Erin O’Keefe

The Paris Review

New and Recent Photographs

Kate Tarker | Issue 235, Winter 2020


Stage Directions for Approaching An O’Keefe

There was a triangle in her face. An elbow. A tri­angle, emerging from a morass of black puffy coats. So many people jammed together, pretending they were alone in space. She tried to press her head backward to escape, but an orange parallelogram pressed her forward into the elbow, which by way of some shuffling was now a purse. She looked up at the eyes looking down on her and held her breath. She glanced around, then slid out a white rectangle and looked again at the time printed on it. She was golden. It was all going to be worth it once she got to the show.

She was on the wrong train. She was on the right train going in the wrong direction.
She stepped out, into the shadows. She felt stupid and cold. How could she have possibly thought she had enough time? Her biggest fear was that she was in the right life going in the wrong direction. That she was the right word, perhaps, but the wrong answer to the crossword puzzle. A bright shop window told the demented lie that spring was coming, if only she’d layer in teal and grass green. A passing cab switched off its glowing light. On her screen, she plugged in her walking route and did some calculations. She was never going to get there on time.

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