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

“In another eight years, I’ll be forty-seven and you forty. Five years from then, I’ll be fifty-two and you forty-five. Will you come for dinner then?”

“Yes. I promise.”

“So what you’re really saying is you’ll come only when you think you’ll be too old to care. When my kids have left. Or when I’m a grandfather. I can just see us—and on that evening, we’ll sit together and drink a strong eau-de-vie, like the grappa your father used to serve at night sometimes.”

“And like the old men who sat around the piazzetta facing the Piave memorial, we’ll speak about two young men who found much happiness for a few weeks and lived the remainder of their lives dipping cotton swabs into that bowl of happiness, fearing they’d use it up, without daring to drink more than a thimbleful on ritual anniversaries.” But this thing that almost never was still beckons, I wanted to tell him. They can never undo it, never unwrite it, never unlive it, or relive it—it’s just stuck there like a vision of fireflies on a summer field toward evening that keeps saying, You could have had this instead. But going back is false. Moving ahead is false. Looking the other way is false. Trying to redress all that is false turns out to be just as false.

Their life is like a garbled echo buried for all time in a sealed Mithraic chamber.

Silence.

“God, the way they envied us from across the dinner table that first night in Rome,” he said. “Staring at us, the young, the old, men, women—every single one of them at that dinner table—gaping at us, because we were so happy.

“And on that evening when we grow older still we’ll speak about these two young men as though they were two strangers we met on the train and whom we admire and want to help along. And we’ll want to call it envy, because to call it regret would break our hearts.”

Silence again.

“Perhaps I am not yet ready to speak of them as strangers,” I said.

“If it makes you feel any better, I don’t think either of us ever will be.”

“I think we should have another.”

He conceded even before putting up a weak argument about getting back home.

We got the preliminaries out of the way. His life, my life, what did he do, what did I do, what’s good, what’s bad. Where did he hope to be, where did I. We avoided my parents. I assumed he knew. By not asking he told me that he did.

An hour.

“Your best moment?” he finally interrupted.

I thought awhile.

“The first night is the one I remember best—perhaps because I fumbled so much. But also Rome. There is a spot on via Santa Maria dell’Anima that I revisit every time I’m in Rome. I’ll stare at it for a second, and suddenly it’ll all come back to me. I had just thrown up that night and on the way back to the bar you kissed me. People kept walking by but I didn’t care, nor did you. That kiss is still imprinted there, thank goodness. It’s all I have from you. This and your shirt.”