Michelle Bracken
Eating Together

Michelle Bracken - Eating Together

Creative Nonfiction
Michelle Bracken is a fiction candidate in the MFA program at California State University, San Bernardino. Her work has appeared… Read more »
Paige Towers
The Cooldown

Paige Towers - The Cooldown

Creative Nonfiction
Paige Towers earned her B.A. from the University of Iowa and her MFA from Emerson College, where she also taught… Read more »

The Cooldown

Paige Towers

It’s a glorious ritual, the cooldown.

The run is over. I pull my headphones off, grip my hipbones with my hands and reflexively tilt my head back, struggling to get more oxygen. Central Park is swarming with tourists on rented bikes, kids in strollers, dogs on extendable leashes, runners who are finishing or starting, stretching and shaking out their legs. Sweat gets in my eyes and everything goes blurry. My muscles burn. I feel powerful.

As I slowly walk the three blocks home from the park, my endorphins continue to pulse, and I’m not thinking, not worrying, not aware that others are aware of me. My self-consciousness has been transported elsewhere. As a young woman in a city full of gazes, these moments of ownership are so good.

I own this sidewalk. I own my footsteps, my body, this space, the droplets of sweat on my neck that are being soaked up by the ends of my hair dangling from my ponytail—all mine.

But then, I’m walking through a tunnel of men.

They’re standing across from each other on the sidewalk, claiming more than half a block, which leaves me with a narrow runway. There are… Read more »