Title: Unchartered Waters
Author: Sally Hepworth
Genre: Short Stories, Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
What It’s About: Ella boards the yacht off the coast of Australia without Mac, her husband, for the first time in their several years of marriage. Mac is stuck at work due to his partner taking time off for family health reasons, and in order to not lose out the money that they’ve put down for the luxurious wellness retreat, they agreed that Ella would go alone. Ella is nervous as she is an introvert and prefers to stay by herself away from crowds and groups, considering that Mac is the social butterfly there.
The first night there, she quickly becomes friends with Chloe, a charismatic woman who notes that she’s come on this luxurious wellness retreat to mend from a broken heart, left by a man who realized that he was deeply in love with his wife. One of the other ladies begins to make very judgmental commentary about getting entangled with married men, to which Ella responds by saying that when she met Mac, he was married, and as a result, instantly connects with Chloe. While Ella had given everyone the impression that she was the other woman in the relationship, the truth was that Mac’s wife was on her death-bed when they met at Ella’s place of work.
The following days, Ella and Chloe become closer, and Chloe shares more about her relationship with the man, and the details begin to match up with what Ella knows of Mac. Chloe tells her that they met in a Pilates class on a Monday, one that Ella had signed Mac up for because he was stressed, and that he never wore a band, so she didn’t know, but Ella knows that they’ve never worn bands because of his jobs. One night, Ella hears someone stop outside of her cabin door, and the rustling of a paper through the door, but she doesn’t find a note.
Eventually, Ella and Chloe end up having an affair–sleeping together in the cabin, and the night before the wellness retreat ends, Chloe asks Ella if her feelings for her husband have changed. Ella tells her that no, she will stay with Mac, though she has really enjoyed being with Chloe. As she falls asleep, Ella hears the snap of a camera.
Chloe sits in the plane, and debates on what to do. After Mac broke up with her because he loved his wife and wanted to be with her, she had decided to book the wellness retreat to confront him and torture him in the presence of his wife because he told her about this retreat that they do ever year. But when he didn’t show up, she assumed they canceled, until she saw Ella and then realized why he stayed with her. She decides to send Mac the image of her and Ella in bed together anyway, consequences be damned.
Ella arrives home and is picked up by Mac, who asks her about the trip. She tells him that it went well, and she asks about something to which he responds that it was good. Then they question whether they would do it again, to which they both say no.
My Thoughts: This was an easy read because it was a very short story, so fast to get through. I enjoyed it, though I was expecting more sinister situations to happen than what really did happen. I don’t understand why Ella had an affair with Chloe; the way the two sort of ended up together just seemed unrealistic. And if you’re confused about the ending–they were both aware of each other’s affairs and were using the yacht/something as a euphemism for their own affairs with Chloe, agreeing that while it was nice, they prefer to be with each other. I don’t like when people don’t resolve problems by communicating and not being honest with each other. Overall, the entertainment factor of this story kept me wanting to read as much as possible in one go, I did rate it high, but now that I’ve had time to process the absurdity, it think it’s just mediocre. It’s a good, fast read if you are behind your reading goal for the year.