Dark Memories

Oleg Nikishin / Pressphotos

GRIEF: Svetlana Tsigoeva, who lost her daughter in the siege, stands in the ruins of the school; drinks, denied to the hostages, are left in tribute to the dead

The scene looks normal enough. A group of teachers sit talking quietly in an empty room in a brand-new, cavernous school. Drinking bad instant coffee, they chat about everything from a problem student—"God, I hope we're not going to get him next year"—to furniture for their staff room. One instructor, Elena Kasumova, leafs through a small questionnaire she gave some 11-year-olds 18 months ago. The first question was, "What do you fear most?" Spiders, answered one girl. Low grades, another. The loss of someone close to me, wrote a third.

The children who answered the questionnaire are...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!