This is a Love Note.

Happy Camper

A career woman travels back in time to visit her first love before she loses him forever.

Tropes – Lost Love, First Love, Romantic Tragedy

“Hello and welcome to Happy Camper. Relive your most precious moments over and over again until you get sick of them. When and where would you like to go today?”

She loosened the too tight strap of her VR headset. The animated happy face on the screen blinked as it waited for her. “Um, the summer I turned 18? The last time I saw Dylan.”

“Excellent!” The Happy Face bounced up and down on the screen. “Remember, the guppy package includes one 24 hour loop and 3 reboots. You may terminate the loop at any point in time by pulling on your necklace. The loop will begin in 3..2..1. Enjoy!”

The screen went blank. There was a high, keening noise in her ears. From one blink to the next, she was in a forest. The keening was replaced by chirping birds and rustling leaves. 

She looked down to see her gray silk blouse and black slacks replaced by a white tank top and denim shorts. She breathed in the fresh mountain air and smiled. This is amazing. She hadn’t expected much for 3,000 credits but 15 years had passed in 2 seconds. It felt like she was actually back at Camp Kookaburra, not sitting in a booth at some arcade. 

The branches to her left parted and a tan, lanky teenager with golden locks walked into the clearing. “Dylan!”

He smiled, “Hey, where’s the challenge? You’re not even hiding.”

“Sorry,” she grinned so hard her cheeks hurt, “Forget hide and seek. Let’s go for a walk instead.”

He raised a brow and pulled at his lime green swim trunks, “What about meeting the others at the lake?”

“Forget them.” She tugged at his arm leading them further into the woods. “It’s the last day of camp. We’re not gonna see each other again. I want to be alone together.”

He smirked, affection twinkling in his hazel eyes. “Babe, we’ll see each other at Syracuse next month. I’ll be in your dorm all the time. You’ll get sick of me.”

“I know, I know. I’m still gonna miss you.” She pecked him on the lips. He let himself be pulled down the trail. 

They got back to basecamp at dusk for dinner, sang by the campfire with their friends, then fell asleep together while stargazing. The next day, Dylan found her in the woods again. She convinced him to spend the day painting matching mugs with her and playing volleyball with the younger kids. 

The day after, she couldn’t convince him to play tug of war, or tennis, or to make friendship bracelets with her. They went down to the lake. He didn’t listen when she told him not to take the dare to jump from the 30 meter cliff. And just as it happened all those years ago, she couldn’t save him from drowning. 

She pulled on the necklace as the ambulance drove up. Two seconds later, she pulled off the headset and wiped away the tears streaming down her face.

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