A/N: This is my all-time favorite Christmas movie. When rewatching it again this year, I really understood what Mary was feeling in this scene and decided to share it.
It was all planned out. Exactly what was going to happen when George came to see her. He had to. His mother knew that she was home and Mary knew she'd insist upon his visiting her. It was inevitable.
It was going to be perfect. George would enter and see her; "Buffalo Gals" would be playing; her sketch of him and the moon would be sitting out. He'd complement her on her skill and then remark how nice the music was—how much it reminded him of the last time they'd met, on the night of Harry's party.
They'd sit together on the sofa and talk about the future. George would tell her how much he'd missed her and she'd tell him the same—how college really wasn't worth it if there wasn't someone like George there. He'd tell her how much he had dreamed of seeing her, she'd share her fantasies of him, and her mother would stop mentioning Sam Wainwright forever, because Mary had George and life was going to be perfect.
She was only twenty-three; she was allowed to daydream every now and then. Then he'd kiss her. It was going to be marvelous.
Mary Hatch stared down at the broken record and tried to convince herself that it was going to be alright. Sure he hadn't kissed her, or declared his love, or admitted he missed her, or even held a courteous conversation with her, but it was going to be alright, wasn't it? This couldn't be the end of the world, she attempted to tell herself, even as she knew that it was at least the end of her world. How many times had Sam Wainwright come to call on her and how many times had she turned him down? They could have been married by now, but no. She had to set her sights on George Bailey, one of the stubbornest men in Bedford Falls. Now look where she was. Sam was calling, but she didn't have any intention of returning his interest now or at any point in the near future. George may have stormed off, ruining what was supposed to have been their perfect evening, but that didn't mean she was going to settle for Sam.
"The phone!" her mother insisted from the top of the stairs where she was clad in her bathrobe. "Sam!"
Mary suppressed the urge to roll her eyes and follow George's lead. It didn't become a lady to behave in…well, such an unladylike fashion. "Hello?"
The door swung back open and her heart skipped a beat. George was back. That had to mean that he had finally realized what she meant to him, and— "Forgot my hat," he explained abruptly.
It could be worse. He could have just left it, abandoning his hat in order to avoid her. Anyway, it couldn't hurt to see if he had any interest in her at all. Sam's phone call gave her the perfect opportunity. "Well, hee-haw to you, Sam." He said something about how nice it was to hear her voice. She just focused on the man behind her, who appeared to be listening intently—probably her mother's doing. Really, what had the woman been thinking, making such comments about her relationship with Sam in front of George.
"How sweet of you, Sam." George seemed to have frozen in place. Then he turned and moved back toward the door. No! She was losing him! Luckily, Sam's comment about wanting to talk to him gave her the perfect opportunity to summon him back. Thank God for her mother eavesdropping on the extension, otherwise she wouldn't have had this perfect opportunity to stand so close to George.
Later, she was vaguely able to recall that the conversation had had something to do with plastic factories. George also seemed somewhat distracted. She hoped it was because she was there and not that he was half-asleep or had some kind of medication that made him nod off halfway through a conversation. He kept hovering next to her, his nose faintly brushing her hair. She loved the sensation. She closed her eyes. If only…
Sam's next words brought her back to reality. "Mary, Mary, are you there?"
"I'm here," she hurried, wanting Sam to hang up quickly so she could focus on George, but at the same time knowing if he did now, George would leave and the moment would be doomed never to be repeated.
"Tell him it's the chance of a lifetime." The voice echoed down the line.
She looked up into George's eyes. So close… "He says it's the chance of a lifetime."
Instantly, his hands were gripping her upper arms and he was shaking her. The telephone crashed to the ground. He was shouting. Tears filled her eyes—not from the pain so much as the realization that this was the ending of her dreams. One way or another, this was a turning point and it didn't look favorable. He was going to yell and leave and never come back and—
He kissed her. He kissed her face and held her tightly and she knew that everything was going to be alright. He felt something for her. Somehow, eventually, it was all going to be alright. They might never leave Bedford Falls and he might be working at the Building and Loan until one of their children took over, but it was going to be alright.
She knew wishing on that old Granville house had been a good idea. With time, she might even get her wish.