We stopped and picked up treats for Jason and Carrie, and soon enough we were at their schools. We dropped Jason off at the middle school first, and he gave Dad a big hug before he ran to class. Then it was Carrie's turn.
"I love you, Dad," said Carrie, giving him a great big squeeze and a chocolate-donut kiss. "When are you coming back?"
"I don't know, sweetie," he replied. "Whenever I can, I will be up here." I saw a sudden sadness in my dad's eyes as he looked at her, and the anger in my heart melted for a moment. I hoped my dad wasn't depressed and suicidal again. Maybe that was why he had quietly asked me to go to breakfast with him. I had better be careful what I say and how I say it, I thought. Carrie was off and running to make it in time before the bell.
Now that the large, musky-smelling truck was empty, I could have sat up in the passenger seat, but I didn't feel quite as at ease as Jason. I decided to stay where I was, in the back on the sleeper bed. The mattress did not have a sheet on it, just a thin pillow and an old gray silky sleeping bag that had slid off to the corner. On the walls were compartments that had the trucker's staples: NoDoz and other pills to stay awake, toothpaste, a toothbrush, some gel, and some dirty clothes. The cabin in this truck, like the others, didn't seem clean or warm, just a dark corner. I had heard my dad refer to it as a coffin, and the name seemed to fit. I wondered if other truckers called their sleeper cabs coffins too. Moreover, I wondered how my father could even rest back here, since the mattress was very hard. I zipped my jacket up and folded my arms to ward off the chill I felt.