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Button, Button - Recap

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Norma Lewis returns home and demands to know why her husband Arthur hasn’t fixed their car yet. She complains that her back hurts from walking to the store and back. She continues on to their cheap apartment and makes supper. Arthur comes to supper before going to work and starts to eat. The doorbell rings and he answers, but there’s no one there. There’s a package on the ground and he brings it inside. It’s addressed to both of them and there’s no return address. Inside the box is a wooden box with a dome and a button underneath it. There’s a note that says that Mr. Steward will visit them at 8 p.m. Norma doesn’t want to meet anyone alone but Arthur insists she find out what’s going on.

Come 8 p.m., Norma waits nervously for her visitor. The doorbell rings and she opens the door. A man in a black suit is there and asks if she’s found the “button unit.” He comes in and shows her an envelope with his card and a key. The key unlocks the dome of the button unit. He demonstrates how to open the lid and then tells her that two things will happen. First, someone who she doesn’t know will die. Second, she’ll receive $200,000, tax-free. He gives her the key and says that’s all there is too it.

Later, Arthur comes home to find Norma staring at the box. She tells him about Stewart and his explanation. Arthur figures it’s a trick and is disgusted by the idea. Norma admits she’s been wondering what it’s all about, if it’s some kind of survey. Arthur insists they won’t push it but Norma says people die in the thousands every day. She wonders if it might be a peasant or someone dying of cancer, but Arthur points out it could be a newborn baby. He opens the bottom of the box and they discover that there’s nothing in the box. Arthur throws the box away.

The couple goes to sleep but after Arthur is asleep, Norma gets up and gets the box out of the dumpster. The next morning Arthur discovers she’s recovered the box, and Norma notes that Steward said he’d come back to get the box and recycle it. Arthur dares her to push the button and she tells him to take a shower. Once he’s gone, she takes out the key and considers it.

Arthur returns later after fixing the car and finds Norma staring at the box. She says she didn’t push the button and Arthur realizes she’s been staring at the box all day. She doesn’t think it’s fair and Arthur starts to fall under the box’s sway, suggesting she push it. Norma notes that it isn’t as simple as Steward made it sounds. Arthur walks away while Norma continues to stare at the box.

Norma toys with the box lid, opening and closing it repeatedly. Arthur comes in and Norma announces that she’s going to push the button. She opens the lid and pushes the button… and nothing happens.

The next day, Mr. Steward arrives with a briefcase containing the $200,000. Norma opens the door and Steward comes in to get the button unit. He confirms she pushed it and notes only one push to a customer. Steward confirms that someone died and gives her the money. Arthur wakes up and realizes what Norma has done. Steward tells them that now they can spend and enjoy the money. The button unit will be offered to someone else with the same conditions: someone they don’t know.

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