Little Girl Lost
Shall I be her? she would whisper when in front of the crowd. She always asked, without fail, never knowing if the world wanted to see her, Norma Jeane Mortensen, or her; Marilyn Monroe. Of course, they always wanted Marilyn, because, in all honesty, who wouldn't? The most successful, beautiful actress in all of history withstanding; who would want to see the fragile, vulnerable, damaged side? Everyone just nodded, and then she would change, as if the heavy weights that had been resting down on her shoulders all her life had been lifted, and she would be fabulous.
She would be confident, and pull that pose only ever associated with her. She would purse her lips, and shake her hips, and wink at the person in her audience who caught her eye. She would laugh delightfully, the sound of a person delighted and overwhelmed by happiness, smile widely, and the whole world would stop and stare at her. Marilyn Monroe; you couldn't help but fall in love with her as soon as you set eyes upon her.
That was an issue sometimes though. So few could resist her charm and supreme temptation, and she lured many men from their homes and families, taking them on what must only be described as wild goose chase, and then never having the heart to stay with them. Because many loved Marilyn, but no one ever loved Norma. All people ever see is Marilyn Monroe. No one ever saw her any other way than that iconic sex symbol, a star across the nations, the most wanted woman in the world. No one ever wanted to know who she really was. At age twenty four, she was in the beginning process of being the most famous woman in history, and from when she signed her name as Marilyn Monroe for the first time, having to actually ask how to spell it, Norma Jeane Mortensen was gone.
But under all the stardom and talent and photo shoots and admirers, Norma was still there. That frightened little girl, shifted from home to home, wondering when her momma was going to come and get her. She was forgotten by the world, but never by Marilyn. And when she was alone in her house, the alter-ego costume was taken off, the curls were left dishevelled instead of perfectly smooth, the make-up was never there and she was able to relax. She could take a bath, play around the lavender suds, walk around in a towel and she sleep in nothing but her favourite Chanel perfume.
These moments were scarce, and she enjoyed them, but there would always be another film tomorrow, another trip, another tour of wherever on earth she actually was. And sometimes the pressure would just build up to an unimaginable size, and she wouldn't be able to do it. No film star can go through their life without breaking down, but it happened so frequently sometimes that she wouldn't be able to manage and the sleeping pills and the other assortment of drugs would help. They always helped.
The miscarriages did nothing to assist her poor confidence. Neither did that brat Laurence Olivier. Neither did the public affection, people fawning over her and gushing about how great she was. She wanted something to give her something to work on, tell her about her mistakes but also how to fix them. She didn't want it to be Paula, because it was always Paula. Because of her reputation, oh and she knew how good people thought her to be, the nerves and anxiety worked its way into her head and eventually took over, rendering her perfectly incapable of reading lines, turning up on time, and being the reliable girl she had once been.
Insomnia is a difficult case to live with, especially when you're a high-flying actress. So is living with a man who doesn't want or even need you. Many a time, she would go and sit on the stairs, shrouded only by a thin silk sheet, and she would just cry because she didn't want the money, she wanted the love. Every girl wants that. Marilyn married three times, Norma didn't marry once. People didn't want her for who she really was, they wanted the stylish, chic, beautiful blonde who starred in all the movies. They didn't want the down-to-earth, pretty and nervous girl.
Everyone had flaws; the world just didn't see hers. She was late, forgetful, an irritant to work with sometimes. She drank, took drugs (although they were completely medicinal), she kissed people when she was married, she cried herself to sleep most nights, and wished to die even more so. Some days were good and happy, but some she would spend in her house, locked in her room with a glass of champagne and she would let tears pour mercilessly from her eyes whilst she wished someone to relieve the pain she was in. No one ever understood her though – some pretended but no one ever really did. In the end, she didn't either.
But in the public eye, gosh she was completely unforgettable. A tease, a gentle flirt, a dancer, a singer, an actress; it was difficult to not fall head over high heels for her. That stance, when she would lean on the nearest wall, one hand behind her head, one foot resting on the wall and she would let that insatiable grin cross her face and every person would wish for a camera. Every little girl should be told they're beautiful, even if they're not. People told her she was beautiful, but because she really really was.
Her love life was always splashed across the front page. All three divorces, the alleged affair with President Kennedy, the dabbles she would have, the week-long encounters with English boys, the list goes on. No one ever saw how much each one hurts. You think you love them in the beginning, but sometimes the end isn't as pretty as you think it might be. Nothing is ever like the movies.
At thirty six, meagre and young, having barely caught the middle of her prime, Norma Jeane Mortensen died. Everyone could see she was going downhill, but she was still so young, so full of life with so many ideas and gifts to offer to the world. Maybe she couldn't cope anymore by herself, maybe it was an accident and she wanted to live forever (sometimes I think it would easy to die young, but then you'd never complete your life would you?), maybe it was deliberate murder.
But Marilyn Monroe lived on, though her earthly presence was absent. The world plunged into mourning, having lost a global phenomenon of a woman.
She was fantastic, and the world never forgot it.