Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
Grow up. I’ll see you at midnight.
That’s what he had added under my words.
He had delivered it before breakfast.
This realization came with a few minutes’ delay but it filled me with instant yearning and dismay. Did I want this, now that something was being offered? And was it in fact being offered? And if I wanted or didn’t want it, how would I live out the day till midnight? It was barely ten in the morning: fourteen hours to go…The last time I had waited so long for something was for my report card. Or on the Saturday two years ago when a girl had promised we’d meet at the movies and I wasn’t sure she hadn’t forgotten. Half a day watching my entire life being put on hold. How I hated waiting and depending on the whim of others.
Should I answer his note?
You can’t answer an answer!
As for the note: was its tone intentionally light, or was it meant to look like an afterthought scribbled away minutes after jogging and seconds before breakfast? I didn’t miss the little jab at my operatic sentimentalism, followed by the self-confident, let’s-get-down-to-basics see you at midnight. Did either bode well, and which would win the day, the swat of irony, or the jaunty Let’s get together tonight and see what comes of it? Were we going to talk—just talk? Was this an order or a consent to see me at the hour specified in every novel and every play? And where were we going to meet at midnight? Would he find a moment during the day to tell me where? Or, being aware that I had fretted all night long the other night and that the trip wire dividing our respective ends of the balcony was entirely artificial, did he assume that one of us would eventually cross the unspoken Maginot Line that had never stopped anyone?
And what did this do to our near-ritual morning bike rides? Would “midnight” supersede the morning ride? Or would we go on as before, as though nothing had changed, except that now we had a “midnight” to look forward to? When I run into him now, do I flash him a significant smile, or do I go on as before, and offer, instead, a cold, glazed, discreet American gaze?
And yet, among the many things I wished to show him the next time I crossed paths with him was gratitude. One could show gratitude and still not be considered intrusive and heavy-handed. Or does gratitude, however restrained, always bear that extra dollop of treacle that gives every Mediterranean passion its unavoidably mawkish, histrionic character? Can’t let things well enough alone, can’t play down, must exclaim, proclaim, declaim…
Say nothing and he’ll think you regret having written.
Say anything and it will be out of place.
Do what, then?
I knew this from the very start. Just wait. I’d work all morning. Swim. Maybe play tennis in the afternoon. Meet Marzia. Be back by midnight. No, eleven-thirty. Wash? No wash? Ah, to go from one body to the other.