Home > What If It's Us(6)

What If It's Us(6)
Author: Adam Silvera, Becky Albertalli

Watching a love that he really believed in fall apart wasn’t playing out well for us. We were mega out of sync. There were times he didn’t want me around to comfort him and other times when we would hang out and he would just be a total asshole about love. But there were only so many hits to the heart I could take before I needed to step away. I gave him a lot of chances—I gave us a lot of chances. I just wasn’t good enough to remind him love could be a good thing.

My laptop is good to go. I have to let off some steam before homework, so I open up my self-insert fantasy novel that I’ve been working on since January. It’s the only time I’ve actually honored a New Year’s resolution, and I’m really obsessed with my story. The Wicked Wizard War—TWWW for short—is for my eyes only, but maybe one day I can share it with the world. Or at least Dylan, who’s dying to see the character I modeled after him.

I jump back in where I last left off.

It’s a scene with Hudson’s character and starts off pretty simple. Ben-Jamin and Hudsonien sneak out of Zen Castle late at night and wander into the Dark Woods for a romantic rendezvous. And Ben-Jamin clears the mist with his wind powers, and whoa, a gang of Life Swallowers have suddenly shown up to execute the holy fuck out of Hudsonien. Shame. I go into great detail about the massive guillotine they’re going to use to behead him because I really like to paint a picture, you know. And right when the Life Swallowers drop the blade from its frame, I shut down.

I can’t do it.

I’m not ready to kill off Hudson—Hudsonien.

Or throw away the box.

Maybe we’ll be able to talk things out. Get some closure. Really be friends.

I want to know how he’s doing.

My heart races as I check in on Hudson’s Instagram profile, @HudsonLikeRiver. One hour ago he posted a selfie, and I don’t know why Harriett said he was sick because he looks pretty damn healthy. He’s holding up peace fingers with the caption #MovingOn. It’s really clear which finger he should’ve thrown up instead.

Hudson has to know I unfollowed him. Just like he knows me well enough that I would check his Instagram anyway since his profile isn’t private like mine. But if he’s so ready to move on, he should have no problem showing his face in school.

I wonder if he’s actually moving on though. He said that guy from the party doesn’t live in New York, but maybe they have a long-distance thing going on. I sometimes thought Hudson may have been into Danny from math class, but Hudson swears Danny isn’t his type—too muscular, too obsessed with cars. Maybe it’s someone else completely.

I mean, I can hashtag move on too. The universe definitely wasn’t trying to help me out today, otherwise I’d probably be texting Arthur instead of looking up my ex-boyfriend. But Dylan has really gotten into my head. Playing to the romantic in me. But that was a problem with Hudson. When we broke up, Hudson said my expectations are too huge and that I sometimes dream too far. I don’t get why that’s so bad. Why shouldn’t I want to be with someone who makes me feel worthy? Someone who wants to be with me for the long run?

I don’t know how to find cute strangers in New York. I normally see them once and that’s that. But I spoke to Arthur. I got his name. I click out of Hudson’s profile and type Arthur into the search bar, and what do you know, the universe doesn’t just push the Arthur I met to the top just to make my life easier. I have no clue if Arthur has Instagram, but if he’s like everyone else at school, he’ll post about every detail of his life on Twitter. I type Arthur hot dog tie to see if he’s said anything about his ridiculous tie. Nothing except for a tweet about a hot dog eating contest with some dude named Arthur and a demand for a tiebreaker. I type Arthur Georgia and there’s nothing but randomness, like a girl named Georgia binge-watching every King Arthur movie, and nothing about Post Office Arthur relocating from Georgia for the summer.


This is New York, so Post Office Arthur won’t pop up into my life again. I guess that’s fine. It’s not like something could’ve really happened between us.

Thanks for nothing, universe.

Chapter Three


Tuesday, July 10

Hudson. Like the river.

Lol, replies Jessie. You know you’re creepy as hell for swiping his address label, right?

Sobbing tears emoji. I know, I swear I’m not a stalker

And even if I were—which I’m not, I would never—I’d be the worst stalker ever. I didn’t even take the whole address label. It’s ripped and crumpled to the point where I don’t know if I’m looking at the to or the from. The address is torn in half, and the last name’s completely illegible. Still, I text a picture of it to the group chat as the 2 train pulls in. Jam-packed, as always. I squish between a man with a Cats shirt and a woman with tattoo sleeves.

Well it definitely says Hudson, writes Jessie.

I lean into the pole. Right? But is Hudson the boy or the boyfriend?

I’m still kicking myself for letting him go. I always thought that was just an expression. Kicking myself. But nope, I’m literally standing here on the subway, kicking the back of my heel with my foot. All I had to do was ask for his number. That’s it. I had one job.

Why am I such a gameless dumbfuck??

What?? Jessie writes. What are you talking about? You have so much game. I would never have had the guts to talk to a cute boy I just met. You’re a badass.

God he was so cute. I don’t think you understand how cute he was.

I’m serious, Arthur, that makes your game even more impressive. Muscle-arm emoji.

Agreed, chimes Ethan, you talked to a cute boy, you get props.

Okay, you know what’s unsettling? Boy talk with Ethan. And the fact that he says all the right things makes it weirder. Because now I don’t even know which Ethan is real. Supportive Friend Ethan from the group chain? Or our one-on-one chain, featuring a wall of unanswered texts from me? And I know it’s just texts, and it’s a weird thing to fixate on. My mom says I should just talk to him. But I don’t even know what I’d say. And I bet he’d deny anything’s wrong in the first place.

I tap into my photos. There’s just this part of me that has to wallow, the part that cues up Les Misérables when I’m sad. I can’t help it. If I’m going to feel something, I want to feel it.

I scroll back through time. Junior year. Jessie reading a book during the Roswell-Milton game. Ethan ironically-but-not-really-ironically wearing a fedora. Jessie napping in the passenger seat of my car. Scrolling further. Sophomore year. Ethan in front of a King of Pops cart. Ice skating at Avalon. A close-up of waffles drenched in chocolate syrup, because I always sneak chocolate syrup into Waffle House.

Then I switch over to my videos, and it’s a million clips of Ethan singing. Sometimes belting. I’ll just say Ethan’s the reason I spent years assuming all straight guys were into musicals.

I kind of hate him.

I really miss him.

I look up from my phone to find an old lady watching me, and when our eyes meet, she doesn’t look away. She doesn’t smile. She just stares at me and pets her giant purse like it’s a cat. New York is the weirdest.

Though it’s weird in a good way sometimes. Like yesterday. My brain keeps wandering back to Box Boy. Hudson. The main thing I remember is his smile—specifically, the way he smiled when I said I was gay. I swear, he was happy to hear it. And yes, it could be a solidarity thing, like some kind of Kinsey scale Sorting Hat. “Better be . . . GAY!!!!!!” *cue cheers and rainbow flag waving from Hudson of Gay House*

But maybe it wasn’t just a solidarity thing. It didn’t feel like a solidarity thing. It felt like fate and recognition and standing straighter and oh hello. I’m not an expert or anything, but I could have sworn he was interested. I just can’t figure out why he left.

I step off the train and into the smothering heat. Here’s something I didn’t expect about New York: the heat’s worse than Georgia. I mean, it’s hotter in Georgia, yeah, but in New York you actually feel it. If it’s ninety degrees, you walk. If it’s gushing down rain, you walk. Back home, we don’t even walk across parking lots in the summer. You park by Target and go to Target. Then you move your air-conditioned car a hundred yards to Starbucks. But here, I’m sweating through my button-down, and it’s not even nine in the morning. Guess how much I love being the sweaty intern. Extra great, because I work in the fanciest office ever.

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