Dearest Debbie, when you opened this letter, my fate was already sealed. I do not take pleasure in alarming you, but I love you too much to mince words. By the time you read this, I will either be dead or vice president of marketing for the Poland Spring corporation.

If all went according to plan, then I am, at this very moment, sitting in the corner office reviewing our public-relations strategy, scrutinizing our advertising budget, and evaluating the performance of the entire Poland Spring marketing-department staff. But if all did not go as hoped—if, in my quest for greatness, I failed—you must know how I cherished you. I've always loved you, and in whatever sort of afterworld I find myself, I will continue to love you.

Debbie, if I do not prevail, know that I died full of hope, fighting for my corporate life against the forces of incremental promotion.

I may be tempting fate with my fearless scheme. For that, forgive me, Debbie. But it was fate that first tempted me when, seven years ago, I toured the executive offices on the 30th floor of the Nestlé domestic-waters division during my orientation meeting in December. Since that day, my devotion to this singular end has been unwavering. And now, finally, an opportunity has presented itself, and I would be a fool to ignore it. The dream is within my grasp, and I must seize it—or die.

Long have I kept quiet, plotting from my windowless office, gritting my teeth each time another board meeting began with me on the wrong side of the conference room's glass wall. Each time I was forced to answer my own phone, my blood ran cold. Each time I sorted my own mail, it was like an icicle was being stabbed into my heart, repeatedly. The bitter irony is that I was forced to compose this very message, quite possibly my last, without secretarial assistance.

If I am ever to look myself in the eye and say, "Hello, Mr. Vice President of Marketing," then my course, however treacherous, is clear. Debbie, a man can only be held down for so long before he must take a final stand and demand a management position overseeing all public-relations efforts, promotional initiatives, and corporate partnerships for America's finest brand of natural spring water!

In this hour, my flame burns bright. But if it is snuffed out, if you never hear from me again, Debbie, I ask that you contact my family and share this letter with them. Arrange a modest wake and funeral. If my body should ever be found, I would like it to be cremated. Cast my ashes into the spring in the woods of Maine from which Poland Spring water is drawn.

If you love me as I love you, you know how significant this fight is. Even if I wished to give up, I could not. The die has been cast. Only two choices remain: death, or an executive-level position in the marketing department of the northeast region's best-selling bottled water.

Debbie, my darling, I know the written word is cold, but I could not risk breaking such news to you in person. No matter how much I would like to have secured one final kiss from your lips, I could not afford to weaken my resolve. Your warm brown eyes, the dimple on your left cheek when you smile... It would have been too much to bear.

It pained me to leave you as you slept. Though I wished to, I could not say goodbye, for the time had come to embark upon this most fateful task. But if I am given the chance to return to you in flesh and blood, I will be all the more worthy of your love. If the Lord allows me to share that bed with you again, Debbie, the man lying by your side will have satisfaction in his soul, newly printed business cards in his wallet, and complete control over all marketing decisions for Poland Spring, pending approval of the CEO and COO.

If I am meant to sacrifice my life to this cause... If I am already marked for death... If I must become a martyr in this crusade... So be it. I'd rather die on the 30th floor than live on the second.

In spite of the harsh realities they reveal, take heart as you read these words! For, my sweet Debbie, whether I am dead or the vice president of marketing, I suffer no longer.