a ‘fraidy cat that being near him would make you feel more confident, brave and safe in comparison.  The dog definitely needs therapy.

In a lovely moment we hear about how Cora and Jamie first connected.  That Thanksgiving is their anniversary on many counts.  I guess that makes it an easy date to remember.  As I was reading about Jamie’s food poisoning from sushi I began to feel queasy.  I ate sushi last night, I tuck it away as a psychosomatic reaction.  So Cora finds a green, barely conscious, sweaty guy in her hall and decides to help him out.  What a keeper.  They bonded over ‘…movies and eating toasted thing’.  It did actually sound nice. 

Thankful lists?  As someone unacquainted with Thanksgiving and its accompanying traditions I am going to assume this is a Jamie-family thing.  The thought of Ruby having to stand in front of strangers and list the things she is grateful for is horrifying.  Sure Jamie is all enthusiastic and well meaning but surely he would realise that the extent of this event is going to terrify this girl?  I am all for bringing people into the fold but be realistic man!

I really enjoy the image of the two sisters sitting next to one another in a closet.  That simply by sitting with Cora, Ruby is comforting her in a time of high stress.  The contrast between Jamie and Cora’s upbringing is so vastly opposed it is no wonder that she is placing so much pressure on herself.  In-laws are scary.  The additional fertility factor is another point of contention, that she is disappointing everyone in her difficulty to conceive.  No wonder she’s scared.  The warmth that is beginning to seep into their relationship and interactions is welcomed and realistic.  It hasn’t been an instantaneous event, they are getting there inch by inch.  Ruby’s advice–

“This is happening.  So you need to go downstairs, face your fears, and make the best of it, and everything will be okay.”

This new streak of positivity is a reflection of Nate’s and Jamie’s affect on her.  You can’t be around two positive, jolly people and have it not impact you in some way.  And for Ruby it’s a good thing.

With flour smatterings, tears and a threat of eviscerating via egg beater it is no wonder that Ruby took some refuge at Nate’s.  Sure Cora didn’t threaten the egg beater attack but her current state of mind implies that it was a possibility.  Upon getting a litany of instructions from his dad, Nate continues to make excuses for his father’s mood.  To be honest, in the few interactions we have experienced with Mr Cross, he always seems to be a jerk.  How did Nate end up the way he did?  Ruby’s comparison between Mr Cross and her own mother is intriguing, are there some similarities that haven’t been made apparent to us as yet?

Ahh finally the story of Mrs Cross.  So she remarried after divorcing Nate’s dad (who could blame her) and immediately sprouted some daughters.  Nate proved too much to handle due to his extremely normal teenage behaviour so he was shipped off to his dad.  Nate really didn’t score well in the parental stakes.  It makes me even more suspicious that the positivity and niceness is a front.  That inside he is a seething mess of insecurities and even more screwed up than Ruby.  I am waiting for his pivotal truth moment.

Ruby’s brainstorm thankful list-

·         Heat and running water

·         Cora and Jamie – for taking her in

·         Harriet – for giving her a job

·         Olivia – for helping her out ‘that day’

·         Nate – for being a friend.

It’s a good list.  All things I would be grateful too but I do believe that Roscoe should be added.  She should be further grateful that he hasn’t developed any more anxieties or had that all important psychotic break.   The addition of Gervais and his burping cease-fire was interesting.  We haven’t heard about Gervais in many chapters and yet he is coming up strong in this one.  What is the relevance?  Or was she just adding Gervais’ name to take attention away from her gratefulness for Nate?  Some more body contact no matter how fleeting.  They like each other.  I have a smile on my face, I am a sucker for romance.

If you were left alone in the house of the guy you liked, you’d snoop right?  I sure would, definitely the bedroom.  Bedrooms say a lot about their inhabitants.  Mine for instance would state that I am a clutter freak but not unclean, a big novel reader and a comic book freak with an inability to put clothes away or make her bed.  (I just realised that everything I write in this blog about myself makes me sound like a nut job, I am really not one at all, just very forthcomingJ).  If Nate’s room said anything about him it would be the following – barren, lonely, sterile and soulless.  I would only associate one of those words with Nate.  There is nothing personal in there at all.  Mine room is littered with keepsakes, photos and hints at my family and interests.  Nate has nothing.  Maybe Nate and Ruby are more similar than she previously believed.  Their rooms reflect the temporary nature of their existence in their homes.  Like they both believe they need to be ready to go.  I am filled with dread.  We know why Ruby’s room is like it is, she is untrusting of her current situation after years of being on the go.  Nate, we have no idea.  This has something to do with the team and I feel strongly that is has something to do with his father.

The Hunter Family are large in number, loud in voice and exuberant in everything.  Jamie’s announcement was clumsy, putting all the family’s attention and hope onto Cora’s fertility state.  He would so get a punch in the arm later if I were her.  It is interesting that Ruby realised his mistake before he did.  She is becoming much more in tune to her sister‘s feelings than even she might believe.   He launches the advertising campaign complete with the Hunter Family snap featured.  It is interesting timing for Ruby to ask Cora about her definition of family at this time of stress and embarrassment.  Perhaps it’s her way of distracting her?  Ruby’s mention of Cora’s family with her and with Jamie being different brings us to another intriguing take on what is family.

“Well…I have my family of origin, which is you and Mom.  And then there is Jamie’s family, my family of marriage.  And hopefully, I’ll have another family, as well.  Our family, that we make.  Me and Jamie.”

Cora is obviously a sorter or compartmentaliser.  Probably the reason she has been able to achieve her current life while still holding on to concern and guilt over Ruby all these years.

“Family isn’t something that’s supposed to be static or set.  People marry in, divorce out.  They’re born, they die.  It’s always evolving, turning into something else.”

This is my favourite definition.  It appeals to my sensibilities and practical streak.  I really connected with the discussion of family following Cora’s definition especially Jamie’s Mom’s notes on her family and her small moment of link with Ruby.    Maybe this situation might not be as daunting for Ruby as I predicted.

As Ruby entered the quiet Cross house I was a little cautious.  I could feel that something was going to happen.  From Ruby’s perspective we see Mr Cross throwing a huge tantrum, Nate quickly trying to tidy what I assume is the result of his father’s anger and a pretty healthy example of verbal abuse.  The shameful way this man was speaking to his son was gut wrenching.  I felt pity for Nate and anger towards his father.  His finally words were particularly ghastly –

“You know what?  You disgust me.  I can’t even look at your face right now.”

If Nate lives and works under these conditions I am unsure how he maintains such a positive outlook.  Perhaps it is the only thing he can hold onto.  That it can’t get worse.  This supports my belief that people need to have a licence to breed.  Turns out that Nate and Ruby are more and more alike than ever.  I cannot believe she stayed there.  That she didn’t turn tail and run.  But for the first time, she was looking out for Nate and not visa versa.    After initially trying to hide the truth he’s honest in revealing that his dad has always had a temper and that he only hits him when he’s really worked up.  It takes Ruby telling him some of her family history for him to be honest though.  He is still very dismissive of it, like it’s normal.  That’s when I realise for him, it is normal.  It’s his life. 

He quit swimming because of his dad’s fiery nature.  He couldn’t deal with his father making a spectacle of himself at meets, being banned from the deck.  I had a similar dad but he was supporting me too much not approaching it from an angry place like Mr Cross.  No wonder he quit.  His mother is equally reprehensible, choosing ‘…to be a bit selective in how she processes information’.  Kind words for an unacceptable parenting choice.

Nate knows his options.  Heather helped him research it.  And yet he uses Ruby’s mother as an example of how you can stick it out and that social service don’t need to be brought into the situation. Both of them had the goal of being free in the future and yet Ruby realises that that may not be the most important thing.  The now, the present is important too.  In the end she decided not to push, to be supportive, to be understanding but all I can wonder is, how safe can Nate be?

__________________________________________________________________________________

A Note from Adele

This time folk it was longer.  There were many revelations in this chapter and I am glad we saw the truth of Nate’s living conditions.  His father really isn’t a nice chap at all.

Still taking questions for Sarah Dessen, if you are interested at sddiarist@gmail.com.

Apologies on the podcast front, we had a power outage at home for many, many hours last night and I can’t record at work.

Also to Sarah, have a fantastic holiday.  You deserve it.

I was thinking that Lock and Key would be great as a television series.  I initially thought movie but the idea of a tv show sounded more interesting.  If you were the casting director would would you choose, dead or alive, no price too big?  Who would it be?  I’ll be posting my choices in a few days, who would you cast?

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