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Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)

I don’t know, he said. This is a pretty good arrangement, from my point of view.

Well, I do my best.

He got back into bed beside her and kissed her face. She had been sad before, after the film, but now she was happy. It was in Connell’s power to make her happy. It was something he could just give to her, like money or sex. With other people she seemed so independent and remote, but with Connell she was different, a different person. He was the only one who knew her like that.

*

 

Eventually Peggy finishes her wine and leaves. Connell sits at the table while Marianne sees her out. The outside door closes and Marianne re-enters the kitchen. She rinses her water glass and leaves it upside down on the draining board. He’s waiting for her to look at him.

You saved my life, he says.

She turns around, smiling, rolling her sleeves back down.

I wouldn’t have enjoyed it either, she says. I would have done it if you wanted, but I could see you didn’t.

He looks at her. He keeps looking at her until she says: What?

You shouldn’t do things you don’t want to do, he says.

Oh, I didn’t mean that.

She throws her hands up, like the issue is irrelevant. In a direct sense he understands that it is. He tries to soften his manner since anyway it’s not like he’s annoyed at her.

Well, it was a good intervention on your part, he says. Very attentive to my preferences.

I try to be.

Yeah, you are. Come here.

She comes to sit down with him and he touches her cheek. He has a terrible sense all of a sudden that he could hit her face, very hard even, and she would just sit there and let him. The idea frightens him so badly that he pulls his chair back and stands up. His hands are shaking. He doesn’t know why he thought about it. Maybe he wants to do it. But it makes him feel sick.

What’s wrong? she says.

He feels a kind of tingling in his fingers now and he can’t breathe right.

Oh, I don’t know, he says. I don’t know, sorry.

Did I do something?

No, no. Sorry. I had a weird … I feel weird. I don’t know.

She doesn’t get up. But she would, wouldn’t she, if he told her to get up. His heart is pounding now and he feels dizzy.

Do you feel sick? she says. You’ve gone kind of white.

Here, Marianne. You’re not cold, you know. You’re not like that, not at all.

She gives him a strange look, screwing her face up. Well, maybe cold was the wrong word, she says. It doesn’t really matter.

But you’re not hard to like. You know? Everyone likes you.

I didn’t explain it well. Forget about it.

He nods. He still can’t breathe normally. Well, what did you mean? he says. She’s looking at him now, and finally she does stand up. You look morbidly pale, she says. Are you feeling faint? He says no. She takes his hand and tells him it feels damp. He nods, he’s breathing hard. Quietly Marianne says: If I’ve done something to upset you, I’m really sorry. He forces a laugh and takes his hand away. No, a weird feeling came over me, he says. I don’t know what it was. I’m okay now.