Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)
Pins arranged on the table, Lorraine starts teasing her hair out loosely with her fingers.
Did you hear Isa Gleeson is pregnant? she says.
I did, yeah.
Your old friend.
He picks up the can of beer and weighs it in his hand. Isa was his first girlfriend, his first ex-girlfriend. She used to call the house phone at night after they broke up and Lorraine would answer. From up in his room, under the covers, he would hear Lorraine’s voice saying: I’m sorry, sweetheart, he can’t come to the phone right now. Maybe you can talk to him in school. She had braces when they were going out together, she probably doesn’t have those anymore. Isa, yeah. He was shy around her. She used to do such stupid things to make him jealous, but she would act innocent, as if it wasn’t clear to both of them what she was doing: maybe she really thought he couldn’t see it, or maybe she couldn’t see it herself. He hated that. He just withdrew from her further and further until finally, in a text message, he told her he didn’t want to be her boyfriend anymore. He hasn’t seen her in years now.
I don’t know why she’s keeping it, he says. Do you think she’s one of these anti-abortion people?
Oh, is that the only reason women have babies, is it? Because of some backwards political view?
Well, from what I hear she’s not together with the dad. I don’t know does she even have a job.
I didn’t have a job when I had you, says Lorraine.
He stares at the intricate white-and-red typeface on the can of beer, the crest of the ‘B’ looping back and inwards again towards itself.
And do you not regret it? he says. I know you’re going to try and spare my feelings now, but honestly. Do you not think you could have had a better life if you didn’t have a kid?
Lorraine turns to stare at him now, her face frozen.
Oh god, she says. Why? Is Marianne pregnant?
She laughs, presses a hand to her breastbone. That’s good, she says. Jesus.
I mean, I assume not, he adds. It wouldn’t have anything to do with me if she was.
His mother pauses, hand still at her chest, and then says diplomatically: Well, that’s none of my business.
What does that mean, you think I’m lying? There’s nothing going on there, trust me.
For a few seconds Lorraine says nothing. He swallows some beer and puts the can down on the table. It is extremely irritating that his mother thinks he and Marianne are together, when the closest they have come in years to actually being together was earlier this evening, and it ended with him crying alone in his room.
You’re just coming home every weekend to see your beloved mother, then, are you? she says.
He shrugs. If you don’t want me to come home, I won’t, he says.