Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)
I know, she says. People from school have actually been very nice since I got back. Even though I never make any effort to see them.
Maybe you should.
Why, you think I’m being ungrateful?
No, I just mean you must be kind of lonely, he says.
She pauses, the stick between her index and middle fingers.
I’m used to it, she says. I’ve been lonely my whole life, really.
Connell nods, frowning. Yeah, he says. I know what you mean.
You weren’t lonely with Helen, were you?
I don’t know. Sometimes. I didn’t feel totally myself with her all the time.
Marianne lies down flat on her back now, head on the pillow, bare legs stretched on the duvet. She stares up at the light fixture, the same lampshade from years ago, dusty green.
Connell, she says. You know when we were dancing last night?
For a moment she just wants to lie here prolonging the intense silence and staring at the lampshade, enjoying the sensory quality of being here in this room again with him and making him talk to her, but time moves on.
What about it? he says.
Did I do something to annoy you?
No. What do you mean by that?
When you walked off and just left me there, she says. I felt kind of awkward. I thought maybe you were gone after that girl Niamh or something, that’s why I asked about her. I don’t know.
I didn’t walk off. I asked you if you wanted to go out to the smoking area and you said no.
She sits up on her elbows and looks at him. He’s flushed now, his ears are red.
You didn’t ask, she says. You said, I’m going out to the smoking area, and then you walked away.
No, I said do you want to come out to the smoking area, and you shook your head.
Maybe I didn’t hear you right.
You must not have, he says. I definitely remember saying it to you. But the music was very loud, to be fair.
They lapse into another silence. Marianne lies back down, looks up at the light again, feels her own face glowing.
I thought you were annoyed with me, she says.
Well, sorry. I wasn’t.
After a pause he adds: I think our friendship would be a lot easier in some ways if, like … certain things were different.
She lifts her hand to her forehead. He doesn’t continue speaking.
If what was different? she says.
I don’t know.
She can hear him breathing. She feels she has cornered him into the conversation, and she’s reluctant now to push any harder than she has already.
You know, I’m not going to lie, he says, I obviously do feel a certain attraction towards you. I’m not trying to make excuses for myself. I just feel like things would be less confusing if there wasn’t this other element to the relationship.
She moves her hand to her ribs, feels the slow inflation of her diaphragm.