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

“Fifteen. I counted them last night on my way here.” Then I added: “Actually, that’s not true. I’ve always known.”

“Fifteen it is. Just look at you!

“Look,” he added, “come for a drink, come for dinner, tonight, now, meet my wife, my boys. Please, please, please.”

“I’d love to—”

“I have to drop something in my office, and off we go. It’s a lovely walk along to the parking lot.”

“You don’t understand. I’d love to. But I can’t.”

The “can’t” did not mean I wasn’t free to visit him but that I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

He looked at me as he was still putting away his papers in the leather bag.

“You never did forgive me, did you?”

“Forgive? There was nothing to forgive. If anything, I’m grateful for everything. I remember good things only.”

I had heard people say this in the movies. They seemed to believe it.

“Then what is it?” he asked.

We were leaving his classroom and stepped into the commons where one of those long, languorous autumnal sunsets on the East Coast threw luminous shades of orange over the adjoining hills.

How was I ever going to explain to him, or to myself, why I couldn’t go to his home and meet his family, though every part of me was dying to? Oliver wife. Oliver sons. Oliver pets. Oliver study, desk, books, world, life. What had I expected? A hug, a handshake, a perfunctory hail-fellow-well-met, and then the unavoidable Later!?

The very possibility of meeting his family suddenly alarmed me—too real, too sudden, too in-my-face, not rehearsed enough. Over the years I’d lodged him in the permanent past, my pluperfect lover, put him on ice, stuffed him with memories and mothballs like a hunted ornament confabulating with the ghost of all my evenings. I’d dust him off from time to time and then put him back on the mantelpiece. He no longer belonged to earth or to life. All I was likely to discover at this point wasn’t just how distant were the paths we’d taken, it was the measure of loss that was going to strike me—a loss I didn’t mind thinking about in abstract terms but which would hurt when stared at in the face, the way nostalgia hurts long after we’ve stopped thinking of things we’ve lost and may never have cared for.

Or was it that I was jealous of his family, of the life he’d made for himself, of the things I never shared and couldn’t possibly have known about? Things he had longed for, loved, and lost, and whose loss had crushed him, but whose presence in his life, when he had them, I wasn’t there to witness and wouldn’t know the first thing about. I wasn’t there when he’d acquired them, wasn’t there when he’d given them up. Or was it much, much simpler? I had come to see if I felt something, if something was still alive. The trouble was I didn’t want anything to be alive either.