Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
“Old room?” I asked.
“Old room,” he confirmed, even though we’d arranged everything by e-mail already.
“Old room it is, then.”
I wasn’t eager to go upstairs with him and was relieved to see Manfredi and Mafalda shuffle out of the kitchen to greet him as soon as they’d heard his taxi. Their giddy hugs and kisses defused some of the uneasiness I knew I’d feel as soon as he’d settled down in our house. I wanted their overexcited welcome to last well into the first hour of his stay. Anything to prevent us from sitting face-to-face over coffee and finally speaking the unavoidable two words: twenty years.
Instead, we’d leave his things in the foyer and hope Manfredi would bring them upstairs while Oliver and I took a quick walk around the house. “I’m sure you’re dying to see,” I’d say, meaning the garden, the balustrade, and the view of the sea. We’d work our way behind the pool, back into the living room where the old piano stood next to the French windows, and finally we would return to the foyer and find that his things had indeed already been carried upstairs. Part of me might want him to realize that nothing had changed since he’d been here last, that the orle of paradise was still there, and that the tilting gate to the beach still squeaked, that the world was exactly as he’d left it, minus Vimini, Anchise, and my father. This was the welcoming gesture I meant to extend. But another part of me wanted him to sense there was no point trying to catch up now—we’d traveled and been through too much without each other for there to be any common ground between us. Perhaps I wanted him to feel the sting of loss, and grieve. But in the end, and by way of compromise, perhaps, I decided that the easiest way was to show I’d forgotten none of it. I made a motion to take him to the empty lot that remained as scorched and fallow as when I’d shown it to him two decades before. I had barely finished my offer—“Been there, done that,” he replied. It was his way of telling me he hadn’t forgotten either. “Maybe you’d prefer to make a quick stop at the bank.” He burst out laughing. “I’ll bet you they never closed my account.” “If we have time, and if you care to, I’ll take you to the belfry. I know you’ve never been up there.”
I smiled back. He remembered our name for it.
As we toured the patio overlooking the huge expanse of blue before us, I stood by and watched him lean on the balustrade overlooking the bay.
Beneath us was his rock, where he sat at night, where he and Vimini had whiled away entire afternoons together.
“She’d be thirty today,” he said.
“She wrote to me every day. Every single day.”
He was staring at their spot. I remembered how they’d hold hands and scamper together all the way down to the shore.