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Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)

The next morning they woke up to the sound of Lorraine’s keys in the door. It was bright outside, his mouth was dry, and Marianne was sitting up and pulling her clothes on. All she said was: Sorry, I’m sorry. They must have fallen asleep without meaning to. He had been planning to drop her home the night before. She put her shoes on and he got dressed too. Lorraine was standing in the hallway with two plastic bags of groceries when they reached the stairs. Marianne was wearing her dress from the night before, the black one with the straps.

Hello, sweetheart, said Lorraine.

Marianne’s face looked bright like a light bulb. Sorry to intrude, she said.

Connell didn’t touch her or speak to her. His chest hurt. She walked out the front door saying: Bye, sorry, thanks, sorry again. She shut the door behind her before he was even down the stairs.

Lorraine pressed her lips together like she was trying not to laugh. You can help me with the groceries, she said. She handed him one of the bags. He followed her into the kitchen and put the bag down on the table without looking at it. Rubbing his neck, he watched her unwrapping and putting away the items.

What’s so funny? he said.

There’s no need for her to run off like that just because I’m home, said Lorraine. I’m only delighted to see her, you know I’m very fond of Marianne.

He watched his mother fold away the reusable plastic bag.

Did you think I didn’t know? she said.

He closed his eyes for a few seconds and then opened them again. He shrugged.

Well, I knew someone was coming over here in the afternoons, said Lorraine. And I do work in her house, you know.

He nodded, unable to speak.

You must really like her, said Lorraine.

Why do you say that?

Isn’t that why you’re going to Trinity?

He put his face in his hands. Lorraine was laughing then, he could hear her. You’re making me not want to go there now, he said.

Oh, stop that.

He looked in the grocery bag he had left on the table and removed a packet of dried spaghetti. Self-consciously he brought it over to the press beside the fridge and put it with the other pasta.

So is Marianne your girlfriend, then? said Lorraine.

No.

What does that mean? You’re having sex with her but she’s not your girlfriend?

You’re prying into my life now, he said. I don’t like that, it’s not your business.

He returned to the bag and removed a carton of eggs, which he placed on the countertop beside the sunflower oil.

Is it because of her mother? said Lorraine. You think she’d frown on you?

What?

Because she might, you know.

Frown on me? said Connell. That’s insane, what have I ever done?

I think she might consider us a little bit beneath her station.

He stared at his mother across the kitchen while she put a box of own-brand cornflakes into the press. The idea that Marianne’s family considered themselves superior to himself and Lorraine, too good to be associated with them, had never occurred to him before. He found, to his surprise, that the idea made him furious.