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

There was a scuffle of quick sounds as people rushed in and out of the dining room. I had shut my eyes. Get a grip, I kept saying to myself, get a grip. Don’t let your body give the whole thing away.

 

 

“Was it my fault?” he asked when he stepped into my bedroom after lunch.

I did not reply. “I’m a mess, aren’t I?”

He smiled and said nothing.

“Sit for a second.”

He sat at the far corner of my bed. He was visiting a hospitalized friend who was injured in a hunting accident.

“Are you going to be okay?”

“I thought I was. I’ll get over it.” I’d heard too many characters say the same thing in too many novels. It let the runaway lover off the hook. It allowed everyone to save face. It restored dignity and courage to the one whose cover had been completely blown.

“I’ll let you sleep now.” Spoken like an attentive nurse.

On his way out he said, “I’ll stick around,” the way people might say, I’ll leave the light on for you. “Be good.”

As I tried to doze, the incident on the piazzetta, lost somewhere amid the Piave war memorial and our ride up the hill with fear and shame and who knows what else pressing on me, seemed to come back to me from summers and ages ago, as though I’d biked up to the piazzetta as a little boy before World War I and had returned a crippled ninety-year-old soldier confined to this bedroom that was not even my own, because mine had been given over to a young man who was the light of my eyes.

The light of my eyes, I said, light of my eyes, light of the world, that’s what you are, light of my life. I didn’t know what light of my eyes meant, and part of me wondered where on earth had I fished out such claptrap, but it was nonsense like this that brought tears now, tears I wished to drown in his pillow, soak in his bathing suit, tears I wanted him to touch with the tip of his tongue and make sorrow go away.

I didn’t understand why he had brought his foot on mine. Was it a pass, or a well-meaning gesture of solidarity and comradeship, like his chummy hug-massage, a lighthearted nudge between lovers who are no longer sleeping together but have decided to remain friends and occasionally go to the movies? Did it mean, I haven’t forgotten, it’ll always remain between us, even though nothing will come of it?

I wanted to flee the house. I wanted it to be next fall already and be as far away as I could. Leave our town with its silly Le Danzing and its silly youth no one in his right mind would wish to befriend. Leave my parents and my cousins, who always competed with me, and those horrible summer guests with their arcane scholarly projects who always ended up hogging all the bathrooms on my side of the house.