Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
“Do you type good too?” came his voice from upstairs as he rummaged for another bathing suit in his bedroom, then in the shower, doors slamming, drawers thudding, shoes kicked.
“I type good,” she shouted, looking up into the empty stairwell.
“As good as you speak good?”
“Bettah. And I’d’a gave you a bettah price too.”
“I need five pages translated per day, to be ready for pickup every morning.”
“Then I won’t do nu’in for you,” snapped Chiara. “Find yuhsef somebuddy else.”
“Well, Signora Milani needs the money,” he said, coming downstairs, billowy blue shirt, espadrilles, red trunks, sunglasses, and the red Loeb edition of Lucretius that never left his side. “I’m okay with her,” he said as he rubbed some lotion on his shoulders.
“I’m okay with her,” Chiara said, tittering. “I’m okay with you, you’re okay with me, she’s okay with him—”
“Stop clowning and let’s go swimming,” said Chiara’s sister.
He had, it took me a while to realize, four personalities depending on which bathing suit he was wearing. Knowing which to expect gave me the illusion of a slight advantage. Red: bold, set in his ways, very grown-up, almost gruff and ill-tempered—stay away. Yellow: sprightly, buoyant, funny, not without barbs—don’t give in too easily; might turn to red in no time. Green, which he seldom wore: acquiescent, eager to learn, eager to speak, sunny—why wasn’t he always like this? Blue: the afternoon he stepped into my room from the balcony, the day he massaged my shoulder, or when he picked up my glass and placed it right next to me.
Today was red: he was hasty, determined, snappy.
On his way out, he grabbed an apple from a large bowl of fruit, uttered a cheerful “Later, Mrs. P.” to my mother, who was sitting with two friends in the shade, all three of them in bathing suits, and, rather than open the gate to the narrow stairway leading to the rocks, jumped over it. None of our summer guests had ever been as freewheeling. But everyone loved him for it, the way everyone grew to love Later!
“Okay, Oliver, later, okay,” said my mother, trying to speak his lingo, having even grown to accept her new title as Mrs. P. There was always something abrupt about that word. It wasn’t “See you later” or “Take care, now,” or even “Ciao.” Later! was a chilling, slam-dunk salutation that shoved aside all our honeyed European niceties. Later! always left a sharp aftertaste to what until then may have been a warm, heart-to-heart moment. Later! didn’t close things neatly or allow them to trail off. It slammed them shut.
But Later! was also a way of avoiding saying goodbye, of making light of all goodbyes. You said Later! not to mean farewell but to say you’d be back in no time. It was the equivalent of his saying “Just a sec” when my mother once asked him to pass the bread and he was busy pulling apart the fish bones on his plate. “Just a sec.” My mother, who hated what she called his Americanisms, ended up calling him Il cauboi—the cowboy. It started as a putdown and soon enough became an endearment, to go along with her other nickname for him, conferred during his first week, when he came down to the dinner table after showering, his glistening hair combed back. La star, she had said, short for la muvi star. My father, always the most indulgent among us, but also the most observant, had figured the cauboi out. “É un timido, he’s shy, that’s why,” he said when asked to explain Oliver’s abrasive Later!