The mall food court was alive with traffic. It was workers on their lunch break, shoppers breaking for lunch, people on their way into the mall intending to shop, and bag laden shoppers intent on leaving before they maxed out yet another credit card. There were casual visitors and mall regulars, young and old, groups of teenagers, and lone wolfs. On a social scale, it was a cross section of many parts of society. The mall provided a different element to as vastly different a number of people. Without exaggerating the importance of the mall, it was as often as not, a place for teenagers to hang out, spend money, gossip, and pass the time of their seemingly blissful and endless suburban lives.

On this particular mild spring day, Dawn Meadows found herself doing just that with her classmate, Hannah Hoxley. The two girls were sophomores at the Ivy Ridge Prep Academy and unlike most of the kids at the mall; it was unlikely they could max out their credit cards even if they tried. Hannah was likely to wag this in the other girls’ faces just as likely as Dawn was not. While not an outright villainous girl, Hannah was very proud of her banker daddy and didn’t let the often-vicious girls of Ivy Ridge push her around. While Dawn’s purse was no less bursting at the designer seams, she certainly wasn’t blinding the occasional passer by with the bright gleam of the gold and gems inside. It wasn’t just because she did not have a rich daddy to show off like Hannah. While it was true that Dawn’s father and mother had passed away, they had left her with a vast mansion and the Meadow’s fortune. It was the tragedy of their loss that kept Dawn grounded, that, and the inner detective in her that sought to shine a light in the darkness of corruption, and ring the sword of the justice with clarity. This inner passion, she credited to her father’s teachings. While she often questioned the various business partners he had dealings with, she never doubted his fervor when making his expectations of his little girl quite clear: never give up your search for the truth. Never yield in face of evil, and…

“Dawn? Are you even listening to me? Hello? Earth to Dawn!” flecks of cold water woke Dawn from the daydream of her father’s lessons with harsh reality. Blinking her luminous green eyes, she wiped at the droplets with her well-manicured fingers. Hannah grinned sheepishly from across the table, fingers guiltily dripping with water from her crinkled bottle; bit of a dash to wash Dawn from her revelries. “What? You were off in space again,” she laughed in explanation to her classmate’s inquiringly shocked glare. “Honestly, Dawn. Sometimes I wish you would take me on those daydreams with you.”

“Thanks, Hannah, but I already showered today,” replied Dawn with a good natured, lopsided grin.

“You get points for that, but that still doesn’t hide the fact that you still have a giant run in your stockings… and John is coming this way.”

“Thanks, wait, what? John!?” Dawn’s expression changed immediately from a lopsided grin to one of panic, and three more shades red. She willed herself to disappear, but frowned. To her dismay she has still not mastered the art of invisibility. It seemed a logical skill to have, especially for situations where a girl has an unsightly run in her nylons in public and to make matters worse, the guy she has totally been crushing on just happens by at that very worst moment. Invisibility skill for teen girls, really, somebody should market that. It sure beats dying of embarrassment! Dawn frowned at her inability to will invisibility, and followed it up with a frustrated drum roll of her feet as she realized with frustration that her frustrated tantrum was not helping the situation at all.

“Hannah can I borrow a pair of pantyhose!?” she blurted out before she could manifest another panicked thought. It was this very moment that she noticed John had approached their table after being waved over by a smiling Hannah (thanks for nothing, Hannah!). She her head did a slow, stuttered, dramatic turn to face him, with a cartoonish smile. “Oh, hi John!” she giggled, face an additional three shades of red (that now makes six).

“Hi Dawn,” smile John, scratching his head. “Did I… come at a bad time?”

“Bad time?” Dawn parroted not computing. “Oh no! No! You thought, oh how silly of me! I was asking Hannah, you thought, oh how funny! You know how it is. Girls do that all the time. Life’s full of snags, isn’t that right, Hannah?” Dawn blurted out her words a mile a minute, looking to Hannah for support.

“Mmmhmm,” smiled Hannah, beaming infinite cuteness.

“So how about it?” pursued Dawn, holding her big smile to keep from crying in embarrassment.

“Oh!” replied Hannah, finally getting it, “sorry, I’m fresh out. Laundry day, my last pair,” she wrinkled her nose as way of explanation.

“Laundry day? Of course,” mumbled Dawn, turning back to John, a defeated look on her face.

“Umm, me too, fresh out. Not because of laundry day, I mean,” John let out a nervous laugh at his joke.

“Oh! Of course, how funny, why would you, I mean, duh! That would be weird if you. Oh Dawn, you’re so silly sometimes!” Dawn did her best to laugh at herself.

“We were just on our way to shop for a new pair though!” interrupted Hannah, trying to save her flirtatiously drowning classmate from further humiliation.

“We were?” wrinkled her brows curiously. Hannah shot her a glance. “Right! We were!” replied Dawn, catching on more slowly in her humiliated state. “Would you care to join us, John?”

“I’m sure boys have better things to do than go pantyhose shopping, Dawn” she interjected, grabbing Dawn by the arm before she had the opportunity to further go down in the blaze of her social catastrophe.

“Well, I never really thought about… I mean, I’m not sure what help I could be,” mumbled a confused John, but nobody was listening. Hannah was already dragging a love sick Dawn away. Seeing this he waved and called out, “I’ll catch you around the mall in a little while after you’ve bought your new pantyhose!”

At this exclamation, the entirety of the food court turned their attention to which this young man was calling out. It might as well been a front-page article in the paper with joining photograph: Teen girl caught in mall with scandalous run in her nylons. She instantly turned three more shades of red (that brought the total up to 9!)

As Dawn struggled to keep up with Hannah’s pace, she pondered her social annihilation at the evils of delicate and unmerciful undergarments, all the while playing with run in question, no doubt opening it up and making it worse.

“Stop that, Dawn, you’re making it worse!” scolded Hannah. Dawn pouted, but stopped. Running into John would have been perfect if it weren’t for the pesky run. She was wearing a cute pink skirt with matching spaghetti strap tank top, heels, and pair of sheer barely black nylons. With her luxurious long blonde hair, large green eyes, soft lips, slender body atop very long legs, Dawn was born to create traffic accidents, and inspire cute outfits like the one she had on. The only accident she was finding today was the one on her left thigh. The unsightly run was ruining her favorite new outfit, not to mention her chances with John. He never said this of course, but every girl knows, once a run rears its ugly head on your nylons, you get into hiding as soon as possible and do damage control. Smart girls carry an emergency pair, savvy girls keep clear nail polish on hand at all times to stop nasty runs in their tracks, girls that don’t go to Ivy Ridge Prep Academy with its strict dress code have the option to go bare legged, and then rich girls like Hannah and Dawn merely go buy a new pair; a fickle fortune to be wasted on the delicate gossamer garment known as pantyhose. This would be true in fact if it weren’t for one tiny problem.

“Hannah, I left my purse in the car when I got dropped off. This skirt has no pockets. I have no money on me, nothing,” admitted Dawn.

Hannah looked at her beleaguered classmate and found she had her own admitting to do. “Daddy took away my credit cards after our last incident in the bank… so I don’t have any money either. I wouldn’t have bought that bottled water if I had known!” she added with a hint of apology.

“It’s okay,” soothed Dawn. “I’ll just have to deal with the humiliation,” murmured Dawn in defeat.

“Oh no no no you don’t. You keep that head held high, Dawn Meadows, future star reporter of the Rose Tribune. Nothing beats a great pair of leggs and that’s exactly what we’re going to make sure you have!” trumpeted Hannah in exuberance.

“Thanks Dawn, but I don’t have any money to buy new nylons, and I don’t think I’ll be getting hired by the Rose Tribune, even with the recommendations Mr. Anderson said he’d give me, or my father’s connections,” added glumly.

“Well, not with that attitude, and certainly not if you can’t learn to keep your hose in good repair, but those are lessons to be learned once we graduate from Ivy Ridge years from now. For now, it all starts with a fresh pair, and there is where we will find them,” Hannah pointed dramatically over Dawn’s shoulder to a luxurious shop window display. Following the simple direction of Hannah’s extended finger, Dawn saw that a high-end boutique had some very fine specimens of the lazy, flimsy, and often-unforgiving garments on display.

“Hannah, those are WAY out of my price range, which I might remind you is zero. I can’t even afford a pair of Legg’s from the drugstore,” whined Dawn.

“Which is why those are the perfect pair. If you’re going to have to steal your pantyhose, you certainly aren’t going to steal the kind that come in an egg, Dawn,” said Hannah with a conspiratorial grin.

“Steal pantyhose? Hannah, you’ve got to be kidding!” replied Dawn, not believing what she was hearing. “That’s got to be the stupidest thing on earth to steal! Why would anyone steal a pair of nylons?”

“Why? Why? Why?” parroted Hannah. “How about to pass a job interview? How about to keep from getting kicked out of school? How about getting a leg up on the competition and keeping the eye of the guy you’re crushing on?”

Hannah’s bullet points hit home on all the right topics. Like it or not, all the things that Dawn desired required a bit of sacrifice. As much as she hated them, pantyhose played a role in opening most of the doors she needed in life. They cooked her in the summer, made her freeze in the winter, they ran upon their first wear, sometimes even before she finished putting them on. She spent more money on them than she could keep track of, and she would keep doing so to get to where she wanted to be in life. What’s a little quiet and desperate struggle with the greatest villain on the planet: pantyhose, if the sacrifice opens all the right doors.

Without even realizing it, in her naivety, Dawn convinced herself that if she was going to graduate from Ivy Ridge Prep Academy and go on to become a star reporter at the Rose Tribune, she was going to have to look the part. Nobody took a girl seriously who did not look the part, and part of that was dressing sharply. A girl who wore nylons with her skirt and heels showed she meant business, and that’s exactly what Dawn Meadows intended to mean. True, the thought of stealing them gave her pause. It was something that her mother would have scolded her for. But after all, wasn’t her Christmas stocking always filled with trivial tiny gifts. Every year she would find miscellaneous odds and ends gifts as stocking stuffers. Every year that included several pair of nylons. They were stocking stuffers. A trivial gift given to every girl at Christmas time because while every girl hated to wear the devilish things, they all knew that they had to wear them at appointed occasions throughout the year, and most girls did not know how to behave themselves properly in a pair of nylons, so they pesky things were never good for more than one wear. The point is Dawn; you’re not stealing anything more than a stocking stuffer; a punishment on women, an evil garment sold in grocery stores and drugstores; aisles of the hateful things. The dreadful things line shelves everywhere consuming women’s hard earned money delightfully betraying them at the worst times. Like now, she thought. Where was the support your hose promised when you needed them in front of John? That’s it, this is ridiculous, I’m just going to go in there and get them, decided Dawn. She was through rationalizing the circuitous argument in her mind.

Before Hannah could splash more water on her to wake her from yet another of her mysterious “daydreams” Dawn decidedly marched into the fancy boutique and made a beeline for the hosiery section. Hannah watched from the safety of the mall corridor.

Inside, closer to the crime, Dawn felt her determined courage flag slightly, but not enough to get her to bolt in fright. She took a deep breath and held it, deciding that not breathing was easier to concentrating on the task at hand and breathing at the same time. The pair on display was a sheer barely black, looking gauzy and fragile. They had a reinforced toe, which Dawn liked because nylons weren’t known for their durability and she was a bit of a klutz. She needed all the support she could get from her hosiery. Usually she bought hose in an egg, a box, a cardboard sleeve, something with a size chart, that would help her choose the right one. She supposed they might have a tag on the waistband, but she realized that she was trembling ever so slightly, and was thoroughly too nervous to inspect. She would just have to hope they were a small, just the right fit for her blessed teenage tiny figure. The pantyhose were right there in the hangar. All she had to do was grab them, and wrap them into a tiny ball, tuck them in the waistband of her skirt and she would be done.

“Excuse me, may I help you miss?” The sound of the voice nearly startled Dawn out of her porcelain skin. It was a very severe looking sales clerk. She did her best to recover.

“Who me? No, I’m just browsing,” she replied trying to mask the overly high notes in her quivering voice.

“Yes I see that. I couldn’t help but notice you forgot your purse today,” continued the clerk with fake politeness that narrowly masked the hint of menace.

“Oh, yes, silly me! Duh, Dawn! Sometimes I’m such a blonde,” she rambled wondering what this creepy clerk was doing observing her.

“Yes, well that’s very amusing, but as you can see, we have a policy stated here. No loitering, patrons must shop with the intent to buy,” the clerk steamrolled over her girlish comments about being a dumb blonde. She was clearly nervous, and he was decidedly ominous.

“Oh, well I’m intending to buy these pantyhose. In fact I think I’ve found the perfect pair right here,” added Dawn cheerfully pointing to the exact pair she intended to steal, hoping to win the favor of the clerk.

“Yes, well, a fine choice young Miss, but I’m afraid, those might be a little out of your price range. Perhaps you would be better off shopping down the corridor. There’s a drug store down the hall. I believe they have a hosiery aisle. You know, the kind that still sells the pairs that come in the plastic eggs.” The clerk’s favor was not to be had, and it was clear that he was being a little snide.

“Listen here, I’ll have you know that I my name is Dawn Meadows and I am not some common mall brat, and can certainly afford any of the hosiery sold here or anywhere else, including the kind ‘still sold in those cute plastic eggs’ you so snidely referred to,” began Dawn indignant at being treated this way. The rude clerk clearly had no idea that she could buy the entire company if she saw fit. Her youthful pride was flaring up, the ‘rich girl’ that rarely reared its ugly head was threatening to surface.

“And it’s a pleasure to meet you Dawn Meadows. I’m sure your need of pantyhose is of immediate necessity given the state of your current pair,” he indicated her pathetic run nylons with a sneer. “I only wish to inform you that, we here at Only Silk are very clear in our policies, policies in place to maintain a certain level of class in our establishment, a class that our paying patrons have come to expect us to maintain and enforce. This expectation is treated very seriously, so I would be remiss to neglect to inform you that the floor you are standing on is equipped by a highly advanced pulse technology that protects us and our expectant patrons from the vileness of shop lifting and loitering.” The clerk obviously had never heard of Dawn Meadows, and he proceeded to recite what sounded like a very practiced speech used on typical urchin girls found prancing around the mall like dolls playing dress up.

“I said, I’m not here to steal, and I’m not loitering,” argued Dawn, unconsciously looking down at the floor, which was very strange looking now that she looked more closely at it. It was made up of some very fancy looking metal panels.

“Yes well, should you get the… foolish notion to replace your ruined stockings with that pair hanging there, the surveillance camera there behind you in the corner will catch your nefarious act, and the security panels in the floor will activate,” the clerk paused for effect.

“And what happens then?” asked Dawn, cursing herself for feeding into this drama queen of a clerk.

“You will be zapped into a pile of salt,” he stated matter of factly.

“Zapped into a pile of salt? You have got to be kidding,” laughed Dawn, all be it, nervously.

“Oh, I’m quite serious. Go ahead, even loiter for too long. The policy is posted right up there on the wall. Your lack of funds places you in violation of being here without the intent to buy. As I said, our clientele expects us to maintain a certain quality of environment for their shopping experience. By all means, Miss Meadows was it? Linger as long as you like and see what happens.” It was the clerk’s turn to chuckle, a dry, ominous chuckle.

“You can’t do that. I’m a teenage girl. I’m in high school, and these are pantyhose! I need them for school, for job interviews, it’s just something stupid I have to wear. I hate wearing them. You can’t zap me into a salt statue over a pair of nylons, that would be stupid.”

“You’re right, it would be stupid. Stupid of you to forfeit your life over a cheap garment sold in grocery stores. The only reason it would be smart to steal this one pair is to save yourself from buying yourself a 10,000 more pair in your life. If you fancy yourself as a young model, we can accommodate you as the salty kind. Just hang around a little while longer.”

“You can’t do that. I’m a girl. A human being. I haven’t even gone to prom yet. I’m going to be a star reporter for the Rose Tribune, and the first thing I’m going to do is expose corruption in places like this,” replied Dawn with her hands on her hips. As foolish as she looked in her torn nylons, she was proud that she would bring evil places like this down once she was a famous reporter. The snobby clerk did not wait around to listen to her triumphant speech. He had already grown bored with the young girl, and returned to his duties. He would listen when she exposed this place in her next piece for journalism class. It was just the kind of story to further win the favor of Mr. Anderson, and secure her place in the internship at the Rose Tribune. Unfortunately all those things had one horrible thing in common. She needed a respectable appearance, and having forgotten her purse in the car, she would be forced to steal this pair of nylons. It was a regrettable act, seeing as she was aspiring to be a reporter that fought for truth and justice, exposing corruption, but a necessary one. It was the theft of one pesky undergarment. If she didn’t dress the right way, she would never become the star reporter of the Rose. It would be a shame to miss out on all her life’s opportunities over a ruined pair of stockings.

Now all she had to do was steal them without getting turned into a salty Dawn. That would be a horrible fate for a girl of 16. The papers would have a field day with it. Billionaire Meadows zapped to death attempting to steal silken leg wear. What a pathetic way to go! Her father would turn over in his grave if he found out his little girl was stupid enough to knowingly walk into a deathtrap because she believed short skirts, long legs, and silky smooth nylons got you to the top faster than honest and solid reporting. But Dawn noticed the looks that she got when she was looking her best in a cute outfit. And they were reinforced toe.

It was decided. Dawn reached for the nylons on the hangar. If a 16 year old girl couldn’t risk her life for a pair of pantyhose, what could she? After all, she was the next Nancy Drew. Turning over her shoulder, she saw Hannah watching from the mall corridor. Dawn stuck her tongue out playfully. Nancy Drew took risks, always looked good while doing so, and never got turned into a pile of salt for doing so.

But Nancy Drew never stole pantyhose. The shock was more than instant. The pulse lit Dawn’s lithe body up and down every curve and angle. The stolen pantyhose in question were literally shocked right out of her dainty hands. Her eyes bulged wide and mouth opened up to scream, but she couldn’t find the voice. The power surged through her, holding her solidly in place, causing the slightest tremble to wrack her body head to toe. The pulsing energy heated up her long legs beneath the dark gossamer stockings, caused her to die for cute skirt to billow up and around her waist, humiliatingly revealing the white panties beneath her sheer hose. Somehow she knew that Hannah and John were watching from the mall corridor, and knew that she was about to be reduced to a salt statue for loitering. Not even pantyhose theft. The mighty Dawn Meadows would not be graduating Ivy Ridge, would not be getting that coveted internship, would not be a star reporter of the Rose Tribune, would not be going to prom, would not even be kissing John, unless he would mind kissing her quivering salty statue before she disintegrated into a pile. She would also not be needing the pantyhose anymore.

“Nice going, Dawn. NOW you’ve done it!”

You at least defeated the world’s biggest villain though: pantyhose. You don’t need to wear them anymore! That’s because you’re filling the saltshakers in the mall food court… LITERALLY!!!


-THE END

Illustrations by Louisblack78

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