Murder, Love, Obsession: Stories of Imagination


Myrna Holguin’s English class for adults speaking other languages at the Harlem Library were shown unrelated photos – a hotel, a drowning/rescue scene, three people reading newspapers on a subway, an ambulance, a romantic dinner—and invited to weave one or more into a story. Here are some of the results:

Murder in the Hotel

By Jennifer Ranfla

Mary and Paul met in New York City a couple of months before the murder …

When Paul met Mary, he fell in love with her at first sight. After all, Mary was very kind, beautiful and so smart.  Paul was a successful businessman and Mary was the new secretary in his office.  Paul dated Mary for many months.  One day, he decided to ask her to marry him. She accepted his proposal immediately, of course because she had many plans for her life.

One week after the wedding, they flew to Miami for their honeymoon. There they spent their days on the beaches and in the malls. All it was perfect! One night before they needed to come back to NY, he took her to a fancy restaurant for a romantic date. After dinner, they came back to hotel room. There, her real plans came true.

She prepared two drinks, one was very special for her husband and other for her. But Paul didn’t know was that in his drink was his death. She poisoned her husband’s drink, and after a minutes, Paul fell down completely dead.

She started very fast o clean the crime scene because she planned to escape to Europe with all the money of her husband.

She transferred all his money to her accounts in a couple of minutes. Then she took her luggage and ran away. But when she was running, somebody saw her, and thought: Why she was acting so nervously? While she was going to her car, the hotel employee went to their room and saw Paul on the floor.

He tried to save Paul, giving him CPR, but it was so late … Paul was dead.

The employee called 911 and reported all that he had seen

Immediately. The ambulance came to the hotel and the police went to find her.

Mary at this moment was in the freeway and the cops caught her very soon.

When she saw her situation that she hadn’t other exit, she only did a dump to the river and she couldn’t control her car. So her car crashed!

When the cops arrived at the scene, she was fine inside the car. The police took her out.  Of course, she went to jail to pay for her crimes. The crime was news for many weeks. This was in all the papers of the country.

She couldn’t do that because the perfect crime does not exist.

Jennifer Ranfla was born in the United States, but was raised in Peru. She began studying English at the Harlem Library in 2014.  She will attend LaGuardia Community College.


The Suite Hotel

By Alex Retroso

In the ’80s in Florida, one of the most famous hotels in the area was called “The Palacio del Mar.”

This hotel had the best lobby I had even seen, and six floors with amazing balconies with views of the beach. It had excellent food and the most interesting Latin disco of all time.

The weekends were wild and crazy because the disco nights got larger and larger, but when you finally got inside, you never forgot that moment.

Alex Reynoso was born in the Dominican Republic.  He enjoys politics and history.  He is taking English classes at the Harlem Library.


A scary week-end

by Francesco D’Ambrosio

As every morning, George was reading the New York Times in the train going to work. While he was reading he noticed a very nice black haired girl sitting in front of him. He suddenly felt in love with her. He didn’t know how but he decided he wanted to know that girl. He folded the newspaper, put it in his bag, stood up and went to that girl. “Hi, I wouldn’t like to bother you but I’m really impressed by your shining eyes. May I ask you your name?”

She was a little surprised at first but when she crossed her eyes with George’s, she felt butterflies in her stomach. “My

name is Jennifer, nice to meet you,” she said without able to hide a little emotion in her voice. George and Jennifer started dating right that day.

A couple of months later, the two decided to spend their first week-end together at a small hotel close to the beach in Cape Cod. There is a big rock facing the sea there: residents used to call that place “Cape Fear.”  Everybody knows that it’s very dangerous to go swimming there but George and Jennifer decided to dive in from the rock anyway.

As soon as they touched the water, a big wave threw them to the rock. A fisherman saw the scene from his boat and immediately called the lifeguards. Jennifer was the first one took out from the water and her conditions appeared pretty good right away. George remained longer in the water so, when the lifeguards were able to reach him and bring him back to the beach, he needed CPR. Luckily he restarted breathing soon. When the ambulance arrived his temperature was very low, so they covered him with a thermal blanket: on the stretcher he looked like he was dead but he wasn’t.

It had an happy ending but it really was a scary week-end for George and Jennifer.

Francesco D’Ambrosio was born in Italy but probably he should be born somewhere around the Mississippi Delta: he loves blues and american root music. He moved from Italy two years ago and now he lives in the amazing multi-cultural neighborhood of Astoria, Queens, with his two Italian little tigers (aka cats), his wife, and their “brand new” daughter.

Bad News for a Hollywood Star!

By Corentine Thibaut

Every Wednesday morning, Jennifer read her newspaper in the subway on her way to work. One Wednesday, she was ssurprised to learn that George Clooney was dead. She read with attention the following text:

“Saturday night, George Clooney was staying with his wife, Carmela, in the PAlcia del Mar hotel of Miami. They decided at midnight to take a swing during that bureau Saturday’s starry night.

“Unfortunately, while swimming, he felt his heart beating fast and he started feeling weak. Carmela called immediately for an ambulance. The rescue member helped Clooney out of the water, but he fell unconscious and stopped breathing.

“The rescue workers tried to resuscitate him for 45 minutes without result.

“Clooney’s funeral was held on Sunday night as an intimate service with just immediate family present.

“John Smith, the Miami mayor, decided on Tuesday to put a cross on that beach in memory of that terrible event”

Jennifer was really choked to read the terrible news about Clooney’s death and missed her stop.

She left the subway at the next stop and walked to work quite fast. She said, “What a lousy way to start my day!”

Corentine Thibaut was born in Belgium.  She was a nurse in her country and likes helping people.  She is taking English classes at the Harlem Library.


Swimming for Life

by Walaa Afifi

Eman was a student in the university in Syria. She was living with her family until she lost all of her family members because of the war there. She decided to escape.

She decided to leave and begin a new life in another place. She made an arrangement with a dealer to get a ride on a boat with a group of people. She took only her memories with her, which were the only thing the war couldn’t destroy. She paid the whole money that she had, which was not enough, and also gave her necklace to the dealer.

She started her journey at midnight. She found that there was a lot of people who would travel with her but their number exceed the boat occupancy. They started fighting with the dealer. Suddenly, the dealer raised his gun to keep them away from him, and then he escaped. They started their journey on the boat.

Eman was so scared because the boat was so crowded, the boat was swinging from side to side. All the riders tried to keep themselves balanced between the sides. After sunrise, the weather became wind and waves became high. One high wave made the boat upside down. All the people with Eman wre thrown into the water. They stayed in the water for 6-8 hours. Most of their drowned, except for a few people. Eman was one of them. Two men, Peter and John, were on the beach. They saw few people struggling to float on the water’s surface. They jumped into the water and pulled them out to the beach. Eman was still alive and was saved by Peter and John. Eman thanked Peter and John. Eman started another journey to reach her final destination.

Walaa Affi was a physician in her native country.  She loves her faith and her family.  She is taking English classes at the Harlem Library.

Susana’s Vacation

By Narcisa Beile

Susana always works a lot of hours in the day, all year. But one day, when she went to her house, she thought about her life and she said to herself, “I have to do something with my life.”

The next morning, she woke up and went to her job. Susana asked her boss, “Can I talk with you?”  The boss said yes, darling, how can I help you? “I need you to give me my vacation,” Susana said. The boss replied yes, Susana, take two weekends.

She responded thanks very much and took a ship named Caribbean, which went to four islands of the Caribbean. She enjoyed it. When she came back, she felt as new. Now, Susana is happy.

Narcisa Berte was born in the Dominican Republic.  She is studying English at the Harlem Library.  Her teachers at the Harlem Library are Katherine Perry and Myrna Holguin.  She gives thanks for all of their help.


Every Week in the Subway

By Itatiana Pia

David, Katy and John live in “Canada.” Each week, they take a subway to work. It is one hour to go and one hour to come back. Every day, Katy brings a newspaper to share with her friends. Once they start reading their newspaper, they may find an interesting story about what is happening in the city — In “Canada,” somebody famous was arrested because he was using drugs.

They didn’t see their station, and missed their stop. When the subway arrived at the last station, they were angry because they wouldn’t be on time for work. So now they will need to travel more than an hour and they will need to explain to their boss, who sometimes is not nice. But who will believe their story?

I think people may fall asleep in the train or don’t see their stop because they are reading newspapers. I never know.

Itatiana Pia was born in Brazil and came to New York City about two years ago.  She is happy studying English at the Harlem Library, meeting different people and learning about different cultures.  She lives with her husband and children.

Tony’s Damn Night

By Yaguba Cham

Tony and Leila first met in high school when they were teenagers. Neither imagined that this friendship would end in a serious relationship.

Days after the couple took up residence in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, they had a fight about a dog that drew a visit from the police.

After the storm came the calm. The couple got married.

Tony consciously decided that as their first wedding anniversary was approaching, he would buy tickets for travel to Spain, for a celebration in Salou and around Tarragona.

They decided to go walking in the hotel by the sea. They were walking quietly until Tony saw some rocks around the sea.  He thought the rocks were the best position to take a dip and jumped. After no more than seven seconds under water, Leila began to worry. She called the hotel medical services, and someone began CPR seeing Tony’s state. The hotel doctor called an ambulance. En route to the hospital, Tony did not react to resuscitation efforts and died.

Days after, Leila decided to have her husband buried in the rock where he had died so that people will remember that someone died there jumping into the sea.


Yaguba Cham was born in Spain.  He came to the United States in March 2012.  He began learning English at the Harlem Library.  He is very happy here living a new experience.  He is learning something all the time.  His teachers at the Harlem Library are Katherine Perry and Myrna Holguin.


Love in Spain

By Rafael Jacques

My name is Mike and I met Nicole last summer.

I was in Cantabria, Spain, for a business conference and everything was so exciting, especially for me because I am from New York and have never been there before. I also was making a major deal for my company.

I remember exactly when – there was a nice hotel in from of the beach called Palacio del Mar. Everything was perfect until I had the first meeting with a Spanish investor. The negotiations were not what I had expected and I was a little frustrated.

So I came back to my room and couldn’t relax and rest, so I went to the hotel’s restaurant and sat on the bar. Out of the bloue, I saw the most beautiful woman coming my way. She sat at my side and in a couple of minutes, she looked at me and asked, “Bad day?” I replied yes. She look in my eyes and said, “Don’t worry.  Tomorrow is going to be better, I’m sure.” And she left.

Nicole was the daughter of the hotel owner and she was moving to NewYork in one week to open a new hotel, I learned from the bartender. Believe it or not, my business meeting was a success and I had a good deal for my company.

After this I asked everyone about Nicole’s contact information until I got Nicole’s email. Of course, I sent an email to her, and we had dinner in New York two weeks later. Since then, we have been together. She is the love of my life and we are going to tie the knot next summer.

Rafael Jacques was born in Brazil and recently moved to New York City.  He is taking classes at the Harlem Library to improve his English and get a better job in the United States.





























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