"Mom!" cried the small, dark-haired girl as she ran across the front yard. "You shouldn't go off on your own like that."

Her mother, Kokiri, finished clipping herbs with a smile. "Well, I'm almost done now. Where have you been, Kiki?"

"In the workshop, where you said we were going," Kiki said with complete seriousness. "I'm going to help, remember?" Her mother nodded and led the way to the

large front room filled with dried herbs and flowers. Kiki took up her place at the table, pulling up a stool and watching interestedly as Kokiri began tying bunches of

herbs to dry. She started explaining what she was doing, but thought better of it once she heard her daughter's excited chatter. First grade had just started, and Kiki

was full of stories, recounting everything she had done. "Ne, Mom," she finished, "now that I get to go to school, can you teach me how to fly?" Her mother set

down the ball of twine and looked at her, surprised. "Why do you want to start with flying, of all things? It takes a long time to get everything right. I still hadn't

gotten the hang of it when I left home."

"But flying's really important, right? Besides, it's fun when I get to ride along with you."

"You know just as well as I do that if I teach you how to fly, you'll never stop practicing, and it's dangerous to practice on your own." She stopped, watching her

daughter's disappointed face. "There is one thing you can help me with. The doctor in town placed an order for some of my medicine, and your father's got the car

today." Kiki's face lit up slowly. "So the only way to get there is..." Kiki had already opened the narrow green closet door and was holding a large old broom out to her mother.

The two of them headed for the yard, and Kokiri took her broom, making sure as she climbed on that there was room for Kiki as well. Wind started swirling around

them, and Kiki smiled widely. This was her favorite part of flying, gathering enough air around the broom to support it. The takeoff always came much too quickly for

her. Too bad I'm not a witch yet, Kiki thought, watching the trees beneath her, or I could take as long as I wanted getting ready. She looked up, trying to catch a

glimpse of the town and leaning out a little more than she should have. The first thing to show up, as always, was the familiar tiled dome of the town hall, with the

narrow bell tower of the school near it. The broom gathered speed for the landing, and Kiki laughed as they narrowly avoided a blooming pear tree. She jumped off

the broom as soon as her mother's feet touched the ground, heading for a low fence. "Look!" she cried, balancing lightly on the railing. Her mother slung the bag of

medicine over her shoulder and hurried to her, clapping. "Getting on a fence is all well and good, but getting off of one is just as hard. Do you think you can get

down, Kiki-chan?" Kiki hopped down and was about to respond when she bumped into a tall man with a gray mustache.

"Ah, Takahata-sensei! Sorry!" she said, remembering to curtsy just in time.

"Good afternoon, Kiki-chan," Takahata-sensei replied, moving forward to accept the bag from Kokiri. "Thank you for doing this on such short notice. Nothing else works so well for fevers." He looked down at Kiki. "When you grow up, are you going to study medicine like your mother?"

Kiki considered this. "Maybe. Maybe not. As long as I learn to ride a broomstick before I leave home." Takahata-sensei laughed as Kiki climbed on her mother's broom. "Well, there's plenty of time for that. Take care!"

"Kiki," her mother said as they headed home, "what do you want to do when you start training?"

"I don't know. Fortune-telling is cool, but medicine also sounds really fun." She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "How'd you pick this town, Mom?"

Kokiri considered. "Well, my mother had moved back to her hometown after training. I had just turned thirteen, and I knew I wanted to do something different, so I left Matsugo and headed for the mountains." She laughed. "I was mostly happy to come here because it was so pretty and small."

"When I turn thirteen, I'm going to a big town," Kiki declared. "It was so much fun when we went to Yanagawa last year."

"Wherever you go, I'm sure you'll figure out what to do," said Kokiri, landing carefully by the front door. "Just as long as you concentrate. I don't recall you telling me anything about your lessons today."

"Those weren't all that interesting," Kiki said with a perfectly innocent smile. "Unless you count the story we read."

"What was that about?" asked Kokiri, amused.

"A country just for cats! The teacher said a girl wrote it when she was fourteen, too. Do you think she's a witch? I wonder where she moved when she turned thirteen."

Kokiri grinned widely. Kiki would undoubtedly have an easier time than she had making friends in a new town. She just needs to think a little more, she thought as

Kiki headed up to her room, carrying her new schoolbag. Though she has the right personality for being a witch. She'll practice anything until she gets it right.

A note from your friendly author:

I originally wrote this for English class, where we were supposed to re-imagine the story of a well-known figure. Kiki isn't well known, of course, but since we were basically supposed to write fanfiction, I couldn't resist! ^^

Please tell me what you think. I promise to write more. (Next week's winter break.)