Tobias clicked through pages and pages of old photos of Marilyn Monroe.

He couldn’t say for sure if he ‘liked’ her or the photos, or even that he ‘enjoyed’ looking at them, at least not the way others seemed to look at them. It was probably more accurate to say he was drawn to them as an odd curiosity.

Yes, she seemed to be a naturally beautiful woman, a representative of what may seem like an antiquated definition of beauty, rooted in a time where beauty was less prone to artificial maintenance and enhancement.

And he was not a fan per se. He couldn’t recall one of her movies that he may have watched end to end. He didn’t read much about her or follow the random tidbits of information that may pop up about her in the news. The anniversary of her death is likely the most common, along with persistent lore and rumor. He didn’t discuss her or defend her. He just looked.

His intentions were not voyeuristic or base. He didn’t study her form or seek fuel for fantasy. Rather, it was her face that drew him to her.

Her time was different from his, so the information he had access to, the fragmented bits and pieces that he pulled together formed a persona in his head of a sort of sad soul. It was harder to see in movies, because people who are directed represented more of that direction than of their own self, but the photos…

Her eyes drew him in. Matched with her smile, he moved from image to image seeing the joy and the history of the moment, and yet, if he looked closely, there lie a tinge of sadness, perhaps a touch of loneliness behind the glitz and the glamour.

Yes, it could be his own thoughts and ideas projected onto those moments that may taint them to some degree, but while Marilyn offered some of the most compelling examples, he saw it in other places too. Faces tell stories. Smiles hide pain. Glances betray joy.  He’d seen it a thousand times, his grandmother, his sister, the Marquet family photo of 1993.

That was the gift of photos. Even that which we try to hide, and hide well, can be captured, and even if only a hint of it is caught and frozen it can reveal the truth of ourselves.

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