Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
We were—and he must have recognized the signs long before I did—flirting.
Later that evening in my diary, I wrote: I was exaggerating when I said I thought you hated the piece. What I meant to say was: I thought you hated me. I was hoping you’d persuade me of the opposite—and you did, for a while. Why won’t I believe it tomorrow morning?
So this is who he also is, I said to myself after seeing how he’d flipped from ice to sunshine.
I might as well have asked: Do I flip back and forth in just the same way?
P.S. We are not written for one instrument alone; I am not, neither are you.
I had been perfectly willing to brand him as difficult and unapproachable and have nothing more to do with him. Two words from him, and I had seen my pouting apathy change into I’ll play anything for you till you ask me to stop, till it’s time for lunch, till the skin on my fingers wears off layer after layer, because I like doing things for you, will do anything for you, just say the word, I liked you from day one, and even when you’ll return ice for my renewed offers of friendship, I’ll never forget that this conversation occurred between us and that there are easy ways to bring back summer in the snowstorm.
What I forgot to earmark in that promise was that ice and apathy have ways of instantly repealing all truces and resolutions signed in sunnier moments.
Then came that July Sunday afternoon when our house suddenly emptied, and we were the only ones there, and fire tore through my guts—because “fire” was the first and easiest word that came to me later that same evening when I tried to make sense of it in my diary. I’d waited and waited in my room pinioned to my bed in a trancelike state of terror and anticipation. Not a fire of passion, not a ravaging fire, but something paralyzing, like the fire of cluster bombs that suck up the oxygen around them and leave you panting because you’ve been kicked in the gut and a vacuum has ripped up every living lung tissue and dried your mouth, and you hope nobody speaks, because you can’t talk, and you pray no one asks you to move, because your heart is clogged and beats so fast it would sooner spit out shards of glass than let anything else flow through its narrowed chambers. Fire like fear, like panic, like one more minute of this and I’ll die if he doesn’t knock at my door, but I’d sooner he never knock than knock now. I had learned to leave my French windows ajar, and I’d lie on my bed wearing only my bathing suit, my entire body on fire. Fire like a pleading that says, Please, please, tell me I’m wrong, tell me I’ve imagined all this, because it can’t possibly be true for you as well, and if it’s true for you too, then you’re the cruelest man alive. This, the afternoon he did finally walk into my room without knocking as if summoned by my prayers and asked how come I wasn’t with the others at the beach, and all I could think of saying, though I couldn’t bring myself to say it, was, To be with you. To be with you, Oliver. With or without my bathing suit. To be with you on my bed. In your bed. Which is my bed during the other months of the year. Do with me what you want. Take me. Just ask if I want to and see the answer you’ll get, just don’t let me say no.