(Eight day of the O Henry series.)
Day Eight: The best letter in the alphabet
On the eighth day of vacation, the Super Junior-M members found themselves on a boat. The steady, mild rocking of the waves below was coupled with the thunderous roaring of walls of water falling around them.
“The horseshoe belongs to Canada and the other side belongs to the U.S.,” Henry stated as he stood perpendicular to the railing on the boat’s lower level. He and everyone else on the boat wore cheep, thin, blue plastic rain-ponchos to protect themselves from the mist of the waters and, when closer to the waterfalls, the drenching rain. “The Americans get the best view of the falls, but at least coming on the boat makes up for it.”
“This is so cool, Henry,” Ryeowook stated, both hands gripping the railing as he peered at the towering walls of water, the wind whipping the poncho’s hood from his head, “I’ve never gotten to see something like this before!” As Ryeowook looked around, he spotted a familiar face emerging from the inner dwellings of the boat, “Kyuhyun, come look at the Falls!”
Kyuhyun joined Ryeowook and Henry at the railing, “How’s Zhou Mi?” Henry inquired
The second-youngest rolled his eyes, “Green as seaweed. Incidentally, Shiwon’s not looking so well either, so they’re comforting one another.”
“Hankyung and Donghae?”
“On the top level of the boat with your parents,” Kyuhyun answered as he looked up at the waterfalls as the boat slowly neared, “Apparently they’re getting inspiration for new dance moves with the flow of the boat – Ryeowook, what are you doing?”
Ryeowook turned back to them, blushing slightly at having been caught, “Well, I don’t know a lot of English, so I thought while we’re here I should listen as much as possible – not to eavesdrop, but just to listen to the accent and how to properly pronounce words. Anyway,” he turned his back to the railing, “I was wondering why Canadians have a favourite letter.”
Henry blinked and then turned suspicious eyes to Kyuhyun who silently shook his head and shrugged. Hesitantly, he looked away from the ever-mischievous Kyuhyun and looked back to the oldest member present, “Ryeowook… what do you mean?”
“Canadians,” he repeated, “have a favourite letter and I want to know why.”
The maknae leaned a forearm against the railing, “Hate to tell you this, hyung, but Canadians don’t have a favourite letter.”
“But… you do! They do!” Ryeowook insisted, “I hear it all the time whenever I hear Canadians talk.”
Henry speared his fingers through his hair, slightly slicking it with the mist from the water, “I’m almost scared to ask… what letter?”
“The letter ‘A’,” Ryeowook said, “One of the first things I learned was the English alphabet, and I always hear the letter ‘A’ – and, I know it’s the letter because it’s hardly ever followed by a noun, but is usually at the end of the sentence.”
Kyuhyun watched the emotions play on Henry’s face. He saw the maknae resist the urge to either lay his forehead against his forearm, which still rested on the railing, or to sigh and roll his eyes. Kyuhyun, however, had to bite down on his lower lip to stop from laughing when Henry’s suppressive efforts ended in his right eye twitching; Ryeowook all the while staring at him with wide, innocent eyes.
“Ryeowook, Canadians aren’t saying ‘A’, they’re saying ‘eh’,” Henry explained,
Ryeowook blinked, looked at Kyuhyun helplessly and then looked back at Henry, “I don’t hear a difference.”
“Well… listening-wise I guess there isn’t much, but, they’re not saying the letter… it’s more of a… a small, inconsequential word, really,” Henry replied, “It’s used for… well, there are a lot of uses, but it’s usually used for affirmation, like asking someone to agree with what they said. Like…” He paused a moment and said, “‘It’s pretty cold here’ and then they’d say ‘eh’ afterwards to ask for confirmation or agreement from the other person.”
“So, Canadians don’t have a favourite letter?” Ryeowook asked, his expression dropping slightly,
Henry shook his head, “But if it helps, if we did, it probably would be ‘A’.”
Ryeowook sighed as he turned back to the railing as the boat drew even closer to the waterfalls. Folding his arms atop the railing, he leaned his chin on his arms, “And here I was thinking I had learned a new cultural… peculiarity.”
“Well,” Kyuhyun piped up, “You do touch on a Canadian peculiarity, but you have the wrong letter.”
Ryeowook straightened and looked over his shoulder at the younger man, “What do you mean?”
“Canadians think that it’s bad luck to say the letter ‘O’ when you’re on a boat,” Kyuhyun said in a tone so matter-of-factly that Ryeowook was almost inclined to believe him. Almost.
Ryeowook slanted him a look and turned his attention back to the waters, “I don’t believe you! You’ve lied to me on several occasions during this vacation, Jo Kyuhyun. The most recently dealt with hunting for food!”
“I do admit I have gotten… carried away,” Kyuhyun admitted, “But this time, I’m not kidding. Right Henry?”
Before Henry could reply, however, Ryeowook tilted his face up towards the sky, the boat drawing alongside to the foot of the Falls’ crashing waters as he opened his mouth big and yelled, “O!”
What Ryeowook got in return, however, was a mouth full of rain from the Falls. Spitting out the water over the railing, he slowly turned to Kyuhyun and Henry who were holding their hoods tight about their heads. Ryeowook, who had forgotten to raise his hood again, had a head full of soaked hair and a slight salty taste in his mouth. He glowered at the two younger men who were having a hard time not laughing.
“I warned you, hyung,” Kyuhyun swallowed a laugh as he shifted to hide slightly behind Henry.
“Sorry, hyung,” Henry was clutching the railing, in an attempt to stay straight as his body shook with silent laughter, “For once, Kyuhyun was right.”
(Day Nine: Kyuhyun is king of the world)