Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
What sent me into a total tailspin was talking to him a few mornings later in the garden and finding, not only that he was turning a deaf ear to all of my blandishments on behalf of Chiara, but that I was on the totally wrong track.
“What do you mean, wrong track?”
“I’m not interested.”
I didn’t know if he meant not interested in discussing it, or not interested in Chiara.
“Everyone is interested.”
“Well, maybe. But not me.”
There was something at once dry, irked, and fussy in his voice.
“But I saw you two.”
“What you saw was not your business to see. Anyway, I’m not playing this game with either her or you.”
He sucked on his cigarette and looking back at me gave me his usual menacing, chilly gaze that could cut and bore into your guts with arthroscopic accuracy.
I shrugged my shoulders. “Look, I’m sorry”—and went back to my books. I had overstepped my bounds again and there was no getting out of it gracefully except by owning that I’d been terribly indiscreet.
“Maybe you should try,” he threw in.
I’d never heard him speak in that lambent tone before. Usually, it was I who teetered on the fringes of propriety.
“She wouldn’t want to have anything to do with me.”
“Would you want her to?”
Where was this going, and why did I feel that a trap lay a few steps ahead?
“No?” I replied gingerly, not realizing that my diffidence had made my “no” sound almost like a question.
“Are you sure?”
Had I, by any chance, convinced him that I’d wanted her all along?
I looked up at him as though to return challenge for challenge.
“What would you know?”
“I know you like her.”
“You have no idea what I like,” I snapped. “No idea.”
I was trying to sound arch and mysterious, as though referring to a realm of human experience about which someone like him wouldn’t have the slightest clue. But I had only managed to sound peevish and hysterical.
A less canny reader of the human soul would have seen in my persistent denials the terrified signs of a flustered admission about Chiara scrambling for cover.
A more canny observer, however, would have considered it a lead-in to an entirely different truth: push open the door at your own peril—believe me, you don’t want to hear this. Maybe you should go away now, while there’s still time.
But I also knew that if he so much as showed signs of suspecting the truth, I’d make every effort to cast him adrift right away. If, however, he suspected nothing, then my flustered words would have left him marooned just the same. In the end, I was happier if he thought I wanted Chiara than if he pushed the issue further and had me tripping all over myself. Speechless, I would have admitted things I hadn’t mapped out for myself or didn’t know I had it in me to admit. Speechless, I would have gotten to where my body longed to go far sooner than with any bon mot prepared hours ahead of time. I would have blushed, and blushed because I had blushed, fuddled with words and ultimately broken down—and then where would I be? What would he say?