Care and Feeding

Mo squirmed in the cramped lecture hall seat. Who would’ve thought that a subject as interesting and exciting as taking care of exotic familiars could be made soooo boring?! The field trips to the barn and the pastures where the gryphons and pegasi lived were fun. It was the endless lectures on the specific amount of each ingredient in the food that was becoming boring. She shook her head and forced herself to pay attention to the lecture.

“Balanced nutrition includes a smattering of flies,” the professor intoned sternly.

Mo sighed and dutifully noted the necessity of a smattering of flies for fire lizards. Her mind wandered… How many flies were in a smattering? Or was a smattering a matter of proportion? Two flies for every cup of oats? How did that all work? And was that just for fire lizards or were there other magical creatures with a similar diet? And how were you supposed to get a smattering of flies? If you put a fire lizard outside, did it catch its own smattering? Could you let a fire lizard loose in the house and let it pick up flies?

“Mo. Mo!” Sarah poked her in the side.

“What?” Mo jerked her head around.

“Class is over. What were you thinking about?” Sarah asked.

“What is a smattering of flies?” Mo asked in turn.

Sarah cocked her head to one side. “I don’t know Does it matter? Is that what you were thinking about?”

“Well, Professor McCloskey did say that fire lizards need a smattering of flies for a balanced diet,” Mo reminded her.

“I know, but why are you worried about what a smattering is?” Sarah asked.

“Well… how many flies is that? Does it have to be the same amount every time you feed them? What happens if they don’t get enough flies? Can they get too many flies? I don’t want to hurt a fire lizard. That is, if I ever had one,” Mo said.

Sarah shook her head and laughed. “Let’s go get some lunch. I think you need food. Do you want a smattering of flies with it?”

“Ew! No! Flies are gross!” Mo squealed, punching Sarah in the arm.

“Unless you’re a fire lizard,” Sarah pointed out. “If you’re so worried about figuring out how many flies are in a smattering, you could always ask Dr. Bishara when we go back to the barn tomorrow.”

“Oh, right! I forgot about that. That’s a good idea,” Mo said, following her best friend into the dining hall. Winding their way through the crowd of students, the girls found a spot towards the rear of the cavernous hall. After dropping their bags to save the table, they took their place in the line for food.

Standing on her tiptoes, Mo tried to see what was for lunch. “Looks like stew and potatoes,” she told Sarah.

“Does it come with flies?” Sarah asked with a grin.

“Yes, they have a bowl of them for garnish. But remember, just a smattering!” Mo replied. They both dissolved into giggles.

“What’s so funny?” a new voice asked. Mo glanced up to find her older brother Donny smiling at them from his place in front of them.

“Oh… oh! Donny!” Sarah stuttered, blushing furiously. She had a huge crush on Donny, something Mo couldn’t figure out. Donny was Donny – her usually nice, but sometimes annoying big brother. How did Sarah have a crush on him?

“Hi Donny. It’s just something from our Creature Care class. Always make sure you feed your fire lizard a smattering of flies,” Mo explained.

“Oh, I remember that. ‘Balanced nutrition must include a smattering of flies’” Donny intoned in a perfect imitation of Professor McCloskey. Mo and Sarah dissolved into giggles once again, although Sarah was still blushing.

“Have you done the field trip to the barn yet?” Donny asked as the line shuffled forward.

“Yeah, we did one last week and we’re going again tomorrow,” Mo told him. “I’m going to ask Dr. Bishara how many flies are in a smattering.”

Donny laughed. “Good idea! I don’t think anybody in my class ever asked. Lemme know what she tells you!”

Donny turned back to his friends when one of them asked him a question. Mo turned to Sarah.

“I don’t know why you like him so much,” she said, pointing at Donny.

Sarah grabbed Mo’s arm and jerked it down. “Don’t point at him! You’re embarrassing me!” she hissed.

Mo raised her eyebrows. “I’m embarrassing you? You’re the one who always turns red when he’s around!”

“Oh, stop it. Let’s talk about something else… like how many flies are in a smattering,” Sarah replied, red crawling up her face once again.

Mo laughed. “Okay. Have it your way. Let’s just get some food!”

“Without flies!” Sarah added.


This week’s prompt was gifted to me by Fiona Gray: “Balanced nutrition includes a smattering of flies,” the professor intoned sternly. My challenge – The flight of dragons was low… too low. She dropped to the ground and lay flat went to AC Young. Head on over to More Odds Than Ends to see what he did with it. While you’re there, if you’ve a mind to, pick up a spare and join in the fun. If you’d like a surprise challenge, just send in a prompt to oddprompts <at> gmail <dot> com. No fuss, no muss.

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