Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)
Afterwards she switches on the hairdryer and he gets in the shower. Then she lies down again, listening to the sound of the pipes. She’s smiling. When Connell comes out he lies beside her, they face one another, and he touches her. Hm, she says. They have sex again, not speaking very much. After that she feels peaceful and wants to sleep. He kisses her closed eyelids. It’s not like this with other people, she says. Yeah, he says. I know. She senses there are things he isn’t saying to her. She can’t tell whether he’s holding back a desire to pull away from her, or a desire to make himself more vulnerable somehow. He kisses her neck. Her eyes are getting heavy. I think we’ll be fine, he says. She doesn’t know or can’t remember what he’s talking about. She falls asleep.
Two Months Later (APRIL 2012)
He’s just come back from the library. Marianne has had friends over but they’re heading off when he arrives, taking their jackets from the hooks in the hallway. Peggy is the only one still sitting at the table, draining a bottle of rosé into a huge glass. Marianne is wiping down the countertop with a wet cloth. The window over the kitchen sink shows an oblong of sky, denim-blue. Connell sits at the table and Marianne takes a beer out of the fridge and opens it for him. She asks if he’s hungry and he says no. It’s warm out and the cool of the bottle feels good. Their exams are starting soon, and he usually stays in the library now until the man comes around ringing the bell to say it’s closing.
Can I just ask something? says Peggy.
He can tell she’s drunk and that Marianne would like her to leave. He would like her to leave too.
Sure, says Marianne.
You guys are fucking each other, right? Peggy says. Like, you sleep together.
Connell says nothing. He runs his thumb over the label on the beer bottle, feeling for a corner to peel off. He has no idea what Marianne will come up with: something funny, he thinks, something that will make Peggy laugh and forget the question. Instead, unexpectedly, Marianne says: Oh, yeah. He starts smiling to himself. The corner of the beer label comes away from the glass under his thumb.
Peggy laughs. Okay, she says. Good to know. Everyone is speculating, by the way.
Well, yeah, says Marianne. But it’s not a new thing, we used to hook up in school.
Oh really? Peggy says.
Marianne is pouring herself a glass of water. When she turns around, holding the glass, she looks at Connell.
I hope you don’t mind me saying that now, she says.
He shrugs, but he’s smiling at her, and she smiles back. They don’t advertise the relationship, but his friends know about it. He doesn’t like public displays, that’s all. Marianne asked him once if he was ‘ashamed’ of her but she was just joking. That’s funny, he said. Niall thinks I brag about you too much. She loved that. He doesn’t really brag about her as such, though as it happens she is very popular and a lot of other men want to sleep with her. He might brag about her occasionally, but only in a tasteful way.