DISCLAIMER: This is fiction; it's all lies.
Petr looks around his new, ugly apartment. The carpet is cream-colored and fluffy clean, and the walls are antispetic white. Nobody has lived here before, and all the appliances are made of shiny, stainless steel. It seems like this city is made of steel, but nowhere near as shiny.
He coughs, and he doesn't know it yet, but he's not going to stop coughing, not while he lives here, because there is always sulphur and smoke in the air. He's lucky he didn't grow up here, or he would never have known what it's like to not cough.
He looks out his window, and it's as ugly as it was when he came in. He's not quite sure why he expected it to look different. Maybe he was hoping that the height would change things, but all it means is that he can see more of the city at once, and it is all ugly, because beauty does nothing to strengthen steel.
He scans the street, and he is sure that all the grown ups look ten years older than their age. He sits down in a chair by the window, because he thinks that he will be there for a while, and the moving boxes won't mind waiting a little longer to be unpacked.
There is a young couple arguing in the street below him, and nobody even bothers to stop, or give them more than a momentary glance, even though they are obviously screaming their heads off. She is a typical pale Russian woman with fine, blonde hair, while he is short and dark with jet black hair, and Petr understands how difficult it can be to make things work when two people come from different cultures. The woman is pointing at the man, and Petr reads her motions and the man's defensive gestures, and he thinks he can follow the story, even without sound or subtitles. After all, anything he doesn't understand he can easily make up.
He is watching them as if he is watching a boxing match, and slowly he starts to side with the woman. His mind improvises accusations - you slept with her, you fucked everything up, I never want to see you again - and he starts to feel a little sick. He blames it on the air, on the thick black smoke that carries little bits of the steel from which it was made. He blames it on the lunch he made the mistake of eating; he's never going to buy anything sold outdoors again because the food itself seems to absorb the air.
He's too far up to see things like rings on fingers, and he wonders if the two of them are married. Is there a baby in their future? Would a baby would make them fight more, or less? Would it be this magical solution that would bind them all into one happy golden family? Would the man suddenly realize that he wanted the woman to be the mother of his children? What if she couldn't have children?
Petr blinks, and he shakes away conversations about adoption and houses in the suburbs with swimming pools and white picket fences, because there aren't any surburban houses here, just endless blocks of apartments and certainly nothing that would ever stay white. He looks again and the man seems to be arguing his case and pleading with her. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made for love.
He thinks that it's absurd, and that the woman should just walk off and never come back, but then he reasons that maybe they live together, and it's not so easy to end things when you don't have your own house and car and dog, and you can't just fly 1500 miles and not have to see them for a long, long while. He wonders what will happen with these two with no easy way out, and he wonders what would have happened--no, he's only thinking about one story right now, because it's all he can concentrate on.
The two of them have calmed down, and their bodies are still tense with anger, but they seem to be talking normally and not yelling at each other anymore. This is when they figure out what they do, because obviously things can't keep going this way. Petr understands that you can only shout at someone for so many days or weeks, or maybe even months, before you get tired, so tired you can almost feel it in your bones, and you don't have the energy to do anything, and so you give up.
The man is shaking his head at her, and Petr thinks he's rejecting the solution that she's come up with because he doesn't like the sound of it, but sometimes the thing that sounds the worst is the right thing to do. She's being practical, making things easy for the two of them, and he doesn't want to hear it because he thinks that he can have it all and that compromise is a dirty word. Petr leans forward in his chair without knowing he's doing it, and he hopes that the man won't dismiss everything she says because it's very important that he listens, or she'll get fed up and leave, and there won't be any baby, or maybe there will, but it won't be theirs.
Petr takes a deep breath, and he realizes that he's been sitting in his chair just as tense as them, and he laughs soundlessly at himself for getting so involved in something he's separated from by nine stories of concrete and steel, and he wonders why you can't just get rid of the past by tearing a page from a calendar, and why things that are over and done with keep repeating themselves, and how a whole city could have been built all at once in mountains that haven't quite adjusted to people even after seventy-five years.
He turns his attention to the couple again, and they're watching each other carefully, waiting for the other to make the first move, and they could do anything; they could start screaming again, or one of them could leave, or maybe the man will slap her in the street, in front of people who are there but aren't witnesses. And there's one more possibility, that they'll calm down, and they'll make peace, and maybe even embrace and kiss, but he knows from experience that something like that won't happen.
But still he watches, and he wonders, and he waits.