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

When I was asked to play something else, I proposed a capriccio by Brahms. They all agreed it was a wonderful idea, until the devil took hold of me and, after playing the opening bars of the capriccio, out of nowhere I started to play a stornello. The contrast caught them all by surprise and all began to sing, though not in unison, for each sang the stornello he or she knew. Each time we came to the refrain, we agreed we’d all sing the same words, which earlier that evening Oliver and I had heard Dante the statue recite. Everyone was ecstatic, and I was asked to play another, then another. Roman stornelli are usually bawdy, lilting songs, not the lacerating, heart-wrenching arias from Naples. After the third, I looked over at Oliver and said I wanted to go out to take a breath of fresh air.

“What is it, doesn’t he feel well?” the poet asked Oliver.

“No, just needs some air. Please don’t move.”

The cashier leaned all the way down, and with one arm lifted up the rolling shutter. I got out from under the partly lowered shutter and suddenly felt a fresh gust of wind on the empty alley. “Can we walk a bit?” I asked Oliver.

We sauntered down the dark alley, exactly like two shades in Dante, the younger and the older. It was still very hot and I caught the light from a streetlamp glistening on Oliver’s forehead. We made our way deeper into an extremely quiet alley, then through another, as if drawn through these unreal and sticky goblin lanes that seemed to lead to a different, nether realm you entered in a state of stupor and wonderment. All I heard were the alley cats and the splashing of running water nearby. Either a marble fountain or one of those numberless municipal fontanelle found everywhere in Rome. “Water,” I gasped. “I’m not made for martinis. I’m so drunk.”

“You shouldn’t have had any. You had scotch, then wine, grappa, now gin.”

“So much for the evening’s sexual buildup.”

He snickered. “You look pale.”

“I think I’m going to be sick.”

“Best remedy is to make it happen.”

“How?”

“Bend down and stick your finger all the way inside your mouth.”

I shook my head. No way.

We found a garbage bin on the sidewalk. “Do it inside here.”

I normally resisted throwing up. But I was too ashamed to be childish now. I was also uncomfortable puking in front of him. I wasn’t even sure that Amanda had not followed us.

“Here, bend down, I’ll hold your head.”

I was resisting. “It will pass. I’m sure it will.”

“Open your mouth.”

I opened my mouth. Before I knew it I was sick as soon as he touched my uvula.

But what a solace to have my head held, what selfless courage to hold someone’s head while he’s vomiting. Would I have had it in me to do the same for him?