Author's Notes:  First, I don't own "X-Men: Evolution" or its characters.  Second, I don't own The Bell Jar.  Third, this was a really difficult story for me to write for several reasons.  I really put a lot of myself in this story, and quite frankly I'm terrified to post it.  Seriously, I had to talk to my therapist about it.  Besides that, the day after I started writing this, I found out that my uncle was in a coma in the hospital.  He's doing better now, and that's the only way I could bring myself to work on something angsty again.  So please, look on this with a kind eye.  And please review.

Dedicated to TheLostMaximoff, whose excellent stories about Wanda compelled me to write this.  If you love Wanda as much as I do, check out some of the things he's written.  Thank you, TheLostMaximoff.

     Years after I got out of the asylum, I read a book called The Bell Jar by some woman named Sylvia Plath.  Somewhere along the line, I had heard that she was a famous crazy, and she even wrote books and poems all about it.  Somebody told me that I should read about how she put her life back together and got married and had kids.  So I read The Bell Jar, and I was really inspired and heartened; that was until I found out that she divorced her husband and killed herself while her children were in the next room.  And I remembered something she said in toward the end of the book.  "How did I know that someday—at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere—the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn't descend again?"  I don't know the answer to that question.  It seems like when the bell jar starts to come down around me, something happens to stop it.

Sometimes, Todd asks me what it was really like in that asylum.  It's a harder question to answer than you might think.  The first words that jump to mind are things like, "awful", "torture", or "Hell".  And those things are all true.  I don't think Dante could have imagined a worse punishment.  I went crazy in that place.  I wasn't crazy before, just a scared little girl.  Then my father and brother left me to rot in that place.  I was often miserable, and sad, and angry, and so hurt that I couldn't remember when it didn't pain me in my soul that I was still breathing.  They did terrible things to me.  Drugs, straight jackets, electro-shock.  I can remember so clearly now those moments of inexplicable pain. 

They brought in several "innovative" therapists to try to help me.  One man was a hippy whose drawling voice only served to make me angry.  I think he ended up in one of the kinder, gentler wings of that same asylum.  Then there was the "faith-healer".  She walked into my cell with a Bible under one arm and a mock gold cross around her neck.  She said that the Devil had a hold of me and that I needed to accept the word of the Lord.  I think I blew up her damned book and cheap jewelry.

But that wasn't all there was to my lovely stay in that place.  Don't get me wrong, it was always terrible and heart-breaking, but not every moment was filled with torture.  At least, not that kind of torture.  In a way, it was almost worse, those long stretches of silence, with only my own thoughts to occupy me.  Some days, my thoughts were so dark, I almost buckled under them.  I remembered that night Father and Pietro abandoned me.  On stormy nights, I swear I could feel that same cold rain soaking my straight through to my heart.  The mornings after nights like those were always violent.  The landscape of my mind was a scene right out of hell.  I imagined a blood drenched field, strewn with bodies of nameless, faceless people.  I could even smell the death in the air.  Pietro's corpse was lying at my feet.  I would grant him a swift, painless death, hex his spine in half.  A few yards away, I could see our Father, a look of pure terror on his face.  Every time it was a different, horrible death.  In my mind I could hear and feel his flesh ripping, his bones breaking, and his screaming; it was so delightful.  I would get so excited that the light would flicker and the ground would shake and the smell and taste of blood would fill the air.  The real screams of horror from the staff and other poor souls trapped in that place would bring me back to my cold, concrete room.

And those thoughts weren't the worst.  I used to play a sort of masochistic game with myself.  I would imagine what my life would have been like if things were different.  What would have happened if I had been born into a normal family?  I spun thousands of other worlds with different parents, different siblings, and different circumstances.  On sunny days, I didn't live in a concrete cell of an insane asylum.  I had my own room with dark green carpet and pecan wood furniture. I lived in a big yellow house in the middle of a wooded lot.  Cats ran all over the place and slept on my feet at night.  I had friends and a huge family.  My mommy was a little round woman who cooked good food, and daddy was a banker who treated me like a princess.  I went roller skating and played on the beach and I could take hour long baths without anyone watching me.  I watched Saturday morning cartoons, and I only cried when I fell off my bike and scraped my knee.  I would lose myself in fantasies like that for days, for as long no one bothered me, but eventually some one did.  And then I was back in my concrete room with no cartoons or cats or roller skates.  I usually cried so hard that I made it rain indoors just before I would pass out from exhaustion.  Those thoughts were the worst.

By the time I was eleven, I couldn't feel sad like I used to.  My imaginary lives had to keep getting more fantastic for me to cry afterward.  My fantasies stopped when I was thirteen and started to bleed.  It was probably for the best because by that time I had to think I was a goddess to feel sad at all.  After my first period, all I cared about was killing my remaining family.  All I did was endure "therapy" and want to kill my Father.  When I was doing those things, I was blank.  I thought nothing.  I just was.  I was just in that tiny gray room and nothing else.  It's not as bad as it sounds really.  It's kind of a cool feeling, and I still get it every now and then, late at night when Todd and the kids are asleep.  Over the next four years, I stopped even getting that feeling anymore.  All I wanted was revenge. 

Then Mystique broke me out and I tell him that he knows the rest of the story, but he doesn't.  I'm not sure anyone does.  Between the blinding rage and secretive memory modification, I lost some big gaps of my life.  I've pieced a lot of it back together.  I remember the asylum and all the horrors it presented me.  But sometimes I'll remember things that didn't happen.  I'll see Todd playing with the kids and smile fondly, remembering doing that with Father and Pietro.  It happened when we were on a family picnic the other day.  I was watching Katya chase Tad and her daddy around, shooting off tiny hexes.  I started to say that watching them brought back memories, but I only got as far as "back" before ice water started running through my veins.  Tad froze first, stopping the chase almost instantly.  Then he started to cry and ran to give me a hug.  Irene said that Tad would be an empath; I guess his powers are already starting to develop.

I can't say that my Father stole my life from me, anymore.  He certainly ruined large portions of it, and I can't say that I'm sorry he's in that plastic prison where he can't touch my children.  But I don't want to kill him anymore.  I can't bring myself to hate him, even in those confused moments when I remember things that never happened.  Or during those terrible times when I remember things that did happen.  Because I live in a big yellow house in the middle of a wooded lot with cats running around.  I have friends, family, and a wonderful husband (even if he does eat flies).  Life isn't perfect, but it is good.  I never thought that I'd get to have that.  But like I said, the bell jar does come down around me, and I feel myself slip into a confused sort of oblivion.  Did I ride a carousel with Father and Pietro, or did I kill them both?  Was it a family picnic in a field, or a lonely meal on the hard, cold floor of an insane asylum?  And things blur into a snowy white with an indistinct sphere of gray in the middle, like bad modern art.  And just as I'm about to scream and start slinging things around the house inadvertently, Katya will giggle, or Todd will call me "sweetums" or "cuddlebumps", or Tad will slam into with the biggest hug his tiny arms can manage.  That's when I realize my old memories don't matter.  Well, they do matter, but there are things that matter more.