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

Why hadn’t I thought of this before? Because I wanted to savor and save it for last? Because I wanted the counterarguments to spring on their own, without my having any part in summoning them at all, so that I wouldn’t be blamed for them? Don’t try, don’t try this, Elio. It was my grandfather’s voice. I was his namesake, and he was speaking to me from the very bed where he’d crossed a far more menacing divide than the one between my room and Oliver’s. Turn back. Who knows what you’ll find once you’re in that room. Not the tonic of discovery but the pall of despair when disenchantment has all but shamed every ill-stretched nerve in your body. The years are watching you now, every star you see tonight already knows your torment, your ancestors are gathered here and have nothing to give or say, Non c’andà, don’t go there.

But I loved the fear—if fear it really was—and this they didn’t know, my ancestors. It was the underside of fear I loved, like the smoothest wool found on the underbelly of the coarsest sheep. I loved the boldness that was pushing me forward; it aroused me, because it was born of arousal itself. “You’ll kill me if you stop”—or was it: “I’ll die if you stop.” Each time I heard these words, I couldn’t resist.

I knock on the glass panel, softly. My heart is beating like crazy. I am afraid of nothing, so why be so frightened? Why? Because everything scares me, because both fear and desire are busy equivocating with each other, with me, I can’t even tell the difference between wanting him to open the door and hoping he’s stood me up.

Instead, no sooner have I knocked on the glass panel than I hear something stir inside, like someone looking for his slippers. Then I make out a weak light going on. I remembered buying this night-light at Oxford with my father one evening early last spring when our hotel room was too dark and he had gone downstairs and come back up saying he’d been told there was a twenty-four-hour store that sold night-lights just around the corner. Wait here, and I’ll be back in no time. Instead, I said I’d go with him. I threw on my raincoat on top of the very same pajamas I was wearing tonight.

“I’m so glad you came,” he said. “I could hear you moving in your room and for a while I thought you were getting ready to go to bed and had changed your mind.”

“Me, change my mind? Of course I was coming.”

It was strange seeing him fussing awkwardly this way. I had expected a hailstorm of mini-ironies, which was why I was nervous. Instead, I was greeted with excuses, like someone apologizing for not having had time to buy better biscuits for afternoon tea.

I stepped into my old bedroom and was instantly taken aback by the smell which I couldn’t quite place, because it could have been a combination of so many things, until I noticed the rolled-up towel tucked under the bedroom door. He had been sitting in bed, a half-full ashtray sitting on his right pillow.