Shayne likes to read the Bible. Not religiously (ha, ha), but reading familiar passages brings him comfort. He can recite lines from psalms and verses--the unpopular ones that arenít constantly talked about--so I know that heís actually read it. That, or heís lying to me.

Iím not an overly religious man; I donít take the Bible to heart. There are too many things that contradict themselves, and some things are outdated (I do enjoy the occasional cotton-polyester blend t-shirt, and I have touched my wife when sheĎs been on her period). But there are simple truths that I believe in, articulated rather eloquently inside it.

The thing about truths, though, is that theyíre never completely universal. Theyíre not static; they change with time. Theyíre flexible. Sometimes all it takes is a different perspective, or perhaps your life doesnít exactly match the reality outside your mind, and see how easy it is to slip into a lie? You change a word or two here, and itís still mostly the truth, or maybe a lie, and you donít even notice.

Sometimes there are lies you tell to yourself so often that they become truths. They are true, because they are real and you live them, but they arenít TRUTHS.

Shayne doesnít quite grasp the difference between truths and TRUTHS. Shayne doesnít really grasp anything besides my hands. Lying on the bed, feet rubbing against the comforter, swallowing hard and sweating, his hands clench and unclench, clutching the sheets or air, blindly searching for calm. Eventually they find me.

Shayne worries about being a burden, becoming too cumbersome for me. He fears that he will take too much from me one night. He fears he will exhaust me and that then I will be gone. Tired, Iíll turn away from him and leave him. Sometimes I think he likens me to his father who just got too tired, and left him.

Hereís a truth for you:

Family is the most important thing in the world to me. Itís forever, and Iíd never leave him by choice. Iíll always be there for him and Iíll always take care of him. Just like any other family member. I love him.

Hereís a TRUTH:

Sometimes I wish my family didnít include Shayne Corson.

/

After the game I call Shannon and talk to the kids. Theyíre my everything, and Iím homesick on the road. Traveling is a part of hockey life, but something Iíve never become completely accustomed to.

Iím supposed to go out with the team, but instead find myself spending the night comforting Shayne. Itís a routine I know by heart. The same old cycle: he starts to hyperventilate, I find his meds, I stroke his hair, and I wait for him to calm down. The meds arenít automatic, and sometimes he works himself up into such a frenzy that they donít have much of an effect, so it does require some patience. He eventually calms though, or at least falls asleep, exhausted from the effort of trying.

The truth is, these panic attacks are as exhausting for me as they are for him. Sometimes I think Iím having one right along with him. The lines blur while holding him close, and talking or shushing or making the comforting noises my mother made when I was a child, and itís as loud inside my head as outside of it, so itís always a little harder to tell where he ends and I begin. He falls asleep though, leaving me in the quiet, alone with my thoughts, and I remember that it was his panic attack and not mine.

He's always the first one to fall asleep. I'll change his shirt if it's soaked in sweat, or cover him with a blanket, and then curl up beside him. Just to let him know I'm there for him, even in sleep.

When I wake up in the morning, he's always staring at me, smiling. He'll thank me, or jostle me awake and show me the room service he's ordered. We'll eat in bed, and talk and laugh. And it's just like old times until he opens the door, and we leave for the bus. The moment we see a teammate in the hallway, or we get on the bus, the smile drops. Sometimes not right away, but inevitably I'll talk to Tie or Bryan, and when I turn around the smile's gone, and I just feel so damn guilty. And I know. I know that later when we're supposed to go out to dinner with the team, he'll start breathing hard and searching through his bags for his pills and he'll be convinced that nobody on the team likes him. Iíll spend the night holding him and convincing him that heís wrong.

Everything will be all right the next morning, and then the next night on the road the cycle will begin again.

The TRUTH is, despite all his pills, sometimes I think heís faking.

/

It doesnít always take all night to calm him down. On these nights he sleeps in his own bed, alone. Like a child whoís a big boy now, he can spend the night in his own bed, and it bothers me, strangely. A kind of: oh, so you only need me when your hands are shaking too hard to count out two yellow pills and one blue one? Thatís the truth even if I canít quite explain the logic behind it. Itís not as if I want to sleep with him. I donít need to sleep with him on these off nights. We spend enough nights sleeping together. No one would look down on me for enjoying these breaks.

He wakes me with a kiss, interrupting a dream. It was a good dream, and it lingers on as I open my eyes and see Shayne lying next to me. Slow from sleep, and because he doesnít look particularly anxious, I exhale a simple, ďWhatís wrong?Ē

He kisses me instead, pressing against me without a reply. Iím tired and let him take control; itís nice not always having to be the caretaker. He moves quickly--he always does--and I think itís because heís afraid that if Iím ever fully awake, every fully cognizant, if he ever takes too long, Iíll realize what weíre doing and push him away.

But Iím always aware of what weíre doing. Itís not payment for my services. Itís not love. It is what it is. Thatís the TRUTH. I donít think Shayne knows this. He probably doesnít.

Heís quick to tell me he loves me. It takes me a moment to respond, because the truth is, sometimes itís hard to remember that I love him. That I love him, and that heís more than a brother, because most times itís easier to think of him in these terms. Itís easier to think of him as something that I have to take care of. Heís my responsibility. Youíre not a bad person if you become frustrated with a responsibility or a chore. When you hate a person you reach a gray area.

And the TRUTH is, well, he did have my dick in his mouth. I always think a little slower in those situations.

He fucks me with his fingers and I laugh because Iím helping to perpetuate the cycle. Maybe. Right? I canít remember. I canít remember my dream anymore, but I canít wait to sink back into its warm folds.

He stops and grabs my hands. The same desperate clutch like always, and I want my hands back because Iím tired of giving. But I canít stop myself. When did I ever delude myself into thinking I had any control over this situation? Perhaps I did once, but somewhere along the way I lost it. How much longer can I keep doing this?

Iím grateful when he pulls back on his own to slick himself up. All speed before, he slows down. He stays inside me as long as possible. His hands rest beside my head--so close--and he lays his body over mine--so close--and he pushes into me over and over again until Iím nearly there--so close--and itís like the only thing in the world is Shayne and he surrounds me, suffocating me, and all I breathe is Shayne. I stroke myself, placing my hand between us--itís a last ditch effort. And a useless one at that.

He rolls off of me, and I donít know why. I donít know why he sleeps in a separate bed. And I tell him this. The truth is, it doesnít make sense. It only gives me the false comfort that he hasnít consumed my life, when in reality I know he has. The thing is, I used to think I wanted him to.

ďItís a crazy reason,Ē he says.

I canít help but think that Iím crazy for allowing this to happen. I donít want to think about that right now. I donít want to listen to his reasons. I donít want to question my own.

I tell him to go to sleep. And then I tell myself. Iíll deal with this, Iíll figure this out, in the morning.

One final TRUTH before bed:

Sometimes I wish he would just leave me alone and let me sleep. The sex isnít that great.