Author’s Note:  This story was inspired by Martina McBride’s song Concrete Angel.  I am not taking away anything from Stephanie Bentley and Rob Cross, the writers of this beautiful song, but for purposes of this story, the song was written by Justin Taylor.



            Brian came home from work early to find Justin and Daphne hard at work.  Justin had his guitar out, and the two friends were staring intently at some papers on the desk.  Justin had enrolled in a music composition class, as an elective, when he was still with Ethan.  Even though that romance had been derailed, he couldn’t withdraw from the class, he needed the credits.  Although Brian didn’t like the reason Justin had enrolled, his lover had a gift for music.  He remembered what Lindsey had told him once about an “artistic soul.”  She believed that someone who was truly an artist could master any medium.  Justin was truly an artistic soul.

            “You two seem hard at work.”  His voice startled the two teens.  They were so intent on their work, they hadn’t heard him come in.

            “Hey Brian,” Daphne leaped up and gave him a kiss on the cheek.  Justin looked up at him and smiled.

            “So what are you working on?”

            Justin seemed reluctant to answer, so Daphne spoke up, not noticing the worried look on Justin’s face.  “Well one of the songs Justin wrote for his class was selected to be the theme song for a fundraiser PIFA is hosting.  So we’re polishing it up.”

            Brian was shocked, Justin hadn’t said anything.  “Why is this the first I’m hearing about it?”

            “Well …” Justin didn’t know how to answer.

            “Let me hear it.”

            “Brian, it’s not ready.”

            Daphne chose this moment to speak up, “Come on Justin it sounds great, I can’t believe you didn’t tell Brian about this.”

            The look on Justin’s face told Brian that something was up.  Brian walked over to his young lover, and peered into the blue eyes he loved so much, “I would really like to hear it.”

            Justin lowered his gaze, but answered, “Ok.”

            He picked up his guitar and began to play, his gaze never leaving Brian’s face.  Daphne began singing the song and her voice haunted the loft.


She walks to school with the lunch she packed

Nobody knows what she's holdin' back

Wearin' the same dress she wore yesterday

She hides the bruises with linen and lace


The teacher wonders but she doesn't ask

It's hard to see the pain behind the mask

Bearing the burden of a secret storm

Sometimes she wishes she was never born


Through the wind and the rain

She stands hard as a stone

In a world that she can't rise above

But her dreams give her wings

And she flies to a place where she's loved

Concrete angel


Somebody cries in the middle of the night

The neighbors hear, but they turn out the lights

A fragile soul caught in the hands of fate

When morning comes it'll be too late


Through the wind and the rain

She stands hard as a stone

In a world that she can't rise above

But her dreams give her wings

And she flies to a place where she's loved

Concrete angel


A statue stands in a shaded place

An angel girl with an upturned face

A name is written on a polished rock

A broken heart that the world forgot


Through the wind and the rain

She stands hard as a stone

In a world that she can't rise above

But her dreams give her wings

And she flies to a place where she's loved

Concrete angel


            Throughout the song, Justin’s eyes never left Brian’s face.  He watched the play of emotions on the older mans face.  When the song was done, Brian just lowered his gaze and walked into the bedroom.

            Daphne didn’t know what was going on, but she watched as Justin followed Brian into the bedroom.

            Brian was lying on the bed.  Justin could tell by the trembling in his lover’s shoulders that he was crying.  Justin sat on the bed, and rested his hand on Brian’s shoulders.  Brian turned and looked at him, with tear filled eyes.

            “You wrote that for me didn’t you?”

            “You were never supposed to hear it.”


            “I didn’t want to hurt you.”  Justin only knew snippets of Brian’s childhood, but he knew that he had been beaten by his father.  One night, Justin began pouring words onto paper.  He was filled with anger for what Brian had been through.  Did no one notice?  When Brian went to school with bruises, did no one wonder what had happened?  Did neighbors never hear the fights?  Why didn’t anyone do anything?  Brian could have easily been killed by his father’s abuse, and no one did anything.

            “No, why did you write it?”

            “I wanted to know why.  Why didn’t anyone help you?  Why did people let it happen?  You could have ended up like the little girl in the song, but you were spared, you were blessed.”

            “Maybe you were my angel.”

            Justin chuckled, “That’s too mushy even for you.”

            “It’s a beautiful song, Sunshine, thank you.”

            “You’re not mad?”

            “No one has ever loved me like you.  No one has ever taken my fight and made it their own.  No one has ever cried for what happened to me.  You must love me a lot.”

            “With all my heart.”  Brian clung to Justin like a lifeline.  The two lovers remained like that for several moments.  Daphne came into the bedroom and found them like that.

            “Is everything ok?”

            Brian looked up at her, his cheeks still tear stained.  He smiled at her, “Everything’s fine Daphne.  That was a beautiful song.”

            He gestured to her to come and sit on the bed.  She sat down on the other side of the bed, so that the two teens were on either side of him.

            “Justin wrote that song for me.  The only difference between me and the little girl in the song was that I lived.”

            Daphne was shocked, she’d had no idea.  “Brian … I …”

            “I wouldn’t have told you if I didn’t want to.”  Daphne leaned down and embraced Brian, tears began to well in her eyes for the man her best friend loved.




            PIFA had their fundraiser for child abuse shelters.  Justin and Daphne performed their song, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  After his initial breakdown, Brian confided in Justin all the horrors of his childhood.  He began to let the demons of the past go as he shared with Justin.  His young lover took everything in, cried for Brian and offered him his strength.  The two had never been closer.

            After the fundraiser, Brian began to contemplate things that he could do.  He began to understand how lucky he was that he had survived.  He knew that other children were not so lucky.  He also knew that the cycle of abuse was perpetuated by people who chose to remain silent.  Brian felt he had to do something.




            Brian found himself in his partner’s office one afternoon.  He had a proposal that he needed to run by Gardner Vance.

            “What’s up Brian?”

            “I have a proposal.”


            “I want to produce a type of public service announcement.”


            “Look, this is something personal to me that I want to do.  I’ll fund it myself, all I’m asking is to be able to use the agency’s resources to get it done.”

            Gardner looked at his partner, a man he respected both personally and professionally.  He could tell this was something very important to Brian.  “Of course, you’re a partner, all resources are at your disposal.”



            Brian hadn’t said anything to Justin until he was sure he could secure Vance’s approval.  He came home one night and found Justin hard at work on his computer.  He came up behind the blonde and wrapped his arms around him.

            “Hey!”  Justin said the word with such love, “What’s up?”

            “I need to talk to you.”

            “Sure, what’s going on?”

            “Well I want the agency to produce a public service announcement about child abuse.”


            “Ever since I heard that song you wrote, I’ve been thinking.  I was lucky.  I could have died at my father’s hand, but for some reason I didn’t.  So many kids do.  I want to do something, make people think.  Especially people who see the signs and ignore it.”

            “Brian, are you sure?”

            “I’ve never been more sure about anything, except how I feel about you.”

            “What can I do to help?”

            “Well, I know you can compose on your guitar.  Can you expand it?”

            “What do you mean?”

            “I want to do a full studio recording of Concrete Angel.  Can you adapt it to a full recording?”

            “I think so.”

            “I’ll book us studio time, and then when we have a good arrangement, we can have Daphne record the vocals.”

            “Do you really want to do this, it’s so personal.”

            “I feel like I need to do it.”

            “Let’s do it!”




            The next few weeks went by in a blur.  Justin worked constantly on the arrangement.  He enlisted help from other music students at PIFA.  When he explained the project, they were more than willing to offer their services.  In short time, Justin had a beautiful arrangement of his song composed.

            Brian sat in the studio as the instrumentals were recorded.  The arrangement Justin created was even more haunting than the original.  They were ready for Daphne to record her part.

            Justin and Brian sat in the studio while Daphne completed her vocals.  They got it in one take.  The song that had touched the very core of Brian’s soul became a very powerful piece that he was sure would make people sit up and think.

            While Justin had been working on his arrangements, Brian had been working on the images.  He videotaped children playing, loved and protected by their parents.  He didn’t want to include any negative images.  He felt that Justin’s song paired with the images of happy loved children would send the message home.

            Brian wanted their family to see the piece before it was released to the media.  He had called them over to the loft one night.  No one knew why they were there.  Brian had ordered dinner, and it seemed like just another family dinner.  Once the dishes were cleared and put away, Brian led everyone into the living room.

            “Ok, I didn’t invite everyone here just for dinner.  I have something I want to show you.  Before I do, there is something I need to say.”  Justin could tell his lover needed support, so he got up and clasped Brian’s hand.  Brian looked down at their hands, and gazed lovingly into Justin’s eyes.  Their family was shocked, Brian had never been so unguarded with his feeling before.  They watched as Brian gave a soft kiss to his partner.  “I’ve never been very forthcoming about my past, my childhood.  Some of you know pieces of it,” he glanced at Michael, Deb and Vic, “but the time has come to put the past to rest.  I was lucky to survive my childhood, but I never realized it or acknowledged it until Justin and Daphne shared a school project with me.  I realized that I survived for a reason, and if I can make a difference for another child who is abused by their parents, then my survival will mean something.”

            He stopped talking, and pressed play on the VCR.  No one moved or said a word as the music filled the loft and the images plated across the screen.  After it was done, no one spoke.

            Brian, who had been holding Gus, spoke first, “I am releasing this as a public service announcement.  All I have been able to think about since Justin and Daphne first played this song is how lucky I am.  If, this can save one child from the horrors I lived through, then my life will have meant something.”

            No one could speak.  They had never heard Brian express himself like this before.  Debbie was the first to rise.  She enfolded Brian in her arms, and he held on tight, “I’m proud of you kiddo.”

            “You deserve a lot of the credit Deb.”  For the first time, Brian felt he had a real family.




            The release of the piece had generated a lot of interest.  Vance was thrilled because the agency was getting a lot of new business.  He had no idea how personal the piece had been to Brian. 

            Later that summer, Brian was selected to receive Pittsburgh’s humanitarian award.  He didn’t want to accept it.  Recognition was never his goal.  However, several domestic violence shelters had contacted him, and more people were coming forward.  Debbie’s boyfriend, Detective Horvath, had told Deb that they were getting more calls about abuse situations. 

            Justin convinced Brian that he needed to accept the award.  Although Brian was not seeking personal gain for what he had done, the fact remained that he was making a difference.  Reluctantly, Brian agreed to accept.




            The entire family was present for the award ceremony, Deb, Carl, Vic, Michael, Ben, Ted, Emmett, Lindsey, Melanie, Gus, Jennifer, Molly, Daphne and Justin.  Brian could not remember a time when he felt so nervous.  He barely heard his name when he was called to the podium.  He stood and faced the crowd.

            “First, I want to say that I am honored and humbled by this award.  When I did this piece, it was not intended to be an award winning piece.  I did this because I felt it was important.  There are two people who need to be up here with me.  Justin … Daphne … please come up here.”

            The two friends rose, and made there way to the podium.  Brian kissed Justin’s temple before continuing, “This is Justin Taylor, the songwriter, and Daphne Chanders the vocalist.  This award belongs to them as much as it belongs to me.  If this piece helped to save one child from the horrors of an abusive home, than I have done what I set out to do.”




            “Mother, did you see today’s paper?  Once again, Brian has managed to shame us.”

            Joan Kinney had seen the paper.  In the Metro section had been a picture of Brian kissing Justin’s temple.  She had been so scandalized about Brian’s sexuality, but to see it emblazoned in print, shamed her even more.  Going against her better judgment, she read the article.  Joan had seen the PSA, and it affected her deeply.  Learning that it had been created by her son and his lover gave her cause to think.




            Brian and Justin were spending a quiet Saturday afternoon at the loft.  It had been a week since the awards ceremony.  The media hoopla had died down, but the impact of what they had done lingered on.  There was a knock on the door.  Justin rose to answer the door.  He was surprised to find Brian’s mother on the other side of the door.

            “Hello Mrs. Kinney.”

            “Hello Justin, is Brian home?”  Justin had been shocked that Brian’s mother even knew his name.

            “Umm, yeah, please, come in.  Brian, your mom’s here.”

            Brian reluctantly walked down the stairs.  Justin started to leave the room, but Brian grabbed his hand.  He stared defiantly at his mother.  Anything she had to say, would be heard by both of them.

            “Brian, I know one ‘I’m sorry’ will not erase your childhood.  I wish I had excuses that I could offer you, but I don’t.  All I had was my own fear.  Fear that I could not rise above.  I saw your PSA on television.  I cried the first time I saw it because I realized what I had done, or not done, depending on how you look at it.  When I read the paper, and learned that the piece had been done by you and … Justin, I knew I had to come.  I can’t ask for your forgiveness, but I’m asking for a chance to be in your life.  I would like to know you … both of you.”

            Brian could not believe what he was hearing.  Was his mother actually asking to be a part of his … and Justin’s … life?  “Maybe we could have dinner together … soon.”

            “I’d like that.”  She kissed Justin’s cheek, and then turned to her son.  She enfolded him in her arms, and embraced him in a way she never had before.  After she left, Brian stood looking at the door, dumbfounded.  Justin came up behind him, and turned him around.  He embraced Brian in his arms, and slowly, the healing began.


The End.

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