Marnie felt words boiling inside her, but they were the kind that made sense. Logical, grammatical sense. Not the kind of sense Prof understood.
She took a deep breath and studied Prof’s face. In his mind, the kindness in his eyes was authentic. He honestly believed he was helping her when he told her to falsify her results. He saw no contradiction between his helpful instructions and the decision he’d probably made already to deny this discussion took place if she was caught.
“Thank you for giving this so much thought,” she said.
Marnie needed to align her words with his beliefs if she wanted to influence him. He believed he’d thought it through, so she needed to start by acknowledging his superior wisdom.
“What concerns me is that if we adjust the results in the way you suggest, they may contradict the report we published a couple of months ago.”
The word ‘published’ was the key. She and Jason had written the report and Prof had sent it in his name. By the unwritten rules of their department, that made it his. Therefore the words it contained were unassailable.
“You may have a point.” Prof spoke as though conferring a knighthood. “Perhaps we need to look at this again.”
“I’ll see if I can come up with some suggestions,” she said.
Another unwritten rule was that Marnie’s suggestion would become Prof’s idea if he thought it was a good one.
When she left his office, Marnie allowed herself a smile of satisfaction. She was learning to play the game. She wondered if Prof had a similar moment of satisfaction when he was junior enough to have suggestions instead of ideas. Had that been the moment his idea of sense was conceived.