Marie-Helene Bertino’s debut story collection SAFE AS HOUSES will be published October 1st, 2012.  She has worked as a diner waitress, a muralist, and a music writer.  Currently, she works as a biographer of people with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  One hot summer night in August, she met herself at a crab joint (in her mind) near (the) Cape May, New Jersey (in her mind) where she taught herself how to use a mallet to extract the meatiest parts of the crab, and talked to herself about herself.


I admire how much plaid you are wearing.

How kind of you to say!

I am like everyone  else — good at some things, bad at others. I am good at eating clementines. I am bad at drawing straight lines. I am good at drinking coffee. I would be bad at building a house. If someone asked me to build them a house, I would have to say no. Or I would say yes and worry they would not like the house I built. Why is the kitchen made of coffee filters, they’d say? Why are there no floors? And I’d say, I wish you hadn’t asked me to build you a house.