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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"I'm old and wish I was dead." I spit out the bitter words as I spoon coffee grounds into the basket.

"You don't mean that, Gladys."

"Don't tell me what I mean! I know what I mean."

The coffee perks, and I scrape last night's scraps into a bucket and chuck dirty dishes back in the sink. Marris waits. She sits like a schoolgirl with her hands in her lap. I feel her eyes follow my doings. When the perking's done, I fill two cups, then sit cross from her.



"It's this old house," I start, then add, "and Walter." "Walter? Where'd that thought come from? Your sorry husband's turning to dust going on eighteen years."

"I know that."

"He can't hurt you no more. Let go of that fear. He got what he had coming."

I hate that Marris knows some of my business. It's what she don't know that's the bad.

She don't know I locked Walter outta the house in the meanest thunderstorm these mountains saw in a long time. He had kept on drinking till he passed out in the mud.

She don't know I come outta the house and worked his limp body cross the yard and leaned him on the iron plow at the edge of the road, him loose and heavy, slipping from my wet hands so I gotta pull him by the very belt he beat me with.

She don't know I got the piece of tin from under the porch that went on a old doghouse long before. Laid it over Walter like a blanket and held it down with a felled tree branch, with him leaning on that rusty plow. The howl in the woods from that storm was like screams of a banshee let loose and the haints that live in this house of Walter and mine saw what I done and don't stop me.

I put him in the path of danger and turned my back on Walter, is what I done. Went inside my house, closed the door, and looked out that front door window at the storm that stirred the world into a frenzy. Rainwater dripped off me and puddled on the floor at my feet, and I shivered with a chill that rattled my teeth, but I stayed put.

I prayed hard to the devil cause my prayers to God won't never answered. I tried to find somewhere else to lay my eyes besides that tin blanket over Walter. I couldn't do it. Couldn't turn away for nothing. It's like my feet growed roots, and my eyes watched till lightning found him and lit up the night. The very next minute that storm turned tame and calm as you please, all the fight gone out of it now that the deed was done.

I went out to him, folded over a towel, and grabbed the edge of the charred tin that's hot. Dragged it off Walter's body and burned my fingers through the towel, but don't let go. Pulled that blackened tin in back of the house, cross the creek, and up the hill. Stashed it behind a felled tree and piled on dead leaves. Then I come in the house, climbed my steps, and crawled into my bed in all my wetness. Wrapped my quilt over my head and put my fingers in my mouth cause they burned something bad…but they don't burn like Walter.

Marris come up on him next morning.

~

Last night's wanderings back those years let me know sins don't go away. I don't want Marris to look clear through me to my weak spot.

I whisper, "Go home. I need time to myself," and my ragged voice bout tears in two. I've collected the same worrisome thoughts for so many years that they're stuck deep in my marrow, and today they hurt almost more than I can bear.

"You got time to yourself every day. I won't go nowhere just yet."

She sets her mouth in that way of hers that pisses me off, but today in a good way.

"Talk to me, Gladys. I'm your friend."

"I'll say what I wanna say when I wanna say," I answer gruff and take my time, surprised I let her stay in my house when I feel like this. I'm putting things together.

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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