Rogue Alpha
Rogue Alpha
Author: Sophie Matin

You need how much

It is already late. I still have a few more papers to grade. I need to add to my research once I finish grading. Glancing up at the clock, I notice it is already past two in the morning. Rachel will be home soon. At least there are only three more essays to grade.

I close my eyes and run my figure through my dirty blonde hair. It is just past my shoulders and has a slight wave if I don't straighten it. Taking another moment to rest my eyes, I let out a deep sigh. I am sure I look exhausted. My eyes are probably a dull grey instead of their typical bright hue. Some have told me that my eyes sparkle like silver when I am happy. But that doesn't happen much anymore. I go back to grading the essays and wonder what this lack of sleep will do to me in five years.

The door swings open. Rachel comes in with a massive smile on her face.

"Goodnight at the club, I take it."

She nods. "What are you doing up to so late? Shouldn't you be in bed? It's a school night, young lady." She places her hands on her hips and gives me a fake stern look. We both start laughing.

"Dr. Wells gave me fifty essays to grade this afternoon. He wants them first thing in the morning." Dr. Wells despised me ever since I started at university. I think the only reason he picked me as his graduate assistant was to make my life hell.

"That man needs to get a girlfriend." Rachel said, shaking her head.

"Are you volunteering to take one for the team?" I give her a sideways look. She rolls her eyes.

"I love you, but that is a hard pass." She makes a face of disgust. After a moment, she asks, "How many more papers do you have left?"

"I am on the last one."

"Great, I'll make us some coffee." With that, she is off to the kitchen. Rachel is stunning. She has curly red hair, yet her locks always look managed. She stands at 5'5", so a bit shorter than me at 5'10". Rachel also has a very athletic build. In contrast, I have a womanly shape. I am not overweight, but I do have wide hips and a larger bust than average. 

I just finished grading the last essay and placed it back into the folder when Rachel came back. She is holding a tray with two cups and a plate of sliced fruit. "I figured you were hungry." I give her a nod and take a fruit slice along with my cup. "Have you heard from you, mom?"

I wince. "Yeah, my mom needs rent money. I haven't sent any yet. I’m trying to figure out where I am going to get it. If I give her the money, I will be fifty bucks short this month. That is if nothing else comes up."

I sit back on the couch and close my eyes. My mother is a special kind of person. She feels that it is my job to support her and my three younger siblings. When Sam was alive, it was never this hard. We split everything and had money to save each month. Now I struggle month to month.

"You can't keep supporting her. She is a grown woman. A mother shouldn't rely on her kids to support her. It isn't right."

I nod, "It feels like I am in too deep to quit. Jason, Jan, and Clay will be the ones to suffer if I stop". 

Rachel gives me a sympathetic look that makes me cringe. "I get that, Mel, but your life hasn't even started yet because you keep helping her. You're almost 26 and haven’t had a boyfriend in years. Very rarely do you go out and do anything fun."

She is right. My last boyfriend was in high school. I’ve been on dates, but never anything more than two. I just did not like anyone. No one held my interests. I tried directly hooking up, but it didn't feel right.

"I just haven't found anyone worth my time." I shrug off her comment.

Rachel quickly changes the subject, "What are you doing this weekend?"

I shrug, "Probably just writing. I am close to being done with the methods section. Then I can send it to Dr. J to review." Dr. Jacobs, who I call Dr. J, is my dissertation chair. She and I are very close. I meet with her weekly to discuss the progress of my research. However, in most of the meetings, we talk about other random things.

"Let's take a road trip and go see Sam. We can even see your younger siblings. I miss hanging out with you."

"It's a three-hour drive, are you sure?"

"Mel, you are my best friend. Of course, I am sure. I miss Sam too. We all got along so well." Tears start forming in my eyes. "I can't imagine what you are going through" Rachel sits next to me and hugs me. "Let's go down there this weekend. But, let's not stay at your mom's house for too long. How you and Sam came from that woman, I will never understand."

I laugh. Sam often said our mother kidnapped us at birth.

Rachel and I talk a while longer before she calls it a night.

Pulling out my laptop, I set a timer on my phone for two hours. Flipping through my notes, I find where I left off and get to writing.

It felt like no time had passed when the timer went off. I save my progress, pack up my bag for the day, and head off to take a shower. Maybe a shower can hide the fact I didn't sleep.

Since today was a lecture day, I dress some-what professionally. I put on a black dress that came down to the end of my knee with a white blazer jacket. My hair goes into a tight bun, and I did light make-up. I put on tennis shoes to walk to school and stick a pair of black sandals in my bag. Then I grab my phone, keys, and an apple. I shut the door behind me and head off to school.

The university is a short walk from the apartment. It is always my time to think. When I arrive at the university, the first thing I do is get coffee. Since I am a graduate assistant, I can go into the instructor breakroom and use the coffee machine. After I get coffee, I head to my small graduate assistant office. Placing my bag down, I get out the graded essays and put them in Dr. Wells' box. Pulling out the note for today's lecture, I quickly go over them. Then I look through the notes for the class I need to attend later.

When the classes are over, there is about an hour before I met with Dr. Jacobs. I decide to go back to my office and check if there are any emails from students. After responding to a few emails, my phone starts to ring. I check to see who it is, 'Mother,' with an eye roll, I answer.


"Have you sent the rent money yet?" My mother sounds almost panicked.

"No, mom, I haven't. I don't have enough to pay your rent this month."

"What do you mean? I was counting on you!"

"Mom, I am sorry. You needed extra money last month, and it took what little savings I had. I can give you most of the rent, but I am about fifty dollars short."

"You need to figure out a way to get it." She pauses for a moment before continuing. "Oh, Jason and Jan need shoes. So, I will need a little extra for that."

I don't know why I am surprised. Lately, my mother always needs extra. "How much extra?"

"About two hundred. You should be willing to help your family. Or is it because you are getting a Ph.D. that you're better than us?" I can tell she has already started drinking just by her tone.

"Not at all what I said. But two hundred for kids' shoes seems like a lot."

"My kids deserve the best. Don't you want them to have a good childhood? I am being the best mom I can and getting them the best. Why do you want them to have the out-of-style things? They will get picked on in school. Is that what you want? You blame me for your bad childhood, and you're taking it out on your siblings! What would Sam say? Put the money in my account today before the bank closes."

"I don't have the money to-." My mother hung up on me. I put the phone down and look at the clock. It is time to head towards Dr. J's office. My stomach starts to growl as I walk over to her office. I don't have time or the money to eat today. At least this is the last thing on my list, and then I can head home.


"Mel, you can't give mom money. It's not our job to support her!"

"I know Sam. I just wanted to make sure Jan, Jason, and Clay get Christmas presents."

"They are not your kids. She chose to have kids without a job or any source of income."

"They shouldn't suffer for her being an idiot. They don't have a Grams and Gramps to save the day."

"You're too nice; that's why she went to you and not me. But you're right. Let's agree to pay necessities and not give her cash."


That lasts a couple of months. Then we agreed to give our mother a hundred dollars a month; later, it became a hundred dollars each, then two hundred each. Soon we began splitting the cost of our mother's rent.

End of Flashback'

I walk into Dr. J's office. "There you are. Look, I got us soup and sandwiches!" She hands me a cup of soup and a sandwich. "I knew you would skip lunch today, and you probably only had an orange for breakfast." Dr. J looks like a college professor. She has an 'A' line haircut and caramel highlights in her dark brown hair. Dr. J also has big brown eyes and always has a smile.

"Well, guess you don't know me as well as you thought because it was an apple," I give her a huge smile and act smug.

Dr. J laughs, "I stand corrected."

"Thank you for lunch. I am starving." I start drinking the soup; it is delicious. The soup is a tomato and roasted red pepper soup. There is a sweet-savory flavor to it.

"I had a meeting and walked by the café. The food smelled so good I had to get some." Dr. Jacobs responds with a smile.

After lunch, we talk about the upcoming week and what I hope to get accomplished. We discuss the survey and how many participants I have so far. Dr. J then looks at me with sympathy. "Mel, I need to talk to you about your writing." My heart sank. Am I doing a bad job?

"Okay," my voice is shaky, but I try to look at her without emotion.

"I have noticed a decline. It is still on the doctoral level of writing, but it is not your level anymore. When was the last time you did anything fun?" I give her a shrug. I don't remember the last time I did anything fun. "I was afraid of that. I want to change how much you will write this weekend. I want you to take the weekend off."

I stare at her with a blank expression. "Mel, you need to practice self-care. You are overworking yourself. You need to find joy, not just work. Go to the movies, go dancing, get a pedicure or anything you consider fun." I know Dr. J is right. I need to take care of myself, but now with my mother always needing money, how can I afford to do anything fun?

I shake my head and tell her about my mother. Dr. J became my surrogate mother when I started school. Sam and I had her our freshman year for General Psychology, and we hit it off. Of course, I went into psychology, and Sam went into applied mathematics.

When Sam died, Dr. J was there; she helped me clean out Sam's office, make funeral arrangements, and filled out paperwork to give me three weeks off from class and work. We ended our meeting, and I headed home. I need to talk to Rachel about what I was going to do about my mother. But once I arrived at the apartment, I collapsed on the couch and fell asleep.

Comments (5)
goodnovel comment avatar
Snowbell Green
what a nice novel.
goodnovel comment avatar
Lisa Smith
goodnovel comment avatar
Bella Jersey
I meant Mel

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