Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
All these years, whenever I thought of him, I’d think either of B. or of our last days in Rome, the whole thing leading up to two scenes: the balcony with its attendant agonies and via Santa Maria dell’Anima, where he’d pushed me against the old wall and kissed me and in the end let me put one leg around his. Every time I go back to Rome, I go back to that one spot. It is still alive for me, still resounds with something totally present, as though a heart stolen from a tale by Poe still throbbed under the ancient slate pavement to remind me that, here, I had finally encountered the life that was right for me but had failed to have. I could never think of him in New England. When I lived in New England for a while and was separated from him by no more than fifty miles, I continued to imagine him as stuck in Italy somewhere, unreal and spectral. The places where he’d lived also felt inanimate, and as soon as I tried thinking of them, they too would float and drift away, no less unreal and spectral. Now, it turned out, not only were New England towns very much alive, but so was he. I could easily have thrust myself on him years ago, married or unmarried—unless it was I who, despite all appearances, had all along been unreal and spectral myself.
Or had I come with a far more menial purpose? To find him living alone, waiting for me, craving to be taken back to B.? Yes, both our lives on the same artificial respirator, waiting for that time when we’d finally meet and scale our way back to the Piave memorial.
And then it came out of me: “The truth is I’m not sure I can feel nothing. And if I am to meet your family, I would prefer not to feel anything.” Followed by a dramatic silence. “Perhaps it never went away.”
Was I speaking the truth? Or was the moment, tense and delicate as it was, making me say things I’d never quite admitted to myself and could still not wager were entirely true? “I don’t think it went away,” I repeated.
“So,” he said. His so was the only word that could sum up my uncertainties. But perhaps he had also meant So? as though to question what could possibly have been so shocking about still wanting him after so many years.
“So,” I repeated, as though referring to the capricious aches and sorrows of a fussy third party who happened to be me.
“So, that’s why you can’t come over for drinks?”
“So, that’s why I can’t come over for drinks.”
“What a goose!”
I had altogether forgotten his word.
We reached his office. He introduced me to two or three colleagues who happened to be in the department, surprising me with his total familiarity with every aspect of my career. He knew everything, had kept abreast of the most insignificant details. In some cases, he must have dug out information about me that could only be obtained by surfing the Web. It moved me. I’d assumed he’d totally forgotten me.