Dinah-the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob-went
out to look over the daughters of the land. Schechem, son of
Hamor the Hivvite, the prince of the land, saw her. He took
her, and he lay with her, and violated her. He became deeply
attached to Dinah, daughter of Jacob. He loved the maiden and
spoke to the maiden's heart. -- Genesis 34:1-3
a Sunday morning in November, a day before the Monday Hadassah
Bailor never came home, her alarm rang at five-fifty. She shut
off the alarm within seconds, but her older sister, Aliza, who
had returned late from a date, groaned, "C'mon, Dass," even
before she saw the clock radio's green liquid crystal numbers,
eerily bright in the dark room. Like cat's eyes, Aliza would
say, though that was probably an afterthought inspired by the
Harry Potter novel lying on the nightstand between the two beds.
jammed a pillow over her head. Later, with some prodding, when
insignificant details assumed urgency, she remembered hearing
the splash of water as Hadassah, using the white plastic tub
and two-handled laver that she'd kept at her bedside for most
of her eighteen years, rinsed her hands and eyes before she
murmured her waking prayers. Also with some prodding, Aliza
was able to recall the hum of the computer and the staccato
clicking of Hadassah's fingernails on the keyboard, and the
muffled drone behind the closed door of the bathroom, where
Hadassah dried her long curly strawberry-blond hair, which she
liked to wear loose but had secured with a black velvet scrunchy.
seven-forty Hadassah roused her three younger brothers. She
helped Yonatan, the seven-year-old, find a tennis shoe and a
yarmulke, both wedged between the bunk bed and the wall. While
they dressed, she put snacks into brown paper bags (she almost
forgot to decorate Yonatan's with a smiley face) and handed
the bags to the boys as they tore out the side door to their
put on a buttery yellow, cable-knit hooded sweater and a gray
wool skirt that revealed a few inches of slim legs encased in
gray tights too warm for what promised to be an unseasonably
balmy day. After prayers and breakfast (two rice cakes, sliced
red pepper, a glass of nonfat milk), she returned to her computer,
muting the volume in deference to her sister's restless tossing.
Two hours later she shut the computer and went downstairs. She
had slipped her black backpack, heavy with books, over her black
quilted jacket and was hoisting the strap of her overnight bag,
which, if anyone had checked, was packed with more than her
school uniform and a change of underwear, when her mother, one
hand stifling a yawn, padded into the kitchen.
Bailor didn't think her daughter had seemed different that morning.
"In a rush, maybe," she said on reflection, "but teenage girls
are always like that, aren't they?" Nechama was almost certain
Hadassah had kissed her good-bye.
always kisses me before she leaves," the mother said, using
the present tense from habit and hope and touching her cheek
gingerly, as though she didn't want to disturb the airy brush
of her daughter's lips.