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

Someone was coming toward the rocks. I tried to think of something to dispel my sorrow and fell upon the ironic fact that the distance separating Vimini from me was exactly the same that separated me from Oliver. Seven years. In seven years, I began thinking, and suddenly felt something almost burst in my throat. I dove into the water.

It was after dinner when the phone rang. Oliver had arrived safely. Yes, in New York. Yes, same apartment, same people, same noise—unfortunately the same music streaming from outside the window—you could hear it now. He put the receiver out the window and allowed us to get a flavor of the Hispanic rhythms of New York. One Hundred and Fourteenth Street, he said. Going out to a late lunch with friends. My mother and father were both talking to him from separate phones in the living room. I was on the phone in the kitchen. Here? Well, you know. The usual dinner guests. Just left. Yes, very, very hot here too. My father hoped this had been productive. This? Staying with us, explained my father. Best thing in my life. If I could, I’d hop on the same plane and come with the shirt on my back, an extra bathing suit, a toothbrush. Everyone laughed. With open arms, caro. Jokes were being bandied back and forth. You know our tradition, explained my mother, you must always come back, even for a few days. Even for a few days meant for no more than a few days—but she’d meant what she said, and he knew it. “Allora ciao, Oliver, e a presto,” she said. My father more or less repeated the same words, then added, “Dunque, ti passo Elio—vi lascio.” I heard the clicks of both extension phones signal that no one else was on the line. How tactful of my father. But the all-too-sudden freedom to be alone across what seemed a time barrier froze me. Did he have a good trip? Yes. Did he hate the meal? Yes. Did he think of me? I had run out of questions and should have thought better than to keep pounding him with more. “What do you think?” was his vague answer—as if fearing someone might accidentally pick up the receiver? Vimini sends her love. Very upset. I’ll go out and buy her something tomorrow and send it by express mail. I’ll never forget Rome so long as I live. Me neither. Do you like your room? Sort of. Window facing noisy courtyard, never any sun, hardly any room for anything, didn’t know I owned so many books, bed way too small now. Wish we could start all over in that room, I said. Both leaning out the window in the evening, rubbing shoulders, as we did in Rome—every day of my life, I said. Every day of mine too. Shirt, toothbrush, scorebook, and I’m flying over, so don’t tempt me either. I took something from your room, he said. What? You’ll never guess. What? Find out for yourself. And then I said it, not because it was what I wanted to say to him but because the silence was weighing on us, and this was the easiest thing to smuggle in during a pause—and at least I would have said it: I don’t want to lose you. We would write. I’d call from the post office—more private that way. There was talk of Christmas, of Thanksgiving even. Yes, Christmas. But his world, which until then seemed no more distant from mine than by the thickness of the skin Chiara had once picked from his shoulders, had suddenly drifted light-years away. By Christmas it might not matter. Let me hear the noise from your window one last time. I heard crackle. Let me hear the sound you made when…A faint, timid sound—on account of because there were others in the house, he said. It made us laugh. Besides, they’re waiting for me to go out with them. I wished he had never called. I had wanted to hear him say my name again. I had meant to ask him, now that we were far apart, whatever had happened between him and Chiara. I had also forgotten to ask where he’d put his red bathing suit. Probably he had forgotten and taken it away with him.