A Fairy on Ice

Kylie Price, Staff Writer

Cold, I was so cold. Yet my mind burned with anticipation and a heart rhythm that danced across my chest. I waited nervously for the faceless voice to request my presence on stage. Standing stiffly beside the rink, I fixed my eyes upon the layers of chiffon shaping my cornflower skirt. The hem gently floated above my knees as skaters swooped by, painting a mirage of color wherever they went. Cameron’s skirt swished next to mine as she bid adieu to the ice. Her routine was lively. Young girls and boys grabbed at the end boards while their parents kept bouquets held fast. After all, it was Spring. The remaining skaters stumbled off the ice, relishing in their flawless footwork and spins. The stage emptied like sand swirling down an hourglass, a countdown I dreaded. I remember that day the rink looked less bleak than usual. The ice longed for its next number. Mothers and coaches had gathered weeks before the day, preparing pastel balloon arcs, spiraling like candy canes towards the sky. Fairy lights brightened the typically dusk corners, peering up from my skates in a fit of nervousness, I awed at the sight. Cameron lingered, “Good luck Kylie, you’re up next.”

 “Oh, thank you so much!” I squeaked, forgetting to compliment her performance.

I noticed the air was still, the pianissimo of conversations indicating an expectancy of the crowd. The announcer started up again, letting out a girlish cough before speaking, “Number eight, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy… Tchaikovsky… Kylie Price.” My whole body went numb. What felt like cactus spines grazing the freckles across my shoulders. The same sensation you get when spinning with all your might. Pressing your arms across your heart, swinging the boots of your figure skates together. I barely noticed the reassuring warmth of my mother’s hand pressing between my shoulder blades. The apples of my cheeks flushed, my skin offering ghostly contrast, cold. I’m number eight. A frozen gust of wind flew behind my neck, reminding me of the strawberry blonde bun my mother carefully pinned up. This split second of silence ceased when my skate slid slowly against the slippery surface. Emerging from the dim corner of the rink, I approached the center. 

The ice was smooth, indicating the presence of a Zamboni just a few hours earlier. Snow-stopping into my starting position, the hues of spring flooded my vision. Arrays of pastel peonies, romantical roses, and wildflowers mimicking freshly fallen snow, embraced gingerly by families in the bleachers. I remember having trained so hard and fallen many times. Bruises popped up like blossoms in spring along my legs. I was practicing day after day for hours and hours with Kathy. It wasn’t just the practice but also the collaboration. Kathy crafted a beautiful routine attuned to my skating abilities and expression. Tchaikovsky took the human sense of hearing and transformed it into tangible sheet music, capturing the beauty of sound. My family as well, amongst the rows of bleachers, stood cradling a bouquet of roses.

The click of a spotlight.

“I can’t mess this up.”

The pang of the first note.

“I can’t mess this up.”

Raising my chin to the crowd

“I won’t mess this up.”

I started, skipping across the ice with the picks of my skates. I spun and moved like water as I performed the footwork segment. The fluidity of my movements filled the crevices of the stage, traveling to every corner. The delicately sewn sequins on my bodice glimmered underneath the overhead beams. I felt one with the stage, and I took it all to myself. At this moment, I wasn’t a figure skater but an extension of the ice, translating its magnificence to everyone who saw it. Even so, a quiet anxiousness grew as I approached the most difficult part of the routine—the finale.

 Up unto this point, I had taken the audience on a journey. Telling them a story through vibrant toe loops, gallant crossovers, camel spins, and counter turns. I had not made one mistake. The fear mounted within me, so I smiled even wider. Lowering my arms and balancing on the edges of my blades I prepared myself. Lifting them again in unison with one leg behind me. I extended my limbs as far and high as possible, envisioning invisible strings pulling them apart. I struggled to maintain balance but held my form fast. Slower and slower. Then as quick as it began the Sugar Plum Fairy faded, sticking my toe into the ice. Applause from all across   echoed between my ears, the blooms of spring sliding towards my feet. 

Pure happiness radiated from within me. I felt so glad to have performed my routine flawlessly, and to people I love most. Afterward, I warmed up with the aid of hot cocoa and celebratory hugs from my friends and family. I was generously gifted a bouquet from my father as well. “I’m so proud of you Kylie,” my mom tenderly congratulated me. After all, I had won first place.  For the rest of the night, I felt fuzzy with happiness and love for my sport, my art, and my biggest supporters. I didn’t feel cold until the next day when I commenced my practice once more, this time to prepare for the winter recital.