Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
He took a breath.
“We may never speak about this again. But I hope you’ll never hold it against me that we did. I will have been a terrible father if, one day, you’d want to speak to me and felt that the door was shut or not sufficiently open.”
I wanted to ask him how he knew. But then how could he not have known? How could anyone not have known? “Does Mother know?” I asked. I was going to say suspect but corrected myself. “I don’t think she does.” His voice meant, But even if she did, I am sure her attitude would be no different than mine.
We said good night. On my way upstairs I vowed to ask him about his life. We’d all heard about his women when he was young, but I’d never even had an inkling of anything else.
Was my father someone else? And if he was someone else, who was I?
Oliver kept his promise. He came back just before Christmas and stayed till New Year’s. At first he was totally jet-lagged. He needs time, I thought. But so did I. He whiled away the hours with my parents mostly, then with Vimini, who was overjoyed to feel that nothing had changed between them. I was starting to fear we’d slip back to our early days when, but for patio pleasantries, avoidance and indifference were the norm. Why had his phone calls not prepared me for this? Was I the one responsible for the new tenor of our friendship? Had my parents said something? Had he come back for me? Or for them, for the house, to get away? He had come back for his book, which had already been published in England, in France, in Germany, and was finally due to come out in Italy. It was an elegant volume, and we were all very happy for him, including the bookseller in B., who promised a book party the following summer. “Maybe. We’ll see,” said Oliver after we’d stopped there on our bikes. The ice cream vendor was closed for the season. As were the flower shop and the pharmacy where we’d stopped on leaving the berm that very first time when he showed me how badly he’d scraped himself. They all belonged to a lifetime ago. The town felt empty, the sky was gray. One night he had a long talk with my father. In all likelihood they were discussing me, or my prospects for college, or last summer, or his new book. When they opened the door, I heard laughter in the hallway downstairs, my mother kissing him. A while later there was a knock at my bedroom door, not the French windows—that entrance was to remain permanently shut, then. “Want to talk?” I was already in bed. He had a sweater on and seemed dressed to go out for a walk. He sat on the edge of my bed, looking as uneasy as I must have seemed the first time when this room used to be his. “I might be getting married this spring,” he said. I was dumbfounded. “But you never said anything.” “Well, it’s been on and off for more than two years.” “I think it’s wonderful news,” I said. People getting married was always wonderful news, I was happy for them, marriages were good, and the broad smile on my face was genuine enough, even if it occurred to me a while later that such news couldn’t possibly bode well for us. Did I mind? he asked. “You’re being silly,” I said. Long silence. “Will you be getting in bed now?” I asked. He looked at me gingerly. “For a short while. But I don’t want to do anything.” It sounded like an updated and far more polished version of Later, maybe. So we were back to that, were we? I had an impulse to mimic him but held back. He lay beside me on top of the blanket with his sweater on. All he had taken off was his loafers. “How long do you think this will go on?” he asked wryly. “Not long, I hope.” He kissed me on the mouth, but it wasn’t the kiss after the Pasquino, when he’d pressed me hard against the wall on via Santa Maria dell’Anima. I recognized the taste instantly. I’d never realized how much I liked it or how long I’d missed it. One more item to log on that checklist of things I’d miss before losing him for good. I was about to get out from under the blankets. “I can’t do this,” he said, and sprang away. “I can,” I replied. “Yes, but I can’t.” I must have had iced razor blades in my eyes, for he suddenly realized how angry I was. “I’d love nothing better than to take your clothes off and at the very least hold you. But I can’t.” I put my arms around his head and held it. “Then maybe you shouldn’t stay. They know about us.” “I figured,” he said. “How?” “By the way your father spoke. You’re lucky. My father would have carted me off to a correctional facility.” I looked at him: I want one more kiss.