"The end of what?" she asked, not looking up from her notepad. She was sketching something, I couldn't see what.
"Everything," I said. "The universe. The world. History. The future. You. Me."
"You're sounding awfully deep this evening," she said, and rotated her paper in front of her on the table. "What's the matter? Did you watch Star Trek II again? You know that always makes you maudlin."
"No, I wasn't watching Star Trek II, you little snot." I took a drink of tea from my cup, then put it back on my side of the table. "Although that is pretty sad. You know. When Spock is in... he's in all that radiation... and he's all melted and shit..."
"Don't start bawling on me, Sally. Your mascara will run." She leaned in closer to her notepad and stuck her tongue slightly out the corner of her mouth. "I need some new pencils. These just don't feel right."
I looked out the glass storefront, catching sight of a young couple in their early twenties walking by, hand in hand. "Look at them, for example."
"Mmm," the Muse hummed, attention focused on her sketch.
"You're not looking," I said. "Muse. Muse."
"Oh, fine," she hissed, and threw her paper and pencil down dramatically. "What is it? Something shiny out there got your attention?"
"All those people, Muse. Not just those two holding hands. Everyone. What have they got, in the end? That's what I want to know."
She leaned back and crossed her arms over her chest. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"If you were dying, Muse," I said, "Who would you want to be there with you? Who would come and sit with you while you were drawing your last breath?"
"God," she said, "you have been watching Star Trek II. I'm going to have to put a V-chip in your TV set."
"I'm trying to have a serious conversation here with you, you know."
"No," she said, "you're not. You've watched something on TV again that got you into this weird mood you get into sometimes. Don't think I don't recognize it."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Yes, you do, and don't you contradict me. It's that 'wanting-to-be-part-of-a-tribe' thing that you do, and the only time you ever feel that way is when you're exposed to media that brings it out of you."
"Untrue," I said.
"The Fellowship of the Ring," she said. "You were moping for a week because you wanted friends that would die for you and that you in turn would die for."
"That's beside the point."
"It was a good story!" I protested. "That's all."
"Any good World War II movie."
"That's different. That's a troop, and not a tribe."
"Star Trek-fucking-II. You'd kill to be in a menage a trois like Kirk, Spock and McCoy."
I pulled my cup close and looked down at my reflection in the tea. "I'd just like to think someone would be there at the end."
"You're a dumbass," the Muse said. "I'll be there. You're in my tribe, you stupid shit. I've seen you naked, for God's sake. You've seen me naked! We can't be any more in than that. Damn! I'm never leaving you alone with the remote control again. You're worse than a five year old."
"Am not," I said.
She picked her pencil up and pointed it at me. "If you say 'am not' again, I'm going to stick this pencil in your eyeball, so help me, God."
"Eh," she said, and jabbed the pencil toward me. "If the next sentence that comes out of your mouth isn't something about how brilliant I am, then you're going to be shopping for glass eyes on the internet."
I paused, and then said, "Such an insightful muse you are. Vicious, but insightful."
She nodded. "Better. A bit impertinent, but better." She took her notepad up again and added a couple of lines to the sketch there, then slipped the paper across the table to me. "Here," she said. "I drew a portrait of you while you were being all stupid."
I picked up the drawing. She'd sketched a cartoon donkey with an oversized question mark above its head.
"It's a dumb ass," she said smugly.
"Oh, nice," I said. "Real nice."
"It's not to scale, though," she said. "Otherwise, the question mark wouldn't fit on the page."
"I'm going to kill you in your sleep some night, Muse."
"Not if I get you first, dumbass. And your little dog, too."