Gloria loves her baby. He is the meaning in her life; he is that which defines why she lives, and he is what she lives for. She can think of nothing else in her life that has ever meant as much as him: not her parents, not her siblings or her grandparents, and not any of her past loves. Not herself. Her baby. He holds the entirety of her heart.
When she gets home from being out, whether she’s been away thirty minutes or eight hours, she goes straight to him. She lifts him from his bed and cradles him in her arms, cooing and kissing his forehead. The pain of being away from him is so much to bear that she has to alleviate it as immediately and as thoroughly as possible. His presence in her arms is the only thing that sends the pain away.
She wanted children, once. She longed for them. She longed to hold them in her arms, as she does her baby, and coddle them and care for them and tell them that she loved them. Now she doesn’t children, and she doesn’t need a man or an adoption agency to provide them for her, because she has her baby.
He gives her everything she felt like she needed from a child. He gives her someone to care for, if only for pretend — but she doesn’t think of herself as pretending, because her love for him is so real that all of her actions toward him must be, too. She loves to mime feeding him. She warms milk for his bottle and then ignores her own actions when she pours it out later, so that she can believe that he drank it.
There is little else she does with her life except to care for her baby. She works so that she can continue to live and, in her mind, to provide for him. She doesn’t keep friends, though. The closest thing she has are friendly conversations with customers and coworkers. When she gets home, she lives in the silence that is filled only with her, her television, and the sounds she imagines from him.
She gets embarrassed at the thought of someone entering her home. She keeps it clean, because she wants her baby to have a nice place to live. There is no shame in her housekeeping. It pains her to admit it, but she is ashamed of her baby, and of how people might judge her for the love that she holds for him.
He is not real. He is only a doll. It is only her love for him, and her dependence upon him, that are real. Those are enough, perhaps, for her, but not for anybody else who might look in upon her life. None of them matter, though, because she loves him, and she is content.