Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
At lunch, not a word. After lunch he sat in the shade in the garden doing, as he announced before coffee, two days’ work. No, he wasn’t going to town tonight. Maybe tomorrow. No poker either. Then he went upstairs.
A few days ago his foot was on mine. Now, not even a glance.
Around dinner, he came back down for a drink. “I’ll miss all this, Mrs. P.,” he said, his hair glistening after his late-afternoon shower, the “star” look beaming all over his features. My mother smiled; la muvi star was welcome ennnnni taim. Then he took the usual short walk with Vimini to help her look for her pet chameleon. I never quite understood what the two of them saw in each other, but it felt far more natural and spontaneous than anything he and I shared. Half an hour later, they were back. Vimini had scaled a fig tree and was told by her mother to go wash before dinner.
At dinner not a word. After dinner he disappeared upstairs.
I could have sworn that sometime around ten or so he’d make a quiet getaway and head to town. But I could see the light drifting from his end of the balcony. It cast a faint, oblique orange band toward the landing by my door. From time to time, I heard him moving.
I decided to call a friend to ask if he was headed to town. His mother replied that he’d already left, and yes, had probably gone to the same place as well. I called another. He too had already left. My father said, “Why don’t you call Marzia? Are you avoiding her?” Not avoiding—but she seemed full of complications. “As if you aren’t!” he added. When I called she said she wasn’t going anywhere tonight. There was a dusky chill in her voice. I was calling to apologize. “I heard you were sick.” It was nothing, I replied. I could come and pick her up by bike, and together we’d ride to B. She said she’d join me.
My parents were watching TV when I walked out of the house. I could hear my steps on the gravel. I didn’t mind the noise. It kept me company. He’d hear it too, I thought.
Marzia met me in her garden. She was seated on an old, wrought-iron chair, her legs extended in front of her, with just her heels touching the ground. Her bike was leaning against another chair, its handlebar almost touching the ground. She was wearing a sweater. You made me wait a lot, she said. We left her house via a shortcut that was steeper but that brought us to town in no time. The light and the sound of bustling nightlife from the piazzetta were brimming over into the side alleys. One of the restaurants was in the habit of taking out tiny wooden tables and putting them on the sidewalk whenever its clientele overflowed the allotted space on the square. When we entered the piazza the bustle and commotion filled me with the usual sense of anxiety and inadequacy. Marzia would run into friends, others were bound to tease. Even being with her would challenge me in one way or another. I didn’t want to be challenged.