Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)
Why are you trying to get me to break up with Jamie, then? she says.
I’m not, I’m not. I just want you to be happy, that’s all.
Because you’re such a good friend, is it?
Well, yeah, he says. I mean, I don’t know.
The cup in Marianne’s hands is too hot to hold, but instead of placing it down again she just lets the pain seep into her fingers, down into her flesh.
Are you in love with her? she says.
Yeah. I do love her, yeah.
Now Marianne starts crying, the most embarrassing thing that has happened to her in her entire adult life. Her back is turned but she feels her shoulders jerk upwards in a horrible involuntary spasm.
Jesus, says Connell. Marianne.
Connell touches her back and she jolts away from him, like he’s trying to hurt her. She puts the cup down on the counter to wipe her face roughly with her sleeve.
Just go away, she says. Leave me alone.
Marianne, don’t. I feel awful, okay? I should have told you before, I’m sorry.
I don’t want to talk to you. Just leave.
For a while nothing happens. She chews on the inside of her cheek until the pain begins to settle her nerves and she’s not crying anymore. She dries her face again, with her hands this time, and turns around.
Please, she says. Please just go.
He sighs, he’s looking at the floor. He rubs his eyes.
Yeah, he says. Look, I’m really sorry to ask, but I do kind of need that money to get home. Sorry.
She remembers then and feels bad. In fact she smiles at him, that’s how bad she feels. Oh god, she says. In the excitement there I forgot you actually got assaulted. Can I give you two fifties, is that okay? He nods, but he’s not looking at her. She knows that he feels bad; she wants to be a grown-up about things. She finds her purse and hands him the money, which he puts in his pocket. He looks down, blinking and clearing his throat, like he’s going to cry too. I’m sorry, he says.
It’s nothing, she says. Don’t worry about it.
He rubs at his nose and looks around the room like he’s never going to see it again.
You know, I didn’t really know what was going on with us last summer, he says. Like, when I had to move home and that. I kind of thought maybe you would let me stay here or something. I don’t really know what happened with us in the end.
She feels a sharp pain in her chest and her hand flies to her throat, clutching at nothing.
You told me you wanted us to see other people, she says. I had no idea you wanted to stay here. I thought you were breaking up with me.
He rubs his palm flat against his mouth for a second, and then breathes out.