Assignment: write the beginning of a story that starts with a broad setting and omniscient P.O.V., then narrows down into character, and finally ends in dialogue and action.
The railroad that once passed through Raven, Idaho, had long since dried up, but the iron rails themselves still lay in the sun, ribbed with pitch-sticky ties. The last train that sighed its way through the wheat fields to stop in Raven had stopped there for good, and now it was wedged onto a side track where its twenty-four cars slowly rusted to the rails. The locomotives at each end were just barely past the switch, but it didn’t matter. The rails hadn’t felt a train since 1974.
The concrete slab that had served as a platform still sat where it had been poured in the fifties, but as the dust of the years slowly settled, one end had tilted into the dirt, angling like the the bow of a sunken ship, and thistles and cheat grass were clambering up the sides. The other end of the platform was lifted into the air and on the end of it, legs dangling, sat a boy wearing a pair of shorts and a pair of tennis shoes. He was chewing sunflower seeds and contemplating the wooden platform sign, and occasionally, he threw a piece of gravel at the A in “RAVEN.” The sign gave a satisfying tock *whenever he hit his target.
Below his sneakers, another boy sat in the shade with his back to the slab. His legs were longer and his face was leaner, and he was smoking a cigarette. A baseball glove sat in the dust next to his knee.
“It’s hot,” said the boy on the slab. He threw a rock and missed the sign, so he shrugged as if he didn’t care. The older boy said nothing, so he tried his suggestion again.
“Want to go swimming?”
A curl of smoke rose between his shoes.
“Can I have a cig?”
The older boy took one last pull and ground the cigarette into the slab behind him. “You know,” he said, not looking up. “The pros eat the seeds and spit out the shells.”
The younger tried another rock. *Tock. “I like the shells.”
Tock. “How do you know they spit them out?”
“They just do. You can see it on TV.”
A miss skittered away into the grass. The younger boy picked a sunflower seed shell out of his teeth with his fingernail. “Sorry about your baseball, Matt.”
The older boy stood and stretched his long arms. Then he snatched the mitt from the ground and fitted his left hand inside, slapping it with his right until it poured dust into the air. The younger watched him from above.
“C’mon, Davey,” said the older. “Let’s cross the tracks and look for that ball.”