The story begins with Don Serafín granting permission to Juan Pedro Martínez Sánchez to marry his daughter, Cleófilas Enriqueta DeLeón Hernández. As Cleófilas prepares to leave their family home in Mexico, her father offers a final promise: “I am your father. I will never abandon you.” He senses that there may come a time when Cleófilas will nostalgically yearn for her past, her country, and her family. At the time, she is too caught up in her impending marriage to understand the significance of his words. When she does look back later, she will suspect that his promise implies that marital love can fade and sour, but the love between parent and child will not.

The narrator describes the town in which Cleófilas grew up, Monclova, Coahuila, as a place where “there isn’t much to do.” Cleófilas feels that she will not miss the everyday activities, such as visiting with other women in the family and playing cards, going to the movies, drinking milkshakes, watching telenovelas, and copying actresses’ hairstyles and makeup. Cleófilas has romantic views of love, which she has learned from reading books, listening to songs, and watching telenovelas. She believes that Juan Pedro is the great love whom she has been waiting for her whole life. Like the heroines in her telenovelas, Cleófilas believes that she will suffer hardships, but they will all be bearable since “to suffer for love is good.”

Cleófilas thinks that the name Seguin, Tejas, her future home, has a much nicer sound to it than Monclova, Coahuila. Seguin suggests riches and nice clothes, while Monclova is just “ugly.” She dreams of having a lifestyle that her best friend Chela will envy. She and Juan Pedro will not have time for a long engagement, supposedly because he has an important job and cannot be away from work too long. Cleófilas is uncertain where Juan Pedro works—perhaps a beer or tire company. She thinks he must be well-off to own a new pickup truck and own a house. The house is not new, but she expects that new paint and new furniture will suffice and that they will build extra rooms onto the house when they are blessed with many children.

As Juan Pedro drives Cleófilas across La Gritona, or Woman Hollering Creek, she thinks it has a funny name for such a pretty creek. None of her new neighbors know why it has this name, nor do they show any interest in knowing. She learns that Juan Pedro rents the house rather than owns it. Cleófilas has two neighbors, women who live alone. On the left is Soledad, who calls herself a widow. No one knows whether her husband died or left her for another woman. On the right is Delores, a woman who lost her two sons in a war and her husband soon after from grief. She spends her days mourning and tending to her garden where she gathers flowers to lay on their headstones.

Cleófilas wonders, as she crosses the bridge for the first time, whether the “hollering” in Woman Hollering Creek comes from pain or rage. She laughs at the name, thinking it incongruous with the “happily ever after” life she expects to live in her new home with her new husband.