Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
Meanwhile, tomorrow, if we went for an early morning swim, I might be overcome again with this surfeit of self-loathing. I wondered if one got used to that. Or does one accrue a deficit of malaise so large that one learns to find ways to consolidate it in one lump feeling with its own amnesties and grace periods? Or does the presence of the other, who yesterday morning felt almost like an intruder, become ever more necessary because it shields us from our own hell—so that the very person who causes our torment by daybreak is the same who’ll relieve it at night?
The next morning we went swimming together. It was scarcely past six o’clock, and the fact that it was so early gave an energized quality to our exercise. Later, as he performed his own version of the dead-man’s float, I wanted to hold him, as swimming instructors do when they hold your body so lightly that they seem to keep you afloat with barely a touch of their fingers. Why did I feel older than he was at that moment? I wanted to protect him from everything this morning, from the rocks, from the jellyfish, now that jellyfish season was upon us, from Anchise, whose sinister leer, as he’d trundle into the garden to turn on the sprinklers, constantly pulling out weeds wherever he turned, even when it rained, even when he spoke to you, even when he threatened to leave us, seemed to tease out every secret you thought you’d neatly buried from his gaze.
“How are you?” I asked, mimicking his question to me yesterday morning.
“You should know.”
At breakfast, I couldn’t believe what seized me, but I found myself cutting the top of his soft-boiled egg before Mafalda intervened or before he had smashed it with his spoon. I had never done this for anyone else in my life, and yet here I was, making certain that not a speck of the shell fell into his egg. He was happy with his egg. When Mafalda brought him his daily polpo, I was happy for him. Domestic bliss. Just because he’d let me be his top last night.
I caught my father staring at me as I finished slicing off the tip of his second soft-boiled egg.
“Americans never know how to do it,” I said.
“I am sure they have their way…,” he said.
The foot that came to rest on mine under the table told me that perhaps I should let it go and assume my father was onto something. “He’s no fool,” he said to me later that morning as he was getting ready to head up to B.
“Want me to come with?”
“No, better keep a low profile. You should work on your Haydn today. Later.”
Marzia called that morning while he was getting ready to leave. He almost winked when he handed me the telephone. There was no hint of irony, nothing that didn’t remind me, unless I was mistaken—and I don’t think I was—that what we had between us was the total transparency that exists among friends only.