Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
I tried to picture his happy family, boys immersed in homework, or lumbering back from late practice, surly, ill-tempered thumping with muddied boots, every cliché racing through my mind. This is the man whose house I stayed in when I lived in Italy, he’d say, followed by grumpy harrumphs from two adolescents who couldn’t be bothered by the man from Italy or the house in Italy, but who’d reel in shock if told, Oh, and by the way, this man who was almost your age back then and who spent most of his days quietly transcribing The Seven Last Words of Christ each morning would sneak into my room at night and we’d fuck our brains out. So shake hands and be nice.
Then I thought of the drive back, late at night, along the starlit river to this rickety antique New England hotel on a shoreline that I hoped would remind us both of the bay of B., and of Van Gogh’s starry nights, and of the night I joined him on the rock and kissed him on the neck, and of the last night when we walked together on the coast road, sensing we’d run out of last-minute miracles to put off his leaving. I imagined being in his car asking myself, Who knows, would I want to, would he want to, perhaps a nightcap at the bar would decide, knowing that, all through dinner that evening, he and I would be worrying about the same exact thing, hoping it might happen, praying it might not, perhaps a nightcap would decide—I could just read it on his face as I pictured him looking away while uncorking a bottle of wine or while changing the music, because he too would catch the thought racing through my mind and want me to know he was debating the exact same thing, because, as he’d pour the wine for his wife, for me, for himself, it would finally dawn on us both that he was more me than I had ever been myself, because when he became me and I became him in bed so many years ago, he was and would forever remain, long after every forked road in life had done its work, my brother, my friend, my father, my son, my husband, my lover, myself. In the weeks we’d been thrown together that summer, our lives had scarcely touched, but we had crossed to the other bank, where time stops and heaven reaches down to earth and gives us that ration of what is from birth divinely ours. We looked the other way. We spoke about everything but. But we’ve always known, and not saying anything now confirmed it all the more. We had found the stars, you and I. And this is given once only.
Last summer he finally did come back. It was for an overnight visit, on his way from Rome to Menton. He arrived by cab down the tree-lined driveway, where the car stopped more or less where it had stopped twenty years before. He sprang out with his laptop, a huge athletic duffel bag, and a large gift-wrapped box, obviously a present. “For your mother,” he said when he caught my glance. “Better tell her what’s in it,” I said as soon as I helped put his things down in the foyer. “She suspects everyone.” He understood. It saddened him.