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Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)

A soundless, quiet cove stood straight below us. Not a sign of civilization anywhere, no home, no jetty, no fishing boats. Farther out, as always, was the belfry of San Giacomo, and, if you strained your eyes, the outline of N., and farther still was something that looked like our house and the adjoining villas, the one where Vimini lived, and the Moreschi family’s, with their two daughters whom Oliver had probably slept with, alone or together, who knew, who cared at this point.

“This is my spot. All mine. I come here to read. I can’t tell you the number of books I’ve read here.”

“Do you like being alone?” he asked.

“No. No one likes being alone. But I’ve learned how to live with it.”

“Are you always so very wise?” he asked. Was he about to adopt a condescending, pre-lecture tone before joining everyone else on my needing to get out more, make more friends, and, having made friends, not to be so selfish with them? Or was this a preamble to his role as shrink/part-time-friend-of-the-family? Or was I yet again misreading him completely?

“I’m not wise at all. I told you, I know nothing. I know books, and I know how to string words together—it doesn’t mean I know how to speak about the things that matter most to me.”

“But you’re doing it now—in a way.”

“Yes, in a way—that’s how I always say things: in a way.”

Staring out at the offing so as not to look at him, I sat down on the grass and noticed he was crouching a few yards away from me on the tips of his toes, as though he would any moment now spring to his feet and go back to where we’d left our bicycles.

It never occurred to me that I had brought him here not just to show him my little world, but to ask my little world to let him in, so that the place where I came to be alone on summer afternoons would get to know him, judge him, see if he fitted in, take him in, so that I might come back here and remember. Here I would come to escape the known world and seek another of my own invention; I was basically introducing him to my launchpad. All I had to do was list the works I’d read here and he’d know all the places I’d traveled to.

“I like the way you say things. Why are you always putting yourself down?”

I shrugged my shoulders. Was he criticizing me for criticizing myself?

“I don’t know. So you won’t, I suppose.”

“Are you so scared of what others think?”

I shook my head. But I didn’t know the answer. Or perhaps the answer was so obvious that I didn’t have to answer. It was moments such as these that left me feeling so vulnerable, so naked. Push me, make me nervous, and, unless I push you back, you’ve already found me out. No, I had nothing to say in reply. But I wasn’t moving either. My impulse was to let him ride home by himself. I’d be home in time for lunch.