“Stop me if you’ve heard this one before- ”
“I have.” the response came, “You know I have. I’ve been with you since you floated off all those years ago and there are only so many jokes.”
“Could you just indulge me?” He sighed and ran his fingers through where his hair used to be, “For ONCE?”
“FINE. Go on.”
“A duck walks into a bar. He goes up to the bartender and asks-”
“What?” He asked as he spun through the silent abyss.
“You told me to stop you if I’d heard that one before.”
“Nobody really means that when they say it, y’know?” The stars spiraled around in front of him, twisting intricate dotted patterns through the black. They’d all be gone soon, but at this point, he had seen enough of them to take them for granted. “They still want to tell the joke.”
“I don’t care. I’ve heard every joke about ducks in your repertoire.” A silent pause rang out, returning the fabric of space and time to its normal state. Within minutes it began to vibrate again with a sudden realization, “Actually, I’m not sure what a duck even is.”
“It’s a bird.” His tone was matter of fact. The vibrations he sent out were weaker, but no less in violation of what had been known physics.
“What’s a bird?”
“Weren’t you around for that?” He asked, then clarified, “It was a flappy thing. With feathers. It flapped. They were cute. You’d’ve liked them.”
“Oh yeah. I’m sure I would have loved those things.” The void filled itself with a thick, if figurative, air of sarcasm. “Because I sure do love all your jokes about them!”
“You’re a real asshole, you know that?”
“Listen, Dave. I’ve been around for about a hundred and sixty billion years. I think I’ve earned the right.”
“Just because you’re old, doesn’t mean you get to be a dick.”
“Of course it does. I’m dying. Let me do what I want.”
“Dying?” Dave scoffed, “You’ve been milking that cow for the past twenty-three billion years. You got plenty of time left, so stop guilt-tripping me. Everyone dies.”
“You won’t.” it shot back.
“That’s not the point.”
“Fine.” There was no sigh, at least not physically, “If we’ve got plenty of time, go ahead.”
“What?” Dave asked.
For all its outward world weariness, Dave was sure that it honestly did enjoy his company. He would try to make the next few billion years less soul-crushingly lonely for it as he had the last few. One must never leave someone who’s dying. Even if it’s a bit…difficult towards the end.
“Okay.” Dave felt the universe smile, begrudgingly, but sincerely, “Tell me again about the duck.”
“Glad you’ve come around.” Dave smiled back, “Well, then. A duck walks into a bar. He goes up to the bartender and asks ‘Got any grapes?’”
“What’s a grape?”
“Dammit. Are you serious.”