Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
I wondered what their life together was like.
It seemed strange to be counting the minutes during supper, shadowed by the thought that tonight I had more in common with Tintin’s twins than with my parents or anyone else in my world.
I looked at them, wondering who was top and who was bottom, Tweedle-Dee or Tweedle-Dum.
It was almost eleven when I said I was going to sleep and said goodnight to my parents and the guests. “What about Marzia?” asked my father, that unmistakable lambent look in his eyes. Tomorrow, I replied.
I wanted to be alone. Shower. A book. A diary entry, perhaps. Stay focused on midnight yet keep my mind off every aspect of it.
On my way up the staircase, I tried to imagine myself coming down this very same staircase tomorrow morning. By then I might be someone else. Did I even like this someone else whom I didn’t yet know and who might not want to say good morning then or have anything to do with me for having brought him to this pass? Or would I remain the exact same person walking up this staircase, with nothing about me changed, and not one of my doubts resolved?
Or nothing at all might happen. He could refuse, and, even if no one found out I had asked him, I’d still be humiliated, and for nothing. He’d know; I’d know.
But I was past humiliation. After weeks of wanting and waiting and—let’s face it—begging and being made to hope and fight every access of hope, I’d be devastated. How do you go back to sleep after that? Slink back into your room and pretend to open a book and read yourself to sleep?
Or: how do you go back to sleep no longer a virgin? There was no coming back from that! What had been in my head for so long would now be out in the real world, no longer afloat in my foreverland of ambiguities. I felt like someone entering a tattoo parlor and taking a last, long look at his bare left shoulder.
Should I be punctual?
Be punctual and say: Whooo-hooo, the witching hour.
Soon I could hear the voices of the two guests rising from the courtyard. They were standing outside, probably waiting for the adjunct professor to drive them back to their pension. The adjunct was taking his time and the couple were simply chatting outside, one of them giggling.
At midnight there wasn’t a sound coming from his room. Could he have stood me up again? That would be too much. I hadn’t heard him come back. He’d just have to come to my room, then. Or should I still go to his? Waiting would be torture.
I’ll go to him.
I stepped out onto the balcony for a second and peered in the direction of his bedroom. No light. I’d still knock anyway.
Or I could wait. Or not go at all.
Not going suddenly burst on me like the one thing I wanted most in life. It kept tugging at me, straining toward me ever so gently now, like someone who’d already whispered once or twice in my sleep but, seeing I wasn’t waking, had finally tapped me on the shoulder and was now encouraging me to look for every inducement to put off knocking on his window tonight. The thought washed over me like water on a flower shop window, like a soothing, cool lotion after you’ve showered and spent the whole day in the sun, loving the sun but loving the balsam more. Like numbness, the thought works on your extremities first and then penetrates to the rest of your body, giving all manner of arguments, starting with the silly ones—it’s way too late for anything tonight—rising to the major ones—how will you face the others, how will you face yourself?