The woman on the other side of the counter asked to see the dolls.
"The one on the end," she said.
"No, not that one. The one in the box." I motioned to a few more, most of which were in boxes, until finally I got the right one.
"Yes, these are quite special. They have a diamond in the neck. Without that, they're worthless." I wanted to object and say that if someone was willing to pay something for the doll then it wasn't worthless, but I abstained from commenting.
There are many crazy characters at the thrift store, many of whom work there. I didn't really know yet that this woman was a character, but I was starting to have a feeling.
She looked at the doll and noticed the paperwork on it. She had said that she once had a doll much like this one. Upon examining the paperwork, she declared that the doll was the very one she used to own. She claimed it had been stolen from a storage unit. I thought she might start to try and get the doll for free, claiming that it was already hers, but she didn't. Instead she started to mumble to herself that the doll was "coming home." Her determination that the doll would be hers "again" seemed fanatical. She seemed to almost want to clutch the doll tightly in her arms. I imagined later that the doll had been possessed by the spirit of some long lost relative, or maybe just that she imagined it so.
She bought another doll, too, one that she seemed offended by the price having been written on its tiny foot. Again, the doll was worthless with a price written on it, according to her. Both dolls were very exclusive, and very expensive, according to the shopper, and she was getting them for less than $25 a doll. They must have been worth something to her, because she bought them pretty quickly. Maybe she was just trying to negotiate the price.
As I was checking her out, I saw the name on her credit card. I casually glanced at the paperwork that she had mentioned had identified her as the previous owner. Unless she signed her name somewhat differently than it was spelled, the doll didn't appear to have any connection to her, according to the certificate. As I was checking her out, she proceeded to share her story of how her doll had now found its rightful owner again with the store manager. The story amused everyone within earshot, but I felt that somehow she was betraying the integrity of those around her. Was I being too harsh on the woman? Could her name have somehow been the one on the certificate, written in a younger hand, or perhaps the name of another relative who had signed the certificate, or was she really making up the story from whole cloth? Maybe it didn't matter.
I suppose people tell themselves and others stories about their lives every day. Many of those stories are embellished and polished to make them more interesting or amusing. Even the very story you are reading is a product of my memory of the event, and memory can be very imperfect. Maybe it's human nature to tell stories. Does it matter how true all or any of them are?