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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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Times like these I wonder if I ever been happy. From the start there's been a film of dingy on my days. I've always done woman's work; man's work, too. Woke up with work to do and went to bed before it got done. I see some folks walk easy and carry peace on their shoulders, but I been chained to a iron life.

Marris stays this morning, and when I can't hold it in no more, out pours the bucket of broke-down things in this old house I can't fix. Marris listens careful while my fears fill the kitchen and my voice grows thick. I bout drown in my grief, and I let this woman see my insides. I tell her a lot of things cept I know when to stop.

"Gladys," she says. She reaches her hand cross the table to touch mine. I snatch my hands back. Put em in my lap, grip em closed, and hold on to the familiar hurt. Pretty quick, the heat goes outta me and I'm spent. Like on those three stillbirth days when I worked so hard, and the babies come out dead.

I say to Marris, "Can't change things, so don't pretend you can." I end with, "A body lives a life bout as good as she can. Then what?"

Marris stands and does what she does best: moves with purpose round my stillness. She slices vegetables and rolls the crust for shepherd's pie, and while the pie cooks, she washes my dirty dishes and sweeps the floor, then sets the table for two and opens the window for fresh air. She steps outside and brings back a bunch of ironweed and puts em in a canning jar on the table. Then she sits and delivers comfort.

"A body lives a life as good as she can, Gladys Hicks, one day at a time." She pats the back of my hand and I let her cause I like the warm. "And that's enough. You done all right up till now. You're gonna keep doing all right. And that's that. Let's eat."

We sit at the table and let the pie cool, and Marris says, "I can't believe I plumb forgot a piece of gossip you gotta hear. You was in such a mess when I come, I got distracted from it."

"Go on. Spit it out. You know you're dying to."

"Okay, let me get to my start place."

Got no choice but to wait for her to find her start place, when any place will do. I nibble at the shepherd's pie. It's good and I'm hungry.

"I was at the Rusty Nickel. You know how I like to go there on Wednesdays for Swap Shop Day. Mooney turns on his radio at noon, and whoever's there gets to…"

I got no choice but to wait while Marris rambles, and I sip on coffee, feeling better now with that load off my mind and food on the table.

"… nicest voice, so sincere. Eddie Broom's his name. I might make him a pie, but I don't know how…"

I roll my eyes and finish my helping of shepherd's pie. I use my fingernail to scrape dried egg off my vinyl tablecloth. Notice a new burn hole and wonder when it came to be.

"…Wednesday last, I sit there with Sadie and Fleeta and Jolene Dillard. Sue Sorrels showed, too, with a nasty case of hives…"

Marris talks to hear herself talk, and I spoon more pie on my plate. I switch it with her cause hers is cooled. It's strange how some folks tell a tale. They go round and round cause the story is a little biddy thing that needs a lot of fluff to make it big enough to be told in the first place. I hate this part of gossiping.

"…the girl gone missing. That's the mystery is what it is. Somebody say her name's Darla or Darlene. One of them D names."

What? I missed a piece of her talk cause my ears shut down. Marris sips her cold coffee and puts the first taste of pie in her mouth.

I ask to buy time and get filled back in, "Who was her folks, this missing girl?"

"Nobody we know that I could tell. She must have been a looker. She worked in that hoochie place out at Danner's Cove."

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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