She lit the Shabbat candles. He blessed the wine. The eldest sprinkled salt on the challah, and they thanked God for the delicious golden bounty.
Together they sat, faces warmed by candlelight. The rain outside threw frigid daggers against the windowpane.
But they were inside, cozy and safe 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 in the wrapped stillness of Shabbat; in a peaceful quiet, they tucked their children in, the youngest one just a baby, born last month. Maybe her body still ached from the memory of birth. Maybe he rubbed her back while she drifted off.
Maybe they never heard the terrorist come in, the tinkling of glass, and his footsteps muffled by the whoosh of wind and rain.
Maybe the terrorist killed them first.
Or maybe the children.
Maybe the terrorist’s blade 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.