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:

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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:

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

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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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