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What If It's Us

What If It's Us

Page 37

Arthur reaches the end of everything I’ve written, where Ben-Jamin is fighting some monsters in a glass town, and he wants to talk, but I can’t pull away from the tension between Hamilton and Angelica Schuyler, or Hamilton being a dumbass and cheating, or Eliza’s haunting song and shit just getting super real that I can’t believe I’m so caught up in something that happened centuries ago. Then “It’s Quiet Uptown” comes on, and wow, I’m about to cry, and by the end of it I press pause and call Arthur.

“You’re not done yet,” Arthur says. Of course he knows where I’m at in the musical.

“I’m calling it quits. This shit is getting too sad.”

“Oh yeah. ‘It’s Quiet Uptown’ is brutal. But you have to finish.”

“Okay. Will you stay on the phone with me? It’ll be easier for me to yell at you if this gets sadder.”

“My pleasure.”

I wait for Arthur to sync up with me and we press play at the exact same second. I close my eyes, listening to the last twenty minutes, and it feels like Arthur is right beside me.

“Wait, is Hamilton going to die here—”

“So Burr—”

“No spoilers!”

“It’s history!”

“History that I don’t know.”

And the gunshot goes off.

“Burr is a bastard,” I say.

“Hamilton really wasn’t all that great himself—”

“No commentary!”

The last song comes on and a tear finally breaks through. The longing in Eliza’s voice as she sings about aching to see Hamilton again, and wow, I loved every second of this.

“Whatever Hamilton fans are called, Arthur, I am one of them.”

“You’re not just saying that? You’re not obligated to like it, though you would be wrong not to.”

“No, I’m a total Hamil-head.”

“We’re called Hamilfans, actually.”

I tell him how I want to write Hamilton and Harry Potter crossover fanfiction and call it The Great American Fantasy Novel and stage all those duels in the dueling club and what houses I would sort everyone in. I take a deep breath. “All history should be taught through rap by Lin-Manuel Miranda.”

“Maybe The Wicked Wizard War will become the next Broadway hit!”

Arthur tells me everything he loves about TWWW, and all I can think about is how I wish he was actually by my side right now, so I could feel him laughing against me and kiss him for making me feel smarter than I actually am.

“. . . and when Ben-Jamin cracked the enchantress’s wand, I yelled and my dad came into the room to ask me if everything was okay and then told me to shut up.”

It’s almost two a.m., and I could talk to him until my body forces a shutdown on me like an overheated laptop.

“Arthur?”

“Ben?”

“Thanks for reading. And for Hamilton.”

“Thanks for listening. And for The Wicked Wizard War.”

“I want to see you again tomorrow.”

“Date?”

“Why not.”

“So is this a fifth first date?”

“Second date, Arthur.”

“Wow. Second date. We finally got there.”

“How lucky we are to be alive right now, right?”

“Oh my god, you’re speaking Hamilton—I’m just so into you. I’m helpless.”

I’m so into him too.

Saturday, July 21

Dylan calls me on FaceTime as I’m getting ready to meet up with Arthur.

“Hey,” I say. I’m naked from the top up because I’m not sure which shirt I want to wear yet.

“Morning strip show,” he says. “Dylan like.”

I hold up a solid white T-shirt and a solid green T-shirt. “Which one?”

“Green. What are you doing? Let’s hang out. I’m bored. Samantha has to work until six.”

I put on the green shirt. “I’m meeting up with Arthur.”

“Cool. Let’s all go chill.”

“I think I need some one-on-one time with Arthur.”

“Whoa. Knife to the heart, Big Ben.”

“You’re kidding.” He’s not playing this card on me.

“You were going to hang with just me and Samantha last night before Arthur was going to come around.”

“Yeah, but you guys needed me too after your future-wife comment. It took away the pressure. Same with me and Arthur.”

“I love you, man, but we didn’t need you there. I said something stupid, but Samantha and I would’ve hung out with or without you.”

“Okay. But you only want to see me right now because Samantha is busy and you’re bored.” It was the same deal with Harriett.

“I’m not seeing what’s wrong with that. You’re my best friend.”

I don’t know what a fight between me and Dylan would look like because arguing has never been our thing. But it’s hard to just joke my way through this one. “Right, and Arthur is becoming more than a guy I just like. I got to give that some time and attention. I want to hang with you too, but this thing with Arthur is just so new and limited. I got to see how this plays out.”

Dylan nods. “What’s the winning scenario for you here, Bennison? Long-distance relationship? Friends on Instagram who like each other’s pictures?”

I shrug. “I’m just going to live in the moment. That’s the only way to see where we end up.”

“I will let you live in the moment because it sounds serious and awesome,” Dylan says. “But be careful, okay? I like Arthur and don’t want to have to kick his ass if he breaks your heart.”

“No ass kicking needed,” I say, hoping pretty damn hard that Arthur won’t turn out to be Hudson 2.0.

Arthur and I leave the High Line holding hands.

After that conversation with Dylan, I really needed Arthur telling me how Ms. Angelica “Looking for a mind at work” Schuyler is a Ravenclaw, or how screwed the wizarding world would’ve been if Hamilton was not only a Death Eater but Voldemort’s right-hand man. But with every good thing, like kisses while we wait to cross the street or our hands finding each other again after crowds split us up, I’m still rocked by this idea of everything ending.

Maybe this won’t work out and I won’t care about it ending. But I can’t get from A to B without us being A and B first. Live in the moment.

Except it’s hard to think about living in the moment when Arthur brings up time travel. “If you could time travel,” he says, “would you go to the past or the future?”

“I can only choose one, right?”

Arthur nods as we cross through Union Square to make our way to the Strand Bookstore since he hasn’t been there yet. The Union Square area is the place to be for the bookish crowds. There’s a four-story Barnes & Noble, where I attended a midnight release party for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and a few blocks over is Books of Wonder, where I’ve met some authors and gotten graphic novels signed.

It would be really helpful to jump into the future to see how everything with Arthur plays out. But I wouldn’t even want to do it hypothetically. I want to trust that everything runs its course for some reason. Maybe meeting Arthur is supposed to teach me to be open to another dude in the future, to be bold and get his name and number if we meet somewhere out in the world.

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