"I really don't know why I'm surprised, Brenda. I always knew you loved your job more than me. I just kept hoping it wasn't true." Fritz said to his wife.
"Fritzi, you're wrong! You know I love you! I just can't leave here." Brenda pleaded with her husband.
"I have worked too hard to get a promotion I've wanted for years. I didn't want the other one, but this one, I do. It's finally happening for me, and I want you with me."
"Let me think about it, okay? I can't do this right now. I'm in the middle of this case, and I can't even think about going anywhere. And besides, if you take the job, aren't you putting your career before us?" Brenda fought back a little, considering she'd felt blindsided by his little announcement.
"It's not the same thing. I don't throw myself into work as much as you do. I can disconnect from it. You see, Brenda, it's always going to be your job before me. Always. And I had hoped it would change, I love you, Brenda, but I can't do this anymore. I'm taking the promotion. You can either come with me, be my wife, or stay here, I don't care anymore." With that, Fritz Howard walked out of the bedroom where Brenda and he had been discussing his recent job offer and seconds later she heard the front door slam as he left the house.
Brenda stared out the doorway, before gingerly sitting down on the bed. She had no idea how things had gotten so bad, so fast since she had arrived home. They'd been out for dinner for their anniversary and had come home, when Fritz had announced he had exciting news for the two of them. When he'd announced his recent offer of a top level job in the FBI but that it would require a transfer to Washington, Brenda had been stunned. She hadn't said anything initially, but Fritz's happiness had turned to anger when he realized that Brenda wasn't quite as happy about this as he was. Brenda had put off answering, knowing that she couldn't quit here. As much as she loved Fritz, she loved her job too, no matter what she'd told him in the past, and she'd just always been able to balance the two. Now, she was being forced to choose between them, and the job was winning, just like Fritz had always thought.
Sighing, she got up and grabbed her phone, then put it back down. He just needed time to cool down, and when he did, he'd come home and they'd talk things out. If she was lucky, she could talk him out of leaving for Washington. If not, she didn't want to think about it, and a cold feeling swept through her.
Brenda sat on the couch and switched on the tv, settling some on some inane show that didn't require too much of her attention. Her mind was focused on Fritz, and where she stood with him. He was angry, there was no doubt about that. He was always angry on the subject of her job, and it standing in their way. Logically, she knew this was a good move for him, moving up in the FBI. But she loved her job here, and couldn't imagine leaving it. She had seriously never thought it would get to this point. Fritz had always seemed more than supportive of her, even more so after he was appointed liaison to the LAPD. But now, a bigger opportunity had come along and he wanted her with him. She just wasn't sure she was ready or even wanted to go.
She waited for him to come home, but fell asleep on the couch waiting for him. When she awoke in the middle of the night, she came to with a start, got up and checked to see if he was in bed. He wasn't. He hadn't come home. Grabbing her phone, she did call him, but only got his voice mail. She puttered around, and finally got ready for bed, crawling in to get a couple more hours sleep, all the while worried about Fritz's whereabouts. She slept fitfully the rest of the night.
Morning came, and she still had no word from her husband. She tried phoning again, only to get the voice mail once again. Sighing, she put on a pot of coffee and got ready for work. Just as she was writing a note for him, he walked in the door. Jumping up, she tried to give him a hug, but he held her back.
"Don't Brenda, just don't." Fritz said.
"Fritzi, I've been worried sick about you! Where have you been?" Brenda said in her sweetest voice.
"Really? Cause that would have been a first in a long time, you worried about me. I stayed in a hotel for the night. I needed time to think things out, and that's all I've done all night. And when it comes down to it, I think we need a trial separation. You obviously do not want to come to Washington, and I'm not forcing you to do anything you don't want. I love you, but I'm tired of everything. Really tired."
Brenda stared at Fritz, unbelieving of his suggestion. They'd been through so much together, and yet he seemed so prepared to throw it all away. Maybe she was prepared too. Still, she really didn't want to see it end with him. She loved him with all her heart.
"Fritz, I'm sorry." was all she could say.
"I am too, Brenda. I love you, but your job is always going to be more important. Always. And I can't compete with that anymore."
"I'm not asking you to compete! I've always put you first!"
"You're lying to yourself and me, Brenda. Your job always has come first. I knew you were lying to me at the last promotion, when you said I came first. I knew you were lying, but I hoped. We've been married long enough, I really had hoped you'd go with me where ever, but I do know it's not going to happen. As much as I love you, you're never going to change. You'd be miserable in Washington, I know this. And you'd grow to hate me. So, I'm letting go first. A trial separation, maybe we'll see how much we miss each other, and you'll be able to finally put me first."
Brenda opened and closed her mouth, not knowing what to say. He was right. If she moved, she'd make him miserable, it was the truth. But she couldn't just let him go.
"Why do you need to take this promotion? What is so important about it? I thought you were happy being the liaison to the LAPD!"
"I've enjoyed it, yes, but people still think I only got the job because you were up for Chief of Police. Hell, even my friends in the FBI think I only got that promotion because of you. All the stuff I've done for you over the years, people think I work only for you and the FBI second. And I'm tired of it. Do you know how it feels to have people think I only got the job because of you? At least with Washington, it's on my own merits, not yours."
Stung, Brenda turned away from him. She started to tear up, almost like she'd been struck in the face. His words cut her. He'd always been able to do that to her, make her feel like she always did the wrong thing. On one level, she knew he was right, but it didn't negate the fact that she had tried hard with this marriage. She'd loved him as much as she could, but it still wasn't enough.
"Well, aren't you going to say anything? Defend yourself? Defend us?" Fritz demanded.
"I can't Fritz, I can't. You're right, you are. If you think a trial separation is what we need, then I'm willing to go with it. I don't like it, I don't want you to go, but I'm not going to stand in the way of what you want."
"So, you'd just let me go, like that? Isn't "us" worth more than that?"
"I'm not the one letting go. You're the one who wants the separation,"
"So, you won't come with me?"
"No, not right now. If you're right, then some time away from each other will tell us. I'll quit my job and join you. If you're wrong, I guess I'll be staying in L.A., and we'll go from there."
"Fine then, Brenda, fine. I'll be by for some of my stuff later. I just came home to change for work." With that, Fritz turned around and stormed away from his wife.
Brenda stared after his retreating back, and felt her heart shattering into a million little pieces. What a nightmare her anniversary had turned out to be.