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Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)

Yeah, Alan says. She did well, yeah. Not as well as yourself! Five-ninety she got. Do you want me to put her on to you?

Marianne looks up. Alan is joking. He thinks Connell will say no. He can’t think of any reason why Connell would want to speak to Marianne, a friendless loser, on the phone; particularly not on this special day. Instead he says yes. Alan’s smile falters. Yeah, he says, no bother. He holds the phone out for Marianne to take it. Marianne shakes her head. Alan’s eyes widen. He jerks his hand towards her. Here, he says. He wants to talk to you. She shakes her head again. Alan prods the phone into her chest now, roughly. He’s on the phone for you, Marianne, says Alan.

I don’t want to speak to him, says Marianne.

Alan’s face takes on a wild expression of fury, with the whites of his eyes showing all around. He jabs the phone harder into her sternum, hurting her. Say hello, he says. She can hear Connell’s voice buzzing in the receiver. The sun glares down onto her face. She takes the phone from Alan’s hand and, with a swipe of her finger, hangs up the call. Alan stands over the deckchair staring. There is no sound in the garden for a few seconds. Then, in a low voice, he says: What the fuck did you do that for?

I didn’t want to speak to him, she says. I told you.

He wanted to speak to you.

Yes, I know he did.

It’s unusually bright today, and Alan’s shadow on the grass has a vivid, stark quality. She’s still holding out the phone, loose in the palm of her hand, waiting for her brother to accept it.

*

 

In April, Connell told her he was taking Rachel Moran to the Debs. Marianne was sitting on the side of his bed at the time, acting very cold and humorous, which made him awkward. He told her it wasn’t ‘romantic’, and that he and Rachel were just friends.

You mean like we’re just friends, said Marianne.

Well, no, he said. Different.

But are you sleeping with her?

No. When would I even have time?

Do you want to? said Marianne.

I’m not hugely gone on the idea. I don’t feel like I’m that insatiable really, I do already have you.

Marianne stared down at her fingernails.

That was a joke, Connell said.

I don’t get what the joke part was.

I know you’re pissed off with me.

I don’t really care, she said. I just think if you want to sleep with her you should tell me.

Yeah, and I will tell you, if I ever want to do that. You’re saying that’s what the issue is, but I honestly don’t think that’s what it is.

Marianne snapped: What is it, then? He just stared at her. She went back to looking at her fingernails, flushed. He didn’t say anything. Eventually she laughed, because she wasn’t totally without spirit, and it obviously was kind of funny, just how savagely he had humiliated her, and his inability to apologise or even admit he had done it. She went home then and straight to bed, where she slept for thirteen hours without waking.