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

At some point he interrupted me.

“You okay?”

“Fine. Fine,” I replied.

Then, with an awkward smile, as if correcting his initial question: “Are you okay everywhere?”

I smiled back faintly, knowing I was already clamming up, shutting the doors and windows between us, blowing out the candles because the sun was finally up again and shame cast long shadows.

“I meant—”

“I know what you meant. Sore.”

“But did you mind when I—?”

I turned my face the other way, as though a chill draft had touched my ear and I wished to avoid having it hit my face. “Do we need to speak about it?” I asked.

I had used the same words that Marzia had uttered when I wished to know if she liked what I’d done to her.

“Not if you don’t want to.”

I knew exactly what he wanted to talk about. He wanted to go over the moment when I’d almost asked him to stop.

Now all I thought of, as we spoke, was that today I’d be walking with Marzia and each time we’d try to sit somewhere I would hurt. The indignity of it. Sitting on the town’s ramparts—which was where everyone our age congregated at night when we weren’t sitting in the caffès—and be forced to squirm and be reminded each time of what I’d just done that night. The standing joke among schoolboys. Watch Oliver watch me squirm and think, I did that to you, didn’t I?

I wished we hadn’t slept together. Even his body left me indifferent. On the rock where we sat now I looked at his body as one looks at old shirts and trousers being boxed for pick up by the Salvation Army.

Shoulder: check.

Area between inner and outer elbow that I’d worshipped once: check.

Crotch: check.

Neck: check.

Curves of the apricot: check.

Foot—oh, that foot: but, yes, check.

Smile, when he’d said, Are you okay everywhere: yes, check that too. Leave nothing to chance.

I had worshipped them all once. I had touched them the way a civet rubs itself on the objects it covets. They’d been mine for a night. I didn’t want them now. What I couldn’t remember, much less understand, was how I could have brought myself to desire them, to do all I’d done to be near them, touch them, sleep with them. After our swim I’d take that much-awaited shower. Forget, forget.

As we were swimming back, he asked as though it were an afterthought, “Are you going to hold last night against me?”

“No,” I answered. But I had answered too swiftly for someone who meant what he was saying. To soften the ambiguity of my no, I said I’d probably want to sleep all day. “I don’t think I’ll be able to ride my bike today.”

“Because…” He was not asking me a question, he was supplying the answer.

“Yes, because.”

It occurred to me that one of the reasons I’d decided not to distance him too quickly was not just to avoid hurting his feelings or alarming him or stirring up an awkward and unwieldy situation at home, but because I was not sure that within a few hours I wouldn’t be desperate for him again.