Another Margaret Jones piece, this time when she's at Cambridge University studying Botany she makes an enemy, who will one day ruin Margaret's career...
Hilary May Bishop loved being at Cambridge University. She had gone from being the most popular girl at her Academy to the most popular girl at University. Not a day went by when a boy didn’t ask her out for lunch or one of her girl friends complemented her hair, or clothes, or make up, or shoes, or jewellery. Her father knew many of the professors, having studied there himself and now being on University’s board, so even they treated Hilary May wonderfully. Many of the professors marked her work very highly, she was receiving the highest grades in class, well, nearly the highest.
‘Margaret Jones, 94% on your essay on ‘Nipplewort: Common Weed or Deadly Disease?’ an original and entertaining topic. Well done.’ Professor Gladstien said handing Margaret her essay.
Hilary May looked through her own essay entitled: ‘Should Hedge Mustard Be Used By Herbalists Once More?’ She had received 89% and the only comment Professor Gladstien had written was, ‘Good sentence structure’. Hilary May glared at Margaret as she returned to her seat and was congratulated by her surrounding classmates. How come Hilary May was being outdone by such a moronic twerp? There was absolutely nothing special about her. Hilary May was so much better. She should be the one being congratulated on her top mark. She was the smarter one, the charming one, the prettier one. Margaret Jones was hardly pretty. Her hair was an unruly brown bush that clouded her face and her thick glasses made her look like an oversized bug. Her clothes were no better; her burgundy woollen jumper and tan corduroy skirt looked atrocious together, and then coupled with her out of fashion, clearly hand-me-down 1960’s vinyl kitten heels, Hilary May was trying her best not to throw up. Hilary May smoothed her golden hair, looked down at her beautifully painted nails and straightened her lavender cardigan, which matched her skirt and shoes. She was so perfect. Why on Earth was she feeling so threatened by this bug-eyed dweeb? She had absolutely nothing to worry about.
‘Yes, my boyfriend sent them all the way from Thailand, he goes travelling a lot you know, it would be too expensive for normal people but he works for the government so he can afford it. What department does he work in? Oh, it’s top secret I couldn’t possibly tell you. But don’t you just love the flowers, they’re such a beautiful colour and they smell fantastic!’ Hilary May barely stopped to breathe as she gushed about the bouquet she had received this morning. Many of her class members gathered around to catch a glimpse of such an interesting specimen of flower, even Professor Gladstien looked impressed. Hilary May beamed as they complimented her and said how she was so lucky to have such a wonderful boyfriend. She was so pleased with herself that she didn’t notice when Margaret Jones walked into the class and joined the crowd.
‘Oh, what a delightful bunch of flowers you have, Hilary Jay.’ Margaret said leaning in to sniff the flowers.
‘It’s Hilary May,’ she corrected but Margaret didn’t appear to hear her. ‘My boyfriend bought them for me, they come from Thailand.’
‘Yes,’ Margaret agreed, leaning in for another sniff, ‘they’re the Excrementum Odoratus Redigere, which is literally translated as Excrement Odour Reducer. They were originally grown around tribes’ toilet area, commonly a ditch dug into the ground, to reduce the smell of faecal matter, hence their strong fragrance.’ Margaret did not notice the silence that followed her precise and matter of fact explanation. Everyone was staring at Hilary May. ‘Perhaps,’ Margaret continued in her factual tone, ‘your boyfriend is trying to suggest something to you.’
Hilary May looked at Margaret with pure hatred as every person in the room burst out laughing, including Professor Gladstien. Margaret looked around at everyone, smiled bewilderedly, and simply went to sit down at her desk. Hilary May could not believe what Margaret had just done. She had made her the laughing stock of the Botany department and didn’t even seem to realise! Hilary May was going to get Margaret back for this; she better watch her back.