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

“What?”

“It.”

“That’s why you wanted to come by here?”

“With you.”

I had already told him the story. A young man on a bicycle three years ago, probably a grocer’s helper or errand boy, riding down a narrow path with his apron on, staring me straight in the face, as I stared back, no smile, just a troubled look, till he passed me by. And then I did what I always hope others might do in such cases. I waited a few seconds, then turned around. He had done the exact same thing. I don’t come from a family where you speak to strangers. He clearly did. He whisked the bicycle around and pedaled until he caught up with me. A few insignificant words uttered to make light conversation. How easily it came to him. Questions, questions, questions—just to keep the words flowing—while I didn’t even have breath to utter “yes” or “no.” He shook my hand but clearly as an excuse to hold it. Then put his arm around me and pressed me to him, as if we were sharing a joke that had made us laugh and drawn us closer. Did I want to get together in a nearby movie house, perhaps? I shook my head. Did I want to follow him to the store—boss was most likely gone by this time in the evening. Shook my head again. Are you shy? I nodded. All this without letting go of my hand, squeezing my hand, squeezing my shoulder, rubbing the nape of my neck with a patronizing and forgiving smile, as if he’d already given up but wasn’t willing to call it quits just yet. Why not? he kept asking. I could have—easily—I didn’t.

“I turned down so many. Never went after anyone.”

“You went after me.”

“You let me.”

Via Frattina, via Borgognona, via Condotti, via delle Carrozze, della Croce, via Vittoria. Suddenly I loved them all. As we approached the bookstore, Oliver said I should go along, he’d just make a quick local phone call. He could have called from the hotel. Or perhaps he needed privacy. So I kept walking, stopping at a local bar to buy cigarettes. When I reached the bookstore with its large glass door and two clay Roman busts sitting on two seemingly antique stumps, I suddenly got nervous. The place was packed, and through the thick glass door, with spare bronze trimming around it, you could make out a throng of adults, all of them eating what appeared to be petits fours. Someone inside saw me peering into the store and signaled me to come in. I shook my head, indicating with a hesitant index finger that I was waiting for someone who was just coming up this road here. But the owner, or his assistant, like a club manager, without stepping down on the sidewalk, pushed the glass door wide open with his arm totally extended and held it there, almost ordering me to come in. “Venga, su, venga!” he said, the sleeves of his shirt rakishly rolled up to his shoulders. The reading had not started yet but the bookstore was filled to capacity, everyone smoking, chatting loudly, leafing through new books, each holding a tiny plastic cup with what looked like scotch whiskey. Even the upstairs gallery, whose banister was lined with the bare elbows and forearms of women, was tightly packed. I recognized the author right away. He was the same man who had signed both Marzia’s and my copy of his book of poems, Se l’amore. He was shaking several hands.