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Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)

I heard you looked very cosy heading off together, said Rob.

Did anything happen? Eric said. Be honest.

No, obviously, said Connell.

Why is that obvious? Rachel said. Everyone knows she fancies you.

Rachel was sitting up on the windowsill with her legs swinging slowly back and forth, long and inky-black in opaque tights. Connell didn’t meet her eye. Lisa was sitting on the floor against the lockers, finishing homework. Karen wasn’t in yet. He wished Karen would come in.

I bet he did get a cheeky ride, said Rob. He’d never tell us anyway.

I wouldn’t hold it against you, Eric said, she’s not a bad-looking girl when she makes an effort.

Yeah, she’s just mentally deranged, said Rachel.

Connell pretended to look for something in his locker. A thin white sweat had broken out on his hands and under his collar.

You’re all being nasty, said Lisa. What has she ever done to any of you?

The question is what she’s done to Waldron, said Eric. Look at him hiding in his locker there. Come on, spit it out. Did you shift her?

No, he said.

Well, I feel sorry for her, said Lisa.

Me too, said Eric. I think you should make it up to her, Connell. I think you should ask her to the Debs.

They all erupted in laughter. Connell closed his locker and walked out of the room carrying his schoolbag limply in his right hand. He heard the others calling after him, but he didn’t turn around. When he got to the bathroom he locked himself in a cubicle. The yellow walls bore down on him and his face was slick with sweat. He kept thinking of himself saying to Marianne in bed: I love you. It was terrifying, like watching himself committing a terrible crime on CCTV. And soon she would be in school, putting her books in her bag, smiling to herself, never knowing anything. You’re a nice person and everyone likes you. He took one deep uncomfortable breath and then threw up.

*

 

He indicates left coming out of the hospital to get back on the N16. A pain has settled behind his eyes. They drive along the Mall with banks of dark trees flanking them on either side.

Are you alright? says Lorraine.

Yeah.

You’ve got a look on you.

He breathes in, so his seatbelt digs into his ribs a little bit, and then exhales.

I asked Rachel to the Debs, he says.

What?

I asked Rachel Moran to go to the Debs with me.

They’re about to pass a garage and Lorraine taps the window quickly and says: Pull in here. Connell looks over, confused. What? he says. She taps the window again, harder, and her nails click on the glass. Pull in, she says again. He hits the indicator quickly, checks the mirror, and then pulls in and stops the car. By the side of the garage someone is hosing down a van, water running off in dark rivers.