Sections: Information | Plot Description
- First published:
- February 1954 issue of The New Yorker (as “The Way Up to Heaven“)
- Magazine publications:
Spoiler warning! Mrs. Foster has a pathological fear of being late. Whenever she is in danger of missing a train or plane or an engagement, a tiny muscle near her eye begins to twitch. The worst part is that her husband, Mr. Eugene Foster, seems to torment her by making sure that they always leave the house one or two minutes past the point of safety. On this particular occasion Mrs. Foster is leaving to visit her daughter and grandchildren in Paris for the first time ever, and she’s frantic to think that she’ll miss her flight. By the time her husband finally joins her at the car, she’s too far behind schedule. Luckily the flight is postponed til the next day, and Mr. Foster persuades her to come home for the night. When she’s ready to leave the next day, though, her husband suggests that they drop him off at his club on the way. Knowing this will make her late, she protests in vain. Just before the car leaves, he runs back in the house on the pretense of picking up a gift he forgot for his daughter. While he’s gone Mrs. Foster discovers the gift box shoved down between the seat cushions. She runs up to the house to tell him that she has the gift… and suddenly she pauses. She listens. She stays frozen for 10 seconds, straining to hear something. Then she turns and runs to the car, telling the driver that they’re too late and her husband will have to find another ride. She makes her flight and has a wonderful visit with her grandchildren. She writes her husband every week and sends him a telegram before she flies home six weeks later. He’s not at the airport to meet her though, and when she enters the house (after taking a taxi home) she notices a curious odor in the air. Satisfied, she enters her husband’s study and calls the elevator repairman. It had jammed and she left him to die there!