San Francisco writer Malena Watrous first novel, If You Follow Me (HarperPerennial), was published last year. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Alaska Quarterly Review, The Believer, GlimmerTrain, The Massachussetts Review,, StoryQuarterly, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. She now works for Stanford as a head instructor in the Online Writer’s Workshop.

“Princess,” which appears in ZYZZYVA’s Fall issue, is a ruefully wise story about parenting — its joys, its limitations — couched in that most seemingly innocuous of events: a child’s birthday party. The following is an excerpt from Watrous’ story.


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