Margaret Jane Scott had been a singular child in a large family. Since the age of three she had been in love with the physical world, while, at the same time, wondering why none of her brothers and sisters seemed to share her fascination with it all.
She had been five when she discovered that others did not see numbers as colours, or hear music in their heads when they saw shapes. A visit to the library when she was fifteen introduced her to the concept of synaesthesia. She went home and announced to her mother that she was a synaesthete. Her mother shrugged and told her that many teenagers experimented with other faiths and beliefs at her age, and that she'd come back to Catholicism eventually. Margaret didn't bother to explain.
She did well at school and university, glorying in all things scientific, her early love of physics and mathematics deepening into true, blissful love. The only distractions to this love affair were the boys, and later, men, who tried to pry the very attractive girl she was away from it. She dated infrequently, disappointed, though not entirely surprised, that most of her dates did not share her enthusiasm for talking of physics. Margaret thought of a sure-fire way to discourage their attentions for good, and when she was twenty-three, she told her delighted Irish Catholic parents that she had discovered a vocation to the religious life. She had known that they would not be unhappy with her decision. Her elder sisters and brothers had already provided them with enough grandchildren to keep most couples happy, and her father had been relieved at one less wedding to finance on his modest income.
So off Margaret went, to The Sisters of Saint Joseph, a teaching order. Her Mother Superior welcomed the new Postulant, Sister Margaret, with open arms. Such a gifted and highly qualified scientist would find a placement as a physics teacher at any of their schools, but she reserved judgment on whether young Margaret had a true vocation. But she kept watch on her through the years of her novitiate, and concluded that Sister Margaret spent so much time in meditation and prayer, that she was a devout and holy girl. Little did she suspect that Margaret, while her fellow Sisters were contemplating the suffering and death of Our Lord, and the humility and purity of Our Blessed Lady, was pondering the mysteries of gravitoelectromagnetism, or meditating on the beauty of the first law of thermodynamics.. She allowed Margaret to take her final vows.
As she was preparing for this, Reverend Mother told her she could keep the name Margaret, or take another, to carry with her through the religious life. She chose the name Quartilla, for several reasons. The letter "Q" had always resonated in her head as a vibrant bright turquoise blue, whereas her own initial "M" gave off a dull yellowish-brown. Besides, there were already four Sisters here with Margaret as part or the whole of their names. One of her teachers, Sister Margaret-Anne, suggested that she spend some time in prayer over a book of the Lives of the Saints. Margaret turned straight to the "Q"s and found Quartilla, an obscure Italian saint, of whom little was known, except that she was martyred in Sorrento. She felt a little sorry that so little information had survived about the holy woman, and besides, Sorrento was near Vesuvius, and volcanoes were among her fascinations, especially dormant ones. She needed no time to think further about it. Sister Quartilla she would be.