She still remembered her very first set of real brushes, and the marvel of being able to draw out of the messy paint some semblance of her own thoughts. “You’ve been trying to paint with house-painting brushes,” Florence had said in some astonishment, when she saw the old brushes she’d kept, the ones with which she’d made her first paintings at ten and eleven years old. Kept, something like grave-goods: of no use to the living, but precious still to the ten-year-old who had discovered how to pluck tunes out of the rainbow on the palette.
She’d struggled, she’d wrestled, looking up books on color, on how to mix without making mud, on the theory behind that, and it was painting really that had led her to chemistry, not the other way around. Chemistry had given her precision and insight, and more importantly a sense of danger. That was all to the good: she was a descendant of alchemists, in that line, and the spirits of matter were inhuman in their loves and hatreds; quite simply, they did not care with what they bonded.