This is just a short thing that seemed to come to me. It may or may not be any good, but it seems interesting to me.

I stare at the lovely woman from a distance, from my table, at least once a day. My heart pounds, my palms sweat and my mind freezes….I am a mess around her. Pretending to be a fool, I seem doddering. Sometimes I don't need to pretend to be doddering. My reaction to her closeness sends my nerves awry.

Sometimes I forget I'm pretending to be other than I am, and she looks at me, expecting me to be someone else. Sometimes I am someone else. Someone else with a black mask, strong arms to embrace her with, and a braver heart than I normally have.

Sometimes it is hard to be someone else. Sometimes I wish it could be different, that she would look at plain old me, the me without the mask, the human me. Look at me with the joy that she looks at the man in the mask, who is also me. Sometimes it gets hard to keep the two sides of me parallel, always linear but never bumping into myself. My interests and my desires are the same, but Diego does and says one thing; Zorro says and does another.

I am starting to regret not telling all this to her. Not taking her into my confidence, telling her every secret, being closer than a brother. She looks to me in trouble, as someone to cling to, subconsciously knowing I will be the one to save her. Part of her knows the secret, maybe her heart, maybe her soul. Definitely not her mind. But sometimes she almost knows. There is a spark of half realisation every now and then, but then I see her shake her head and smile, and I know the moment has passed.

She feels so alone at times, but she is never really alone. I am always watching, either as Diego or as her guardian hero, Zorro. Her eyes flash fire and my heart glows with pride at her fearless outbursts. Zorro makes sure that her rashness never brings the consequences that she probably deserves. Diego sighs and tut tuts, but knows that she is amazing. I feel so often I am two men, two men in love with the most amazing woman in the world. I get jealous of myself at least once a day, as she talks about Zorro in godlike terms, and Diego sits and takes the drivel with a straight face.

I would sit and listen all day, even if the love in her voice cuts deep into my heart. Her voice is what I crave in the silence of the night. If it has to be speaking things that hurt, at least it satisfies something in me. Something in me feels deserving of the pain it causes.

It hurts sometimes, sometimes I am selfish. I want to hold her until the hurt is gone. Sometimes I put the mask on and go to her. She doesn't know when to expect me or why I come. I just want to hold her until the pain goes. She welcomes the embraces and the kisses, and longs for them. And so it becomes a cycle, because the next day the excitement is back in her voice, and the conversation centres around one particular person once more.

My eyes might give me away one day, a brilliant blue that reflects the sky, in amongst the brown. I sit and listen to the Zorro tales. As I listen to her praise Zorro, my eyes must convey something. As she criticises the man I am, the pain in my heart would be reflected in those eyes. But she never notices, never once has she queried my eyes. The one thing I cannot hide.

There is nothing in the whole world that I need, except her.