It turns out that Sally Rooney has already written about what happens after Connell leaves Marianne behind in Dublin to attend a writer’s programme in New York. In fact, Normal People is based on a short story, titled At the Clinic, that Rooney published in 2016 in literary magazine, The White Review, which follows the pair on a trip to the dentist when they’re both 23 years old.
In the short story, which was recently shared on The White Review’s website, Marianne and Connell’s romance is very much intact. The pair are still casually sleeping with each other between relationships with other people – Marianne’s just split up with a graphic designer with “thick-framed glasses” who talks “about gender a lot”, while Connell is still “afraid that he is an emotionally empty person”. In short, nothing has really changed, and judging by their inner monologues, they’re still very much in love with each other.