I didn’t know Erica Aldrich well, and that was through no fault of hers. I had been particularly enmeshed in stupidity at the Cross Branch of Miskatonic University for several years, plus there had been quite a bit of unpleasantness in Gods’ Hollow as well.
When I managed to go to the studio in early 1937, I was pleased with Ms. Aldrich. She was a far more capable businessman than her uncle had been, and she truly was passionate about photography. The reapers still visited her, but she treated them as a necessary evil. She kept the ledger, and she put their images upon the wall, but she paid little mind to what they meant to the world.
Ms. Aldrich was far more interested in films. She had taken portraits of Jean Harlow, Theda Bara, and Louise Brooks, as well as many others.
I made it a point to stop in on a regular basis. I enjoyed the young woman’s company and the strong coffee she made.
In March, I was listening to how she had managed to take a picture of Louise Brooks when a reaper entered the studio. Whether Ms. Aldrich realized what the woman was I’m not quite sure, but she got to her feet and welcomed the reaper warmly. I drank my coffee and listened to them talk as Ms. Aldrich took the portrait.
It was only after they came back into the small parlor that Ms. Aldrich seemed to realize who she was speaking to.
“Please,” the reaper said, “continue. I enjoyed the early films as well.”
Ms. Aldrich offered up a tight smile as she took her ledger out and placed it on the table. The reaper leaned over and wrote while Ms. Aldrich spoke of Jean Harlow.
The reaper put the pencil down and nodded. “Yes. She was a wonderful actress. I felt quite badly about having to take her so young.”
As the reaper left, we looked down at the information, and for the first time, she seemed to understand exactly what it meant.
“March 18, 3:05 PM, New London, Texas.”
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