Kiki's Replacement Service
Flying over the familiar ocean on her trusted broom, Kiki breathed in a deep breath of air. She was back home. A year after leaving home to begin her training, Kiki returned to share stories of her success and to see all of her friends and family.
'Are you going to stay, Kiki?' her mother had asked her at the dinner table soon after she had returned. 'There's still a lot you could learn back here.'
'Mom!' Kiki moaned, putting down her fork. 'I'm practically a grown woman now!'
'I can't say I agree,' her father chuckled.
'I am grown up!' Kiki insisted. 'I have my own business, my own successful business at that. I have a lot of friends. You can't force me to stay!'
'Your mother's right, Kiki,' her father said calmly. 'There is a lot more you could learn back at home.' Kiki stared into her food angrily. 'But,' he father continued, 'who are we to force you to do anything?' Kiki and her mother looked to him, equally surprised.
'What?' they both said in unison.
'Well you've built a business up over the last year,' he explained while cutting his food. 'We can't make you abandon that. You've been flying very well and developed some of your other talents.' He took a bite out of a sausage. 'I don't think it'd be fair for us to hold you back.' Kiki's face lit up. 'However,' he went on, 'we are still your parents. We miss you, Kiki. We don't want you go right away. Can't you stay for a week or two?' Kiki sighed and nodded. Her father put his hand on her shoulder. 'That's my girl,' he said, giving her a gentle squeeze. He looked over to his wife and smiled warmly at her, a smile she reciprocated.
A week or two had turned into three months. Kiki was making her grand return to Koriko, excited to be returning after so long. Flying over the harbour, she waved merrily at the fishermen who waved back. Kiki felt like she knew everyone in the city. After becoming a local celebrity, business had started booming and she made a lot more friends than she had previously. She still worked in the bakery, which was still her humble home. She still helped out Osono with work and took care of the baby when she could. She still went flying with Tombo, who had finally built his bicycle-powered aircraft; a vehicle Kiki had to save him from occasionally when he got tired when he was too high. Kiki smiled to herself as she drifted over the rooftops and beyond the clock tower.
'Kiki!' she heard a voice cry over in the distance. From the window in the clock tower, she saw the friendly caretaker waving over at her. Kiki flew over toward him and hovered by the window.
'Hi, how are you?' she asked perkily.
'My word, girl, it's been a while!' he grinned. 'Where have you been?'
'Just took a break,' Kiki flew closer and rested her foot on the ledge. 'I went to see my mom and dad.'
'You should get them to see you,' he suggested. 'It'll be good for them to see how successful you are!'
'I don't want to brag...' Kiki blushed.
'Well you got a lot to brag about,' the caretaker nodded. 'Oh one of your friends has moved to town.'
'I'm sorry?' Kiki asked, confused. 'All of my friends live in town already.'
'No, another witch.' Kiki's foot slipped and she nearly fell off the broom. Recovering, she floated back up to the window. 'You alright?'
'Another witch?' Kiki asked.
'Yeah,' he said, looking worried all of a sudden. 'Are you okay?'
'Where is she?' Kiki asked. 'What's her skill?'
'It's a boy,' he explained. 'And he's living just over there.' The caretaker pointed over to the wealthier part of the city.
'A boy...' Kiki said quietly to herself. She looked up and noticed the caretaker giving her a meaningful look.
'You sure you're alright?' he asked. Kiki gave herself a little shake and kicked away from the clock tower.
'I'll see you later,' she called as she flew over toward the bakery.
Kiki set foot in front of the front door and put her broom over her shoulder. She hardly made it to the front door before Osono stormed outside and embraced her.
'Oh Kiki!' she beamed, squeezing tight. 'It's so good to see you again!'
'Hi, Osono,' Kiki said, with slight difficulty to breathe. Osono squeezed tighter before letting go and putting her hands on Kiki's shoulders.
'We've missed you so much! How are your parents? Is it good to be back? Tell me everything that happened...'
A short while later, over tea and hot chocolate, Kiki and Osono had almost finished catching up. Jiji was on the table, his face in a shallow bowl of milk. After answering hundreds of questions that were all asked at once, Kiki leant forward and changed the conversation to what she had wanted to talk about since she had returned.
'So...' she said as casually as possible, which ended up sounding so forced that Jiji even noticed. He looked up from the bowl and gave Kiki a knowing look as a drop of milk fell from his whisker. Kiki cleared her throat and ignored him. 'I've heard that there's a new witch in town.'
'Oh yes!' Osono said excitedly. 'He's wonderful, he really is.'
'Three months I've been gone and he's already wonderful?' Kiki put on a fake laugh, lifting her cup up to drink.
'Oh no,' Osono said. 'He's only been here for about three weeks.'
'What!?' Kiki slammed her cup down, stunned. 'Three weeks? Three weeks and everyone loves him?' Osono narrowed her eyes.
'I don't know if everyone loves him...' she said. 'But he is very interesting.'
'What does he do?' Kiki asked. 'Does he fly? Can he perform magic? Make potions? See into the future? What, what does he do?' Her questions came out faster than Osono's, who just looked at her, slightly puzzled. She then suddenly realised and let out a laugh.
'You're not jealous, are you?' Osono asked.
'Jealous?' Kiki asked, putting on a fake tone of surprise to her voice. 'Me? No, no. I'm not jealous. Witches can go where they please... Even though there really should only be one to each town.'
'Well there's nothing wrong with having two,' Osono said reassuringly. 'Besides you weren't here when he arrived.'
'Didn't anyone tell him you already had a witch?' Kiki said, becoming upset. 'Or did everyone forget about me?' Her eyes tearing up, Kiki looked away. Osono stood up and went toward her.
'Oh, Kiki,' she said in a motherly tone, taking her hand. 'No one has forgotten about you. Everyone around here still loves you.'
'Really?' Kiki wiped her tears away.
'Really,' Osono nodded. 'I mean you've become such a wonderful part of our community. Even though your training is over, you still came back.'
'I like it here,' Kiki smiled weakly.
'And we all like you,' Osono reassured. 'Don't worry. When everyone realises you're back, they'll all come visit you and you'll see how silly you're being.'
'I guess you're right,' Kiki sighed, calming down. She looked up to Osono and smiled. 'Thank you for making me feel better.' Osono waved her hand at her and gave her a wink. Their conversation was interrupted by the sound of crying from the next room. Sighing, Osono went for the door.
'I hope we'll all see you bright and early,' she beamed. 'Kiki's Flying Delivery Service is back from vacation!' Kiki grinned and nodded. Osono left and Kiki looked over to Jiji.
'I'm being silly, right?' she asked him. Jiji gave her a look that did not reassure her...
The next morning Kiki dressed in her, now famous, black clothes and red hair band. She looked at herself in the mirror and smiled, knowing that people would be excited to see her again. Or at least, she thought that they would be excited to see her again. That being said, what if they hardly even noticed her? What if the new witch was so impressive and so talented that everyone had forgotten about her in just over three weeks? Three weeks... It took Kiki much longer than that to be respected and admired in the town and she only got that after saving Tombo's life. What did the new witch have to do? Save the entire town from an asteroid or something?
Kiki sighed dejectedly and stepped outside of her room. Jiji and Lily were outside on the ledge, looking at the ocean together. Lily looked over and jumped off the ledge and brushed against Kiki's legs. Kiki smiled.
'At least someone still likes me,' she said to herself. Walking down the stairs and across the courtyard, she entered the bakery. Osono and her husband were busy baking. He looked over and waved at him. Before he could say anything, Osono interrupted.
'Kiki, you have a visitor,' she announced. Kiki looked into the shop and saw Tombo stood there, holding some flowers and checking his appearance in the reflection of the store window. 'I was just about to get you,' Osono said as Kiki hurried into the shop.
'Hi, Tombo!' Kiki grinned. Tombo, startled by Kiki's sudden appearance, jumped forward and bounced off the window.
'Ah,' he winced, holding his head. 'Hey, Kiki!'
'Are you okay?' she asked, feeling bad about scaring him.
'Fine,' he grinned. 'My head's as thick as a cannonball. When did you get back?'
'Yesterday,' Kiki said. 'I was going to visit you but Osono and I...' Tombo waved his hands.
'Don't worry about it,' he said, realising that he was waving the flowers around. 'Oh these are for you.' Kiki took the most beautiful red roses from him and smiled uncontrollably. From the back, Osono and her husband were watching.
'Oh, Tombo,' Kiki cried. 'They're beautiful.'
'If I had known when you were coming back,' he explained, 'I would have gotten you something much nicer.'
'No, these are lovely.' Kiki looked at him through his thick, goofy glasses and into his deep, mature eyes. 'Thank you.'
'Well I can't take all the credit,' Tombo said, blushing. 'The flowers were made by Xavier.' Kiki took her eyes off the flowers.
'Xavier?' she asked. 'Who's that?'
'Oh didn't you know?' Tombo asked rather callously. 'He's the new witch. Only moved in about three weeks ago.' From the back room, Osono and her husband were making frantic hand gestures to make Tombo stop what he was saying. 'He's amazing. He's got so many talents, like the flowers. He made the park bloom with roses and tulips and flowers I've never even heard of. And when you pick them, they grow straight back. Isn't that neat?'
'It's wonderful,' Kiki said, her voice lacking the enthusiasm of Tombo's, who suddenly noticed Osono waving in the back. Kiki saw that he was staring at something and turned around sharply, causing Osono and her husband to duck back behind the wall, crashing into some baking pans.
'Is everything alright?' Tombo asked.
'Why do people keep asking me that?' Kiki snapped, stepping behind the counter and throwing the roses into an empty vase that Osono had conveniently left out for her.
'Uh...' Tombo thought for a second. 'Because people think something is wrong?' Kiki turned to look at him.
'Well I am fine, thank you very much!' she said unintentionally patronisingly.
'You know...' Tombo stepped back, 'this reminds me of when we first met.'
'Speaking of first encounters,' Kiki walked from behind the counter. 'I want to meet this new witch; this Xavier. Where does he live? The rich district? What kind of a name is Xavier, anyway? Is he foreign? Couldn't he have gone to a town in his own country?'
'Well...' Tombo hesitated.
'Of course he could have!' Kiki said loudly. She suddenly realised what she was saying and gave herself a little shake. 'Well, let's go!' She opened the front door.
'Kiki, are you sure you're...'
'I'm fine!' Kiki put on a tone of fake enthusiasm. 'Just fine! Let's go!'
Walking down the street, both Kiki and Tombo were quiet. Tombo, being the gentleman, was carrying Kiki's broom for her. A few people had waved at them and told Kiki that it was good to her back, but not as many people did that as she would have wanted or expected. Tombo looked over to Kiki who looked as if she was marching rather than walking. Her fists were tight together and her eyes were dead ahead.
'I know you're probably disappointed,' Tombo said finally. 'About not getting the welcome home you wanted.'
'It's fine,' Kiki shook her head. 'Really, I didn't expect anything fancy.'
'Well I know the guys at the Aviation Club would love to throw you a party,' he said, trying to cheer her up. Kiki did not respond. Tombo looked forward and they walked a little bit more in silence. Tombo let out a laugh and looked back to Kiki. 'Remember when you tried teaching them how to fly? And we all ended up jumping off hills and just rolling down, making fools of ourselves?' A weak smile formed on Kiki's face.
'I told you that you can't fly,' she said. 'But you didn't listen.'
'Hey, we all gotta try!' Tombo laughed. 'At least it wasn't as bad as when we both went on your broomstick and you jumped off to leave me to fly it.' Kiki laughed. She had a clear image in her head of Tombo dropping straight into the ocean as she landed on the harbour. Tombo stepped close to her. 'This new guy doesn't have the memories that we've all shared with you over the past year,' he whispered to her. 'Remember that.' Kiki stopped and looked at Tombo.
'You're right...' she said, giving herself a shake. 'I don't know what's wrong with me. I-'
A smooth swoosh noise came from up above. Beams of coloured light passed overhead, as gracefully as a bird flying through the sky. The light passed in between the buildings and formed a ribbon around the clock tower. Kiki took her broomstick and she and Tombo flew above the buildings to get an unrestricted view of what was going on.
'What's happening?' Kiki asked him.
'Just watch,' Tombo grinned, his excitement annoying her.
The beams of light scrolled up around the clock tower until they merged into two thick strands of multicoloured light that faded in between colours. They merged at the top at the steeple and suddenly a large beam of light was projected over the city. Circular in shape, the magical light went over Kiki's and Tombo's heads and spread out as far as the eye could see. It was a dark blue in colour that had faint streaks of white moving in around feely inside. It made a gentle, breezy noise as it passed overhead. When the noise could no longer be heard; there was a faint crackle. Then the only noise that came from the city were the gasps of awe as from the light above them, snow began falling down to the ground. As it fell and landed on rooftops or on the street, the snow transformed into other multicoloured spheres of light before fading away. Tombo reached out his hand and as a flake of snow landed on it, it turned into a white rose.
'Wow...' he said. 'Look at this!' Kiki ignored him as some snow fell before the light at the steeple vanished and a single figure was left in its wake, holding onto the steeple casually. The people on the ground were holding similar presents. Some were flowers; some were small trinkets that had specific meaning to the people holding them. Over at the bakery, Jiji and Lily were looking at a small fake mouse. Kiki immediately flew over to the clock tower.
The boy holding the rail was undeniably young, probably the same age Kiki was when she first came to the city. He had blonde hair a little shorter than Kiki's and blue eyes that were the same colour as the ocean and almost as deep. He wore more conventional clothes than Kiki had imagined, just a black shirt and trousers with black shoes. He was slim and about the same height as Kiki. As she approached him, he spun around the pole and jumped into the air. Kiki stopped suddenly as, with no assistance from a broom, the boy passed through the air and stopped just short of the two. He held out his hand.
'Xavier,' he introduced himself. 'I have been looking forward to meeting you.' He spoke in a smooth and elegant manner that annoyed Kiki. Nevertheless, she took his hand and put on a smile.
'Kiki,' she said.
'Hi!' Tombo announced loudly.
'Hello, Tombo,' Xavier smiled. He looked at the rose in his hand. 'Enjoying my flowers again?' Kiki gritted her teeth. Tombo laughed nervously.
'Are you the flower boy, then?' Kiki asked. 'Like... I'm the flying delivery girl. Are you the flower boy?'
'Oh, no,' Xavier held his hands up, chuckling. 'My talent is... hard to define.'
'Of course it is...' Kiki said under her breath. 'That was pretty impressive, though. That light show. When I first came here, I was nearly arrested for flying through the streets.'
'Oh, the mayor asked me to do this,' Xavier said. Kiki lost control of the broom and lost altitude. Regaining herself, she flew back up. 'Are you alright?' he asked.
'I'm fine!' Kiki insisted, becoming more annoyed at the number of people who had asked her that. 'Why did they mayor ask you to do that?'
'He just wanted something to celebrate his birthday,' Xavier explained.
'I've only ever met him once...' Kiki muttered.
'Then you'll know he's a lovely man,' Xavier smiled. 'This is a lovely city. I really like it here.'
'Don't I know it...' Kiki said quietly. Xavier leant forward.
'I hope there's not a problem,' he asked, 'Two witches being here.' Kiki looked up at him. 'Because, you were here first and I can leave if-'
'No!' Tombo said suddenly. Kiki gave him an angry glare. Xavier, sensing how uncomfortable Kiki was feeling decided to leave.
'I should go,' he said. 'I'm sure you're busy.'
'Actually we were going to visit yo-' Tombo could not finish his sentence as Kiki silenced him by kicking him in the shin.
'I'll see you soon, Kiki,' Xavier smiled. 'It's so nice to know another witch!' He grinned excitedly and moved backward through the air, jumping of the steeple of the clock tower. As he passed over the city, Tombo leant forward.
'Why'd you kick me?' he asked, rubbing his leg.
'So that's him, then?' Kiki thought aloud.
'Sure is. Pretty cool, huh?' Kiki watched Xavier as landed on the street and a crowd of people gathered excitedly around him. Kiki sighed and looked at the clock tower. She felt as if this was not her city anymore...
Author's Note: Thank you for reading! If you've enjoyed what you've read so far, more will be coming so keep an eye out. If you feel like it, please review or comment and tell me what you liked. I always appreciate reviews so don't be shy and stay tuned for updates. Andy