Children Bear Emotional Scars from School Siege

Like the Totyevas, there are hundreds of families in Beslan trying to move on. Some grieve openly and continually. Others seem lost in a state of shock. Virtually everyone in this town has been wounded.

The school's shattered remains are now a memorial filled with flowers, photos and toys, and with thousands of bottles of water, for the children who were not allowed to drink. Tributes have come from near and far, including a banner in the corner from students at an American school that saw violence -- Colorado's Colombine High School.

'We Never Thought We Could Get Out'

The school remains exactly as it stood the minute the bombing and shooting stopped -- a horror frozen in time for all to see. And villagers come to grieve, seek understanding, and to heal.

Fatima Melikova and her 5-year-old twins, Larissa and Suslan, were among the hostages who survived.  The twins were too young to be students at the school. They had come with their mother simply to watch the opening day festivities, when they were caught up in the attack.

Melikova said, "I thought I should come here and see how I feel afterward. Just to see how it was possible for us to get out. We never thought we could get out of here alive."

"When the first explosion happened," Melikova said, "We were lifted into the air and I remember thinking, 'Well this is the end.' Everything was burning around us and parts of the ceiling were falling on us. I passed out. When I came to nobody was getting out. I grabbed my daughter and started pushing her out of the window."

Melikova remembers finding her son and throwing him out a window as well before following herself. She was helped from the school in shock. Meanwhile, four blocks away her daughter ran into the arms of her father. By evening, her son, Suslan, had been found as well.

Natasha Dzhatieva and her son, Aslan, were also caught in the siege. She and her son hid in a shower room, waiting for the shooting to stop.  Both had wounds to their heads. Russian soldiers finally found them and lifted them through the window, carrying them to safety.

Returning to the school seemed to help Dzhatieva and her son. They carefully picked through the rubble, walked through the hallways, and visited Aslan's classroom.  As the morning wore on, they gained strength.  They had survived, but they were still unsure how, or why.

For others, like Aneta Gurdieva, the reliving is more painful.

On the second day of the siege, the terrorists had forced Gurdieva to leave the school with her baby girl, Milena.  The baby's cries had grown annoying to them.  But she was forced to leave her 9-year-old daughter, Alana, behind in the gym. Alana did not survive.

"It was so quick. Oh God, I didn't even hug her. I turned to her and said, 'Alana, you are a clever girl, everything will be fine,' " Gurdieva said.

Gurdieva said she is unable to think of the future. "For now, I don't have the strength to recover -- or the will. The only thing is that I am responsible for the little one. That's the only thing that keeps me going," she said.

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