Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
One summer, nine years after his last letter, I received a phone call in the States from my parents. “You’ll never guess who is staying with us for two days. In your old bedroom. And standing right in front of me now.” I had already guessed, of course, but pretended I couldn’t. “The fact that you refuse to say you’ve already guessed says a great deal,” my father said with a snicker before saying goodbye. There was a tussle between my parents over who was to hand their phone over. Finally his voice came through. “Elio,” he said. I could hear my parents and the voices of children in the background. No one could say my name that way. “Elio,” I repeated, to say it was I speaking but also to spark our old game and show I’d forgotten nothing. “It’s Oliver,” he said. He had forgotten.
“They showed me pictures, you haven’t changed,” he said. He spoke about his two boys who were right now playing in the living room with my mother, eight and six, I should meet his wife, I am so happy to be here, you have no idea, no idea. It’s the most beautiful spot in the world, I said, pretending to infer that he was happy because of the place. You can’t understand how happy I am to be here. His words were breaking up, he passed the phone back to my mother, who, before turning to me, was still speaking to him with endearing words. “Ma s’è tutto commosso, he’s all choked up,” she finally said to me. “I wish I could be with you all,” I responded, getting all worked up myself over someone I had almost entirely stopped thinking about. Time makes us sentimental. Perhaps, in the end, it is because of time that we suffer.
Four years later, while passing through his college town, I did the unusual. I decided to show up. I sat in his afternoon lecture hall and, after class, as he was putting away his books and packing loose sheets into a folder, I walked up to him. I wasn’t going to make him guess who I was, but I wasn’t going to make it easy either.
There was a student who wanted to ask him a question. So I waited my turn. The student eventually left. “You probably don’t remember me,” I began, as he squinted somewhat, trying to place me. He was suddenly distant, as if stricken by the fear that we had met in a place he didn’t care to remember. He put on a tentative, ironic, questioning look, an uncomfortable, puckered smile, as if rehearsing something like, I’m afraid you’re mistaking me for somebody else. Then he paused. “Good God—Elio!” It was my beard that had thrown him off, he said. He embraced me, and then patted my furry face several times as if I were younger than I’d even been that summer so long ago. He hugged me the way he couldn’t bring himself to do on the night when he stepped into my room to tell me he was getting married. “How many years has it been?”