I've spent the whole day in my room, leaving it only for food,
and all I could manage to decode is a series of letters that mean
nothing, and the number 8. Basically, the chain is made up of a
loop that goes "LEETAH8LEETAH8LEETAH8…"
I suddenly realize that I have no nails left to bite into, and my
reflection in the mirror next to the bedroom door peeks at me
sideways, and almost shakes her head disapprovingly when she sees
the rings around my eyes start to show. I ignore her and
desperately try toying with anagrams. I come across "Tale Eh",
"At Heel", "Late He", and the very French "Le Hate", none of
which makes any sense. Argh!!
Miss Reflection tsk tsk tsk's at me. I distractedly get up to
meet her. She's right, the rings around my eyes are already a
grayish purple. I see small brownish spots in them too, and I
know from experience that some tiny veins must have popped while
I was forcing my eyes to decipher the link letters. And my skin
is so bad it looks like it's gone from normal to advanced PMS
state in just a few hours. Sometimes I just wish I could shed
this skin and just have a tiny hope at normalcy…
It reminds me of my very first kiss. Consequence: chronic angular
cheilitis. The first time I used contacts; eyelid cysts that
required surgery. The first time I decided not to wear another
layer of cotton under my shirt; excruciating stomach pain and
memorable public embarrassment. The first time I wore fake
jewelry; an extremely irritating rash that had to get worse
before it got better… Miss Reflection's eyes slightly start to
redden and water up. I am not normal! Nor will I ever be…
And yet some random guy makes my skin look like a beautiful
thing. A thing worth drawing, memorizing, perfecting... I have to
Okay, why am I complicating things? I'll just look up "Leetah"
online, although the odds don't - … huh?! The very first result:
Leetah - Elfquest. Healer and gatherer. What the… ? Lifemate of
Cutter; mother of Ember and Suntop. Is this from a comic book or
something? Status: Immortal; living. Wow, what is this? A comic
book about Elves! If this is what Green-Eyes really meant to
draw, then I'm pretty sure I'm currently looking for a very cute
Geek! It's endearing! I click on Gallery, and find myself face to
face with Leetah, the Sun Elf. Red hair, green eyes, pouty lips.
She's beyond beautiful, for a comic book character…
It's extremely unsettling. I feel my ears burning, and I know the
blushing tsunami is quite close. I stare at her and I know
straight away that if this turns out to be what my stranger meant
to slip into the drawing, then his skills might not be that
accurate after all. I'm not at all this magnificent, elfish
creature!... But I still want to know everything about her.
And that site goes way beyond my expectations: I let out a
choked squeak when I find, under "Comics", a digital gallery of
the whole collection! I can almost feel my eyes popping out of
their sockets, as I rush to start the first comic…
Three hours and one avoided dinner later - Cramps is always the
ultimate excuse out of a thorough questioning by a suspecting
father - I lie back on the bed, hiding my eyes with the back of
my hands, and shake my head with disbelief. What the hell was
that?!... It's anything but a children's comic, that's for
sure! It's the story of Cutter, a Wolfrider who is made to
leave the forest because of the Humans, and crosses the desert
with his pack, coming across a village where the Sun Folk live…
He sees Leetah, and immediately experiences the power of
Recognition, a telepathic instance wherein one recognizes their
soul mate, and denying that just causes them lack of focus and
pain. I literally stressed over whether or not they should be
together, or if Leetah should resist what seems to be imposed
The entire plot is smart, quick, funny, tear-inducing, dreamy,
and much to my surprise, sexy! There's one particular love
scene, on a cliff, on a deep bluish night, between a once
reluctant Leetah and an intensely loving Cutter, which makes my
heart race noticeably… Who would have thought that reading a
comic would be so incredibly fulfilling?!
Oh my God, I'm officially a Geek!!!.. Great, that's what was
still missing to my flawless profile! I chuckle and stretch
my rusty muscles. Have I really been in this room all day?
Jeez, I need to move my butt!
I go downstairs, leaping happily and almost breaking my neck
on the last few steps. Erik watches me all throughout my
bouncing routine, with a crooked eyebrow, and just as I'm
about to enter the living room, he asks, "So, have you found
your missing person?"
I stop dead in my tracks. Busted! He sees my cheeks turn
blotchy-crimson and laughs out loud. I hate it when he does
that! I try to look contrite, but end up smiling guiltily,
and going for total honesty. "I think I might have some leads
actually!" He finally looks away and lets out a last laugh
that sounds more like a proud harrumph and replies smugly,
"That's my girl."
The rest of the evening is spent in front of the TV, with my
dad being too much into a German reality show, and
translating it to me whenever he felt like it, while my mind
swam with thoughts of portraits, of ash brown hair, and of
eerily real Elf stories…
The next morning, I hear a light rasp on my bedroom door.
Erik pokes his head through, only to find me at my computer,
at 8 a.m., smiling sheepishly at him. So instead of saying
"Moin", he cautiously walks in, trying his best not to peep
at my screen, and delicately offers to help. I think that
since our discussion about missing persons, he's been really
curious to know whom I was really looking for. And I just let
him, perhaps out of guilt for being in Germany, yet spending
the weekend in my room. There was also this tiny pang I
usually felt every Sunday spent here, knowing that once more
I would have to say goodbye at the station , sometime around
But I needed a new version to my story. I surely wasn't going
to tell him the whole thing unfiltered. So I just go for the
first thing that comes to mind.
"Well... I met this really talented guy who volunteered to
draw my portrait. But then he had to leave, and I think I
might have omitted to ask for his name…"
Erik observes me, looking obviously uncomfortable.
"What?" I ask.
"Nothing, I just…" He rubs his chin and does a funny mimic
with his teeth. "I'm just not entirely comfortable with the
idea of you letting some guy draw you, and then keep a trace
Ah, thank goodness, he's just being a dad. "No, no, he gave
it to me!" He visibly relaxes. "But he didn't sign it. Or so
I thought. How-everrr…" I stress on every syllable to
increase the suspense, as if giving him a real-life scene
from Tatort, "based on our discussion yesterday…" He raises
his eyebrows and already looks smug, "I found out he had
added a chain necklace, which turned out to be made up of a
series of letters and the number 8. I found out what the
letters stood for; a character from a comic book. The 8,
however, is still a mystery. I tried reading the comics, and
there was no 8 in there."
He looks at me with some warm emotion. Pride? Then he rubs
his chin absentmindedly, and comes up, again, with the only
logical question left. "What if it really is in the comic
after all? Count the main characters, their symbols, their
habits… and also look up the meaning of their names."
"Well, the one from the necklace is called Leetah, which
means "healing light" according to the site. The other main
character is called Cutter, which is pretty explicit… Oh.
I suddenly remember something crucial: upon "Recognition",
the elves know each other's "soul names", or secret
alternative names that are only known through recognizing a
soul mate. Leetah's soul name is also Leetah, but Cutter's is
"Tam". I don't even know if it exists in the real world; I
look it up anyway. Dad finally allows himself to look at the
computer screen, and together we see the dumbfounding
"Name: TAM. Gender: Male.
1. The Hebrew name Tam means: Heart, Twin."
How convenient, considering the very principle of
2. "The Vietnamese name Tam means: The number 8."
"Gotcha!…" Erik whispers, relishing.
But I'm in no mood for celebration. This discovery might mean
that the necklace simply reads "Leetah and Tam". Don't get me
wrong, I squirm and blush at the thought that Green-Eyes
might have experienced "Recognition" for me. It's beyond
flattering, but also beyond frustrating …because I'm nowhere
closer to finding this guy than I was on Friday.
After the usual train station hug that grows a little bit
tighter every time, I say bye to Erik, and go through the usual
pissed-passenger-crowd ordeal to get to my seat. And soon
enough, I start imagining my own Elf, sitting across from me
again… All sorts of different scenarios weave themselves inside
my head, like him recognizing me straight away, and how he
would find an excuse to come talk to me… Or that he would be in
a different coach, and we would bump into each other by pure
coincidence, while headed to the bar… All sorts of corniness
that seems to stem out of a desperate teen's imagination rather
than mine. Am I that emotionally immature? I thought that not
having relationships would make me kind of cynical and
resistant, instead of clueless and gaga over the first crush
that pops along. I frown at the thought. I need to get over
As we near Strasbourg, my obsession has already reached a
painful peak. I need to see him! Maybe he's spent the weekend
in this city and is going back to Paris today too? The odds
aren't all that bad. I tense as my eyes search the platform,
while the train slowly enters the station. I even say a small
prayer, with my eyes fixated on the coach entrance, and demand
my own private miracle…
But no one comes.
The train doors close, and my brain refuses to let go. This is
it, this is the official peak of my obsession, and the
disappointment over losing the last hope of seeing the guy
again floors me. So is that all? I'm never crossing his path
again? I'm never discussing the portrait with him? I'm never
asking him if he really meant to include elf references in the
drawing? So many questions, so much anticipation… for nothing.
That should teach me to be such a pubescent enthusiast. Someone
drew you, what's the big deal? Keep the picture with you for
good luck, and just stop thinking about this, it's not healthy!
I'm startled by the ticket inspector, creeping up again, then I
gladly hand him my ticket as I notice that his eyes are one
green shade darker than… oh my God! I need Ginny now. Only she
could get me out of this!