Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)
Yeah. Alright, thanks. Thanks, Marianne. I’m borrowing this phone so I’d better give it back now. See you in a bit.
He hangs up. Her friends look at her expectantly as she holds the phone in one hand and turns to face them. She explains what’s happened, and they all express sympathy for Connell. He still comes to her parties occasionally, just for a quick drink before heading on somewhere else. He told Marianne in September what had happened with Paula Neary, and it made Marianne feel unearthly, possessed of a violence she had never known before. I know I’m being dramatic, Connell said. It’s not like she did anything that bad. But I feel fucked up about it. Marianne heard herself in a voice like hard ice saying: I would like to slit her throat. Connell looked up and laughed, just from shock. Jesus, Marianne, he said. But he was laughing. I would, she insisted. He shook his head. You have to tone down these violent impulses, he said. You can’t be going around slashing people’s throats, they’ll put you in prison. Marianne let him laugh it off, but quietly she said: If she ever lays a hand on you again I will do it, I don’t care.
She has only spare change in her purse, but in a drawer in her bedside cabinet she has three hundred euro in cash. She goes in there now, without switching the light on, and she can hear the voices of her friends murmur through the wall. The cash is there, six fifties. She takes three and folds them into her purse quietly. Then she sits on the side of the bed, not wanting to go back out right away.
Things at home were tense over Christmas. Alan gets anxious and highly strung whenever they have guests in the house. One night, after their aunt and uncle left, Alan followed Marianne down to the kitchen, where she had taken their empty cups of tea.
State of you, he said. Bragging about your exam results.
Marianne turned on the hot tap and measured the temperature with her fingers. Alan stood inside the doorway, arms folded.
I didn’t bring it up, she said. They did.
If that’s all you have to brag about in your life I feel sorry for you, said Alan.
The water from the tap got warmer and Marianne put the plug in the sink and squeezed a little dish soap onto a sponge.
Are you listening to me? said Alan.
Yes, you feel sorry for me, I’m listening.
You’re fucking pathetic, so you are.
Message received, she said.
She placed one of the cups on the draining board to dry and dipped another into the hot water.
Do you think you’re smarter than me? he said.
She ran the wet sponge around the inside of the teacup. That’s a strange question, she said. I don’t know, I’ve never thought about it.
Well, you’re not, he said.
Okay, fair enough.