Metaphysical Donna


A Memoir by Leah Mueller

Crouching beside Lake Michigan at two in the morning, I stared at the heaving water, sobbing about a guy I liked, or perhaps loved, or maybe had just fucked.

A neighbor noticed me huddled over like a penitent while she strolled along the shoreline.

We called her Metaphysical Donna, because there were two Donnas in our building, and the other one was Red-Haired Donna. 

Metaphysical Donna painted pictures of goddesses and chakras, and she spoke in disjointed whispers about spectral visitations. We lived in an artist building, but Donna’s behavior was unusual, even by our loose standards.

It felt odd to seek validation from a woman who didn’t have a toehold on reality. Still, in my distraught state, I couldn’t afford to be picky.

Donna gazed hard at my forehead, as if trying to divine something lodged deep inside my cranium, and said, “You feel things so much because you’re special. You’re third-eye marked.”

Pointing at a mole set halfway between my eyes, she gave a sage nod, folded her arms, and said, “Why don’t you come up to my apartment for herbal tea?”

Metaphysical Donna was known to mix vodka with her herbal drinks, but I was hardly one to judge. I followed her upstairs, drank two cups of adulterated tea, then collapsed into my bed.


Forty years later, I can’t see the mole, so I am no longer third-eye marked. I guess you grow out of these things. 

I still don’t remember why I was crying so hard, but I’m sure the guy wasn’t worth it.

I hope the cosmos has been kind to Donna. She seemed too ethereal for Chicago. I heard she married a homeless guy she met under the Granville L tracks.

Our own encounter was no accident. Sometimes, people appear at the right time, just when you need their help the most.

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Leah Mueller is the author of ten prose and poetry books. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Rattle, NonBinary Review, Glint, Midway Journal, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, etc. It has also been featured in trees, shop windows in Scotland, poetry subscription boxes, and literary dispensers throughout the world. Her flash piece, “Land of Eternal Thirst” will appear in the 2022 edition of Sonder Press’ “Best Small Fictions” anthology. Visit her website at

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