She must have lit the Shabbat candles. He must have blessed the wine. Maybe the eldest sprinkled salt on the challah, before they thanked God for the delicious golden bounty.

And then they sat, faces warmed by candlelight while the rain outside threw frigid daggers against the windowpane. 

But they were cozy and safe inside from winter’s last gasp.

Maybe they ate chicken soup. Maybe vegetable barley. Maybe they had cholent, and chopped liver and kuggel.

Maybe she baked the little ones’ favorite parve chocolate cake.

And that night they went to bed wrapped in the stillness of Shabbat; in a peaceful quiet, they must have tucked their children in, the youngest one just a baby, born just a few months before. Maybe her body still ached from the memory of birth. Maybe he rubbed her back while she drifted off to sleep. 

And then: The tinkling of glass. Footsteps muffled by the whoosh of wind and rain.

Moonlight must have glinted off the steel blade.

Maybe they died first.

Or maybe the children.

Maybe the terrorist’s knife sliced swiftly through their vocal cords, severing them before they could scream.

And maybe just before the terrorist slaughtered the newborn, his hand trembled for a moment as he watched the infant’s tiny chest rise and fall.  Rise and fall. Rise and fall.  

Maybe they bled out as fast as mercy could allow.

God, I hope they never woke up.

And here’s what tears at me slowly, unraveling that sense that this kind of thing only happens to others and never to me:  The pictures, oh those awful pictures. The beds where they were found, just like the bed I slept in… even the same sheets, only theirs were stained red. And the floor, the creamy tiled floor splattered in blood was just like the one my children play on in our home less than an hour away.