At a resort, an older woman named Anna sits on the porch of her house and talks about how she's been waiting 40 years for a murder to happen. She looks toward Roger, who pulls up in a black car and helps his elderly invalid mother out into a wheelchair. As she tells Roger to hurry up, Anna observes that this happens every year, and wonders if this year will be the time Roger commits murder.
Forty Years Ago
Anna lives at the resort with her parents. She plays badminton and knocks the birdie into the driveway, where Roger's car runs it over as it pulls in. A young Roger takes it to her and Anna tries to get him to play tag, but Roger's mother calls him back and he goes to help her inside. Anna watches as Roger's mother keeps telling her son that next year they'll go to France for their vacation.
Thirty-Nine Years Ago
Roger and his mother arrive at the same time of the summer. Anna approaches Roger as he unpacks and asks why they didn't go to Paris. Roger insists that he's perfect and doesn't need to go anywhere else, and Anna teases him and says he needs to find some clothes to play in. He insists on going to help his mother and Anna shoves him to the ground. When he asks why she did that, Anna is at a loss for words and runs off. Roger starts to go after her but reluctantly turns away and goes back to his mother when she calls for him.
Thirty-Three Years Ago
Roger and his mother continue to visit each year, and Anna falls in love with him. On his next visit, Anna watches as Roger's mother insists acts the part of an invalid, except when Roger isn't looking. She flirts with Roger on the badminton court and then starts insulting his mother. Roger protests and Anna tells him that he can't live with his mother for the rest of his life. He finally snaps at her and Anna thanks him for finally getting angry about something. Roger chases her and they tumble to the ground. Anna continues to talk, daring Roger to shut her up until he finally kisses her. He tells her that he'll marry her when they're 21, saying that his mother must surely die by then. Anna forces him to promise and prays that his mother will die. As they kiss, Roger's mother watches them.
Thirty-Two Years Ago
Roger doesn't come. His mother claims he's sick, but they don't come for three more years.
Twenty-Nine Years Ago
Roger and his mother finally visit the resort again. Roger tries to introduce Anna, a waitress, to his mother but she refuses to talk to the staff. When they're alone, Roger apologizes to Anna, who warns that his mother views him as the enemy. When Anna reminds Roger of his promise, he insists that his mother only has a few more years left. Anna warns that his mother's hatred for her, and for losing Roger, will keep her alive, and she says that she can't wait any longer
Twenty-Eight Years Ago
When Roger and his mother visit, Roger discovers that Anna is engaged to Paul, a staff member who will be manager some day. Roger talks to her in private and warns that she'll be miserable with Paul, but Anna insists that she's miserable now. He asks her to wait just two more months, but Anna refuses. An increasingly desperate Roger asks her to wait a month, and then seven days. Anna wonder what can happen in a week, and Roger says that he'll make sure that he can fulfill his promise. After he leaves, Anna dreams of all the ways that he could painfully dispose of his mother.
The next day, Anna receives word that Roger tries to hang himself rather than kill his mother. Anna runs to his room and discovers that he survived the attempt. His mother is berating him for trying to commit suicide. When Anna looks in the room, Roger calls out to her but his mother shuts the door and Anna realizes that Roger tries to kill himself to escape both of them.
Anna's husband died and the couple never had any children. Later, Roger comes to see Anna and tells her that it's time. He reads her a poem about tethers and freedom, and Anna says that he should have read that long ago. She realizes what has happened and they go to his mother's room. She's dead, and Anna wonders if he killed her. Roger simply asks what difference it would make if he had, and Anna says that she doesn't know.
Roger prepares to leave the resort for the last time, and tells Anna that he'll finally go to Paris and all the other cities that he's wanted to see over the years. Anna tells him that she'll delay the police so he can make good his escape. When Roger asks her to come with him, Anna says that he doesn't need another woman to tether him. She tells him to see the world and gain some experience away from his mother, and then come back for her. Anna promises to be there and Roger assures her that he'll return. He tells her that he loves her and drives away, as Anna hits a badminton birdie up into the air and lets it soar away.