When they had fights about Ellen's playing around— a phrase that, inexplicably, filled him with rage— it always seemed later that it was not her infidelity that brought on the fights, nor his guilt at his own unconfessed infidelity, but the gin they'd drunk. It had seemed not in the real world, as real human beings, that they attacked each other, but as brightly painted puppet-like creatures in an eerie projection, a dream-world where blows (they had often come to blows— Mickelsson holding back, doing damage enough, Ellen laying in on him with everything she had, pitifully girlish, though sometimes he came out with a puffy face) had no force, whatever their violence, and words, whatever their viciousness, would prove hard to remember later. In the morning they would be careful of each other, as of people who've been wounded and will never again be whole.