After that night in the tree, i kept my mouth shut about Rue smoking. She continued to do it for as long as i can rememeber. She turned fifteen when the school year began and with the new year, came a new Rue.
Once class resumed, Rue wasn't home as often as she was when she was in grade nine the year before. She stayed out long into the night, longer than in the summer and when i did see her, she was usually in a bad mood and smelled of nicotine. Somehow she managed to keep it a secret from our parents for the longest time, until one day everything came out in the works.
Around the following fall, Rue came down to the dining room one morning looking absolutely terrible.
"What happened to you?" i asked curiously.
"Nothing, none of your business."
"Good morning to you too," i huffed and walked over to drop my dishes off in the kitchen. i heard Rue sighed and then go off to get ready to go to school...or so i thought.
That night when i came back from school, my parents were seated in the living room talking in a low voice over two cups of coffee. i placed my bag and shoes in the mud room and hid by the doorway to hear what they were saying.
"You did the right thing Meredith."
"I know, but honestly how could she disgrace us by being this way? I mean, we did all we could for her, right?"
"Yes honey we did. Don't worry, she's safe where she is now."
When i heard that last statement, i thought the worst and my heart immediately sunk. Rue was dead somewhere and i didn't get to say goodbye. i started sobbing right then and there, not caring that i gave myself away.
"Asterix! How much have you heard?" my father asked me abruptly when he noticed my figure curled up against the doorjam.
"i'm sorry father. i should have told you she was smoking, but she asked me not to and now i've killed her!" i sobbed sadly until i felt his hand rest on my shoulder softly.
"No no Asterix, you didn't kill her. Rue's not dead."
"She's not?" i said while wiping my eyes.
"No. Come in here, there's something we need to talk about," he said and gestured to the living room and my very stern-looking mother.
They sat me down and told me that Rue wasn't only smoking. She'd gotten into the wrong crowd in school and started doing drugs as well. After a while she began to prostitute herself for drug money, explainaing why she was out so late. When i thought she was going off to get ready for school, i didn't know she'd been skipping school for the past couple of months and was in some serious trouble. My parents sent her off to rehab where she was going to be for a while.
"Whatever you do, don't say anything to anyone about this. We'll just continue on as if Rue moved away or something like that. Say nothing to anyone. Rue's no longer a part of the family so you may as well forget about her."
"Ok dad," i answered and headed upstairs towards my room. On the way though, i stopped to look in Rue's room. It was already barren looking. The posters and whatnots of hers were gone and eveything else was packed away somewhere else. Only one thing remained: a textbook of hers for English class. It was William Shakespeare's play Hamlet and it had a sticky note beside a part of Ophelia's flower monologue:
"there's rue for you, and here's some for me; we may call it herb of grace o'Sundays; O, you must wear your rue with a difference"
i stood confused as what it meant and looked down towards the footnotes where it explained that rue was a flower meaning rememberance. i threw the book at the wall and cried saying, "remember yet forget."