Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)
How much cash do you think you’ll need? she says to Connell. The question is sensitive enough that her friends start to talk amongst themselves, so she feels she has him almost alone. He shrugs. You might not be able to make withdrawals without your bank card, she says. He squeezes his eyes shut and touches his forehead.
Fuck me, I’m so drunk, he says. I’m sorry, I feel like I’m hallucinating. What are you asking me?
Money. How much can I give you?
Oh, I don’t know, ten quid?
Let me give you a hundred, she says.
They argue like this for a while, until Jamie comes up and touches Marianne’s arm. She is suddenly conscious of his ugliness, and wants to pull away from him. His hairline is receding and he has a weak, jawless face. Beside him, and even covered in blood, Connell radiates good health and charisma.
I’ll probably have to head off shortly, says Jamie.
Well, I’ll see you tomorrow, says Marianne.
Jamie looks at her in shock and she swallows the impulse to say: What? Instead she smiles. It’s not like she’s the world’s best-looking person, far from it. In certain photographs she appears not only plain but garishly ugly, baring her crooked teeth for the camera like a piece of vermin. Guiltily she squeezes Jamie’s wrist, as if she can perform the following impossible act of communication: to Jamie, that Connell is injured and regrettably requires her attention, while to Connell, that she would rather not be touching Jamie at all.
Alright, says Jamie. Well, goodnight, then.
He kisses the side of her face and goes to get his jacket. Everyone thanks Marianne for having them. Glasses are left on the draining board or in the sink. Then the front door closes and she and Connell are alone. She feels her shoulder muscles relaxing, like their solitude is a narcotic. She fills the kettle and takes cups down from the press, then places some more of the dirty glasses in the sink and empties the ashtray.
Is he still your boyfriend, then? says Connell.
She smiles, and so does he. She takes two teabags from the box and tamps them down into the cups while the kettle is boiling. She loves to be alone with him like this. It makes her life seem very manageable suddenly.
He is, yes, she says.
And why would that be the case?
Why is he my boyfriend?
Yeah, says Connell. What’s going on there? In terms of like, why you’re still going out with him.
Marianne snorts. I presume you’ll have tea, she says. He nods. He puts his right hand in his pocket. She takes a carton of milk from the fridge, it’s damp in her fingers. Connell is standing against the kitchen counter now, his mouth swollen but most of the blood rinsed off, and his face looks brutally handsome.
You could have a different boyfriend, you know, he says. I mean, guys are constantly falling in love with you, from what I hear.