Her name was Marie. She had long brown hair, a beautiful smile with crooked teeth, and a laugh like no other. She loved to figure skate, twirling around on the ice, all eyes on her in a beautiful outfit . . . it was her favourite thing to do. She hated the summer when there was no ice to be found. Her room was decorated with discarded costumes, fabric and accessories to make new costumes, pictures, medals, even the cast everyone on her team signed when she broke her arm. There wasn't a surface that was dedicated to something other than skating, even the pictures of her family were taken in the rink.

The winter Marie turned thirteen her skating coach, Angie, said that there was a competition in Canada that she wanted to take the team too. The minute Marie heard about it she begged to be allowed to go. For days on end, she begged, and finally she got what she wanted. Marie was going to Vancouver for two weeks. She ran around, making costumes, fixing old ones. Her favourite was a sleeveless purple one. The skirt was hemmed with silver and there was a swirling silver pattern on her front. She said to anyone who would listen, "This is the dress I'm going to win in. This is the dress that will make me a champion." On January second Marie left home with her team.

On January eighteenth, two days before Marie was supposed to leave, she called home screaming, "I DID IT! I WON! I WON IN MY PURPLE DRESS! FIRST PLACE OVERALL! I DID IT!"The news was all over town. People were excitedly awaiting the return of the skating team. Families were buying out the flower shops, Marie's family bought a dozen purple roses, and on the twentieth the families of the team members headed to the rink to wait. The girls, and guy, were scheduled to arrive at six o'clock. They were still waiting at eight. They knew something must have happened, maybe the bus got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, got sidetracked and had to spend another day away. The team would be home tomorrow, and when everyone got home there would be a call from their child, complaining about the wait, but still bubbling over their win.

They never made it home.

The bus had gone over a cliff after the driver had hit a patch of ice, there were many injuries, but everyone got out. Everyone but Marie. She had been standing up to show something to the coach and had gone through the windshield when the bus went down. Thirteen-year-old Marie was buried with her skates and purple dress on, the dozen purple roses in her hand. The town mourned, and the team set up a memorial competition for her on January twentieth. It's been years since the accident, the memorial competition is still going, and even if none of Marie's original team no longer skate, even if Angie no longer coaches, I still go every year. I go every year and when it's over I go to Marie's grave and leave a dozen purple roses by her headstone.

If she were alive, my daughter would be thirty-seven. But I know that she is in heaven, skating in her purple dress. The dress that made her a champion.

© Double I 4 My Guyz