Jamacia Kincaid's "What I Have Been Doing Lately" begins with the unnamed narrator openly stating what she (or he) has been doing. The narrator begins by stating that she (assumed for clarity) was lying in bed when the doorbell rang. After running downstairs, she opens the door to find no one there. She notices the air, which tastes of "government school ink." After looking to the north and south, she decides to go north. During her walk, she sees Venus, stating that it "must be almost morning." She then notices a monkey in a tree. Then, she continues on her walk for an undesignated time.
She then comes up to a river, which she wishes to cross; but she cannot swim, and building a boat would take far too long. Moments later, it seems as though years pass, since she now has a boat and has crossed the "big body of water."
After crossing, she begins walking again. She passes a house, a dog, and a boy with a ball (who does not look at her). She continues to walk, again feeling like she has walked for a long time. Soon, she comes upon a hole in the ground. She throws herself in, and then, regretting it, she (somehow) comes back to the mouth of the hole—telling it to close (which it does). She continues walking, knowing that days have passed but not knowing how many.
The opening paragraph of the short story ends with the girl saying, "The earth has thin lips," and laughing.