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Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)

Within a couple of weeks she was going out with someone else, a friend of hers called Jamie. Jamie’s dad was one of the people who had caused the financial crisis – not figuratively, one of the actual people involved. It was Niall who told Connell they were together. He read it in a text message during work and had to go into the back room and press his forehead against a cool shelving unit for almost a full minute. Marianne had just wanted to see someone else all along, he thought. She was probably glad he’d had to leave Dublin because he was broke. She wanted a boyfriend whose family could take her on skiing holidays. And now that she had one, she wouldn’t even answer Connell’s emails anymore.

By July even Lorraine had heard that Marianne was seeing someone new. Connell knew people in town were talking about it, because Jamie had this nationally infamous father, and because there was nothing much else going on.

When did you two split up, then? Lorraine asked him.

We were never together.

You were seeing each other, I thought.

Casually, he replied.

Young people these days. I can’t get my head around your relationships.

You’re hardly ancient.

When I was in school, she said, you were either going out with someone or you weren’t.

Connell moved his jaw around, staring at the television blandly.

Where did I come from, then? he said.

Lorraine gave him a nudge of reproach and he continued to look at the TV. It was a travel programme, long silver beaches and blue water.

Marianne Sheridan wouldn’t go out with someone like me, he said.

What does that mean, someone like you?

I think her new boyfriend is a bit more in line with her social class.

Lorraine was silent for several seconds. Connell could feel his back teeth grinding together quietly.

I don’t believe Marianne would act like that, Lorraine said. I don’t think she’s that kind of person.

He got up from the sofa. I can only tell you what happened, he said.

Well, maybe you’re misinterpreting what happened.

But Connell had already left the room.

*

 

Back outside the cafe now, the sunlight is so strong it crunches all the colours up and makes them sting. Marianne’s lighting a cigarette, with the box left open on the table. When he sits down she smiles at him through the small grey cloud of smoke. He feels she’s being coy, but he doesn’t know about what.

I don’t think we’ve ever met for coffee before, he says. Have we?

Have we not? We must have.

He knows he’s being unpleasant now but he can’t stop. No, he says.

We have, she says. We got coffee before we went to see Rear Window. Although I guess that was more like a date.

This remark surprises him, and in response he just makes some non-committal noise like: Hm.

The door behind them opens and the woman comes out with his coffee. Connell thanks her and she smiles and goes back inside. The door swings shut. Marianne is saying that she hopes Connell and Jamie get to know each other better. I hope you get along with him, Marianne says. And she looks up at Connell nervously then, a sincere expression which touches him.