Storytelling skills

Ten-year-old Dylan Johnson of North Bend has serious story-spinning skills.

Johnson, who is homeschooled, took first prize for his performance of his own short story, "The Old Couple," at the recent Story Slam competition at the Moore Theatre in Seattle.

Johnson participated in a slam at the North Bend Library in April, as part of the King County Library System's "Playing with Words" series.

An active writer, Johnson says fantasy is his favorite, and he enjoys reading series including "The Secrets of Droon" and "Harry Potter."

Johnson said the best part of the whole experience was hearing everyone's stories, and that they were all really good.

When not writing, Dylan keeps busy with his homeschooling, and likes to draw and play basketball and baseball - and of course, act.

The Old Couple

There once lived an old couple that owned a small restaurant. The restaurant, called La Belle, was located on south Corner Street. La Belle had a wonderful view of Crystal Bay. At dinner, the customers were amazed by the sparkling sunset that shimmered across the water. La Belle also had delectable food, entirely cooked by the couple. In fact, they not only did the cooking, they also did the cleaning, waiting, hosting and even the live entertainment. There were no employees.

Yet the couple was getting old. Once or twice they brought up the idea of retiring, but their family urged them to keep on going. That night the couple went home. Their home was right above the restaurant La Belle. They got into bed puzzled and tired. Their grandchildren had even urged them to keep La Belle. But that night the grandfather made a foolish wish.

"I wish we would never have to cook again," and he fell asleep. The next day a beautiful breakfast had been laid on their table. "Ummm," he said, forgetting the wish. "Did you cook this?" he asked his wife.

"No," she said. "Perhaps the grandchildren did, still urging us to keep the restaurant." She paused. "They were always fond of our restaurant, you know." They sat down to eat. Just then the grandchildren came bustling through the door.

"Grandma, Grandpa! Mother and Father said we could stay with you!" The couple was quite surprised at the commotion.

"If it's all right with you," the granddaughter quickly added, since her parents had given her a stern look.

That night, the granddaughter, who was very hungry, slipped out of bed to go get an apple. She tiptoed into the kitchen and immediately lost her hunger. The kitchen was alive as alive could be! The stove had big eyes and a pug nose and was cooking what looked like bacon and eggs. The butter was preparing for their arrival, and was slipping and sliding all over the place. The refrigerator was letting an extremely large loaf of bread inside. One of the pieces of bread happily pulled out five cents, but the refrigerator didn't take the coin and pointed to a magnet that said "10 cents to refrigerate."

"Wow!" the granddaughter yelled. The refrigerator turned to look and immediately turned back. The girl ran to wake the grandparents up.

"Grandma, Grandpa! Come see!"

"What is it, Wanda?" said the grandfather. But when they came to see the kitchen, it was perfectly still. The next day the couple took the kids out to lunch and then went to the zoo. When they came back for dinner, they saw the kitchen at work. "Wow!" said the girl. "Amazing" said the brother. "Truly remarkable," said the grandfather. "Wonderful," said the grandmother. Now the children had to go home the next day, so they said "goodbye" and hurried off.

All that year the couple became lazier and lazier as the kitchen cooked for them. The kitchen had even begun to serve them.

One day some old friends asked them to come over and please make one of their delicious desserts. The couple happily accepted. They arrived at their friends' house and began cooking. When they were finally done they all sat down to eat. The desserts tasted awful. The grandfather's croissants were much too bitter and the grandmother's apple pie tasted like ash. The couple left in despair.

They finally had to conclude that having the kitchen cook for them for so long had made them lose the ability to cook. The next day the kitchen came out to serve them. When the grandfather yelled "Stop, no more!" the kitchen started changing and finally it was just a kitchen. "I realize now," said the grandfather, "whatever you do work or play, find happiness in every day."

And so the couple lived happily. But no one ever knew or knows if they kept La Belle. That is another story.

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