On October 14, 2000, Jack and Macy Kruse welcomed a baby daughter, who they named Paula. Jack and Macy were raised in an insular community that believed children should be isolated from outside groups because they could be tainted by contact with anyone other than family. They would have home-schooled Paula, but they couldn't afford the resources necessary for it, and they'd both dropped out of school themselves.
Jack Kruse works at a local garage, and his salary is just enough for the family to get by. He doesn't socialize with the other men at the garage. He merely reports to work each day, does his job, and goes home.
Macy tried to help out financially, but she's been fired from more places than she can count anymore. She makes a good enough first impression that employers are willing to give her a chance, but her interpersonal skills are lacking, and she's never shown any interest in trying to improve them. With each job, her repeated clashes with co-workers and customers eventually led to her termination. For the last year, she's just stayed home and hasn't even tried to find work.
Paula has never been allowed to participate in any school activities other than the required academics. The friends that she's accumulated during her school years are all other kids who exist on the fringes of the identifiable cliques, but Paula didn't seem to care about that even though she spent a lot of her time alone.
That all changed when met a boy named Tim in her freshman year math class. Tim Howorth and Paula hit it off right from the beginning. They made the lowest grades in the math class, so they were often assigned to work on the lessons together with guidance from a peer tutor or sometimes the teacher.
Tim and Paula became good friends and have remained that way all through school. Even though Tim was one of the few people that schoolmates ever saw Paula talk and laugh with, she never went to any of his football games.
Paula and Tim's friendship seemed to cool somewhat after Tim started dating Katy Brown, but Paula never told anybody the reason.