Ned is a young man with a very special gift, as a child, he discovered that he could return the dead briefly back to life with a touch. But his random gift is not without deadly consequences, as he soon finds out. As a pie shop owner, grown-up Ned puts his talent to good use by touching dead fruit and making it ripe with everlasting flavor.
When Ned was nine years, 27 weeks, six days and three minutes old, according to the Narrator, Digby ran into the street and was struck by an 18-wheeler truck, which killed him instantly. Speechless and horrified, Ned touched his deceased dog just under his left eye and, to his surprise, Digby came back to life. This was the first time Ned had resurrected a living creature, and was the first moment he discovered that he had the ability to bring the dead back to life.
Later that day, when Ned's mother was baking a pie and helping Ned get cleaned for dinner, a blood vessel in her brain burst, killing her instantly. Shocked, Ned touched his mother once under her left eye and she was brought back to life. She had been completely unaware of what happened to her and assumed she had slipped. Moments later, Ned and his mother saw Chuck's father fall dead while watering his lawn next door. This was the first time Ned realized if he kept someone alive for longer than one minute, another life had to be taken.
While tucking Ned into bed that evening, Ned's mother kissed her son once upon the forehead, and she died a second time. Ned touched her again but she remained dead. This was the first time he realized that touching a resurrected person a second time would kill them forever. Ned avoided social attachments after his mother's death, fearing what he would do if someone else that he loved died.
Nevertheless, during the funerals of their respective parents, Chuck and Ned, who were "dizzy with grief, curiosity and hormones" according to the Narrator, exchanged a kiss, the first for both of them. Ned would not return to Coeur d'Coeurs for 19 years.
Shortly after the funeral, Ned's father dropped Ned off at the Longborough School for Boys in North Thrush. The last words he heard from his father when he was dropped off were, "I'll be back," which would turn out to be a lie. Here Ned learned more about his power and how to control it. For instance, he would bring frogs that were about to be dissected back to life as a prank on his classmates. He would also bring fireflies back to life and time how long it actually took until other living fireflies in a jar would die.
Still broken-hearted over the loss of his mother and the life he'd known, Ned waited for his father to come and collect him. He spent hours in the school chapel, praying for his father to come for him. But his father made no contact whatsoever--except on one Halloween, when he sent Ned pre-written postcard that said, "We've Moved" on it. Worse yet, as Ned discovered a day or so later, Ned's father had remarried and had a new family at his new address, and did not recognize Ned. Ned's father had moved on without him.
Ned's grief turned to rage at his father's abandonment. He wrote letters for himself to read at a later date, urging his future self to never forget the pain his father had inflicted.
Because of his avoidance of social attachments, Ned often felt lonely, and rarely interacted with his fellow students. His loneliness was eased somewhat when his beloved Digby came; as dogs were not allowed at the school, Ned kept Digby in a trunk when people were around.
Ned eventually found a role for himself at school; the pies he sometimes baked late at night, when he especially missed his mother, were eagerly consumed by the school's other boys.
Ned was not academically outstanding, and was so hopeless at sports that he was not even issued gym clothes. He used the time allotted to physical education to sneak off to the kitchen and bake pies.
Not much is known of Ned's education after boarding school, though he apparently had some formal training as a baker.
Young Ned Photos
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