The Eyes Behind The Mask

The Eyes Behind The Mask

A Story by Ralph Proenza (Docralph)

A lonely guy's serendipitous encounter at a gym.


The Eyes Behind The Mask

By Ralph Proenza



The gym was quiet today.  Since this COVID outbreak, the town had slowed down to a crawl as people were staying at home more often.  The quietness at the gym was evidence of that. One guy was at the back, clanging away with his weights, well built and wearing a muscle shirt but no mask like I was. The thud of barbells hitting the matted floor jarred me from my reverie. Today my mind was distant,  often finding myself staring into space.

Some say loneliness does that to a person’s mind.  Well, that’s me, a lonely guy.

Wait, am I having a pitty-party. That’s not like me.  I need to work out harder and focus on what I am doing.

The front door opened, and I saw a dark ponytail swing around.  It was a girl wearing a “Covid mask" ---because that’s what people called them.  The mask was unusually attractive, a shimmering chocolate.  She glanced at me then went to a treadmill.  I was bored, so I decided to watch her.

Her hair was dark and lustrous like she had just shampooed it.  I noticed more as the minutes passed. Her beautiful figure belied her need to be here. Or maybe that’s why she looked like she did.  Her stride was smooth and deliberate, graceful as a gazelle.  Her hands were delicate, with sleek fingers that I could easily see photographed in a high-end fashion magazine featuring vibrant nail polish, diamond rings, and fine jewelry.

The back-and-forth swing of her cute ponytail was hypnotic and distracted me from her incredible figure.  At once, she stopped the treadmill, turned, and stepped off.  Without meaning to, our eyes met and lingered for far too long.  The sight made me quit my rowing machine mid-stroke.  Her eyes were as hypnotic as her swinging ponytail had been.  They were deep green whirlpools and sparkled as expensive emeralds with the overhead lights.  It was awkward, and I wanted to look away but found my neck frozen in place.  I felt my face color and finally turned at the same time she did.

I sat there, dazed. Those were the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen.  I could easily drown in them.   I don’t usually gawk like that, but I wondered what the girl thought of my abrupt staring.  I looked up and noticed she had gone to another workout machine as if nothing had happened.  Maybe I imagined it all.  Maybe my mind exaggerated the length of time we were looking into each others’ eyes. The delusions of a lonely guy echoing inside the hollow cavern of his mind, no doubt.

I moved to another part of the gym to work on my arm and back muscles.  I wanted to forget the awkwardness and feared to look into those gorgeous eyes once again lest I lose my balance. Some time passed, and I began regaining some of my composure.

A gym employee started talking to the girl as they both walked over to the wall of cubby holes.  The girl had placed a small duffel bag there earlier.  She was leaving and realized I never even started up a conversation. Never got to know her.  Never even found out her name.

The employee called out to her as she left, “Hey Emma, don’t be a stranger.  Come back when you can.”

“Oh, I’m coming back tomorrow, about this same time.”  The girl said in a voice that was a little louder than necessary.

EMMA. Her name is Emma.

She casually strolled toward the door and turned to stare right into my eyes.  My breath caught in my throat as again, I stopped and tumbled into those beautiful green whirlpools.  Her eyes never left mine as she walked.  I noticed a smile behind that COVID mask that went all the way up to her eyes.

Emma was coming back tomorrow . . .  So was I!


                          •  •  •


© 2021 Ralph Proenza (Docralph)

Author's Note

Ralph Proenza (Docralph)
Often, I compose tiny short stories such as this one that come and go in the breezes of the mind. It keeps me occupied and mentally entertained.

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Added on July 9, 2020
Last Updated on January 17, 2021


Ralph Proenza (Docralph)
Ralph Proenza (Docralph)


I am a retired Dentist and enjoy writing as a hobby─I write for the creative FUN of writing. Other hobbies include playing the clarinet, Soprano sax and Bongos, oil painting, and graphite d.. more..