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Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)

They’re probably still pre-drinking in Rob’s, says Lisa.

They’ll be absolutely binned by the time they get here, says Karen.

Marianne takes her phone from her bag and writes Connell a text message: Lively discussion here on the subject of your absence. Are you planning to come at all? Within thirty seconds he replies: yeah jack just got sick everywhere so we had to put him in a taxi etc. on our way soon though. how are you getting on socialising with people. Marianne writes back: I’m the new popular girl in school now. Everyone’s carrying me around the dance floor chanting my name. She puts her phone back in her bag. Nothing would feel more exhilarating to her at this moment than to say: They’ll be on their way shortly. How much terrifying and bewildering status would accrue to her in this one moment, how destabilising it would be, how destructive.

*

 

Although Carricklea is the only place Marianne has ever lived, it’s not a town she knows particularly well. She doesn’t go drinking in the pubs on Main Street, and before tonight she had never been to the town’s only nightclub. She has never visited the Knocklyon housing estate. She doesn’t know the name of the river that runs brown and bedraggled past the Centra and behind the church car park, snagging thin plastic bags in its current, or where the river goes next. Who would tell her? The only time she leaves the house is to go to school, and the enforced Mass trip on Sundays, and to Connell’s house when no one is home. She knows how long it takes to get to Sligo town – twenty minutes – but the locations of other nearby towns, and their sizes in relation to Carricklea, are a mystery to her. Coolaney, Skreen, Ballysadare, she’s pretty sure these are all in the vicinity of Carricklea, and the names ring bells for her in a vague way, but she doesn’t know where they are. She’s never been inside the sports centre. She’s never gone drinking in the abandoned hat factory, though she has been driven past it in the car.

Likewise, it’s impossible for her to know which families in town are considered good families and which aren’t. It’s the kind of thing she would like to know, just to be able to reject it the more completely. She’s from a good family and Connell is from a bad one, that much she does know. The Waldrons are notorious in Carricklea. One of Lorraine’s brothers was in prison once, Marianne doesn’t know for what, and another one got into a motorcycle crash off the roundabout a few years ago and almost died. And of course, Lorraine got pregnant at seventeen and left school to have the baby. Nonetheless Connell is considered quite a catch these days. He’s studious, he plays centre forward in football, he’s good-looking, he doesn’t get into fights. Everybody likes him. He’s quiet. Even Marianne’s mother will say approvingly: That boy is nothing like a Waldron. Marianne’s mother is a solicitor. Her father was a solicitor too.