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Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)

As he read the long poem, I began thinking that, unlike him, I had always found a way to avoid counting the days. We were leaving in three days—and then whatever I had with Oliver was destined to go up in thin air. We had talked about meeting in the States, and we had talked of writing and speaking by phone—but the whole thing had a mysteriously surreal quality kept intentionally opaque by both of us—not because we wanted to allow events to catch us unprepared so that we might blame circumstances and not ourselves, but because by not planning to keep things alive, we were avoiding the prospect that they might ever die. We had come to Rome in the same spirit of avoidance: Rome was a final bash before school and travel took us away, just a way of putting things off and extending the party long past closing time. Perhaps, without thinking, we had taken more than a brief vacation; we were eloping together with return-trip tickets to separate destinations.

Perhaps it was his gift to me.

Perhaps it was my father’s gift to the two of us.

Would I be able to live without his hand on my tummy or around my hips? Without kissing and licking a wound on his hip that would take weeks to heal, but away from me now? Whom else would I ever be able to call by my name?

There would be others, of course, and others after others, but calling them by my name in a moment of passion would feel like a derived thrill, an affectation.

I remembered the emptied closet and the packed suitcase next to his bed. Soon I’d sleep in Oliver’s room. I’d sleep with his shirt, lie with it next to me, wear it in my sleep.

After the reading, more applause, more conviviality, more drinks. Soon it was time to close the store. I remembered Marzia when the bookstore in B. was closing. How far, how different. How thoroughly unreal she’d become.

Someone said we should all head out to dinner together. There were about thirty of us. Someone else suggested a restaurant on Lake Albano. A restaurant overlooking a starlit night sprang to my imagination like something out of an illuminated manuscript from the late Middle Ages. No, too far, someone said. Yes, but the lights on the lake at night…The lights on the lake at night will have to wait for another time. Why not somewhere on via Cassia? Yes, but that didn’t solve the problem of the cars: there weren’t enough of them. Sure there were enough cars. And if we had to sit on top of each other for a little while, would anyone mind? Of course not. Especially if I get to sit in between these two beauties. Yes, but what if Falstaff were to sit on the beauties?

There were only five cars, and all were parked in different tiny side alleys not far from the bookstore. Because we could not depart en masse, we were to reconvene somewhere by Ponte Milvio. From there up via Cassia to the trattoria whose precise whereabouts someone, but no one else, knew.