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

“How come you’re going for a swim?” she asked.

“I don’t know. I just felt like it. Want to come?”

“Not today. They’re forcing me to wear this ridiculous hat if I want to stay outside. I look like a Mexican bandit.”

“Pancho Vimini. What will you do if I go swimming?”

“I’ll watch. Unless you can help me get onto one of those rocks, then I’ll sit there, wet my feet, and keep my hat on.”

“Let’s go, then.”

You never needed to ask for Vimini’s hand. It was given naturally, the way blind people automatically take your elbow. “Just don’t walk too fast,” she said.

We went down the stairway and when we reached the rocks I found the one she liked best and sat next to her. This was her favorite spot with Oliver. The rock was warm and I loved the way the sun felt on my skin at this time of the afternoon. “Am I glad I’m back,” I said.

“Did you have a good time in Rome?”

I nodded.

“We missed you.”

“We who?”

“Me. Marzia. She came looking for you the other day.”

“Ah,” I said.

“I told her where you went.”

“Ah,” I repeated.

I could tell the child was scanning my face. “I think she knows you don’t like her very much.”

There was no point debating the issue.

“And?” I asked.

“And nothing. I just felt sorry for her. I said you’d left in a great rush.”

Vimini was obviously quite pleased with her guile.

“Did she believe you?”

“I think so. It wasn’t exactly a lie, you know.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you both left without saying goodbye.”

“You’re right, we did. We didn’t mean anything by it.”

“Oh, with you, I don’t mind. But him I do. Very much.”

“Why?”

“Why, Elio? You must forgive me for saying so, but you’ve never been very intelligent.”

It took me a while to see where she was headed with this. Then it hit me.

“I may never see him again either,” I said.

“No, you still might. But I don’t know about me.”

I could feel my throat tightening, so I left her on the rock and began to edge my way into the water. This was exactly what I’d predicted might happen. I’d stare at the water that evening and for a split second forget that he wasn’t here any longer, that there was no point in turning back and looking up to the balcony, where his image hadn’t quite vanished. And yet, scarcely hours ago, his body and my body…Now he had probably already had his second meal on the plane and was preparing to land at JFK. I knew that he was filled with grief when he finally kissed me one last time in one of the bathroom stalls at Fiumicino Airport and that, even if on the plane the drinks and the movie had distracted him, once alone in his room in New York, he too would be sad again, and I hated thinking of him sad, just as I knew he’d hate to see me sad in our bedroom, which had all too soon become my bedroom.