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Andre De Dienes 1950

On the 50th anniversary of Monroe’s death, I’d like to share an extract from my novel, The Mmm Girl (2007), in which a young Marilyn visits the grave of her beloved Aunt Ana.

I drove around an oval lawn, and into the small cemetery. Tombstones lay flat on the grass, their names concealed by wreaths and cards.

A man was reciting a poem to a funeral party, so I sat down on a bench and waited until they had trailed out.

It was Grace who told me Ana was dead. She had passed away in the night. The women from church had been with her, touching her with their healing hands, reciting prayers she had written.

Three workmen were digging as I walked over to the plot, which was in the urn garden. The oldest man glanced up from the ground and smiled faintly, a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

‘You know this lady, dearie?’ he asked. ‘She a relative or something?’

‘No, but she took care of me when I was a kid.’

He nodded, standing by. The others moved on to another crypt
and I leaned over the plot they had dug out, looking down on the
earth below.

‘Can I lie in there for a while, mister?’

He stubbed out his cigarette underfoot. ‘Sure, miss. Folks do that from time to time.’

I climbed in, and lay on the dust among some leaves that were floating down from a willow tree.

As the man walked away I hugged myself, but it was really Ana
who held me.

The sky was white and cloudy, with a light breeze high above.

The man returned as the first drops of rain splashed on my shirt
and blue jeans. I sat up and pulled the leaves from my hair. Then I
reached up, and he helped me out.

Driving back through Westwood, I nearly crashed into a truck.
It was my fault. I took my eyes off the wheel. The driver hollered,
and I gathered speed.

Later that night, I stayed up in my rented room, listening to the
other tenants pacing up and downstairs.

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