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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"You done right fixing supper." Daddy's words sound down the hall. "A hungry man's a mean man. Roy's mean enough with a full belly. What you gonna do now?"

Let me think for myself, Daddy.

When I don't say nothin' right off, Daddy raises his voice. "Girl? You hearing me?"

I hear you. Don't yell.

"What's it gonna be?"

I don't answer and he goes away.

Fifteen days since the trip to Spruce Pine to get married, and there still won't a ring on my finger to cool the shame. I study the scorch on the tile floor where a skillet of fried chicken got dropped my second day as Roy's wife and smoked up the place bad. Roy won't happy one bit, but he don't hit me on my second day as his missus.

The thing what got me beat today was I got careless. I got used to acting easy the past week Roy was off at the still or Lord knows where, but letting me be by myself. When he was gone, I keep my radio out and sing along and bake blackberry cobbler I eat outta the pan. I fill a canning jar with wild flowers like Aunt Marris does.

I forgot to watch out for that man.

I was singing with my radio and got a wooden spoon in my hand, pretending I'm at the Grand Ole Opry standing right next to Miss Loretta Lynn in front of folks to please. Her and me is singing together like this was what I was born to do, me swinging my be-hind to the beat and my foot tapping. It's her hit "Don't Come Home A Drinkin' (with Lovin' on Your Mind)" we're singing, and I know every word by heart. That woman writes songs for me—even if I don't call what Roy does to me loving no more.

The first time I seen a picture of Miss Loretta Lynn was in the Country Song Roundup magazine a coupla years back. She was on the cover, and Mooney showed it to me cause he knows I love her so. His copy of that magazine was as dog-eared as the Sears and Roebuck catalog he keeps on the counter. He told me the words of Loretta Lynn's story inside while I looked at her pictures.

That's how come I know she was raised in a log cabin in a Kentucky holler just like Baines Creek. In that magazine picture, she was sitting on a sofa stacked high with fancy pillows. Her dark hair had thick curls spilling over her shoulder. She showed her dimple and had diamond sparkles on her fancy dress. Said she sang at more than two hundred shows a year, riding from one place to another in her own tour bus. She had four babies before she was twenty and is already a grandma. Miss Loretta is rich, but she's my kinda people. She won't turn up her nose at a simple life like mine. She could be my friend if she ever knocked on my door.

~

This morning, Roy musta come up the trailer steps quiet while I was singing with the radio cause I don't hear him. He opened the door, sneaky. I feel a chill drift in and turned, still holding that silly spoon up to my mouth. When I saw him filling up the doorway, I stopped singing, but Miss Loretta kept on.

Without a hello or what the hey, that man pulled back his long arm and hit me upside the head with the flat of his hand. I grabbed my baby belly when I fell back against the sink, but, like a dern fool, I staggered back to my feet. He brought his arm down on my shoulder, and I dropped to my knees like a sack of feed. He kicked me in the back and rolled me over to my front with the toe of his muddy boot. Got down on one knee so I could see his devil eyes up close.

Roy drew back his fist clenched so tight the skin turned white, his temper trembling up and down his arm, and me trembling too. The smell that rolled off him was rotten. He held the terror there for me to see. I watched till I did something I never done before: I closed my eyes.

The place turned quiet cept for Miss Loretta ending her song and Roy breathing fast like a horse what's been run hard. Then he stood and, quick as lightning, picked up my prized radio off the kitchen table, with the man saying, "That was Loretta Lynn, folks, Queen of—" and it crashed against the wall. That precious green plastic radio broke to smithereens and rained down on me. I stayed down with my eyes closed while he counted to ten to show he won.

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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