The willows' leaves hang heavy and low, a cascade of crimson tears soaking up the lake's polluted water, planted by some long-ago witch to decorate a pathway through her estate; but she is long gone now, and her gardens have dwindled to be nothing more than a park.
It is a good park, mind, sometimes called one of the city's shining jewels (though only by poets and brochures); on most days it's full of picnickers and joggers, stray students playing games on the lawns and witchlings praying for luck at the tomb hidden on the north bank.
It's not a well known tomb, not some vast marble edifice; no tourists take pictures there, though were they to brave the rocks and clinging willows they would find a serene alcove there within the largest tree's embrace, a place where the city seems ever so far away.
The tomb's only markers are a polished plaque (onto which the moss which blankets the alcove never seems to spread), and a number of small stone pedestals topped with plain incense holders. These are not polished, but worn smooth by time and weather.
It is tradition (or so the witchlings say) to burn incense and pray. That's what the place is for–to ask for luck and favor, to catch the attention of something greater than their faltering little sparks.
Of course I would never tell them that their prayers do nothing, nor dissuade their offerings with the truth; little things must have their fun! But ... sometimes it does hurt that they don't know, that they don't remember.
Witches can die, you know, for all that they claim not to. It is always a cause for mourning when a being of such age and wisdom passes beyond, and they know that better than even their dolls.
They fear death.
Some style it as the eternal enemy, some invading force from Outside; entropy's many tentacles tearing at the fabric of the world, the Shall-Not-Be eating away at the Is.
I wouldn't know if that's true or not, but the witch who is buried there–my witch–thought it was so.
When she felt her time looming in the distance, her end slowly germinating within her, she resisted. She did everything she could to rip it out, to transplant it into another, to destroy it utterly; but in the end all she could manage was to fight time to a pause.
But time was cruel to her, and in cutting her death out of time she also cut herself out of it.
She was unprepared, frozen in what could have been her moment of triumph.
For a time her estate carried on without her, but time came for it too, and it dwindled.
First just a few outlying areas which had to be cut away, given up, a few rooms abandoned to decay's questing spores ...
But it continued, as things do.
In the end it became apparent that the estate would be swallowed up by time, by entropy, by her enemy.
So we, her surviving servants, brought her here and built her this tomb, this memorial, in hope that it would keep her safe. That it would not let her be forgotten. That someday some new magic might be found to bring time back to her still body.
But none was, as you can probably guess, and time passed. The others left, or fell silent, or were taken; the city grow and ate and changed.
And now there's just me to remember her, and the witchlings to unknowingly pray to her.
And I'm winding down.
Service cannot continue forever, and I've lasted longer than most could or would, but ...
Now you know too.
Now you can try to remember her too.
And maybe find a way to bring her back.