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like a lifeline (for the horror-struck)

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It wasn’t that Shep was unaware of what was going on. It was only that sometimes (often times) Shep got stuck; got locked into doing things. Things tended to narrow down to a pinpoint focus, no matter what else was going on. Even if other things going on were important.

(puzzle piece, fit, put into place. puzzle piece, no fit found, discard for now, come back later. teeter-totter, went the hand not used for puzzling. teeter-totter. teeter-totter. teeter-totter. flapflapflap, like waving, like waving bye, like waving bye, rock-a-bye baby, bye-bye-bye. teeter-totter.)

Shep was aware. More than aware.
(voice familiar, like a gunshot, like the moonlight. like the other puzzle with the puppies still missing parts of their faces, and sweat, and “you do your work by the light of the moon”, and-)
Shep was scared.
(both hands on puzzle pieces now, puzzle like a lifeline, hands moving fast, both hands because Shep almost thought Shep was drowning.)
No. Shep was not scared. Shep was terrified. Terrified, panic-stricken, horror-struck and so many other words that meant the same thing, and Shep needed to complete this puzzle.

(a noise, a repetition, a “Shepherd! Shepherd! Shepherd!” and drowning; faster, faster, Shep needed this puzzle done. scared! terrified!)

(was what came out of Shep’s mouth, because it was what he had at the moment, a repetition for a repetition, a prayer for a prayer, a reply for an urgency, because Shep was stuck, and Shep was scared, Dylan was scared, a fear for a fear.)