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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I cried at night back then. Roy don't come round much, me carrying his flesh and blood, and I yearned for him in the summer dark. I was blind and dumb and slow to learn.


In the heart of the summer heat, it was going on day twenty-six since Roy been by. I was pining and not eating, wanting to up and die from the want of him, when his truck showed up in front of the house. He hit his horn for me to come outside, and I run to him. Without a hello or howdy-do, he said, "Get in," and I did, but I had to move tools to the floor so I had room to sit. Billy won't with him this time and I was glad.

Roy drove a short piece down the road, pulled into the woods, and turned off the motor. I let him have his way with me cause it won't nothing new. It was over quick, and after, with the truck windows down, and the smell of wildflowers on the air, and his wide hand on my white belly growing big, that teeny foot kicked my innards for the first time and made Roy and me jump.

Right then, with one baby kick, that man with the dark soul grinned, and it turned his face into something beautiful I never seen before. A light shined in his face on this cloudy day and wiped away shadows that lived behind his eyes. I brushed back the dark hair on his forehead and kissed it tender, over and over, cause Roy let me.

He looked up and said, "Let's get hitched."

I pulled back to see if he was fooling, and he looked different enough, so I fell into his arms. I was a fool hanging hope on a weak man I thought would stand tall if we got married.

That Thursday afternoon in late August, with soggy clouds squatting in the hollers, we drove the truck down the long, winding mountain, through countryside I'd never seen before or since. We crossed the county line, passed the cutoff to Burnsville, into the town Roy said was called Spruce Pine, with stores lining the main street on both sides and the North Toe River flowing by like a wide creek. We found a justice of the peace by a sign in his yard, who answered the door with a napkin tucked in his collar, us interrupting his supper of liver and onions from the smell of it. I wore a off-white dress with a coffee stain on it from breakfast and a tear from getting caught in brambles. Roy wore a T-shirt and a tight grin.

After we said a quick I do and Roy paid him two dollars, we bought nabs and co'colas at the filling station when Roy got gas, then drove back home in the dusky quiet, not saying a word, shocked to see our names tied together on a legal piece of paper.

Back at Granny's, Roy waited in the truck, looking straight ahead. I rushed inside to pack a cardboard box of my things, hands shaking, part of me scared Roy was gonna drive off and leave me. When I called out to Granny I was married legal and leaving, she don't even come outta her bedroom to say good-bye or a fare-the-well.

Fifteen days has gone by since that piece of paper got signed. Roy beats on me pretty regular cause nobody stops him. I thought we got married for a mighty reason. I thought I was special to him.

I musta made it all up, cause none of it's true.


Daddy's spirit voice pulls me back from silly memories. He says, "Don't let your guard down, girl. Roy sold his soul to the devil long ago. Make sure the devil lays claim to it soon."

I nod and raise my nose to sniff Daddy's cigarette smoke that's sometimes here. I rolled his cigarettes for him since I'm five, and I'm good at it. Today there's no smoke to smell, just mold in the corners and yesterday's fish.

I step back in the kitchen and start supper. It won't do for Roy to come home and find nothing to eat. I put on a pot of beans, heat the iron skillet, and drop pieces of rabbit flesh in hot lard. The smell of grease gags me, and I press my knuckles against my mouth so I don't throw up. Drop a dishrag on the floor and use my foot to wipe up the smear of blood from this morning. Pick up the plastic pieces of my broke radio and throw em in the trash. When food's ready, I keep it warm in the oven and sit on the sofa, working on a plan while daylight leaks outta the sky and the wind moans low through the cracks round the windows.

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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