She Wants To Tell Me by Laura Kenins
This tale of treading into unknown territory examines the more unexpected questions of doing so, ones of etiquette and meaning, ones that beg answers for what something means as part of the wider picture to which it belongs. In this context, it can be the moment one finds a discarded body part in a park and doesn’t know what to do or the moment one enters into a same sex relationship without ever really desiring one.
One night in the park, Monta approaches Daina while she is biking. She thinks something might be wrong, and it is, but not what Monta expected. Daina has found an ear cut from a person’s head and lying on the ground.
Daina does not want to get involved and this haunts Monta. As time goes on, they become closer friends and eventually lovers. But while Monta is drawn to Daina, she’s plagued by an uncertainty whether she is doing things right and whether her relationship with Daina implies that she is gay, or if it means anything at all. Monta becomes wrapped in a disassociative state of alienation that is sent more off-kilter by the guilt of leaving the ear on the ground. Perhaps a body part of her own is being discarded as well and she can do nothing about it but let fate take its course.
Kenins tells her tale with a calm narrative, entirely low key, which matches Monta’s approach to her new relationship, as if it controls her rather than she controlling it. The visuals of the story are beautiful, rich colored pencils with a primitive feel and which bursts out from the book. It gives a vibrant surrealism to the distance Monta feels at this point in her life and her confusion at the mysteries life is sending her way. In the end, the reader is as haunted by the stylistic world Kenins presents as Monta is by the mysterious ear, even as she is forced to move on and accept that life unfolds.