|The author wearing her father's tree sweatshirt|
J.C. Lane is the author of Tag, You’re Dead, a thriller coming in July. She also writes mysteries as Judy Clemens, including the Grim Reaper mysteries, the Stella Crown series, and the stand-alone, Lost Sons. She lives in Ohio, where her yard is filled with trees: Maple, Oak, Blue Spruce, Pine, Redbud, Peach, Weeping Cherry (that her dad picked out), Crabapple, and probably some others she forgot. Learn more about her and her books at her website. jclanebooks.com
My Favorite Sweatshirt
By J.C. Lane
My father loved trees. When he wasn’t adding one to our yard he was taking pictures of them, studying his tree book, or enjoying a walk in the woods. When a tree came to the end of its life he would use his chainsaw – which my husband now owns – to cut down the tree so it could be used as fuel in our home’s wood-burning furnace, making room in the woods or yard for a new young tree to thrive. He and my mother also spent time visiting nature preserves and parks to not only look for birds, but to appreciate the leaves and varieties of trees found in that part of the country.
About twenty years ago I bought my dad this sweatshirt from the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, when I was visiting my brother and sister-in-law who lived in the area. It names and pictures a dozen trees, including one of Dad’s favorites, the White Oak. He loved the sweatshirt and wore it enough that it began to show wear. I can still picture him in it.
After my father died in 2009 I snatched the sweatshirt from the “giveaway” pile. It wasn’t beautiful or pristine or even something I could wear in public. But because of the meaning behind it, it felt like something that still held a huge part of my dad and what he was about. I am so glad to have it.
When I need comforting or warmth or just want to feel close to Dad, I pull on the sweatshirt. The holes in the sleeves and the frayed neckline make it “unfit for company,” but it’s perfect for a day at home, and the signs of use make me love it even more. When I am wearing it, I can imagine that Dad is with me, loving me. In a way, he is.
A favorite sweatshirt from one of my favorite people.
Trees depicted on the sweatshirt, clockwise, beginning at the top:
Kentucky Coffee Tree
Tag, You’re Dead
Six young people play a dangerous Game of Tag in public, chasing through the crowds, streets, and buildings of Chicago. This secret, one-of-a-kind, wildly expensive Game offers a macabre twist to the childhood version…if you get Tagged, you get Dead.
Three "Its" have their reasons for buying a place in the Game. Surgically enhanced Brandy is obsessed with destroying a naturally beautiful girl. Untalented Robert covets his target's position as superstar of the basketball team. Brainiac Charles craves a battle against an intellectual equal. Given their elite social status, they reject any possible downside to the contest. Each expects the satisfaction of killing their prey, then walking away.
Hand-picked innocents play as “Runners,” under threat to their loved ones should they refuse to participate: lovely, small-town Laura; celebrated athlete Tyrese; and Amanda, gamer extraordinaire. Alone, hunted by their adversary, each feels a single hope…to survive.
Technological wizardry controls the Game. As soon as Runners receive the “Go” signal on smart watches locked to their wrists, the Game rockets them through the city, from the El to Michigan Avenue to the Lincoln Park Zoo. There is no time to rest. Every thirty minutes the Runner’s location is transmitted to the It, which steadily diminishes the Runner’s chance of ever reaching Home Base alive. The Game will not end until someone is Tagged, so the Runners must choose how to play. Will they accept death? Murder their Its? Or find a way to use individual strengths to stop the Game before anyone dies?