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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"Help do what?" I say and look back at Sadie, who still stares into the woods with a pull that won't natural.

"Get set up for school."

Marris sees Roy and Billy, too, and her face wilts. She pleads. "Honey, you come on home with us. Let us tend to you and give you a place to rest. You need to be with folks who love you. You and your baby need to be in a good place for a while. Right, Gladys?"

I don't pour syrup on Sadie and beg. Won't do any good. Plus I know when I'm not needed. Every time Sadie cuts her eyes over to Roy, he pulls her away from here with his stare. Sadie won't leave with Marris and me so I don't waste my breath.

She says, "I best get back to Roy," in a little-girl voice, then walks away and waves at the teacher and Preacher like she's leaving regular church and going home to a fried chicken dinner. That girl could break your heart if you let her.

We climb in the truck with the windows down, and when Marris turns the starter, it backfires like a gunshot. Only the teacher pays any mind. She ducks and laughs nervous.

"Well…" Marris says after we turn round and head downhill, and I know I'm gonna get a earful about that tall teacher who wears britches and got hair chopped off, who nobody in the valley wants so she come up here to beg for a job, and we get leftovers like always.

All Marris says is, "Roy needs killing."

~

I sleep under a extra quilt cause of the nip in the air. I wake up with a stiff neck, a sour belly, and Walter on my mind, and the day goes down from there.

I put on my housedress, and when I put my arm through the sleeve, it rips. I add two sweaters against the chill, then open the bedroom door and the knob comes off. Wearing bedroom slippers, I stub my toe on a loose board and bleed like a stuck pig. When I reach the stairs, the top step tilts, and I bounce down the steps on my fanny. I land upright at the bottom, my legs splayed, my head dizzy.

What a nasty tumble!

I take stock, wiggle my fingers and toes, and turn my neck. Nothing's broke, though I'll have bruises the size of flapjacks on my backside for sure. I sit till I get my wind back before I stand. If I got killed or hurt bad, nobody'd find me cept Marris. Good thing she comes most every day. I grab holt of the newel post to pull up on, and damn if it don't almost give way. I bawl like a baby and can hardly catch my breath from crying.

I'm scared.

There, I said it, dammit. I'm scared.

My house is falling down with me in it. There's no two ways about it. Another leak in the roof, a window that won't open, one that won't close, a rotten step broke through. I wouldn't mind if I was to die soon, but truth be told, I still get round pretty good. Can shoot a tin can at ten paces, and my constitution's sound. The way things are going, my house will fall down before my time is up. Then what? I'd be in a pickle is what. This morning's put me in a bitter mood, and there ain't a quick fix for it.

Marris comes through my front door and yells out her name while I look out the kitchen window and don't move. She starts talking right off.

"Got your mail from Mr. Turner. He drive by delivering when I come, so I saved you a walk to the mailbox."

Last night's dishes are piled in the sink, and supper scraps are in the skillet. Marris reaches for the coffeepot. It's cold and the coffee's old. She looks straight at me for the first time, and her tone turns pitiful tender. "You okay?"

I don't say. Tender makes me close in on myself. I wait till she asks again like I know she will.

"Honey, it's me, Marris… You okay?"

"I know who you is, for God's sake. And no, I'm not okay.

And there's not a damn thing you can do about it." I bump Marris out of the way with my hip, ignore my body aches, rinse and fill the old coffeepot, bang it harder than need be, and make fresh coffee.

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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