The setting as a foundation for a short story

Mountain Vista Middle School has a basketball court that rises a few inches above the field’s level like an island. The school has no blacktop; just the court with two baskets. Both baskets have unreadable red spray paint graffiti all over the backboards so you can’t tell where the box that’s supposed to help you aim is located. There are a bunch of marks on the smooth gray cement surface of the court. The short, wide marks are from the rubber of basketball shoes that have skidded, halted, and dodged. The long double lines that weave, curl, and spiral are mostly from my skateboard but a few are from other skateboards. Along the edge of the court there are some lanky trees that were planted too close to a single bench. There are three trees and their branches don’t have enough leaves to produce any tough shade. The bench is dark green and has cigarette butts underneath and scattered in front of it even though there’s a bent up trashcan a few feet away.
The weather at school is either cold or medium cold or warm but it never gets hot. There’s usually some dull wind in the morning. Never enough to make being outside feel icy. In the winter it rains often. The rain only sometimes hits hard enough to make exploding pellets on the cement basketball court. On rare occasions when it really pours the field turns into a mess of chunky mud soup because the grass wasn’t planted evenly, just in clumps and patches, and no one takes care of it. Most of the time it drizzles on and off lazily to the point where it’s hard to say if it’s really rain or just damp mist.
School is divided into four sections of classrooms by two hallways that make a giant “+” sign if you could somehow look down on them from the sky. Where the halls intersect is the quad area. Wax soda cups and flimsy tissues for holding pizza and little cardboard bowls with pictures of French fries on them litter the perimeter. The center of the quad is always clean. There are picnic tables with umbrellas lined up on the side facing the eighth grade classrooms. The side facing the seventh grade classrooms has picnic tables except they don’t have umbrellas. The sixth grade side has rows of benches with no backrests. Facing the gym’s direction there are Soda machines. Each machine has the same picture of a Sprite bottle dripping with ice and they all offer the same exact types of bottled soda for $1.25 each. There are empty soda bottles littered around the machines even though there’s a recycling can a few feet away.
If you walk from school to the downtown area, a couple restaurants and antique stores, you have to make it up three hills. The first and second hills aren’t so bad. You can’t even really tell where they start inclining because they aren’t very steep. The third hill looks like a massive wall with houses growing off of it as you approach from a distance. It’s obvious where the third hill starts because you have to take slow steps with all your weight pressing down on your toes. Even though the hill looks intimidating, it only covers five blocks, which would be a quick walk if the ground were flat.
Down town has an abandoned gas station where older kids skateboard in big groups. Next to the abandoned gas station there’s a building called “Dirty Jake’s Bar” that has a canvas sign sagging from the roof that says “The only bar in town!” There are brown splatters stained all over the sidewalk in front of the bar and sometimes you see dizzy looking men pace down the street. Behind the bar and the abandoned gas station and the restaurants and the antique shops there is a huge stretch of tall grass that’s always yellow. If you go behind a business and walk through the grass for a while you’ll come across the same trees that don’t give enough shade by the basketball court. The trees spring up in random places, although the number of them increases as you get closer to the slimy canal that starts near school and passes behind all the shops down town. The canal keeps going past all the stores, extending outside city limits. None of the kids at school know where the canal ends up.


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