Excerpt from If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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If the Creek Don't Rise

by Leah Weiss

If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss X
If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss
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    Aug 2017, 320 pages

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"Don't get your drawers in a pinch, Gladys. Let's get inside first before you start to act pitiful."

Church is full. I set my eyes hard on the back of Ellis Dodd's puny head and make him squirm in the seat I wanna sit in. He turns, sees me, and gets up quick to stand in back next to Marris. Now I got a good seat on the end of the second row near the teacher woman on the front.

Even when she sits, you can tell she's a big one. Bigger than me, and that says something.

On the other end of the front row is Prudence Perkins, Preacher Eli's sister. She sits upright like she swallowed a rod but not the divining kind. She turns her head and stretches out her chicken neck to cut ugly looks at the teacher on the other end. Prudence don't like nobody, but she must not like the teacher extra. I wonder how that could happen so quick? The teacher lady's been here little better than a week from what Marris told me.

Church always got a smell bout it that don't sit right with me, and it gives me the itches. Maybe it's that fake hope that hangs in the air, frustrated cause nobody gets much back from praying. Maybe it's all that joy the preacher splashes on like toilet water when he tries to make the afterlife special when bout anywhere is special next to Baines Creek.

Preacher Eli still stands outside to say his hellos to folks coming inside, and we're packed tighter than toes in a shoe too small. I elbow Fleeta Wright so she scoots over and don't bump up on my sore hip.

We wait cause we got to, and everybody studies on the teacher. Her dull hair's cut too short for any respectable woman from these parts. She glances round, her eyes wide behind thick glasses, and wiggles her fingers at the Dillard girls, Pearl and Weeza. They grin and try to wave back, but their mama, Jolene, holds their hands down like it's a sin to wave in church.

Fleeta Wright leans over and whispers to me, "Been a long while, Gladys. You forget the way to the Lord's house?"

Her breath smells of garlic and onions, and I wrinkle my nose so she knows.

I answer back, "I know my way round all right. I come when it suit, not cause I have to."

Fleeta rolls her eyes and crosses her arms over her fat bosom. Folks get fidgety now and clear their throats. They getting tired of waiting for the show to start. I look down at a glob of blackberry jam stuck on my dress. I pick it off and eat it.

Preacher Eli finally walks to the front, stands behind the podium, and looks round at everybody. He nods like he's surprised we're here when we just walked past him at the door.

"My fellow friends in Christ…" He starts the usual preacher yammer and uses his loud church voice, which is silly cause the back wall ain't but thirty feet away.

I knew the two Eli Perkins preachers what come before this one, and they was all stumpy men who told poor-to- middling jokes like it was part of their job. They was okay as far as preachers go and not too pushy. I told em not to darken my door. I don't have need for the rules they sell, so they pretty much leave me be.

Like usual, Preacher starts with a joke.

"I went by Roosevelt Lowe's the other day."

He starts talking bout that old man what lost his leg in a hunting accident years back and don't have good sense to be pissed at his buddy who done the shooting.

"And the good man that he is, I overheard him talking to the Lord. He said, 'God, what's a million years like to you?' God said, 'Well, Roosevelt, it's like a second.' Then Roosevelt asked, 'What's a million dollars like to you?' And God said, 'It's like a penny.' Then Roosevelt got around to the point and asked, 'Well, then can I have a penny?' and God said, 'Just a second.'"

Excerpted from If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss. Copyright © 2017 by Leah Weiss. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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