Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)
You’re the kind of person, people either love you or hate you.
The kettle clicks its switch and she lifts it out of the cradle. She fills one of the cups and then the other.
Well, you don’t hate me, she says.
He doesn’t say anything at first. Then he says: No, I’m immune to you, in a way. Because I knew you in school.
When I was an ugly loser, says Marianne.
No, you were never ugly.
She puts the kettle back down. She feels a certain power over him, a dangerous power.
Do you still think I’m pretty? she says.
He looks at her, probably knowing what she’s doing, and then looks at his own hands, as if reminding himself of his physical stature in the room.
You’re in a good mood, he says. Must have been a good party.
She ignores this. Fuck you, she thinks, but she doesn’t mean it. She dumps the teabags in the sink with a spoon, then uses the milk and replaces it in the fridge, all with the rapid movements of someone dealing impatiently with a drunk friend.
I’d rather literally anyone else, says Connell. I’d rather the guy who mugged me was your boyfriend.
What do you care?
He says nothing. She thinks of the way she treated Jamie before he left, and rubs her face with her hands. Some milk-drinking culchie, Jamie called Connell once. It’s true, she has seen Connell drink milk directly from the carton. He plays video games with aliens in them, he has opinions about football managers. He’s wholesome like a big baby tooth. Probably never in his life has he thought about inflicting pain on someone for sexual purposes. He’s a good person, he’s a nice friend. So why does she go after him like this all the time, pressing him for something? Does she have to be her old desperate self around him always?
Do you love him? says Connell.
Her hand pauses on the door of the fridge.
Unlike you to take an interest in my feelings, Connell, she says. I kind of thought that stuff was off-limits for us, I have to say.
He rubs at his mouth again, looking distracted now. Then he drops his hand and looks out the kitchen window.
Look, he says, I probably should have told you before, but I’ve been seeing someone. I’ve been with her for a while, I should have mentioned it to you.
Marianne is so shocked by this news that it feels physical. She looks at him, plainly, unable to disguise her astonishment. In the time they’ve been friends he has never had a girlfriend. She’s never even given much thought to the idea that he might want one.
What? she says. How long have you been together?
About six weeks. Helen Brophy, I don’t know would you know her. She studies Medicine.
Marianne turns her back on him and takes her cup from the counter. She tries to hold her shoulders very still, frightened that she’ll cry and he’ll see her.