Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
I could just see Mafalda inspecting Oliver’s sheets every morning. Or comparing notes with Chiara’s housemaid. No secret could escape this network of informed perpetue, housekeepers.
I looked at Chiara. I knew she was in pain.
Everyone suspected something was going on between them. In the afternoon he’d sometimes say he was going to the shed by the garage to pick up one of the bikes and head to town. An hour and a half later he would be back. The translator, he’d explain.
“The translator,” my father’s voice would resound as he nursed an after-dinner cognac.
“Traduttrice, my eye,” Mafalda would intone.
Sometimes we’d run into each other in town.
Sitting at the caffè where several of us would gather at night after the movies or before heading to the disco, I saw Chiara and Oliver walking out of a side alley together, talking. He was eating an ice cream, while she was hanging on his free arm with both of hers. When had they found the time to become so intimate? Their conversation seemed serious.
“What are you doing here?” he said when he spotted me. Banter was both how he took cover and tried to conceal we’d altogether stopped talking. A cheap ploy, I thought.
“Isn’t it past your bedtime?”
“My father doesn’t believe in bedtimes,” I parried.
Chiara was still deep in thought. She was avoiding my eyes.
Had he told her the nice things I’d been saying about her? She seemed upset. Did she mind my sudden intrusion into their little world? I remembered her tone of voice on the morning when she’d lost it with Mafalda. A smirk hovered on her face; she was about to say something cruel.
“Never a bedtime in their house, no rules, no supervision, nothing. That’s why he’s such a well-behaved boy. Don’t you see? Nothing to rebel against.”
“Is that true?”
“I suppose,” I answered, trying to make light of it before they went any further. “We all have our ways of rebelling.”
“We do?” he asked.
“Name one,” chimed in Chiara.
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“He reads Paul Celan,” Oliver broke in, trying to change the subject but also perhaps to come to my rescue and show, without quite seeming to, that he had not forgotten our previous conversation. Was he trying to rehabilitate me after that little jab about my late hours, or was this the beginnings of yet another joke at my expense? A steely, neutral glance sat on his face.
“E chi è?” She’d never heard of Paul Celan.
I shot him a complicit glance. He intercepted it, but there was no hint of mischief in his eyes when he finally returned my glance. Whose side was he on?
“A poet,” he whispered as they started ambling out into the heart of the piazzetta, and he threw me a casual Later!
I watched them look for an empty table at one of the adjoining caffès.
My friends asked me if he was hitting on her.