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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Sarah Tomp
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The teacher smiles and I hear Marris giggle in back, then the Preacher giggles too, but for the life of me I don't know why. Nobody's gonna get a million dollars, least of all Roosevelt Lowe and his wood leg. And what good is a second anyway?

Now the joke's over that's a waste of time, Preacher says, "I begin this morning's service with the glorious news that the Lord has indeed blessed us richly in the person of Miss Kate Shaw, who's come up from the valley to guide our children to read and write. Proverbs 22:6 says, 'Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.' This is why we're here today, my friends. We train our children to be soldiers of the Lord, and Miss Kate Shaw has come to help."

When Eli says we're training soldiers of the Lord and puts teacher lady in the mix, she shakes her head no no no. She looks right at Preacher Perkins, but he don't pay her no mind. Prudence looks the teacher's way with a hateful grin on her face and I don't know why so that gets my interest up just a bit, but I still nod off.

When I come to, that teacher lady stands next to Eli and makes him look pint-size, which won't hard to do. He sits down, and she talks about losing her job and looking for a new place to teach. What kind of god-awful news is that? We're used to crumbs up here. Now this here's a teacher who's crummy all on her own.

Baines Creek is getting the bottom of the barrel with this woman. She won't stay long. Marris was right for me to come today cause I'd be hard-pressed to understand what I see and hear if told from somebody else's lips.

Her and Preacher walk out first and wait at the door to say their good-byes. That's when I see Sadie in the back row looking extra pitiful. Haven't seen her since she showed up a week back, then slinked downstairs at first light. Forgot she goes to church from time to time. She's got on long sleeves and a skirt dragging the ground. One eye's swoll and her bottom lip got cut. What's outta sight must be extra bad, but her baby bump's still there.

Grandgirl's had a tough time of it lately and it's her own dern fault. She don't have a ounce of gumption and her backbone's wormy soft. She's gotta look after herself better than this. I can't do it for her. Nobody ever looked out for me.

Marris puts an arm round Sadie's shoulder. I elbow my way through so I'm behind em in line, and I'm stumped when the teacher takes the girl's hands and says, "So good to see you again, Sadie Blue."

How them two know each other?

Then the teacher says, "Thank you for your help. I met Jerome Biddle and he's agreed to chop wood and get me ready for winter."

"This here's my aunt Marris," Sadie says, then they move down the steps and it's my turn and I say, "Hello, Eli. Hello, Teacher," and before I can even say I'm Sadie's granny, I get nudged on down the steps and put out in the yard with Marris and Sadie, all done.

I gotta stand there and wait while folks come up to Marris and give her a hug and a pile a thank-yous for the supper and the pies and the clothes she give em, when I know they take advantage of her nature. All she gets back is a thank-you. It's poor trade to me.

People head over to the soup pot that's been cooking during service. I won't eat that slop, though it smells good today. Heard tell one time somebody put a snake in it. Folks ate it anyway.

When I finally get a word in edgewise from all the visiting, I say to Sadie, "How you know that teacher?"

"Came to help Saturday last" is what Sadie says while she cuts her eyes over to Roy Tupkin, who's got nerve enough to 30 Leah Wei s s stand in the tree line outside church land. Billy Barnhill, Roy's partner in sundry crimes, fidgets from one foot to the other while Roy leans against a tree, smoking a cigarette. Like always, his eyes are slits like a rattler's.

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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