“Aha, there’s a robin. I’ve won. It’s officially the start of spring.” Asmodeus crowed, pointing out the red-chested bird hopping on a branch of the tree over us. I harrumphed, crossing my arms, and sat back from my careful robin-sighting.
“So?” I asked, subtly craning my neck to see the bird hopping onto the park bench next to us. The comfort of the black bench, warm from the slow steading sun, was a place to absorb the beauty of the park. The beauty of a joyful community at play.
He poked me, and I squirmed away.
“I won the bet, Cielo.” He said happily. I rolled my eyes.
“What’s your prize?” I asked. He mused, both hands behind his head.
“I don’t know. What do I want that you’re hard-pressed to give me?” He asked. I jabbed him with my elbow, and he scowled at me.
“How about something spring-related? Since we did just have a competition to see who could spot the first robin.” I pointed out. He shrugged.
“Fine, that works.” He replied. I sighed and drew my cream sweater wrap closer to me. It was still only the middle of February, and Chicago never let up its wintry grasp until well into April. And even some years, we’d get snowstorms into the month of showers. It never stayed long but cast the city in a gray muck for weeks. But I loved the winter, and for all his griping, I know my demon did too.
“So…?” I prompted. He grinned.
“Oh, it’s a surprise.” He said. I groaned. Of course, it was. I stood up from the bench, Asmodeus following me. We walked down the path and pointed out the signs of spring that tried to play with winter’s desperate hold. I had witnessed this for 140,000 years, yet it amazed me every time.
Asmodeus, however, liked it because he could set things on fire. Actually, he set things on fire no matter what time of the year it was.
“Cielo, do you remember that time in AD 33 when we watched that boy get nailed to a cross?” He said randomly. I blinked at him.
“Oh yeah. I do.” I replied. I scratched my head. “Was that one of yours or one of mine?” I asked.
“It was one of yours.” He replied. “What was it he said?” He asked. I frowned.
“Be nice, I think.” I said. Asmodeus nodded.
“Yep, that’ll do it.” He said. I side-eyed him.
“What was the point of digging up that?” I asked. He shrugged.
“Oh nothing, just wanted to prove a point.” He said. I rolled my eyes. When he got vague like that, it was often best not to ask why.
“What’s your favorite season?” I asked, changing the subject. He looked at me from behind his Puma sunglasses.
“Uhm. I don’t really have one.” He said. ‘I’m a demon. I don’t have-” He stopped at the sound of my gasp.
“You don’t have a favorite season?” I cried, stopping in the middle of the path. He shifted, uncomfortable.
“Well, do I have to?” He asked. I frowned at him.
“What kind of question is that?” I demanded. “Of course you do. We have to rectify that right now,” I said, grabbing his arm. He was dressed, as usual, in black. I concentrated and with a flash, we disappeared from Chicago and reappeared in Tibet.
It’s a wonderful place. The locals are amazing, the food is delicious, and the winter is beautiful. Asmodeus looked around and crossed his arms. I had teleported us to the top of a plateau, overlooking an alpine valley.
“What are we doing here?” He asked. I spread my arms, indicating the view in front of us. Rock arose from the ground as if it reached for the sky, peaks of the Himalayas sculpted by the raindrops of eons. They were green at their base, the forests gathered by nature's wand. Then there were the roads that climbed the tallest mountain range on land, winding this way and that, making tight turns that felt for all the world as a fairground ride. In the sunlight, the mountain peaks were a celebration of greys, from sweet blue-slate to silver-white.
And it was cold. It was the sort of cold winter that would freeze the blood of those who didn't take sufficient care to be warm in heart and core. This cold winter had settled in for the long embrace to mother Earth, as lovers reunited, beneath frost-laced eiderdown.
Upon the rise of the sun, the forest was so snow-white. It had a pristine aura that begs the soul to stop for a moment and let the sight enter your soul. The mountains rose in snow-white brilliance, a silent invitation to good for the soul not to accept. I closed my eyes and inhaled the crisp clean air. Winter at its majesty. Even though I loved spring most of all, all the seasons had their beautiful natures.
“So, what do you think?” I asked, turning to him. He was looking over the valley with an expression of...well whatever it was he quickly schooled his features when he turned to me. He shrugged.
“It’s cold. Kind of don’t like that, Cielo. But the view is amazing.” He said. I sighed.
“Good grief, Asmodeus. The point is the season. Not the view. Although, admittedly, that’s the best part of this place.” I added. He inhaled.
“Well, I like the crispness of winter, and the fact that I can pelt you with snowballs.” He said, then proceeded to do just that. "Snowball fight!" He yelled, and in that instant, I knew he had a whole stack ready to pelt me with. In seconds of the warning, the air is thick with snowballs so compacted that several feel solid and icy. The ones from the freshly fallen flakes burst open on impact, showering crystalline fragments that glint in the wintry light. I flick my fingers to give me gloves. Seconds later I’m behind a tall pine, hands in the snow, frantically making a stockpile to retaliate with. From the lull in the action, I knew my demon is doing the same to replenish what he already used.
"You're gonna lose, angel!" he taunted from behind a snow-covered rock.
"Yeah, Asmodeus? Wanna bet?" Comes my out-of-breath voice. "Game on, sucker! You're going down!" When a snowball explodes from the front of my sweater, I know the fight is on: duck and cover, building a stash, keeping my head down. My woolen gloves pick up snow like they want to be snowballs themselves, frozen crystals dangling from wild loose fibers I'd never normally notice. Already the coldness of the snow has deep chilled my fingers to a point where they no longer wish to bend. But cold or not, a snowball fight is a snowball fight and I don't give in. Ever.
Even to Asmodeus.
Soon another icy ball hit the side of my tree and another whistled through the air just above my head. There was a stupid grin plastered over my face as I took my first snowball and whipped my arm back to send it flying toward him. Impact. He swore and I let out a whoop. The fight intensified. The best thing I could do right now was to taunt him into releasing all his missiles and then run out into the open with mine. It worked like a charm every time.
“Oy Asmodeus, your aim is so bad, Henry VIII was a better shot than you. And he missed every time!” I yelled. I heard him steaming, and ducked behind my tree as a barrage of snowballs turned the bark completely white. I laughed, then turned around and threw one right at his head. He didn’t even have time to react before it hit him, making him fly backward into a snowbank. I ran out around my tree and pelted him with all my snowballs until he was just a vaguely humanoid shape in the snow. He burst out of his snow shell and glared at me.
“I take it back. I hate winter.” He growled. I was too busy howling with laughter at the sight of a snow-covered branch over his head. He looked up a second too late, and it fell onto his head. He threw his hands up in disgust, and then shook all the snow off, stomping over to me. I was rolling on the ground, laughing. “Come on, you’re making snow angels all over the place.” He said. “It’s embarrassing.” He added.
“No. First, you tell me what’s your favorite season?” I asked, sitting up. He rolled his eyes.
“Spring. There. You happy now?” He asked. I grinned.
“Seriously?” I asked, then frowned. “Wait a minute. Then why did you make me take you here?” I asked, crossing my arms and trying to muster up a glare. It didn’t work. There was still so much white in his hair that it looked like he was trying to become me. I reached over and dusted the snow from his hair. He blinked.
“Well, because this was fun. And I got to watch you beat me at a snowball fight. Which was gratifying.” He said. I rolled my eyes.
“Typical,” I said. I hoisted myself out of the snow, then held out my hand to him. “Shall we head back?” I asked. He winked at me from behind his sunglasses, then threw another snowball at me, whacking me in the head just as he grabbed my hand and whisked us back to Chicago. It threw me off so much, I promptly fell over onto the path. Asmodeus snickered and I stuck my tongue out at him. “Sore loser,” I grumbled. He knelt down and bopped my nose.
“Nope, just a demon.” He replied. I rolled my eyes and stood up, brushing the dirt from my cream wrap. We walked back down the path, heading to our individual apartments in the city. All around me, the signs of spring were showing. The park held a small surprise in her palm each day, from a caterpillar to the song of a bird, or the humans who chose to live a part of their lives in that green space.
The sunshine that filtered down into the park, transformed into the laughter of children and the wings of the butterflies. I knew spring was my favorite season, not because of the beautiful transformation the world went through from winter into spring, the season of light, growth, and happiness. Not because of the way the flowers put their perfume into the world, spreading joy, and occasionally allergies, into human’s lives. But because every time spring rolled around, it meant another year that I could spend with the demon at my side. No matter the season.