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Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)

What, she thinks we’re not good enough for them? he said.

I don’t know. We might find out.

She doesn’t mind you cleaning their house but she doesn’t want your son hanging around with her daughter? What an absolute joke. That’s like something from nineteenth-century times, I’m actually laughing at that.

You don’t sound like you’re laughing, said Lorraine.

Believe me, I am. It’s hilarious to me.

Lorraine closed the press and turned to look at him curiously.

What’s all the secrecy about, then? she said. If not for Denise Sheridan’s sake. Does Marianne have a boyfriend or something, and you don’t want him to find out?

You’re getting so intrusive with these questions.

So she does have a boyfriend, then.

No, he said. But that’s the last question I’m answering from you.

Lorraine’s eyebrows moved around but she said nothing. He crumpled up the empty plastic bag on the table and then paused there with the bag screwed up in his hand.

You’re hardly going to tell anyone, are you? he said.

This is starting to sound very shady. Why shouldn’t I tell anyone?

Feeling quite hard-hearted, he replied: Because there would be no benefit to you, and a lot of annoyance for me. He thought for a moment and added shrewdly: And Marianne.

Oh god, said Lorraine. I don’t even think I want to know.

He continued waiting, feeling that she hadn’t quite unambiguously promised not to tell anyone, and she threw her hands up in exasperation and said: I have more interesting things to gossip about than your sex life, okay? Don’t worry.

He went upstairs then and sat on his bed. He didn’t know how much time passed while he sat there like that. He was thinking about Marianne’s family, about the idea that she was too good for him, and also about what she had told him the night before. He’d heard from guys in school that sometimes girls made up stories about themselves for attention, saying bad things had happened to them and stuff like that. And it was a pretty attention-grabbing story Marianne had told him, about her dad beating her up when she was a small child. Also, the dad was dead now, so he wasn’t around to defend himself. Connell could see it was possible that Marianne had just lied to get his sympathy, but he also knew, as clearly as he knew anything, that she hadn’t. If anything he felt like she’d been holding back on telling him how bad it really was. It gave him a queasy feeling, to have this information about her, to be tied to her in this way.

That was yesterday. This morning he was early to school, as usual, and Rob and Eric started fake-cheering when he came to put his books in his locker. He dumped his bag on the floor, ignoring them. Eric slung an arm around his shoulder and said: Go on, tell us. Did you get the ride the other night? Connell felt in his pocket for his locker key and shrugged off Eric’s arm. Funny, he said.