Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
When we went on a walk one night and he told me that he’d soon be heading back home, I realized how futile my alleged foresight had been. Bombs never fall on the same spot; this one, for all my premonitions, fell exactly in my hideaway.
Oliver was leaving for the States the second week of August. A few days into the month, he said he wanted to spend three days in Rome and use that time to work on the final draft of his manuscript with his Italian publisher. Then he’d fly directly home. Would I like to join him?
I said yes. Shouldn’t I ask my parents first? No need, they never said no. Yes, but wouldn’t they…? They wouldn’t. On hearing that Oliver was leaving earlier than anticipated and would spend a few days in Rome, my mother asked—with il cauboi’s permission, of course—if I might accompany him. My father was not against it.
My mother helped me pack. Would I need a jacket, in case the publisher wished to take us out to dinner? There’d be no dinner. Besides, why would I be asked to join? I should still take a jacket, she thought. I wanted to take a backpack, travel as everyone my age did. Do as you please. Still, she helped me empty and repack the backpack when it was clear there wasn’t room for everything I wanted to take along. You’re only going for two to three days. Neither Oliver nor I had ever been precise about our last days together. Mother would never know how her “two to three days” cut me that morning. Did we know which hotel we were planning to stay in? Pensione something or other. Never heard of it, but then who was she to know, she said. My father would have none of it. He made the reservations himself. It’s a gift, he said.
Oliver not only packed his own duffel bag but on the day we were to catch the direttissimo to Rome he managed to take out his suitcase and place it on the exact same spot in his bedroom where I had plopped it down the day of his arrival. On that day I had fast-forwarded to the moment when I’d have my room back. Now I wondered what I’d be willing to give up if only to rewind things back to the afternoon in late June when I took him on the de rigueur tour of our property and how, with one thing leading to the next, we’d found ourselves approaching the empty scorched lot by the abandoned train tracks where I received my first dose of so many Later!s. Anyone my age would much rather have taken a nap than trekked to the back reaches of our property on that day. Clearly, I already knew what I was doing.
The symmetry of it all, or was it the emptied, seemingly ransacked neatness of his room, tied a knot in my throat. It reminded me less of a hotel room when you wait for the porter to help you take your things downstairs after a glorious stay that was ending too soon, than of a hospital room after all your belongings have been packed away, while the next patient, who hasn’t been admitted yet, still waits in the emergency room exactly as you waited there yourself a week earlier.