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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"Well, no wonder she's gone missing. She hangs with lowlife. The girl got what she had coming to her."

"Well, that won't the big news, Gladys. The big news includes you."

I almost choke on my pie. "Me for pity's sake? I never even heard of this girl, so how do my name get sullied? Who spreads lies bout me?"

"It won't you, exactly. It's sort of your grandgirl, Sadie."

"Sadie! She a skinny thing turning mousy!"

"Well, it's really bout Roy Tupkin."

Marris stops to put a big spoon of pie in her mouth and chews, and I gotta wait. She swallows.

"The girl gone missing—Darla, Doreen, or Deena, nobody knows for sure—somebody says she was hooked up with Roy Tupkin for nigh on a month."


What a day. All my tied-up worries that pulled me down this morning got let loose with that gossip Marris brought in my house like chickenshit on shoes, and my Sadie's all caught up in it. At the end of the day, I sit on the porch glider, washed in a different kind of sadness from the morning. I sip sassafras tonic and smoke dried ginseng root Marris give me to ease my disposition and let the evening chill seep deeper in my bones. Like usual, I ponder disappointments.

It won't Sadie I ponder, cause to do that scares me with a foreboding with this latest talk. It's her mama—my girl, Carly—what comes to mind.

Carly is the only piece of me strong enough to make it into the world. I ain't laid eyes on her since she left her baby, Sadie, behind with her husband, Otis Blue, and took off with a fancy man full of flashy promises and little else. Don't need to hear what happened. Carly woulda delivered good news if she had any. Thought she was special that girl. Said we shamed her with our homespun ways.

Lord, she had a mouth on her. Could sass you with the cut of her eyes. What I saw when I looked at Carly was hungry. Won't a thing in this place that could fill her up. Like she was starved for different and won't settle for usual.

She'd laugh mean-like now. Point her finger at me, jab the air, and say, "You got what you deserve, Mama. A Big. Fat. Zero. And Sadie, left in your care after Otis died…look what you done to her. She's in danger cause you won't fit to be a mama or a granny. You a Big Fat Nothing."

Truth always hurts and it's extra hard to look at late in life.

What if Carly's right about me being a big fat zero? Is she something so special? Or just a different kind of nothing?

I say out loud, "You still hungry, Carly girl? You ever find different? Do it taste as good as you hoped it would?"

I lay my head back against the metal glider, tired from a day with a new worry bout Sadie and old worries bout secrets that time don't change. In a long-ago thought, I see Carly marching cross my yard, and she takes over my thinking cause she's a bossy thing. Always was.

"What's your skinny ass doing in my yard?" I stand on the porch, my young self, with hands on smaller hips and pissed as usual.

"Daddy here?"

"What's it matter to you?"

"Is he or ain't he?"

"Don't use that tone, girlie."

Carly marches right up to the porch, brushes past, and bumps my shoulder hard. She says in passing, "Need a place to stay, that's all."

"Well, it's not gonna be here!" I say and half believe my words.

"You breeze in here like you belong when you don't. You done made your bed, girlie, and it won't here."

I raise my voice and follow after my only child, who heads straight back to the kitchen and noses around for something to eat. She finds a fried chicken leg on a plate under a drying rag. Leans against the corner of the table and eats it. She looks everywhere cept at me. The air between us is flinty.

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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