Last weekend I took a walk on Minnis Bay with my camera and I shot some of the local kitesurfers. Anyone from – or visiting – the isle of Thanet will recognise these surfers with their colourful kites as a prominent feature of our sea views and members of our coastal community. Just like the wind turbines, the sandbanks, the seal colonies, the kelp patches, the passing container ships and the abandoned war forts, the kitesurfers make up part of our coast’s visuals and identity. As such they feature in ‘Merren’ quite a bit. They’re often out there on the sea when Aurellie is working in the Promside Cafe. Through the winter months they’re her main customers. She keeps an eye on them through the windows when she’s in the back room of the empty cafe, working on her own fantasy art. It’s only when she see’s them packing up their kites that she bothers to put her apron on, and it’s only when they come into the cafe for hot drinks after being out in the cold that she actually has to do any work, except to serve the odd dog walker. She’s gotten quite friendly with some them, especially Shelley Pearson – the only elderly lady among them – who enjoys a chat over the counter.
When Jordan goes off on his secret dives into the kelp forest he has to avoid the kitesurfers. Not only because the kelp forest is a protect area after eco-activist Kalyen petitioned for it, but because many of the kitesurfers are friends with his extrovert girlfriend, Charlie, and he can’t afford to let her find out that he’s diving down there alone – not after he promised everyone he’d finally moved on after the accident. The kite surfers all know him as the gifted guitarist from local band ‘Key of Scream’ and as the brother of the little girl who drowned, so they would definitely recognise him, meaning he has to do a lot of sneaking about.
The merren see the kitesurfers as a nuisance who bring dry-walker energies – bad memories and feelings that get left in the water. Depending on the energy of the individual, how far it spreads and how long the merren is exposed for, this can be dangerous. Thankfully the energies of the kitesurfers or other dry-walkers in the water don’t (usually) make it through the protective walls of the kelp forest. The thick leaves act like a filter which restricts the flow of water and provides the merren with a safe place that the nourishing energies of their commune can be contained. During windy and rough weather (the kitesurfers’ favourite) the merren would really prefer to be out of the water, waiting out the weather on the sand banks rather than getting tossed about by the waves – but the presence of the kitesurfers means they would risk being spotted. Some merren would like to drown them all and use their drowning light to cleanse the waters of bad energies.
Here’s an extract from ‘Merren’ – part of a chapter from Jordan’s POV where the kitesurfers feature.
‘The rain has stopped and we’ve gone down onto the sand to where a couple of the kitesurfers have come in off the sea, folding up their kites. Charlie knows them and she’s reminding them of the gig tonight. They look over at me but I keep my distance, look away. I don’t want to be dragged into the conversation. I tighten my hood around my face and walk along the shoreline. I can’t see Kaylen’s boat. Aurellie said he’s still out there but there’s no sign of him. Some of the mist has cleared and I can see beyond the wind turbines, even all the way to the old war forts on the horizon, but there are no small boats anywhere. If he’d just tell me where he found Jess’s sunken tricycle I’d have a starting point. If I could even see where he takes that damn boat every day I could have a good guess. I look across the waves for any sign, but there’s only the other kitesurfers. Their colourful kites flying high and the tricks they pull as they jump give me something to pretend I’m watching. I can’t have Charlie finding out what I’m planning or she’ll try to stop me. Too dangerous, impossible, dragging up the past, I should let it go, listen to the counsellors. I shake the thoughts away and just keep watching. The kitesurfers ride over the water excitedly shouting and making surf signs to each other, as if this sea is something to have fun on, as if it’s not the cruel thing that killed Jess. I can hear Charlie and her friends cheering when the surfers land their jumps. She would never understand what I have to do, why I have to go down to that place under the water.’