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Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)

You’ve been off with Teresa, she said.

Have I? he said. That’s interesting. You’re completely out of it, are you?

You smell like perfume.

Teresa’s not here, said Connell. As in, she’s not at the party.

Then Marianne laughed. She felt stupid, but in a good way. Come here, she said. He came over to stand in front of her.

What? he said.

Do you like her better than me? said Marianne.

He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

No, he said. To be fair, I don’t know her very well.

But is she better in bed than I am?

You’re drunk, Marianne. If you were sober you wouldn’t even want to know the answer to that question.

So it’s not the answer I want, she said.

She was engaging in this dialogue in a basically linear fashion, while at the same time trying to unbutton one of Connell’s shirt buttons, not even in a sexy way, but just because she was so drunk and high. Also she hadn’t managed to fully undo the button yet.

No, of course it’s the answer you want, he said.

Then she kissed him. He didn’t recoil like he was horrified, but he did pull away pretty firmly and said: No, come on.

Let’s go upstairs, she said.

Yeah. We actually are upstairs.

I want you to fuck me.

He made a kind of frowning expression, which if she had been sober would have induced her to pretend she had only been joking.

Not tonight, he said. You’re wasted.

Is that the only reason?

He looked down at her. She repressed a comment she had been saving up about the shape of his mouth, how perfect it was, because she wanted him to answer the question.

Yeah, he said. That’s it.

So you otherwise would do it.

You should go to bed.

I’ll give you drugs, she said.

You don’t even— Marianne, you don’t even have drugs. That’s just one level of what’s wrong with what you’re saying. Go to bed.

Just kiss me.

He kissed her. It was a nice kiss, but friendly. Then he said goodnight and went downstairs lightly, with his light sober body walking in straight lines. Marianne went to find a bathroom, where she drank straight from the tap until her head stopped hurting and afterwards fell asleep on the bathroom floor. That’s where she woke up twenty minutes ago when Connell asked one of the girls to find her.

*

 

Now he’s flipping through the radio stations while they wait at a set of traffic lights. He finds a Van Morrison song and leaves it playing.

Anyway, I’m sorry, says Marianne again. I wasn’t trying to make things weird with Teresa.

She’s not my girlfriend.

Okay. But it was disrespectful of our friendship.

I didn’t realise you were even close with her, he says.

I meant my friendship with you.

He looks around at her. She tightens her arms around her knees and tucks her chin into her shoulder. Lately she and Connell have been seeing a lot of each other. In Dublin they can walk down long stately streets together for the first time, confident that nobody they pass knows or cares who they are. Marianne lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment belonging to her grandmother, and in the evenings she and Connell sit in her living room drinking wine together. He complains to her, seemingly without reservation, about how hard it is to make friends in Trinity. The other day he lay on her couch and rolled the dregs of wine around in his glass and said: People here are such snobs. Even if they liked me I honestly wouldn’t want to be friends with them. He put his glass down and looked at Marianne. That’s why it’s easy for you, by the way, he said. Because you’re from a rich family, that’s why people like you. She frowned and nodded, and then Connell started laughing. I’m messing with you, he said. Their eyes met. She wanted to laugh, but she didn’t know if the joke was on her.