Thursday 31 March 2022

Oh Wow 2022



by Henry Lewi

 Cachaça 51 cocktail


It happened again – and not just the once but repeated again and again at 1420 megahertz with a narrow bandwidth, each message lasting exactly 72 seconds with an intensity peaking at over 20 standard deviations higher than the background static. The signals were picked up by the Very Large Array Radio Telescope in New Mexico, the Alien Technology Array at the Hat Creek Observatory in California, and the Square Kilometre Array in Western Australia.

The signal was identical to the one first observed in 1977 and again in 2020, that the bright sparks at the Big Ear Observatory at Ohio State had nicknamed the WOW! Signal.

The original signal had been tracked back to a region in the Constellation Sagittarius occupied by the star Tau Sagittarii, well that was in 1977, the most recent signals emanated from the region of Tau Ceti, a Sun like yellow star in the Whale Constellation, Cetus, with four orbiting planets a mere 12 light years from Earth – in our own backyard!

 The astronomers, physicists and research teams around the world pored over the data attempting to understand and interpret the message with little result.  A team of Graduate students at the Radio astronomy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley had the bright idea of running the signal through the computers linked in with Caltech in Pasadena, and the images beamed to the Various Radio Astronomy departments worldwide as well as the US Department of Defence and the Pentagon.

As the Computer-generated Image appeared, there was a global collective gasp as the bright yellow smiley face clearly showing a thumbs up appeared on their numerous screens.

About the author 

Henry is a retired surgeon and member of the Canvey Writers Group. He has published a number of stories on the CafeLit site





Wednesday 30 March 2022

Secret Admirer

by Swati Moheet Agrawal

mint tea


15th April, 6.30 a.m.


I unlock the door to fetch the milk pouch only to tread on a nosegay of white roses. Still puffy from sleep, I knit my brows, as I press it to my nostrils wondering how the bouquet landed up at my doorstep!


I ponder the matter before concluding it’s for my neighbour who is single and enchantingly attractive.


“These flowers from your secret admirer got accidently delivered to my doorstep.”


I hand it over to the beautiful woman who looks resplendent in the morning light.


“Well, eh, would you like some hibiscus tea, Mrs. Bajaj?” she asks deferentially.


“Some other time,” I wink at her.


She colours up to the ears.


16th April, 6.30 a.m.


I unlock the door to fetch the milk pouch only to tread on a nosegay of yellow roses. I half smile, press it to my nostrils before heading next door.


“Yesterday’s were white,

 Today’s are yellow,

 Tomorrow’s would be crimson,

 roses from the endearing fellow!”


I give a hearty guffaw as I tease her.


“Bulbul aunty, you’re too much,” she squirms. “I can’t figure out this secret admirer. Are you sure the roses are for me?” she sheepishly glances around.


“Duh, obviously you. Who would care to rouse a crotchety menopausal housewife?”


17th April, 6.30 a.m.


I unlock the door to fetch the milk pouch and expectedly discover the nosegay of red roses. I look at it disconsolately, press it to my nostrils before barging into my neighbour’s home.


“I have more reverence for flowers than anything else. Getting pampered with flowers is one of the little joys of life. I don’t think there is a more intimate way to tell someone you love them. I’d rather have flowers on my table than diamonds dangling from my neck. It is the small things in life that keep us from going crazy. Savour the small joys and find beauty in the mundane,” I preach priggishly to her about cherishing life’s small joys and pleasures.


“Well, they are magnificent,” she caresses the red roses affectionately.


18th April, 6.30 a.m.


I unlock the door to fetch the milk pouch only to find a massive bouquet of hippy psychedelic roses. Today a lovely handwritten note accompanies the flowers. I cannot help my curiosity:


Happy birthday to my ever-gracious, ever-charming wife, Bulbul. Thank you for all you do. You have exactly one hour to pack up for Keukenhof. Yours, Badri.


Truly, love has a way of blossoming at the most unpredictable hour.


I bawl my eyes out. 

About the author

Swati Moheet Agrawal is a poet and writer whose work has appeared in Sledgehammer Lit, Modern Literature and Thimble Lit Mag among other journals. When not buried in books, she dabbles in decoupage art. 





Tuesday 29 March 2022

Letter to Madelyn



by Henry Lewi


iced cold water only



My dear Madelyn

   I hope this letter finds you well. I suppose you really aren’t – I mean who isn’t going to be OK after being abandoned without a word at the Country House venue for our wedding.

I’m sorry not to have called either before or after the supposed wedding date but things got out of hand and a bit carried away. It really was all the fault of my Best Man Gary who arranged a long weekend - well a week in Las Vegas for all 10 of us and all I can say it was great fun, but we got a little bit carried away.  What little of that week I can recall was that I met a barmaid - Arlene that’s her name in the Millionaires Bar at the MGM Grand and during the week of drinking, gambling and fun Arlene and I were married by Elvis in the Chapel of Love. I thought this was a joke, but I now know that this is totally official and sometime during the week I signed over all my assets and property to Arlene who promptly lost them on Red 7 at roulette. Now penniless Arlene and I have settled down in a Trailer Park on the edge of town and what’s more Arlene is now expecting Triplets.

What more can I say except Sorry.

  It was all sudden and unexpected and as I look back, I realise it wasn’t such a bad decision after all who wants to marry a Billionaire Fund Manager’s Daughter or continue in a career as a Professor of History at Oxford – as they say ‘Carpe Diem’.

I write this from the CCU of Mercy Hospital in Las Vegas – the Doctors say it’s all the stress my 50-year-old body has experienced.

I don’t suppose in memory of our friendship you could lend me $50,000 for my medical bills.

I wish you all the best and hope you remain in good health.

Yours as Ever


About the author 

Henry is retired doctor who writes short stories and has previously published on the Café Lit Website

Monday 28 March 2022

The Summer of Penton


by Mike Lee

an IPA at the bar 

Sometimes I daydream by counting the months back to a particular situation, wishing I had made different decisions. Some of these choices I made were insignificant at the time, like not following up on a suggestion, passing up on a further conversation, saying no when I should have said yes, all leading to choosing the wrong partner. I paid the price for every one of them, particularly the latter.

The densely patterned cracks on the sidewalk reminded me of looking at the terrain from eight miles above. Also, of complex leaves laid out on a light plate, the kind I used decades ago in high school biology class.

I remembered Mama and stepped on as many as I safely could.

I entered the bookstore next to the café on the corner. Browsers packed in the single-aisle in front of me and gathered at the new releases table on my right. In this circumstance, claustrophobia sets in, but I shrugged it off and looked at the rows of used books going from A to B, hoping someone would move and I could head further down the alphabet.

I pass over the ones I already read. Nothing else held much interest.

Someone moved, so I added C, D, and E to my search. All fiction.

I already sensed boredom. Maybe a little sadness mixed in having had this experience of reading so much that nothing will strike like the lightning bolts of long-ago pretty much-misspent youth.

I had plans to tackle the remaining consequence of that mistake I made a long time ago. But unfortunately, these outcomes begin from different points, like those cracks in the sidewalk that eventually crumble the concrete.

Then you rip up the sidewalk and repave. Later I intended to finish the last slab of pavement.

Empty-handed, I left the bookstore and turned the corner to the café. I smell the pastries, the coffee, the perfume going stale in the afternoon.

I ordered a latte and a grilled ham and cheese and found a table in the back under a framed painting of unrecognizable figures in pretty colors. I opened my computer bag and pulled out my black notebook, a pen, and an iPad, and wrote in the notebook until my order was ready.

While nibbling on my sandwich, I went to my iPad and looked at the draft email I needed to send today, checked for typos, and considered how it all came to this—the endgame for what was almost half my life.

I met her 30 years ago.

My phone pinged a text. It was from my sister.

How are you feeling? <heart>

Sad. About to hit send. <heart>

I love you baby brother. <heart> <heart> <heart>

Thank you.


I pressed <enter> and off it went. 

I am done and done.

I’m so sorry. I understand how tough this is on you. <heart>

Thank you. Well, so when it ends, it ends.

I closed the iPad and returned to my sandwich and latte.


My therapist suggested doing something I did before we had met. So I took the subway to Coney Island and sat at a bench on the boardwalk to watch the sunset. I noted the difference between sitting there as a young man and doing so in late middle age. Felt a little sad and sighed.

While the river of life continued to flow, the debris it carried was boxed up and carted away by movers to a storage site, with a month’s rent paid. I mailed the key yesterday. It’ll arrive at its destination in a few days.

Yet I felt a distinct sense of release in that I realized that with the beauty in shattered illusions was the peace of wisdom that follows.

About the author 

Mike Lee's work appears in or is forthcoming in CafeLit, Drunk Monkeys, and others. In addition, his story collection, The Northern Line, is available on online bookselling outlets. He was also nominated for Best Microfiction by Ghost Parachute.