A Treasured Friend – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It asks us to write a piece of fiction from the photo prompt provided in around 100-150 words – give or take 25 words. It encourages us to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Tuesday to Tuesday every week.

Here is this week’s prompt, kindly provided by Dawn M. Miller:

wpid-photo-20150823123622187

And this is my story, which is a little more ‘outside the box’ than usual this week:

A Treasured Friend

We were born opposites, you and I: you, the cosseted only child of an affluent family, and I, a simple labourer’s son. I often saw you as we grew, though never with friends of your own. I caught the look of longing in your eyes as you passed my happy group on our way to the local comprehensive. You were tucked inside your chauffeur-driven Rolls, en route to that costly private school. On Saturdays, I’d occasionally see you with your fur-clad mother, heading into those expensive boutiques. How glum you looked…

But you smiled at me sometimes, generating a radiance that lit up my world. I often wondered what it was like to be so rich, and yet so alone … cut off from the company and friendship of others. We were miles apart, you and I, with no means of spanning the distance between.

Attending the same university afforded the bridge across which our two worlds could meet. That bridge has been our treasured friend these past fifty years.

Word Count: 170

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If you’d like to view other entries, click the little blue frog below:

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As this week’s prompt has a bridge as one of its prominent features, I thought I’d do something historical about bridges. I decided just to focus on one!

So, for anyone interested, here’s some information about one of the U.K’s most famous bridges: the Iron Bridge. This is a photo we took a few years ago:

DSCF0316

The Iron Bridge crosses the River Severn in Shropshire, England …

800px-Shropshire_UK_location_map.svg
Shropshire, UK, location map. Source: Ordnance Survey OpenData. Author: Nilfanion. Commons

… and was the first arch bridge in the world to be made of cast iron. It has become Britain’s best-known industrial monument, giving its name to the wooded gorge which was once an industrial powerhouse and has become known as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution:

Downstream of the Iron Bridge. Author: Jon M. Commons.
Downstream of the Iron Bridge. Author: Jon M. Commons.
The Iron Bridge (aerial) by James Humphreys - Salopian James. Commons
The Iron Bridge (aerial) by James Humphreys – Salopian James. Commons

Construction on the bridge began in 1779 and it was opened in 1781. In 1934 it was designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument and was closed to all vehicles. Tolls for pedestrians were collected until 1950:

The brick tollhouse at one end of the bridge. Author: John M. geograph.org.uk. Commons
The brick tollhouse at one end of the bridge. Author: John M. geograph.org.uk. Commons
Ironbridge Tolls by Rodhulandemu. Commons
Ironbridge Tolls by Rodhulandemu. Commons

At the beginning of the 18th century, Abraham Darby I pioneered the process of using coke made from local coal to smelt local iron ore. But industrial expansion was hindered by the lack of a bridge across the Severn – which had to be a single span to allow for barge traffic. An iron bridge was first suggested by Thomas Pritchard, who designed a single bridge of 30 metres long, but died just as work began. The project was taken over by Abraham Darby III (grandson of Abraham Darby I) and the bridge was cast in his Coalbrookdale foundry. It used 378 tons of iron and cost £6,000.

Painting of the bridge by William Williams, artist. Public Domain.
Painting of the bridge by William Williams, artist. Public Domain.

Today, the Iron Bridge is a great place for starting a tour of the Gorge’s many museums and attractions. The area is now far from industrial: the factories have long-since gone and the Gorge has been restored to its natural beauty. It is now a maze of footpaths, bridleways and country lanes. One of my favourite places to visit in this area is Blists Hill Victorian Town – an authentic reproduction of a Victorian town, complete with shops, public houses and a bank.

The Ironbridge Gorge, together with the town of Ironbridge and the Iron Bridge is now a World Heritage Site.

Pedestrians crossing the Iron bridge with Ironbridge in the background. Author: Boerkevitz at nl.wikipedia. Commons.
Pedestrians crossing the Iron bridge with Ironbridge in the background. Author: Boerkevitz at nl.wikipedia. Commons.

References: Wikipedia, English Heritage, Virtual Shropshire.

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65 thoughts on “A Treasured Friend – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

  1. I loved your story and the ending was simply perfect! Wonderful Millie! Really, the ending melted my heart. And I found the information about the Iron Bridge to be highly interesting. I am assuming they don’t charge a toll fee to cross it anymore. It is an unusual and charming bridge. Thank you for participating in this week’s FFfAW challenge!

    1. I’m glad you liked the story, PJ, because it’s a bit different to my usual style this week. I just thought I’d try something with a tentative link to the prompt for a change.
      No, they don’t charge a toll to cross the bridge nowadays. It’s a very interesting bridge because it was the first in the world to be constructed from iron.The whole area is a great pace to visit. Our grandson, Kieran loves it there. We’ve had two little holidays there in the last couple of years. 🙂

      1. Yes, that’s quite an impressive fact. It’s a very pretty area today, but back then it would have been black and grimy, with factories all over the place. The Industrial Revolution brought great advances in technology, but it didn’t do the landscape any favours. :0

    1. Me too – and there are some great ones around the world. The one in your prompt is an interesting and unusual design. It looks fairly modern, so I wondered whether it had replaced an older bridge across the gorge. I almost wrote about those boots, but I caught PJ’s comment about so many people focusing on those, so I’m glad I didn’t. 🙂

  2. This story flows naturally from just seeing each other and at the end being together. Lovely story. This iron bridge is breathtakingly beautiful. Un- thinkable how they could have constructed it without today’s technology and materials.

      1. They were – and got very few of the problems caused by obesity. We all have things very easy nowadays. Then, most people got the exercise they needed doing their daily jobs.

      2. Yes, those who work bodily hard are also fit and strong. I have a friend who is going to 60 but still very strong and fit without any extra weight just because he burns every bit of it. Interesting to see him working all on his own building homes

    1. What a lovely comment, Chioma. Thank you very much! I almost wrote a story about those boots, but decided to try someting a bit different at the last minute. The Iron Bridge, and the area around it,is a great place to visit. The Victorian Village is excellent.I’ll probably do a post about it sometime.

  3. Awww, I’m still smiling as I type this. Reading this, it felt likethelottle boy was actually speaking. My favorite line is- I often wondered how it felt like to be so rich yet so alone. I am so glad in the story, the distance between then was bridged.

  4. Loved the perfecting ending of the story! 🙂 I love bridges, but I don’t even know Iron Bridge is one of the UK’s most famous bridges until now (my bad 😛 ) . I only know London Bridge 😉 How amazing it is to know the background of Iron Bridge (very fascinating) ❤ Well done Millie! 🙂

    1. I don’t think many people outside of Britain would have heard of the Iron Bridge, Khloe. I chose to do it because it’s so important, historically – and I’ve visited it several times, too. I did think of doing Tower Bridge, but it’s so well known – although the history behind it may not be. I could always write about that one another time! Thank you for liking my post! 😀

      1. You’re welcome as always Millie ❤ You made a great choice choosing Iron Bridge as you said not many people outside Britain heard about it. It made your post ever more interesting to us 🙂

  5. Very enjoyable story! It’s so nice that their differences in the way they were raised could still be bridged into a long and happy marriage. The love between two people can often times with-stand many differences. Great take on the prompt.

  6. Once again, an interesting and intricately woven take on the picture. The information is also being stored in the memory bank. It is one hell of a sturdy bridge to have survived for all these years since the late 1700s.

    1. Thanks, Susan. There are some amazing bridges around the world. Some of the modern ones are so long! But it’s the old ones that fascinate me. I particularly love the really old, stone ones found out in the countryside. Some of those are hundreds of years old. The Iron Bridge is interesting, historically, as the first one in the world to be made of iron. No traffic has been allowed on it for years now – just pedestrians. 🙂

  7. For me this is your best ‘priceless joy’ story. It is full of longing. The details are well chosen and ring true. The bridge metaphor brings it all together.

    1. Oh, thank you, Prospero – that lovely comment is so much appreciated. I did enjoy writing this story. It’s a bit different to most I’ve written for PJ’s prompts recently, although I wrote a few ‘outside the box’ stories earlier on, and for different challenges. I love delving into emotions and feelings, but the word limit imposed by ff rarely allows for it. The ‘bridge’ lends itself so well to opposites – two different or opposing sides, with a single, thread of a link between them. Thank you, again.

  8. Wow oh wow! With the feel of the Prince and the Pauper, I happily fell into your story and dwelled in each nook created. From the strong voice to the appreciation of friendship to the very atmosphere, this is a piece that will stay with me. Thank you for letting me experience this with your characters and helping me gain new knowledge.

    1. Reply continued from the last one – which was ‘sent in error’! Haha. Well, what I was going to say is that I’m really honoured and flattered by your words. I wasn’t sure whether the story would go down too well, as it’s linked very tentatively to the prompt.I’m really pleased you liked it! Thank you so much. ❤

    1. Yes, it’s an old one. There are lots much older around Britain, but they’re mostly stone ones. This is of interest, historically, because it was the first iron bridge in the world. Old things do transport us back in time, don’t they. We could say the same for that fantastic Bryce Canyon, too. Such an awesome place.I’m so envious of your visit there! LOL I hope I’ll get over there to see it, one day. 😀

      1. An iron bridge looks really beautiful, and I haven’t seen too many such bridges, especially this size.
        Hope you visit Utah some day. If you have at least a week, you can see things on your way from Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, new discoveries every day 🙂

      2. Those places have been on my ‘to
        visit’ list for a long time. If I do get to the U.S. that’s where I’ll head first. The sheer size and splendour of those places leaves me awe-struck.
        Yes, the Iron Bridge is an amazing structure. They made things look so decorative in those days. It’s only for pedestrians nowadays, and is well protected by English Heritage.

    1. Thank you, Jack. It’s a very lovely area, and there are so many museums to visit, including ‘living’ museums. The Victorian Town is excellent. It’s like going back to the 1800s, with all the work and activities taking place as they would have been then. There are a few of these kind of museums aroud the country, and I’ll probably do some posts about different ones ( when I get time!). But the Iron Bridge, in itself, is something else – a real achievement for that time. The views down the River Severn are really pretty. (The Severn is the U.K.’s longest river.)
      I do make myself a lot of work doing thes ‘Extra bits’ to go with my stories. But I just can’t seem to help myself… 😀

  9. What a fabulous post. First… a delightful story, the use of the bridge, and characters that came alive for me. And then… an illustrated history lesson on a beautiful bridge. Love the inclusion of the painting with the photos. Well done.

  10. It is a heart touching story. There is a whiff of sadness in it and I can feel the desire of friendship here. I like reading this emotional and captivating piece of writing 🙂

  11. I absolutely loved this piece Millie. Adored the final line. I’m writing this with a big grin. You have made me smile my friend 🙂

    1. Thank you, Belinda! 🙂 I honestly thought this one may fall flat on its face. But, like you, I love to write scenes that delve into feelings and emotions. With FF, I like to vary the style a bit from week to week. I did a quirky one using a Yorkshire dialect last week, so wanted something quite different for this one. I’m glad you liked it, anyway. 😀

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