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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Granny won't set foot in our house cause of Daddy's bones. Said it was a heathen thing to do. Said it won't natural. I asked Daddy why he brought such things inside when nobody else did. He grinned and said, "One time these bones was wrapped in flesh and muscle and brains. They mighta fought a good fight to the end. But in the end, even the smart ones is just bones with all the fight gone out. Looking at em makes me think different bout power and petty things."

I hear he don't start hanging bones on the wall till Mama left.

Some folks say Daddy was a peculiar soul. Some said he was a thinking man. He was funny, gentle, and always a pinch of sad the years I knew him, cause the pitiful truth is he got nothing from loving Mama cept me left behind.

I think it was a broke heart that killed him, mostly cause Mama left him with a baby girl who lately looked too much like her. I don't remember her face cept from a faded picture in a dresser drawer in a back room at Granny's. Mama had hair the color of mine, and she was built thin like me. Aunt Marris said she had gumption in her eyes and a slice of selfish that won't pretty.

That night Daddy ended up dead, he stumbled in my room on wobbly legs and fell on top of me sleeping in my iron bed. "Carly, my Carly Blue," he cried out Mama's name next to my ear, slobbering like a sorry fool. I never liked it when Daddy don't know me cause he tried things. So I pulled up my knees and pushed, and he fell off me and hit his head on the edge of the bed with a thud. I jumped over his body and run into the woods, wearing a thin nightgown that snagged on brambles that scratched my arms, a ghost girl on bare feet. I hid under the weeping willow at the creek, shivering till the moon went away and morning come shy on the mountain.

When I walk through the door, I saw death claimed Daddy. His body lay on the floor where I had left him. The color was drained, and his skin was like ash in a fire gone cold. His eyes stayed open, and a fly crawled on his cheek. He puked like drunks do, and it dried in his beard and over his ear and puddled at his neck. Daddy died cause I won't there to turn him over.

I want to stay at Daddy and my place on Bentwood Mountain, down the road from Granny and Aunt Marris, but I f the Cre e k Don' t Ri s e 5 Preacher Eli said to move in with Granny so she could help me through a sad time. Granny don't do my heart any good, but when the roof on Daddy's house caved in the next big winter snow, I was glad to be outta the rubble. Then that summer, vines started to crawl up the sides and through the broke windows, and over and around those pointy teeth and skulls on the wall. Nowadays, five years since, the vines claim it all.

~

Now I stand on wobbly legs and whimper like a hurt puppy cause I can't help it. Today was beating number three since I got legal. I figure Roy don't need a reason no more. I close the trailer door against the chill, then shuffle to the bathroom to wash off the dried blood. The face in the cracked mirror shows another loose tooth, a split lip, and a eye turning purple. I don't see me no more in that slice of looking glass. It's a strange feeling thinking the face in the mirror is somebody else. I half think to see her lips move to talk and mine stay closed, or the other way round.

Wonder what Miss Shaw, that teacher with her pile of books and globe that whirls, would say now if she saw the fix I'm in. What would she think if she saw my life so different from hers? When I go see her next, I'll cover the bruises best I can. Don't need her pity.

Truth is, I been a sorry fool like Granny called me when Roy Tupkin, all charm and light, showed up every once in a while in early springtime. I'd be leaving Mooney's place with a sack of supplies or walking to see Birdie or Aunt Marris. Roy would come like fog or a wish with that sassy grin of his. One time he jumped from behind a tree to block my way and made my heart flip. Another time he sneaked up behind me and pulled my hair, him with his lanky frame and eyes locked on nothing but me for a spell. At the start he made me smile and my heart flutter. He made me hide behind my long hair so he don't see me turn twenty shades of pink.

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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